Planning for "border trail" moves forward

Unique in Europe: This is the mountain bike project of the 14 municipalities, which have started planning together with the Waldeck-Frankenberg district in 2020. Cycling and mountain biking are booming - and not just since the effects of the Covid19 pandemic. More and more people are being drawn to nature and vacations by bike, and e-bikes in particular are very much in vogue.

With the creation of an innovative mountain bike trail network, the district is responding to current developments in the bicycle market. A trail network that is based at its core on individual trail parks whose main feature is narrow and medium-width paths (so-called "single trails") that are embedded in nature, predominantly through forests. In these trail parks, different rounds can be combined with each other, so that each individual park is a highlight for visitors and residents. An additional special feature is also offered by the connection of the parks with each other. Because if you want, you can ride your bike from Diemelsee to Hatzfeld on signposted paths and experience a lot on the trails.

Not only the size and nature of this project is unique, but also the exemplary inter-municipal cooperation. The municipalities of Bad Arolsen, Bad Wildungen, Battenberg, Diemelsee, Diemelstadt, Edertal, Hatzfeld, Korbach, Lichtenfels, Twistetal, Vöhl, Volkmarsen, Waldeck and Willingen are participating in the project. They are supported by the district of Waldeck-Frankenberg, which has taken over the coordination and management. Together with the commissioned planning offices, a consortium consisting of Bioline (Lichtenfels), Diddie Schneider (Bischofsmais) and Bike Projects (Ratingen), the project is being continuously developed.

The main goal is to generate additional tourism value through the creation of the new mountain bike infrastructure. This additional added value will be distributed among all the communities involved in the project. This is because new, attractive offers are being created in each locality, which are not only aimed at visitors from all over Germany, but also at guests in neighboring countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark, for example. In addition, there are many positive side factors that this project brings with it. Among other things, hikers will enjoy more peace and quiet on their trails in the future and the forest in general will be spared by directing and channeling, the ever-increasing number of mountain bikers.

New target groups are in the foreground

Last year, a target group forecast was already prepared, which showed that completely new target groups will be addressed. The new trail network will not only inspire the sporty mountain bikers already known in the district, but above all children, young people, adults and seniors.

Depending on the special circumstances of each individual location, the project office develops trail concepts with individual focuses so that the overall product is as diverse as possible. A total of around 19.8 million euros is being invested in the planning and construction of the trail parks. The costs are being subsidized by the European Regional Development Fund "Investment in your Future" and by the Joint Task "Improvement of the Regional Economic Structure". These subsidies come from the state of Hesse as well as the European Union. The remaining costs are shared among the municipalities and the Waldeck-Frankenberg district.

Parallel to the planning of the project office, an organizational structure is currently being prepared in which all municipalities are equally represented. The newly founded organization will take care of the operation, marketing and maintenance of the "Grenztrail". "Border Trail" is the working title of the project, which will soon give way to a more appropriate name.

The next steps are to develop trail park locations and routes in each community. To this end, talks are underway at various levels: From the municipalities to the district to the Domanium as land owner, from nature conservation to a wide variety of stakeholders. The suggestions of local bike experts are also being incorporated so that a coherent overall concept is created at the very end. As soon as the first routes have been approved, the construction phase can begin.

If all goes well, guests and residents alike will be able to ride the first trails in the region in spring 2022. Completions of all trails and parks are gradually targeted until the end of 2025.