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Pottenstein: Toboggan, slide and coaster in one is 100 percent fun

By RICK EMERT | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 15, 2004

Couple great spring weather with the incredible natural beauty of Bavaria’s Little Swiss, and you simply can’t go wrong.

Incredible rock formations jut out of the hillside. Clear, bubbling streams, popular with fisherman, run along the winding roads. Automobiles mosey along at about 40 mph, a nice change from the autobahn.

In the heart of the region is Pottenstein, a nature-lover’s paradise, a mecca for campers and rock climbers. It also boasts one of the most unusual rides one can expect to encounter. The Sommerrodelbahn, or summer toboggan run, at Pottenstein is part water slide — without the water); part toboggan — without the snow); and part roller coaster — without the unsightly masses of metal marring the countryside.

Despite its name, the ride also is open in the fall and in winter if the weather is good.

Built in 1997, the ride offers an approximately 3,500-foot course that twists and turns down about 900 feet of hillside. Much of the track is obscured from view to motorists on nearby highway 470, just as German planners designed it.

The toboggan is easy to control, with one lever for both braking and accelerating. The adventurous rider can finish the course in about two minutes by not using the hand brake. Those who choose to travel more slowly will finish in up to five minutes. Riders are only required to brake as a safety precaution if they come within 75 feet of another toboggan.

The ride is safe, but from the ground looking up, younger children may be intimidated by the height of the course.

The amusement complex offers more than just the toboggan ride. It also has a combination bungee cord and trampoline for adults and children. The harness includes two 25-foot bungee cords with a trampoline for safety and to give the jumper more height.

Nature lovers may want to check out the hiking and walking trails that lead from the Sommerrodelbahn to other popular attractions in Pottenstein and nearby Tucherfeld. These include the “Devil’s Hole” cave, which is within walking distance from the toboggan ride; the Burgpottenstein Museum, with its collection of weapons, books and artifacts from the 1500s to the 1900s; a fish hatchery, where chitldren can feed the fish for a slight fee; and the Frankische Schweiz Museum Tucherfeld, a regional museum.

While there are several small taverns and restaurants in Little Swiss, the Sommerrodelbahn complex has a large picnic area with tables for those who wish to save money by packing a lunch.


On the QT

Directions: From Bamberg, take autobahn 73 to the Buttenheim exit. Follow this road into Ebermannstadt, and make a left at the light onto highway 470. The road leads straight through Pottenstein, and the Sommerrodelbahn is on the right side about 300 feet outside of town.

From Grafenwöhr and Vilseck, take highway 470 toward Pottenstein, and the Sommerrodelbahn will be on the left just before the town. Travel time from all three starting points is about one hour.

Times: Open 10 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, March 20 through Nov. 5. The rest of the year, opening depends on weather; call for information.

Cost: Toboggan ride: 2 euros for adults and 1.50 euros for children aged 2-14; a six-ride ticket is 9 euros for adults and 7 euros for children. Bungee-trampoline: 3.50 euros for adults, 2.50 euros for children. Passes are available at the ticket counter for the attractions in Pottenstein and Tucherfeld. Tickets are 19.50 for adults and 12.50 for children, aged 2-14.

Food: Snack machines are near the ticket stand, and there is a large picnic area with tables for those who pack a lunch. Restaurants are within walking distance, including one at the nearby “Devil’s Hole” cave.

More information: For information on operating hours during off-season and bad weather, call (+49) (0)9243-92200.

A toboggan makes the slow trek to the top of the Sommerrodelbahn course. It takes between two to five minutes to reach the end of the approximately 3,500-foot (1,000 meter) course, located in Pottenstein, Germany.
RICK EMERT / S&S

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