The volcano bike trail (94 km) meanders along the route of a former rail line, accompanied by touristic infrastructure and the Vogelsberger Vulkan-Express (bus)
The volcano bike trail (94 km long) meanders largely along the route of a former rail line through a magnificent open forest and meadow landscape. There is a good infrastructure provided along the trail:
* information available of the route, places of interest and gastronomy
* bicycle rental with delivery service, pedelec stations, repair service, rest areas partly covered
* public transport connection via Vogelsberg volcano express (regional public service that runs along the route from May to October on weekends and public holidays, bicycles are transported free of charge in the trailer)
* different route maps in bookstores, publications in trade journals and press work
* different associations for infrastructure and maintenance
The trails combines various interesting points like:
- nature and geological sides and offers (Vogelsberg Volcanic Region Nature Park and Geopark, the large-scale nature protection project)
- outdoor activities and offers (f. e. treepath, Climbing forest, nature path and in winter: skiing, cross-country skiing, toboggan)
The trail and services were implemented by a network of touristic companies and institutions, local governments and authorities, private partners which are the main stakeholders.
Rural towns and villages in the area and also in other administrative districts nearby, public institutions such as the private companies (due to the increase of recreation value) and tourists are the main beneficiaries of the practice.

Resources needed

First 65 km in 2000 with governmental funds (1 million € for deconstruction railroad infrastructure, asphalting track, signage). 12 municipalities bought grounds, maintain the infrastructure. Vogelsberger Vulkan-Express was established by regional public service. A marketing association was funded.

Evidence of success

New municipalities constantly look for an extension of the cycle path.
Municipalities along the line enlarge the catchment area by connecting more parts of their towns. A lot of follow-up investments have taken place (towns, private). There is a great interest of developing new arrangements, building new accommodations or the company is taken over because it is worth it.
Vogelsberger Vulkan-Express: 3 lines, 8,200 passengers, 4,900 bikes (2000); 6 lines, 44,600 passenger 10,500 bikes (2019).

Difficulties encountered

- high investment sums
- maintenance costs
- uncertainty whether this will really be accepted and successful
- reuse of an old railway track by linking single activities via a trail
- development of tourism and also a network with in a rural area
- ensure a high quality offer

Potential for learning or transfer

- High interest within the population: they committed themselves; they put pressure on local politics and municipalities to realize the track.
- Very good and professional marketing and service.
- The overall and supra regional coordination and linkage to the train track itself and the combination of 5 regional trails with up to 400 km.
- A regional public transport association realises the Vogelsberger Vulkan-Express (service, timetable, opening-event): several lines connect 25 municipalities and main train stations in five administrative districts.
- Beside the official partners and institutions there were a lot of voluntarily support and engagement (e. g. organising the opening-event, signage, marketing).
- An overall organisation, the Region Vogelsberg Touristik GmbH organises the marketing (active since ca. 2005).
- Continuous joint expansion of offers and quality in close coordination between local authorities and tourism service providers (win-win-effect).

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Main institution
Region Vogelsberg Touristik GmbH
Gießen, Germany (Deutschland)
Start Date
January 1999
End Date


Manuel Heinrich Please login to contact the author.

Good Practices being followed by

Manuel Heinrich

Regionalmanagement Mittelhessen GmbH

Dagmar Meinen

Ministry of Economics, Energy, Transport and Housing