The source is located at the edge of the Teutoburg Forest in Bad Lippspringe close to the city of Paderborn. It runs westward through Lippstadt and then along the northern edge of the Ruhr area. The river finally enters the Rhine at Wesel.
Due to industrial effluents and straightenings of the river's course the Lippe was in an ecological disastrous condition. Currently there are measures to revive the river fauna.