Mountain / Gravel Bike Tour - Munich to Mangfall Valley and Back
Updated: Jan 12
For today’s blog, I have a new recommended Mountain-Bike Tour for you. This one starts right in the city, at the subway station Mangfallplatz where you can find a Park and Ride car park, or even better arrive directly by subway for the ideal environmental impact. It is quite fitting to start this tour at the Manfallplatz since the german river Mangfall is one of our destinations. You can expect to ride about 100 kilometres, mainly on asphalt or gravel-surfaced roads, with a few trails sprinkled in between, so the tour is not only suitable for Mountain-Bikes, but equally as fun on a Gravel Bike or an off-road-capable Touring Bike.
Four Reasons to do this Tour
While the quite long distance might seem offputting for many people just looking for a manageable weekend tour out of Munich, this track is probably one of the best to choose from if you plan on testing out your endurance and want to try and reach to that magical number. I would even go as far as to claim that you could probably try your hand on this tour with some teenage children. A few factors contribute to this:
First of all large portions of your ride will be spent on forest roads, under cover of trees, where the Bavarian summer sun does not burn so hotly.
Secondly, I went to great lengths to ensure you will actually mostly cycle on little frequented roads. The “M-Wasserwege”, “VIA JULIA” and “Via Bavaria Tyroliensis”, three top-rated and highly used long-distance cycle-routes all follow the same directions. While parts of my tour will follow these trodden paths, others are entirely removed from publicity and will, therefore, increase your riding experience, while decreasing outside pressure.
The third point to making this tour enjoyable for various riders is the diversity of riding options. Mountain Bikers will have the possibility to ride multiple short trails, some even including smaller jumps, technical root sections and challenging climbs. Simultaneously, other riders can continue on a well surfaced gravel road just a few meters to the side. Gravel Bikers can push their descending skills to the absolute limit during the downhill section on the Taubenberg while Mountain Bikers will find one of the best flow trails in the greater Munich area just a few feet removed. This sets up this tour as an excellent opportunity for groups of riders with differing skill levels and various interests.
Last but not least, you will be able to stop for plenty of resting in some of the most beautiful landscapes and villages of the Munich Oberland, allowing you to take some well-deserved breaks along the way. I breezed through this whole ordeal in just under six hours, but if you plan to fill up a long Sunday, there will be plenty of opportunities to rest and relax.
A Detailed Description
For your ease of reading: The name of every road, town, place, etc. that can be a navigation aid is written in bold letters.
So without much more delay, let me give you some directions. As mentioned previously, you start directly at the subway station Mangfallplatz. You have to follow public roads only a few hundred meters until you enter into the Perlacher Forst. The straight and asphalt surfaced road through the forest, is closed to cars but open for recreational sporting activities. On any sunny day, you will meet joggers, families out on a stroll, people on roller blades, as well as plenty of road cyclists. It can get quite crowded here, but the further you travel from the entry point into the forest, the fewer people will be around. However, traffic will never wholly subside until you pass the Beergarden Kugler Alm after about ten kilometres. Most weekend cyclists use this point as their turn around spot, of course with a lengthy break in the Beergarden. And who could hold that against them? After all, cycling makes hungry and thirsty. And to combat those feelings, the Kugler Alm is indeed an excellent place. For that reason, our circle will actually close at this exact Beergarden leaving you to complete the last leg of the tour on the same route through the forest you just traversed, but also something to look forward to at the tour’s completion.
For now, you have to leave beer and pretzels behind and continue through the village of Deisenhofen. The way would be relatively easy to follow, even without GPS or map, just by always staying parallel to the Munich Suburban Train Network's train tracks, keeping them on your left the entire time. Right at the end of the village, you have the first tiny climb up to the Ditramszeller Straße, which you actually have to cross straight, even though all the cycle route signs are directing you to turn left or right. Afterwards, you continue parallel to the train tracks along an asphalt-surfaced forest road, similar to the first that led you through the Perlacher Forst. It is again closed to motor vehicles, completely straight, and so level as you could expect any road to be, much less in the rather hilly Munich region. The only differentiating factor is the much lower usage of this road, leaving you mostly alone. On this road, you stay until it terminates at the town of Sauerlach, where you will have to cross below the train tracks to continue on another straight road, this time surfaced with gravel. And again you are riding parallel to the train tracks, although they are on your right now until you reach the village of Holzkirchen. In total, you’ll have made about 25 kilometres, on straight and level roads, utterly devoid of motor traffic for almost the entire length and should be about 1 ½ hour into your journey. If you think about it, it is actually crazy how fast you can travel out of town on this route compared to other ways leading you out of town, simply because it is the only one I am aware of to feature this little climbing.
Shortly before you reach Holzkirchen, there is also the first feature likely to break the monotony for the involved Mountain Bikers. There a trail descends through a small furrow. Some local riders have built a series of jumps along the way. Since these follow in quick succession, and you can get quite fast descending through the ravine I actually recommend you walk down it before you send it. Also, since some of the jumps even span the entire trail's width, I would recommend everyone not wishing to get airborne to turn left on a forest road just at the trailhead. Both routes actually connect back together in the tiny settlement outside of Erlkam, where you should meet up again. Now you can continue on the cycleway circumventing Holzkirchen, and after tunnelling beneath the Highway A8, you reach the town of Fellach. Here it is time once more to leave the asphalt-surfaced roads behind and turn onto a gravel-surfaced forest road. After two kilometres through a shadowy forest, you are greeted on the other side by an excellent panoramic view of the now no longer distant Alps. There is even a bench to sit down on and have a snack while you enjoy the scenery.
