Roman Canal Hiking Trail - aqueduct Mechernich, © Natalie Glatter, Wandermagazin

Roman Canal Hiking Trail

Following the footsteps of the Romans from the Eifel to Cologne

Where the Romans once directed fresh water from the Eifel mountains to Cologne, tourists and walkers can now marvel at ancient relics on the Roman Canal hiking trail.

The Römerkanal-Wanderweg (Roman Canal Hiking Trail) follows historic paths: in around 80 AD, Roman master builders constructed an aqueduct from Nettersheim to what was then Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium to supply the city, now known as Cologne, with high-quality drinking water from the Eifel. At around 95 kilometres, the canal was one of the longest water supply networks in the Roman Empire and one of the most important pieces of Roman construction north of the Alps.

Visitors can still marvel at relics of the ancient structure, thanks to the 116 kilometre Roman Canal Hiking Trail that runs along its length. In seven stages from the Eifel through the Rhein-Erft district to Cologne, the route offers views of magnificent Roman engineering at 70 different locations. The trail crosses through the scenic countryside of the Northern Eifel and Rhineland nature parks. This ensures that there is something for nature lovers, as well as history and technology enthusiasts.

The route can easily be hiked in seven stages, which range in length from 13 to 22 kilometres. As well as Roman ruins, variety is offered by numerous other sights along the way, such as the Baroque moated castle of Burg Kendenich in Hürth, the ruins of the Rheinbacher Burg, whose “witch tower” was most likely used as a prison in the era of witch hunts, or Burg Lüftelberg in Meckenheim, with its impressive Baroque gardens.

A route with rail connections that is also ideal for cyclists

Trained hiking guides offer guided tours along the Roman Canal Hiking Trail, but the route can also be easily hiked without assistance. Around 50 information boards along the route indicate Roman remains, ensuring that even hikers without a guide will learn something about the old Roman canal.

The route is easily accessible via public transport thanks to several train lines that run parallel to the path. Cycling enthusiasts can also bring their bikes along, since the Roman Canal Hiking Trail is easy to tackle on two wheels – in four stages ranging in length from 23 to 40 kilometres.

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Der Weg führt die Wanderer durch den Wald, © Nordeifel Tourismus GmbH
Roman Canal Hiking Trail - aqueduct Mechernich, © Natalie Glatter, Wandermagazin
Das Aquädukt Mechernich, © Natalie Glatter, Wandermagazin

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