The regional bicycle route R3 now leads across the Kinzig Valley Dam and then turns right to follow along the reservoir, which is just downstream from Steinau.
The dam was built between 1976 and 1982 for three purposes: protection from flooding, serving as a source of water during droughts and generating electricity. Supposedly the dam is high enough to protect against any floodwaters, even if they reach the highest level that has been recorded in the past thousand years.
From August to November 2002, the reservoir was emptied for the purpose of checking the stability and safety of the dam.
The R3, also known as the Rhine-Main-Kinzig route, is one of nine numbered regional bicycle routes in Land Hessen.
The route starts in Rüdesheim and follows the Rhine River to Wiesbaden. From there is goes along the Main River through Frankfurt to Hanau, and then up the Kinzig Valley through Gelnhausen, Wächtersbach, Steinau, Schlüchtern and Fulda. It ends in Tann, in the Röhn hills.
The R3 is well-signposted and is mostly car-free, since it uses small access roads that were originally made for farmers or for the forest service. The downside of this is that the route tends to zigzag a bit, to follow these small roads along property lines or to take advantage of existing bridges and underpasses. This means that the bicycle route is slightly longer than the roads made for cars, which tend to go in a straight line with little regard for anything that used to be in the way.
These ICE trains don’t stop in Steinau, but train service to Steinau is still good thanks to the hourly Regional Express trains that stop there.
My photos in this post are from 2008. I revised the text in 2021.