A few hundred meters more, and you will reach the village of Unterdarching, where it is time to split the group again into Mountain Bikers and other cyclists. The Mountain Bikers can follow my GPS track, down into the Mangfall Valley. While this route will start on the asphalt and later gravel roads, my tracked way will eventually cumulate in a technical single-trail along the river Mangfall. The Roadgoing faction should turn left continue on the Münchner Straße, that will ultimately lead them to the Country Road ST2073 tunnelling beneath the massive Mangfall Valley Bridge, carrying the Highway A8 over the dale. Right after the bridge, there is a little Beergarden that offers an excellent spot for our cyclists to consume a light snack, while waiting for the Mountain Bikers, who will undoubtedly take a little longer, but ultimately end up rejoining the road just beneath the highway bridge.
If everybody took the time to have a quick snack, it is all the better, because the section coming up ain’t pretty. From a purely visual perspective, it is. You ride along the river Mangfall that is what many Bavarians consider the epitome of a softly meandering, still wild and fast river. You get to see it’s happy little rapids, where the stunningly green-blue coloured water is gurgling down swiftly, and the almost wholly tranquil sections in between. The water of the Mangfall is, in fact, so clean that it is used as one of the primary sources of drinking water suppliers for the town of Munich. Well, the landscape is undoubtedly pretty, but it is the climbing that gets to you. Over the next 12 kilometres, it is a total of 330 meters of elevation gain you will have to overcome. It starts really mellow, as long as you follow the river, but only turns way steeper after turning right and crossing over the railway line. After that, you will get to know and loath the Taubenberg as you have to climb up a series of steep gravel roads. After about two-thirds of the ascent, there is a sharp 180° hairpin, right at a farmhouse. Here you have another stunning view of the Alps, as well as another chance to split up. You could now choose between either a technical root-ridden climb or a mellow gravel road and to be honest, I recommend all of you take the road. Up next, you pass an old tower, which offers a specific marker for the end of the pain and the start of the fun.
From here on out it is time to separate the group again, the Mountain Bikers go to the right, while the rest can follow the trail marked on my GPS-Track to descent down into Oberwarngau. Right at its central square, there is a small Café selling ice cream. Here is a right spot as any to wait for the others and enjoy some snacks. However, I presume that this time the Mountain Bikers will actually arrive first. At Oberwarngau you also have a chance to take two different major shortcuts, should it become apparent that you have overestimated your endurance. In just 10 kilometres, almost parallel to the train tracks, you will get back to Holzkirchen, from where on out you can continue on the same easy route back to Munich you just used. There is a second, even shorter, way. Just ride to the Train Station Warngau and continue home by train. The train station gets frequented quite regular by the BOB, at least hourly on the usual days, and a ticket to Munich is only 12€. Now that I think of this value proposition, I would actually recommend using the BOB one way and cycling back if you are just a Mountain Biker looking to lap the Tauberberg Trails. It will probably be cheaper than to go by car.
If you decided to continue, it would actually have some time on asphalt surface roads, to relax and recoup. Between the towns of Großhartpenning and Kleinhartpenning, you have a short but relatively steep ascent and, after passing through Kleinhartpenning, you turn left on a gravel road, subsequently descent down into the dale formed by a small rivulet, and have to face the last genuinely memorable climb of your tour. It is a rather steep grave road, build-out of rather large stones, so unless you are a fan of technical uphill, you better start to walk your bike. Luckily the distance to cover to the next level section is relatively short, so you should get on your bike again soon enough just after you will have to cross the ST2073, turning left on the road, following its course for barely hundred meters, and then turning right onto another gravel road. This will get you through another forest to the village of Dietenhausen.
From here on out you are on surfaced roads again, passing through the towns of Lochen and Linden. In Linden, there is, by the way, a very friendly and rustic Beergarden just next to the church, lending itself to a short celebratory break, commemorating the fact that by now, you only have 100 meters of vertical ascent left, until you reach your goal.
Shortly after leaving Linden, you turn left on a small gravel road that leads in multiple short descents to the Thanninger Weiher¸ a series of three interconnected lakes. While it might appear tempting to take a refreshing bath here, it is actually not permitted everywhere. But there is no reason to despair because a little later during the track you will get a chance to refresh yourself at the Deininger Weiher.
Before you reach that goal, however, there will be another small ascent towards Auhofen to best. Afterwards, you again have some nice and shady gravel roads down to the lake-shore, where you can relax for a short break. From here on out you have almost made it. Through the Gleissental, it is a nice and comfortable ride until you reach Deisenhofen. Actually shortly before you reach the end of the gravel road, just a few meters outside Deisenhofen there is one last exciting spot. It is an old quarry, built into the forest. Here you have multiple enormous jumps for Mountain Bikers available, but also the face of the quarry itself is excellent for rock climbing. This area is, in fact, my secret outdoor gym. And soon afterwards we finally reach the Kugler Alm again. Now it is undoubtedly time for a well-deserved break, and the last few kilometres back to the Mangfalplatz truly ride themselves. And arriving there, you can be genuinely proud of your accomplishment.