Wulfbach Spring Cave

Useful Information

Location: Near Mühlheim a.d. Donau. A81 exit Rottweil, B14 to Tuttlingen or A81 exit Tuningen, B253 to Tuttlingen. From Tuttlingen northeast to Mühlheim a.d. Donau, turn left towards Kolbingen. At the city limit towards Kolbingen, at the sawmill. (48°2'29.11"N, 8°53'26.96"E)
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave SpeleologyRiver cave
Light: none
Dimension: L=6,497 m, T=9 °C.
Guided tours: cave closed
Bibliography: Jürgen Bohnert, Siegfried Geiger, Herbert Jantschke (1998): Die längste Höhle der Schwäbischen Alb, 96 Seiten mit 60 Farbfotos, 50 s/w-Abbildungen, elf Karten und Zeichnungen sowie 4 Tabellen, erschienen im DRW-Verlag Weinbrenner GmbH & Co., ISBN-10: 3871813915, ISBN-13: 978-3871813917.
Bookauf Amazon.de
Address: Höhlenforschungsgruppe Ostalb-Kirchheim e.V., Rainer Straub (Vorsitzender). E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1879 first written mention in the Oberamtsbeschreibung.
1938 water use as drinking water terminated because of frequent cases of typhus.
18-APR-1959 start of modern exploration.
1965 exploration ends at a collapse in the fourth syphon.
31-DEC-1984 Axel Gnädinger discovers a continuation and starts fürther explorations.
23-JUN-1985 exploration ends again at the Gnädinger Versturz.
1991 start of the exploration by the Höhlenforschungsgruppe Ostalb-Kirchheim e. V. (HFGOK).
07-MAY-1995 Andreas Kücha and Rainer Straub discover a continuation.
MAR-1998 book Die längste Höhle der Schwäbischen Alb printed.
1998-2000 microbiologic examination of water probes and bacteria from the Wulfbachquellhöhle.
06-MAY-2000 lethal dive accident.


The Wulfbachquellhöhle (Woolve Run Spring Cave) is unfortunately not accessible. The cave entrance is a karst spring, the first 1,000 m of cave passage are more or less water filled. Diving equipment is necessary to enter this cave. But the first part of the cave is also narrow and dangerous with floods, so it is only possible for sophisticated cave divers, to enter this cave. In general showcaves.com describes only touristic caves, with very few exceptions. This is one, because of a fine book which was published some years ago in German. It allows a sort of virtual cave visit to everyone. We strongly recommend not to enter the cave, even if you think you are a good diver. In the year 2000 a skilled scuba diver payed such a try with his life! As a result the cave

The spring of the Wulfbach, a small tributary of the young Danube, is located north of the village Mühlheim. If you follow the road from Mühlheim to Kolbingen, you may leave your car at the city limits. There's a cemetery with a parking lot to the right. The spring is reached on a short signposted trail by foot, on the other side of the road behind the sawmill. The trail to the spring is very pleasant and the spring itself, located in a small entrance grotto, is also worthwhile.

The Wulfbach Spring has a yield between 10 and 200 l/s. That's enough water to drive several mills, which may have lead to the name Mühlheim, Mühle is the German term for mill. The spring has a catchment area of about 24 km² located mostly on the plateau above the Danube valley, in the area of the villages Kolbingen and Renquishausen. The first written mention of the spring was in the Oberamtsbeschreibung in 1879. In this time the sovereign of the country Württemberg ordered the preparation of a complete description of his country, area by area. The political structure which was used to partition the country was the Oberamt, hence the name. The description of this area mentions a "mächtige Quelle in einer Felsgrotte", a mighty spring in a rock grotto.

On 18-APR-1959 the exploration of the spring started with the widening of the entrance by a group of cave divers. Hans Matz and Martin Kolb were the first to dive through the first sump, with diving equipment and swimming trunks. Exploration was continued until 1965, by different cave divers includingJochen Hasenmayer and ended at a roof collapse which was a dead end at this time.

The story continues much later, in 1984, when Axel Gnädinger visited the collapse and discovered a narrow lead. On 31-DEC-1984, after some widening work underwater, he is able to follow this lead through the collapse. Until today this point is the most difficult part of the cave, with two extremely narrow parts, although the most narrow point has been widened using a battery powered drilling machine. After this breakthrough the cave was explored to a length of 1,100 m in only six months. It ended again at a collapse called Gnädinger Versturz. This collapse is not underwater, but digging was soon stopped as it was too dangerous.

In 1991 exploration was reactivated by the Höhlenforschungsgruppe Ostalb-Kirchheim e. V. (HFGOK). This caving club has several cave divers among his members, who started to survey the known part of the cave. In JAN-1992 Markus Schafheutle created the first cave map from the entrance to the Kolbinger Halle. On 07-MAY-1995 Andreas Kücha andRainer Straub discovered a lead through the so far impregnable Gnädinger Versturz. Now the narrow entrance section was overcome and the cave was explored and surveyed to a total length of 6,497 m. It became the longest cave of the Swabian Jura, which it for a decade. There were other impressive explorations made since then, e.g. the CaveMühlbachquellhöhle which is longer but not part of the Swabian Jura, it belongs to the Franconian Jura. Extraordinary discoveries in the SpringBlautopf and Blautopfhöhle made it much longer.

The most impressive part of the Wulfbachquellhöhle is the huge chamber called Wubadrom. It was the biggest chamber on the Swabian Jura for about a decade, but it is now outmatched by the Apokalypse in the Blautopf. This cave is a typical example of the lowest level of the karstification. It is a river caver cave, also called an active cave, which means it is formed at the moment by the erosional forces of the river. It is a cave typical for the horizontally layered limestone, formed along parallel clefts. There are clefts in two main directions, and so the cave passage always follows one of those directions, which results in a typical zig zag structure. The ceiling is formed by a single layer of limestone, because the layers tend to break down completely as soon as they have a gap.