Quick Stats

  • Distance: 52Km (depends on route)
  • Height Gain: 155m
  • Trip Time: 4+h
  • Surface Type: Paved bike path
  • Weapon of Choice: Road bike (or anything with wheels really)
  • Resources: https://www.bbtravel.lt/
Just 2.5 Km away on the right side of this photo is Russia. Did you know Russia shares a border with Lithuania? I didn’t. Geography time!
Normally, I put the map as the very last photo, but I think this will be more interesting first. Here is the neighborhood we are visiting (thanks Google Maps). Notice the piece of land in the bottom left hand corner that shares a border with Lithuania, that is the city of Kaliningrad. Although it is completely detached from Russia, this city is an exclave of Russia. Also note the tiny strip of land in the sea that goes from Klaipeda to Kaliningrad. We had heard you could ride bikes up to the Russian border on this strip of land.
This situation also results in some weird logistical problems like flying from the Russian city of Kaliningrad to Moscow which are both technically in Russia. When the EU banned all Russian aircraft from their airspace, the flights now have to go around the long way. This adds about 700km to the journey from Kaliningrad to Moscow. We would see these planes from the beaches in Lithuania passing by.
But enough geography for one day. We found a company that specializes in riding a bike down the Curonian Spit. They would drop us off with some trusty Baltic bikes right near the Russian border, then pick us up at a ferry near the north end. The route we followed is the red line.
We start our day in the largest town on the spit, Nida (population 3000). The entire spit is about 98km long but is split in half with Lithuania claiming one side and Russia the other. The majority of the Lithuanian half is a nature preserve. When Russia invaded Ukraine, Lithuania closed the border with Russia, it is now a no-go zone. Fortunately, we are biking away from Russia.
There is a bike path that connects all the small towns and nature reserves along the spit. The path is paved most of the way and is generally flat. Traveling by bike is without question the best way to explore the entire spit.
Why not stop and have a beach side work out while you are riding along the coast. Free public gyms seem to be pretty popular in Lithuania. Some of the gyms even had equipment for people in wheelchairs, very cool.
The path passed by a number of small fishing villages that are now more likely to be vacation getaways than the home of a hard working fisherman.
In other places, the bike path passes through some very nice forests. The Curonian spit was created by sand blowing in from the ocean. Nearly all of the trees and forests on the spit were planted by humans to try and stop the sand from covering their houses and roads etc… In fact, an entire town was lost to sand, more on that to come.
Biking is fun, weeeeee!
But watch out for danger noodles on the bike path. This is the second snake we came across. I’m no snake expert but I’d assume the yellow markings on their head means that they are friendly and not poisonous, which is why this snake happily stayed in place while I took their picture. According to one of the signs enroute, there are also moose on the spit, but we didn’t see any.
Another bay, another sleepy fishing village.
The pathway eventually veers away from the coast and heads inland. The pavement surface really deteriorated but they plastered the area with bike signs which was reassuring we were still heading the right way.
As we pass through the forest the paved path becomes more like a hiking trail. I really wish I had my mountain bike from home with me. But the trusty Baltic bike rental would have to work. We had scheduled a specific town and time for a van to come pick us up and had to keep going.
A closer look at the trusty Baltic bike rentals. Included with each rental was a bottle of water and a bike lock. We stopped at numerous places along the way, locked up the bikes and went exploring.
One of those stops is the Nagliai Nature Reserve. Home to the largest sand dunes on the spit. You are only permitted to walk on the wooden boardwalks that protect the dunes from erosion. The dunes are created from strong westerly winds that blow in sand from the sea. If it wasn’t for all the trees planted by humans, the majority of the split would just be dunes like these.
When the boardwalk ends, we take off our shoes and start hiking to the top of the dunes. The dunes move as much as 15 meters per year. The result of that is as the dunes move in, they would completely cover roads and towns. Despite the residents best efforts to fight back against the incoming sand, they eventually gave up and had to abandon their homes. Under these dunes are 2 towns that were abandoned in the 17 and 1800’s. On the entire spit, 14 towns have been covered by incoming sand dunes.
View from the top of the same dune. As I mentioned, we are currently on top of two towns now covered in sand. Just north of here are two more covered towns, under these dunes out there somewhere. At 50 meters above sea level, this also happens to the be the high point. You know what means!
We took the trusty Baltic bikes over to the other side of the spit. This side of the spit faces out to the Baltic Sea whereas we have been facing the main land of Lithuania before.
And that Baltic coast line is spectacular. I’m told those same winds that created the sand dunes make for great wind surfing as well.
I like this sign because it gives you an idea of the Lithuanian language (the direct google translate says it reads “Don’t Rush”). You may have also noticed how clean Lithuania is, there is very little garbage or neglected areas. Lithuanians hold natural areas in high regard and work hard to protect them.
Just before passing over this bridge we had ridden through a forest full of Cormorant birds. Fun fact, when a cormorant bird detects a threat, they can shoot acidic poop at the invader and regurgitate fish in their direction. As a result, the pathway was absolutely covered with acidic bird poop and half digested fish. I held my breath (like that would somehow help) and didn’t dare stop or take out my camera as we were surround by 1000’s of these birds. I’m pretty sure I contracted every disease known to man riding down that portion of the bike path.
Our Journey comes to an end as we approach the town of Juodkrante. Having arrived early, we had a beer to wash away the acidic bird poop and waited for our ride to collect the rental bikes and take us back to the mainland where we will continue to drive down the Baltic coast. More to come….


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *