The Saale meanders for many miles through a mountainous region of forests, gorges and reservoirs, with a number of steep climbs. But the rewards for your exertion are great: stately residences, castles and ruins sit in splendour on the hills and slopes above the river valley. But there is much more than just fortifications and noble residences to discover on this classic route. Other highlights include the dripstone caves near Saalfeld, salt production plants and the university town of Jena. The Saale-Unstrut vineyards around Naumburg produce high-quality wines that are worth setting down your bike for. The Saale continues through meadows and riverside woods before flowing into the Elbe at Barby. Terrain: hilly in parts with some challenging climbs. The paths are mainly asphalt or crushed brick/stone; short sections are unsurfaced or cobbled. Mostly free of cars. Scenery: the middle and upper reaches of the Saale river are dominated by mountains. The route flatten outs from Saalfeld to the Elbe confluence, but hillsides, woods and vineyards remain a feature.
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