Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Herzogenaurach River Running Route, Germany

Click here for route map
Length 11.5 km (7.2 miles), terrain: flat, gain 105 meters

Herzogenaurach is a small Frankish town, with just 22,000 people, not far from Nuremberg. The old-town is nice enough, but not spectacular enough to attract a lot of tourists. But it's the home of some world-class companies, meaning a lot of business travelers find themselves spending their evenings there.

For one thing, there is the huge Schaeffler bearings factory, precision parts supplier for car companies worldwide. And much more famous among runners are the two athletic shoe makers, Adidas and Puma. The two rivals were once one company, belonging to the Dassler brothers (Adidas = Adi Dassler). But the brothers had a bitter dispute on how to run the company, so they split it into two, and each brother took one of their two factories in Herzogenaurach, facing each other across the little river.
The fountain in Herzogenaurach
The two companies remained bitter rivals for decades, fueling bidding wars to sponsor athletes, always trying to outdo each other with technical innovations. Only when the brothers' kids were no longer running the companies did the neighbors start talking with each other again.

So, it's definitely an interesting town for us runners. And while on a business trip to Puma, I got to try some running routes in the surrounding, rolling Frankish countryside.
The Aurach River
This route starts in the heart of the scenic old-town, and heads out along the river, the Mittlere Aurach. There is a network of trails and little roads in the nearby area, and this route takes you along a woods, past a couple of old water-mills, through several nearby villages, through rolling fields, and past a chain of carp ponds, typical of this part of Germany.

So, are you ready to get a taste of Frankish country life? Then let's go to the center of the old-town, to the 600-year-old Fehnturm, a medieval tower, on the Hauptstraße. The tower rises above some beautiful half-timbered buildings, with the old town hall and the church nearby.
Start of the run, at the Fehlturm
Take a look around and now turn west and run out along Hauptstraße. You'll pass another tower that looks just like the Fehnturm, then the street is changes its name to Würzburger Straße.

When you see the modern Puma headquarters on the left side, turn into their parking lot and run to the back of the property, where a riverside park awaits.
The author wearing his Adidas shirt at the Puma HQ: sorry about that!
Run across the park until you almost reach the main road (the Adidas headquarters is across that street to the left). Run until the trail reaches the road, then cross it at the zebra stripes, and continue running westwards along the other side of the road, on Michael-Kress-Weg.
Michael-Kress-Weg with trail markers
First, you run past some houses, then the way becomes a dirt trail, with woods to the left and the riverside meadows to the right, at the 1-km mark. Follow the trail markers with the horizontal blue stripe.
Along the Dohnwald
When the trail splits, keep right to stay along the edge of the woods. The trail will curve to the left and come to the first of two watermills, which look more like farms near the river. You need to stay to the left of each, along the edge of the woods to get past the watermills. Keep following the markers with the blue stripe.
Horses grazing along the trail
After the second mill (Hessenmühle), turn right to get back towards the river, then left to continue westwards at the 3-km mark. You are now approaching the village of Falkendorf.

This dirt road ends at the bridge into the village, where you turn right and run straight north past a couple of restaurants in the heart of the village. Look for the little monument across the main street and go there to follow the trail through the park that leads up the hill, with some steps taking you to the top. This is a modern neighborhood of single-family homes.
Monument and park in Falkendorf: head straight up there!
Now you need to follow a different trail marker, the vertical green stripe on a white background, marking the Aurachtaler Nordweg trail. You need to turn left then right, following the markers until you get out of the neighborhood and find yourself in a field-trail above the village.

Now head east, past the tennis club, until you get to a paved little road heading north, where you turn left. We're running to the next village in the distance, Hammerbach.
Crossing the fields to Hammerbach
Run into the village and you'll come to a pond, where you turn right and follow Vielchenstraße to the main road. Now cross the street towards the left and take Margeritenstraße eastwards at the 6-km mark.
Chapel in Hammerbach
Unfortunately, there's no separate foot-trail along this road. So, after it leaves the village, turn right at the sign for the Hambacher sports club (HSV), to run to the clubhouse.

At the clubhouse, turn left to run along this quiet road between fields. The road ends after a few hundred meters, but continues as a dirt track through a tree-lined meadow.

You'll now come to a pond, used for raising carp, a popular fish for eating during the colder months of the year. This is actually a series of many ponds linked together, going down the hillside. These chains of carp ponds are common in the area, and if you fly in, you're sure to see them from the air.
At the carp ponds
Now run southwest past these dozen ponds, with the Birkenbühl woods along the other side, at the 8-km mark.

You soon come to the main road again, at Welkenbach. But there at the bus-stop, we'll get away from the traffic by taking the next left turn onto Welkenbacher Kirchweg. This quiet street goes past a few farms and fields, heading straight back into Herzogenaurach.

You'll run past the big, red-roofed rehab clinic for people with heart- or orthopedic problems at the 10-km mark. Then head onwards, downhill into town.
Madonna statue in the old town
The Kirchweg runs right into Würzburger Straße, where you turn left and head straight back into the old-town again.

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