This tour follows comfortable bike paths for long stretches. At the source of the Spree you can already ask for good weather and beautiful experiences: The bluestones there are said to have lucky properties.
Location - From the Lusatian Mountains in Saxony to Erkner southeast of Berlin
Length - 382 km (420 km to Berlin-Mitte) distributed over 8 stages
Start - Walddorf Spree Spring on the Kottmar River in the Municipality of Eibau in Upper Lusatia
Destination - Erkner, city in the southeast of Berlin
The Spree rises in the Lusatian Mountains and flows into the Havel River after 382 km to the west of Berlin. The Spree Cycle Route follows it from the headwaters through the Upper Lusatian heath and pond landscape and the Spree Forest, as well as through the lake channel between the Baruth and Berlin glacial valleys to the gates of the German capital. The three Spree spring villages Walddorf, Eibau and Ebersbach are located on the railroad line Dresden - Zittau, so that the starting point is easy to reach by train.
Granite ridges, Volcanic peaks, sandstone rocky outcrops, picturesque villages and valleys characterize the low mountain landscape of Upper Lusatia. The Kottmar (583 m) is the northernmost large volcanic cone of the Lusatian Mountains and the source mountain of the Spree: The Buchenborn is the highest source of the largest tributary of the Havel, the water of the so-called Walddorfer Spreequelle springs from the lucky Blaue Steinen (bloe steene). While the Spree flows through the Elbe flows to the North Sea, the streams rising in the northern and eastern slopes drain into the Baltic Sea, the striking Kottmar mountain range is both a weather and watershed. The abundance of precipitation and the steep terrain also predestine it for winter sports: international ski jumpers regularly take part in jumping from the Kottmar ski jump. From the 15 m high Kottmar tower you have a magnificent panoramic view. The Neugersdorfer Spreequelle, the most productive of the three Spree springs, feeds the Neugersdorfer Volksbad, which was inaugurated in 1927. The Ebersbach Spree spring, the Spreeborn, is enclosed by a pavilion inaugurated in 1896. At the intersection of Bahnhofstraße/Hauptstraße, the Spree- Kottmar and Spree-Neugersdorf sub-rivers meet to flow together as the Spree towards Berlin.
North of the Sorbs town Bautzen with Ortenburg Castle and the listed old town, the cycle path passes the Spree Dam Bautzen, the 'Upper Lusatian Sea', and enters the biosphere reserve Upper Lusatian Heath and Pond Landscape. Relics of open-cast lignite mining are unmistakable; one of the symbols was the 'Schwarze Pumpe' combine near Spremberg. One of the most important water sports areas in southern Brandenburg is the Spremberg dam, which is designated as a landscape conservation area. After passing the Lower Lusatian metropolis of Cottbus, the bike path briefly leaves the Spree to lead to the Peitz ponds, then dives into the Spreewald biosphere reserve.
The one from the Spree and dozens of smaller and larger arms of rivers and canals, the Spree Forest is protected by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve. The abundance of water and biotopes in this area ensures a unique diversity of flora and fauna. As a result of the last ice age, the middle Spree fanned out here into a gigantic network of waterways with dense deciduous forests.
The bike path leads now through the middle of the Spreewald, which is divided into Upper and Lower Spreewald. While only 15 percent of the Upper Spree Forest, which is mainly cleared and used as permanent grassland for fruit and vegetable cultivation (Spreewald cucumbers), is still forested, half of the Lower Spree Forest still consists of unspoiled natural deciduous forests. The northwestern boundary of the Lower Spree Forest is formed by the Krausnick Mountains with Lake Köthen, and the northern end is Lake Neuendorf, a reminder that the entire area of the Lower Spree Forest was a glacial tongue basin after the last ice age, which filled the ice-age Spree with meltwater and deposits.
Lübben is the gateway to the floodplain forest of the Lower Spree Forest and the grassland areas of the Upper Spree Forest. The main sights are the castle island with the late Renaissance castle (1682) and the late Gothic Paul Gerhardt Church with the tomb of the church song poet who died in Lübben in 1667. The castle island provides the setting for events such as the 'Inselmusiksommer'. About 14 km north of Lübben we reach Schlepzig. The information center of the Spreewald Biosphere Reserve in the Old Mill presents the permanent exhibition 'Under Water on the Road' there.
We are approaching Berlin. The Müggel-Spree Regional Park on both sides of the Spree between Berlin-Köpenick and Fürstenwalde is the largest and most water-rich of the seven regional parks in the Berlin area. Here lies Fürstenwalde, next to Havelberg and Brandenburg, the third Margravian cathedral city. The late Gothic St. Mary's Cathedral - today the Protestant town church - is the town's landmark. Between Fürstenwalde and Erkner, the bike path crosses lonely pine and floodplain forests.
Erkner in the southeast of Berlin is the end point of the Spree cycle path, which is immediately adjacent to the first highlight in Berlin: the Great Müggelsee, the largest lake in Berlin. Oak and beech forests line the western and southern sides of the 7.3 km² lake, which is up to eight meters deep and has the Spree River flowing through it. On its southern side rise the forest-covered moraines of the up to 115 m high Müggelberge with the 'Müggelturm', an observation tower. The Spree does not stop here and no one prevents us from following it further into Berlin.
Cucumbers are the most famous products of the UNESCO biosphere reserve Spreewald, that was already the opinion of the writer Theodor Fontane in the 1870s: The Spreewald cucumber salad is one of the standards in the restaurants at the Spree Cycle Route and in jars, Spreewald gherkins can be bought everywhere as gherkins, cornichons, stix, dill bites, pickled in garlic or pepper crackers. In Lubbenau there is even a museum dedicated to them.
Cover photo: Relaxed on the road in the great outdoors - bike tour through the Spreewald © pixel creator / Shutterstock
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