1 Day, 13 Breweries – A Rush, Not A Hike

It is my own fault so I won’t complain. 13 breweries in one day sounds like a lot, same as the 33 km hiking distance. Add starting late, getting lost and darkness coming early, and you will get a rush instead of a hike.

13 breweries trail - colourful autumnMaybe the two days prior to my 13 breweries trail experience had been too relaxing. A magnificent breakfast I finished way too late, and hence my hiking start was an hour behind schedule. Bad news right at the beginning. Why bad news? I knew the end of the trail would lead me through some woods, darkness I expected to creep in by 18:00h latest. And I certainly had no intention of having a candlelight rendezvous with a hungry family of wild boars, numerous as they are in Franconia.

So, for the first couple of kilometres I tried to work out how fast I was going, at the same time calculating my estimated time of arrival, ETA. After five kilometres, I decided to not take a shortcut and hike the entire 13 breweries trail – and a good decision it was indeed.

13 breweries trail – some figures

13 breweries trail - overviewThe 13 breweries trail is in a region called “Franconian Tuscany”. I honestly do not know who came up with that sort of wording. It is Franconia, full stop. Be proud of it! (and leave the beautiful Tuscany where it originally came from)

Anyway, to talk about some official and hard facts, here they are (and in brackets my personal figures for this trail):

  • 13 breweries (12, one I simply could not find)
  • 33,1 km (37 km, got lost twice…)
  • 570 m up, 590 m down (app. 40 m more for me)
  • estimated time: 9:09h (7:30h, with only three minor breaks of 5-10 minutes)
  • GPS tracks you can download here.

Why the rush?

You might say: 37 km in 7:30h? That’s not a hike, that’s very slow for running a marathon and you would not even have finished it! Yes, true, slow for a marathon but rather a big rush for a hike.

13 breweries trail - Brauerei WagnerWhy did I go for it like that? As mentioned before I started late and wanted to finish before 18:00h. Also, I grew up in that region so do not really need to look for touristic highlights. All I wanted was some great exercise, time outside and a beer in the evening…

There are two more reasons.

I wanted to hike the 13 breweries trail and see if I am still not able to follow any official hiking trail. With that I mean that no matter whether it is hiking, mountain biking or skiing, I simply do not see official route signs. Honestly. The result is quite obvious: I got lost twice and walked an extra 4 km (more than 10% on top of the official trail). In future, I’ll do what I have done so often in the past: work out my own trail, follow it and be happy.

13 breweries trail - altitude profile
13 breweries trail – altitude profile

Reason number two is of a technical nature. A friend has recommended an outdoor planning app, komoot. During two short hikes prior to the 13 breweries tour I have used it very successfully for planning and guidance. Also for the 13 breweries trail I have used komoot for planning, and some of the pictures in this post are screenshots from komoot (altitude and overview of route on map).

I knew, however, that for this tour my mobile would not have sufficient battery power and I wanted to try the offline map version – and what should I say? Brilliant stuff indeed!! (more in a separate post, which I will publish in the next couple of weeks).

About the 13 breweries trail

13 breweries trail - sign to followYou can walk the trail in two directions – starting either in Memmelsdorf or in Strullendorf. I still prefer the direction from North to South, as it has one slightly extensive but short climb (well…) and then more or less going downhill softly for the rest of the trail.

13 breweries trail - other side is where I came from
13 breweries trail – other side is where I came from

It took quite a while before I started enjoying this hike. To start with, I was a bit worried about my late departure. Also, the tarmac right at the beginning of the tour got me seriously annoyed. Once the ground changed to something softer that also seemed to soften my mood.

Unfortunately, I have not seen any larger wild animals like deer, foxes and the like. Lots of birds singing were a wonderful addition to the beautiful landscape. As I have walked this trail in autumn, the woods showed an amazingly colourful display.

And, of course, (sadly), I’ve had just two beers at the very end of the day. There was no way I could have had one, two or more beers during the day AND keep up the pace to complete the trail. See below – maybe again in future with some friends, not in one day…

What I liked about the 13 breweries trail:

  • woods, fields, villages, it all varies a lot and regularly so the surrounding does not get boring at all;
  • up and down also alternating slightly, meaning there is no steep climb taking away your breath (the one mentioned above does not count as breathtaking)
  • the Franconian weather in autumn is ideal for this 13 breweries trail; having grown up in Franconia I know how hot it can get in summer, so spring might be the only alternative to an autumn hiking session.

What I did not like about my 13 breweries trail:

  • way too much tarmac (40% of the entire trail); although quite ok for making good progress, I do prefer softer underground;
  • labelling of the trail is probably ok, but not for me: two signs were missing (unscrewed, maybe used as a souvenir?), in the most complicated part of the woods with tiny trails going in all sorts of directions there was not a single label/sign to be seen;
  • my mobile… battery is ok if it is just in standby or telephone mode, but it would not have covered the entire 13 breweries trail if I had used it as a guide;
  • my mobile (again)… this time the GPS functionality: twice it took more than 15 minutes to get a proper GPS-signal; no big deal on that trail, but if I had been really really lost then it could have ended in a major disaster.

The BIG question: Would I go again?

A definite “maybe” is the answer.

By myself, in one day: no.

13 breweries trail - Brauerei SauerWith friends, as a relaxed hike over let’s say three days, including stops in breweries for some wonderful food and beer: yes.

Although I have not visited any of them, if you would like to take a break from hiking and enjoy excellent Franconian food and beer, in those villages you will find restaurants:

Memmelsdorf, Merkendorf, Drosendorf, Schammelsdorf, Tiefenellern, Lohndorf, Geisfeld, Rossdorf, Amlingstadt, Strullendorf.

Will you hike the 13 breweries trail?

13 breweries trail - Brauerei Hoenig“Done it and very likely won’t come back” is my current thinking of the 13 breweries trail. It is, however, a very interesting trail for you if you have not grown up in Franconia. The landscape during the hike varies constantly, Franconian villages along the way offer fantastic places for a rest.

And, if need be due to heavy legs, too much sausages or beer, there are some shortcuts to get to the finish point much sooner.

What do you think, would this be something for you?

13 breweries trail - going down

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