Canoeing the Altmuhl
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Canoeing the river Altmuhl in Southern Germany

The Altmuhl river in Bavaria is canoeable from Gunzenhausen, where it emerges from the Altmuhl lake, to its junction with the Danube at Kelheim.  For the final 35 Km it has been fully canalised as part of the Main-Danube canal.  Above this it has been partly tamed by various sluices and weirs created to power water mills, but is not a navigable to motor boats.J  It provides 120 km of beautiful canoe touring.  Although the weirs spoil the natural flow a number of the upper ones are shootable and the rest are easy to portage.  

Note: Canoeing is also possible above the Gunzenhausen dam on the various linked lakes of the Franconian Lake District.  I have no details on this.

The valley is distinguished in a number of ways. 

It allegedly has one of the highest concentration of breweries in Germany.J

The river itself cuts through limestone cliffs formed by Jurassic coral reefs.  Not only are the cliffs themselves made largely from coral fossils, but just behind them lie some quite extraordinary fossil sites, the lithographic limestones of Solnhofen.   These sedimentary limestones formed in salty anoxic lagoons just behind the shoreline of an ancient ocean.   Animals that happened to die in the lake lay intact when they sank to the floor because lack of oxygen prevented their bodies being eaten.  Each season storms blew sediment into the lake, which settled to form another limestone layer and fossilise the animals they covered.  Thousands of Jurassic fossils have been discovered here, of which by far the most important are the only specimens of the oldest bird ever found, Archeopteryx.  Two of the best are star attractions in museums in the valley.   Read more here.

I’ve personally only done the Solnhofen to Gungolding stretch and, as usual, my notes were scrappy. 

The information below has been collected from various sources.  In particular the plans of the various weirs and sluices are used with permission from this wonderful German site.  Many thanks.   Any further details or corrections would be gratefully received. 

0 Km – Gunzenhausen.  Large campsite at the outflow dam of the Almuhlensee.  

Access from the landing point downstream of the dam.  

Here to Treughtlingen is probably the least scenic stretch, with the river running in a narrow channel in the floor of wide valley.  

300 metres - B13 bridge

1.3 Km - Railway bridge

1.5 Km - Bridge

2 km - Footbridge

3 Km - B13 bridge

5 Km - Bridge

7 Km - Bridge. Gundelsheim left

8 km - Bridge

11 Km - Bridge

12 km - Bridge. Berolzheim right, Trommetzeim left.

upper Altmuehl near Berolzheim.jpg (40223 bytes)

19.5 Km -  Bridge. Bubenheim left.  Rough campsite

21.5 Km - Railway bridge followed by road bridge

22.1 Km - weir shootable  

22.3 Km - bridge

22.4 Km - new weir

22.6 km – Treuchtlingen.  Bridge.

Treuctlingen launch spot just downstream of the second bridge  treughtlingen dietfurt launch spot.jpg (31796 bytes)

22.9 Km Mohrenbach (Carrot brook) joins right.  Campsite. 

24 Km Schambach (Shame brook) joins left

24.5 km Treuchtlingen Dietfurt.  Road bridge.  Camping

25 Km - Railway bridge  

26.2 Km - railway bridge

30.2 km Pappenheim.  Camping left .  

pappenheim campsite.jpg (24122 bytes)  Weir left immediately after the campsite.  pappenheim plan.jpg (63570 bytes)  Paddle past the weir and portage over the island.  Easy landing and launch spot.  Pappenheim castle on the hill right.

30.6 Km - Road bridge

33.9 km - Zimmern left.

 zimmern plan.jpg (57417 bytes)   Portage right.    The river near Zimmern Altmuehl nr Zimmern.jpg (46097 bytes)  

34.1 Km - bridge

35 Km - railway bridge

37 Km - railway bridge

38.4 Campsite

38.8 Km – Solnhofen - bridge.   Land right.

View upstream   altmuhl trip 097.jpg (875325 bytes)  and downstream  altmuhl trip 096.jpg (918369 bytes) from Solnhofen bridge

The Burgermeister-Muller museum, just over the railway track on the right bank, houses the Solnhofen specimen of Archeopteryx.  Click here.  The main limestone quarries including Langenaltheim where the London specimen was found are on the top of the hills on the right bank.

39.4 Solnhofen mill sluices

  solnhofen plan.jpg (43178 bytes)   Portage left.   There is camping at the mill.

