Rennsteig in the Thuringian Forest
The Rennsteig is probably the most famous and oldest continuous high-altitude hiking trail in Germany and even has its own anthem. Since 1951, the Rennsteig song has been heard far beyond the borders of Thuringia.
The 168-kilometre-long high-altitude hiking trail stretches from the Eisenach district of Hörschel on the Werra to Blankenstein on the Saale.
Die-hard hiking enthusiasts greet each other on the Rennsteig with "Gut Runst" which means "Good run". Countless vantage points and viewing platforms give you an unforgettable insight into the beauty of this landscape. Since 19 June 2000, there has also been an official Rennsteig cycle path. This path deviates a little from the historic Rennsteig here and there to avoid steep climbs along the way. As a result, the Rennsteig cycle trail is a total of 30 km longer than the hiking trail.In winter, the Rennsteig is a true paradise for cross-country skiers. Both beginners and advanced skiers can use the ski trail on the Rennsteig.
Excursion destinations on the Rennsteig
About 40 towns and villages lie along the famous Rennsteig. You should visit some of these towns during your hiking holiday. Whether traditional crafts, museums or architecture - there is much to discover and explore in the region around the Rennsteig.
If you spend your holiday in the Thuringian Forest and hike the Rennsteig from Hörschel to Blankenstein, you will have many opportunities to enjoy the view over the idyllic Thuringian Forest. The large Inselsberg mountain offers you distant views in all directions and you can comfortably make your way down into the valley on the summer toboggan run. In the Bleilochtalsperre near Blankenstein, the river Saale is impressively dammed. With a volume of 182,000 m³, this is the reservoir with the largest capacity in Germany.
"I love to hike, along the Rennsteig through the country..." is the secret anthem of Thuringia by the well-known musician Herbert Roth, which has been resounding since 1951. And the Rennsteig has lost none of its appeal for hikers, quite the contrary. It attracts around 100,000 tourists to the Thuringian Forest every year, making it the most frequented long-distance hiking trail in Germany.
Even when approaching the Thuringian Forest, there is almost no way to get past the Rennsteig. If you approach Oberhof by car on the A 71 motorway, for example, you are already reminded of it here. Coming from Erfurt, you pass through Germany's longest road tunnel, the Rennsteig Tunnel, which is 7,916 m long.
Rennsteig around Oberhof
Especially in the area around Oberhof, there is an abundance of charming hiking destinations near the Rennsteig. For example, the highest elevations in the Thuringian Forest, such as the Große Beerberg (with its 983 m the highest mountain in Thuringia), the Schneekopf with 978 m and the Große Finsterberg with 944 m, can be easily reached from here. The Rennsteig leads directly over the Grenzadler, in the immediate vicinity of which is the LOTTO Thüringen ARENA am Rennsteig. This is where competitions in the biathlon, cross-country skiing and the running disciplines in the Nordic combined are held. The ski jumps at Kanzlersgrund, the LOTTO Thüringen Skisport-HALLE Oberhof and the luge and bobsleigh track are all nearby.
In the Rennsteighaus at Grenzadler you can use barrier-free toilets and showers, store any sports equipment and lock up your valuables. At the weekend and during the season also on weekdays, colleagues from the Oberhof information desk are on hand to offer advice and assistance. Younger guests can let off steam at the Grenzadler on the Rennsteig Shoe, a play and adventure world for children.
If you continue along the Rennsteig towards the Rondell, you will pass the Diezel-Geba stone. This is one of the 13 Dreiherren stones that are still in the Rennsteig area. Together with the 1,300 boundary stones, these indicate that the Rennsteig, as a ridge trail, was also a border trail over long stretches in earlier centuries due to the political fragmentation of Thuringia. From here it is worth taking a detour to the Zella Loibe and the Schützenberghochmoor moor nature trail.
Arriving at the roundabout, the Rennsteig Garden, which is the largest and most species-rich alpine garden in Germany with over 4,000 different plant species from various parts of the world, offers a special kind of tourist attraction. Here you can find many plants that are otherwise only native to high mountains.
On the ridge of the Thuringian Forest
On the way to Schmücke, the Rennsteig leads over the Großer Beerberg, where you can enjoy a beautiful view of southern Thuringia and the Rhön Mountains from Plänckners Aussicht, the highest point on the route (973 m). When you reach the Schmücke, you should stop at the well-known inn and listen to the story of "Schmücke-Joel". Tours from here to the Großer Finsterberg, Schneekopf, Forsthaus Sattelbach and Suhler Hütte are also worthwhile. Guided hikes with a professional hiking guide are also offered from Oberhof both along the Rennsteig and the other routes, whereby the route and level of difficulty can be arranged individually. More information is available at the Oberhof information desk.
But even without a hiking guide it is almost impossible to get lost, as the network of paths throughout the Thuringian Forest is very well signposted. The Rennsteig, for example, is always marked with a white "R" (diversion routes and alternative routes to the main route are marked with a blue "R") on trees and stones. The other routes also have memorable markings, so the main hiking trails are marked with blue, red the area hiking trails and the local hiking trails with green and yellow. They are also marked with corresponding signs such as crosses, squares, dots, triangles or dashes.
However, it is still advisable to always carry a good hiking map with you. This is also available at the Oberhof information desk. A special highlight on the Rennsteig is the Rennsteig Run, which takes place every year in May. With an average of 15,000 participants and about 150,000 spectators, this event is Europe's largest cross-country run and is a remarkable mixture of sporting event and folk festival.
Curious? Come and see the beauty and diversity of the Thuringian Forest for yourself on your holiday.
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"I love to walk...."