DVV, Family hiking, German Volksmarch, hiking in Germany, Hiking with Stroller, IVV, Kinderwagen Hiking, kontrostelle, Rhineland Pfalz Hiking, Stroller hiking in Germany, Volksmarch, Volksmarching, walking
When we wrote about how to Volksmarch like a German , we had just completed our first walk and were so amazed about this German Phenomenon. Now 14 Volksmarches and over 75KM later we have more information to pass along about our hikes!
We started in the spring of 2014 and have completed about 2 Volksmarches a month since. On the map above it shows each location, with all them have been within a 90 minute drive from our home in Rhineland-Pfalz. To pick a Volksmarch, you can go to the Volksmarch website for your country. This is the site just for those in Germany. Another great way to learn about Volksmarches is to get brochures in the start hall of an event. There are always dozens of brochures for future events, hiking vacations, and permanent trails (Permenante Wanderweg).
Some tips we have picked up about reading the ivv.com site –
Search by state: The state is shown in Parentheses, for example (RP) is Rhineland-Pfalz and (BW) is Baden-Württemberg. There is also an option to select by the state by clicking on Regionales Angebot from the left hand menu.
Date and Time: The day(s) and months are shown first in standard European sequence (day.month) or (day1/day2.month). Most Volksmarches are both weekend days, but some are just one day. The town is shown in the bottom part of the entry with the address for both the local club point of contact and the starting location. Sometimes their is also a hyperlink for the event flyer. The start times are listed also, so be sure to check because sometimes one of the weekend days will have shorter hours.
Distance: Germany typically has a 5 or 6K, 10K, and 20K. Sometimes there are half marathons, full marathons, or other distances. In France, however, the shortest distance is 10K, so you had better be in good shape before trying one in France, especially if you are pushing a stroller!
Stroller friendly: an asterisk (*) shows which routes are stroller (Kinderwagen) friendly. This is a nice feature, but we have found it is not always accurate. We have seen routes deemed friendly are slightly challenging, and that is with a jogging stroller, while others not deemed friendly are very easy. For example, last weekend in Walpershofen the route was nearly complete paved, wide, traffic free back roads. We didn’t see any other strollers though and typically we see a few each time.
The starting point is the Start Hall, and there are usually IVV signs coming off the autobahn that lead you to the parking areas. The Start Hall might be a community center, Sports Gymnasium or other public building. Most times there are dedicated parking areas in a nearby field or large lot. The entry fee is 2 Euros per person which goes to the host hiking club and covers you for insurance purposes on the route… as we all know how dangerous a sport waking can be. The 2 Euros gets you a start card which you fill out with your name and address to turn in after, and to get stamped along the way to validate your distance at each control station (Kontrolstelle). After getting your start cards, look around for a route map which are sometimes up on the wall, then head out to the start of the route!
Pick your distance (5 or 6K, 10K, and 20K) and start on your way! There will be signs to the start and the routes are typically marked very well. Some routes will use different colored tape to indicate distances, and tie these to trees or posts along the way. Others will use chalk, while others will have signs where there are turns in the trail. Approximately halfway through the march (for the 5-6K distances) you will come to the control station (Konstrolstelle).
The Kontrollstelle (or Stempelstelle – “stamp stop”) will usually have a sign saying it is up ahead, or 100m ahead. MAKE SURE TO GET A STAMP! We made this mistake once and had to practically beg for them to give us credit afterwards. Sometimes the Kontrolstelle will be very early or late in the march, so make sure to ask for the stamp. They also have free tea – sometimes cold and sometimes warm, and drinks for purchase sometimes as well as the occasional snack. Our daughter was quite a fan of one that had free gingerbread cookies recently!
At some point the longer distances will split off, and there will be an additional Kontrollstelle for each corresponding longer distance (2 for 10K, 3 for 20K, etc). This proves to the hiking club that you completed the distance.
After the Kontrollstelle, enjoy the rest of the hike! Usually they will send you out and back a different route. When you finish, make sure to get your completion cards stamped and enjoy some food afterwards!
There are two types of completion cards – events and distance. For your first 10 marches, you only get stamps for events. These first cards are free and these keep a running total of your events and mileage. After reaching 10 events you must purchase the booklet for events 11 through 30, and the distance booklet for 2 Euros each. It is good to keep your books in a ziplock bag or a cover and ensure to bring these along each week!
There are actually awards for completing Volksmarches! Awards are given for both distances (starting at 500 KM) and number of events (10, 30, 50, 100…). We recently completed our 10th and are proud fo have bronze certificates and pins! There is a complicated system that we won’t get into involving your ID number, etc. but you can usually find an award person to explain it once you reach the 11 event mark.
Volksmarches are a great way to get home cooked German staples at very cheap prices! At the start/finish hall there are typically drinks, grilled items, sandwich/soup, and dessert areas. Typical main dishes are bratwurst, currywurst, Frikidelle (hamburger like), pea soup, goulash, and French fries.
The dessert areas serve as much or more variety, and include a range of cakes and pies donated by the hiking club members. A typical brat will cost 2 euros, the soups 3-4 euros, and the desserts about 1 euro. When you factor in the 2 euro starting fee, plus a full lunch, everything is 10-15 Euros… A great value!! (and a hint – they usually will wrap desserts to go so you can always ask.)
Volksmarches are a fun and exciting way to see Germany as a family and find areas you wouldn’t normally travel to. Give them a try, there may be one in your area this next weekend! Here are just a few more of our favorite spots so far.