40.4 Km - The “Twelve Apostles,” on the left are a row of 12 limestone pillars 

altmuhl 12 apostles.jpg (38207 bytes)    altmuhl 12 apostles2.jpg (85856 bytes)

41.4 Km - road bridge. Esslingen village left.

45.5 Km – Hammermuhle. Weir with canoe shoot.  Portage left or better still take out your valuables and shoot it.  Camping

Hammermühle weir.jpg (31799 bytes)   Hammermühle plan.jpg (55981 bytes)

47 Km – Hageneker weir.  Shootable down the middle.  Parking and portage left.  See plan.

altmuhl weir  hagenacker.jpg (39645 bytes)    hagenacker weir.jpg (43191 bytes)    hagnacker plan.jpg (60067 bytes)

47.2 Km - road bridge.  Eisenhammer village right

50.3 Km – Dollnstein, a walled town. Land and launching left before the bridge in front of bar.

dollnstein bridge, bar and landing.jpg (30728 bytes)   dollnstein landing.jpg (877430 bytes)   dollnstein bridge.jpg (878075 bytes)  

Campsite right 100m after bridge

51 Km – Weir Bubenrother mill

bubenrother muhle plan.jpg (55164 bytes)  Portage left.  Easy landing and launch spot.

53 Km – Road bridge. Breitenfurt village right.  Campsite right 200m after bridge

54.5 Km - Cycle track bridge.

altmuhl nr breitburg.jpg (849401 bytes)

56 Km - Cycle track bridge.  Land left below.

altmuhl cycle track bridge.jpg (875500 bytes)

59.5 Km - Footbridge

60 km Road bridge.  Obereichstatt village left likes to decorate its bus shelters with cartoon characters.

altmuhl trip 086.jpg (902484 bytes)     altmuhl cartoon bus stop.jpg (218945 bytes)

More quarries on the hill behind are digging up the famous lithographic limestone.  The Berlin archeopteryx specimen was found near Blumenberg at the top of the hill.  One disused quarry is open to the public to dig for fossils themselves with the private museum Berger displaying the best fossils nearby.  

62 Km - Road bridge.  Wasserzell village right.

66 km – Rebdorf weir.  Portage right.

rebdorf plan.jpg (48848 bytes)

67 km - Hofmuhl brewery right. Willibaldsburg on the hill behind

altmuhl trip 087.jpg (933401 bytes)

The Willibaldsburg  houses the Jura Museum and the Museum of Pre- and Early History.  Here is the Eichstatt specimen of Archeopteryx.  Read more here 

67.5 Km - road bridge

68 Km – Road bridge.  Eichstatt weir.  Land right 

eichstatt plan.jpg (76074 bytes)

69 Km footbridge.  Eichstatt.  University town.   

altmuhl trip 039.jpg (908089 bytes)

69.5 Km footbridge

altmuhl trip 042.jpg (867246 bytes)

70 Km Eichstatt Aumuhle weir. Portage left  

eichstatt aumuhle plan.jpg (45715 bytes)

70.1 Km road bridge

70.5 – Camping left bank.  Cheap and lively municipal site.  Just put your tent up and a fellow will come to collect your money at about 6pm.

72.5 Km - Road bridge. Landershofen left

73.5 Km - New road bridge

73.6 Km - Old stone road bridge.  Shallows underneath.

altmuhl trip 047.jpg (924932 bytes)

Pfunz village right.  Partly rebuilt ruins of a Roman fort, the Kastell Vetoniana.  

75.9 – Road bridge. Inching village left.  Camping

79.2 Km Walting sluice. Portage left.   Path to village.

walting plan.jpg (70612 bytes)

79.5 – Road bridge.  Walting village left.

82 km - Bridge.  Rieshofen village left.

85.7 Km – Gungolding.  Camping and access left back about 0.5 Km below the bridge  

87.3 Km - Schamach stream joins right

88 km - Bridge. Arnsberg village right

90 Km - Cycle track bridge

94.6 Km – Kipfenberg. Camping and access.  Azur camping site Tel. 08465 905167.

Allegedly the geographical center of Bavaria. Behind Kipfenburg Castle is a rock on which it is said that every Bavarian must step once in his lifetime.  

95.8 Km - Bridge.  Gros village left.

98.9 Km - Bridge. Ilbling village left.  Camping

99.4 Km - Railway bridge

99.5 km – A9 bridge  

Schmarzach stream joins left

100.2 Km – Road bridge. Kinding market town left.  Camping

103.4 km - Road bridge. Unteremendorf village right.

106.2 Km – Kratzmuhle weir and camp site Tel. 08461 64170

109.2 Km – Beilngries campsite  Tel. 08461/8406

113 Km - Bridge. Leising left.

114 Km - Road bridge.  Kottingworth left

115 Km – Kottingwoerther Mill and weir  

116.5 km - Bridge. Grogling hamlet right

118.5 Km – Bridge.  Toeging town left.  Campsite

119.6 Km – Dietfurt.  From here on the river forms part of the Main-Danube canal. 

136.6 Km - Riedenburg

146.6 Km – Essing.  Two bridges here.  

The ancient wooden bridge has to be regularly repaired by the locals who as a result are exempt from paying tolls.  The longest wooden suspension bridge in Germany is a more recent footbridge dating from 1986.

essing-bridge2.jpg (15691 bytes)    essing-bridge.jpg (134843 bytes)  

153.6 Km - Kelheim. Junction with Danube

  Jim Thornton.  Nottingham.  30 August 2005

Thank you again to Frediman.


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Last modified: September 26, 2006