91 kilometres (56 miles) of concentrated nature, breathtaking views, Thuringian delicacies and exciting contemporary history – that is the SaaleHorizontale. On nine stages, the circular hiking trail leads from Jena, the second-largest city in Thuringia, to Ziegenhain municipality, Donburg town and the Leutratal and Cospoth nature reserve before returning to Jena. Romantic castle ruins, dreamy villages and ancient rocks provide an insight into the eventful history of the Middle Saale Valley. Orchard meadows covered with flowers, beech forests, sparse pine groves, orchids lining the way and imposing shell limestone rocks with steep slopes – this is the other side of the SaaleHorizontale.
Nature and culture, modernity and classicism, cultural landscape and geological history come together on this long-distance hiking trail. On the one hand, you walk through Thuringian villages characterised by half-timbered houses, see magnificent castles on hills overlooking small towns, and explore castle ruins from the Middle Ages. On the other hand, you catch glimpses of the modern skyline of the beautiful university town of Jena again and again as you walk along narrow paths on steep mountain slopes.
You follow in the footsteps of Napoleon, Emperor Otto I, Goethe and Schiller, stop in cosy restaurants and hostels which serve famous regional hospitality, and enjoy specialities such as Thuringian grilled sausage, red cabbage, dumplings and beef roulades. To accompany your meal, you can also enjoy a tasty beer and wine from the local wine-growing regions – a hiking holiday on the SaaleHorizontale is a journey for all your senses. You will remember the special views over the wide countryside, the deep valleys, imposing buildings, villages and towns for a long time.
This could also be due to your sore muscles. The stages, including entry and exit, are between 9 and 18 kilometres (5.5 and 11 miles) long and you will climb up to 500 metres (1,640 feet) in altitude per day. Depending on your fitness, you should plan five to nine days for the Tour. However, the individual stages are designed in such a way that you can also easily hike them individually. Surefootedness is required in some steep and stony places. Good shoes and walking poles are recommended. You can take the train or bus to Jena, arriving at Jena-Paradies or Jena-West station. Buses and trams are a comfortable way to get around the city too. You can get to the starting point – Platanenstraße stop – with lines 3 and 5 (direction Lobeda-Ost). Further information on route planning can be found at the following link: vmt-thueringen.de. Now you can look forward to far-reaching views and eventful days around Jena!
The first stage starts in Jena and already has a great highlight ready for the first few kilometers: the Lobdeburgruine. From the ruins you have breathtaking views down into the valley to Lobeda, Drackendorf and the Leuchtenburg.You turn right towards Johannisberg and continue walking over the Slavic ramparts. We continue towards the summer linden tree. Soon you will reach the Fürstenbrunnen, a headwaters in the Pennickental. In the shade of the surrounding trees you can sit down and take a deep breath. You have already completed half of your tour and most of the ascent here.You continue through the Pennickental and reach the copper plate on narrow paths via the thieves' crib and the student slide. The descent takes place past the spectacular Teufelsloch back to Jena. But you really deserve a stop now!
A particularly impressive vantage point awaits you on the second stage: the Fuchsturm. You start in Jena and first hike steeply uphill past the Teufelslöchern and the copper plate. Soon you will catch a breathtaking view of the imposing tower.You are now on a plateau, so that there are hardly any vertical meters waiting for you today. Below the stone cross you go left to Ziegenhain. When you arrive in the village, turn right at the cemetery in the village towards Ziegenhainer Höhe and Fuchsturm. After a few meters uphill you have reached the height and enjoy a great view of the place.Now you will pass the Fuchsturm restaurant, which will inspire you with its beer garden. A stop here is definitely a good option. Then follow the signs to Jenzig. On the way you can already enjoy a great view of Jenaprießnitz, which you will soon reach. You can end the day with a hearty Thuringian meal in Wogau.
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And if you thought the SaaleHorizontale might be less promising, you were wrong. The third stage has some far-reaching views ready for you again. You start in Wogau and follow the signpost to the left in the direction of Jenzig. Take a deep breath, because now it’s a steep uphill climb.Arrived on the plateau, you deserve a break. From up here on the Jenzig ridge you can enjoy views of Wogau, Jenaprießnitz, the Fuchsturm and parts of the Saale valley. Now it goes on towards Laasan. First you get to Jenzig, from which you can look down on Jena Ost, Jena Nord, Löbstedt and Zwätze.Incidentally, the Trixi Trias dinosaur trail also ends here. On the dinosaur trail, dinosaur fans of all ages can learn a lot about the prehistoric beings that once swam around in the prehistoric sea. You can find out more about the dinosaur path at saurierpfad.de.You then hike through a beech forest to Laasan and can later visit the Kunitzburg ruins. It continues in serpentines down to Kunitz. On your way you will also pass the beautiful Grafenberg vineyard. In Kunitz you can treat yourself to a hearty snack and a delicious glass of wine. End for today!
Don't be alarmed, but on this tour you can expect two steeper climbs, which add up to a total of only 440 meters in altitude. It starts in Kunitz. You walk on the Laasaner Straße towards Saale and follow the signs towards Kunitzburg and Golmsdorf. On your way you pass the beautiful vineyards on the Grafenberg, which already make you want a delicious wine in the evening.From here you can enjoy beautiful views of Laasan and Kunitz. You leave the imposing Kunitzburg behind you and turn left to Golmsdorf. On a path you first hike through deciduous forest and later you come to a ridge path, which you continue to follow until you hike down towards Golmsdorf. In the further course, a very beautiful vineyard awaits you, the Gleisberg - a blaze of colors, especially in autumn.And soon the circle closes again on your circular hike when you tread the dirt road towards Kunitzburg. But first it goes uphill through a beech forest on the Großer Gleisberg towards Laasan. Arrived at the Kunitzburg, you get back over the vineyard to Kunitz and from there it goes on to Porstendorf.
This stage, with 18 kilometers the longest of the SaaleHorizontale, leads you to special natural treasures: In May and June the lush meadows are decorated with orchids and peonies, you wander through beech forests to fall in love with and enjoy views as far as your eye can see. The SaaleHorizontale can be so beguiling! You start at the train station in Porstendorf, cross the Saale and walk towards Golmsdorf. When you arrive in town, follow the signs to Tautenburg and Dornburg.First you reach the tranquil town of Beutnitz. A visit to the Evangelical Church of St. Trinity is worthwhile. Stop for a moment and prepare yourself mentally for the approaching ascent - because from now on it's uphill. On a short detour you climb up to the Zietschkuppe and see beautiful peonies and orchids on your way. You continue through a mixed forest with many beeches on a path to the Tautenburg ruins, which you reach after a pleasant descent. In Tautenburg there is also the Thuringia State Observatory and the very instructive Planet Trail. You can find more information about the observatory here: tautenburg.de//ausflugsziel-wanderempfänger/thueringer-landessternwarteBut don't rejoice too early: because soon things will be uphill again. On the Hohen Lehde you can expect a breathtaking view of Neuengönna, Porstendorf and the Saale Valley, which rewards you for all your efforts. Your provisions will of course be particularly tasty here. Later you dive back into the forest and hike on a stony, narrow path with a view of the Saale valley to Jena. From the Sophienterrasse you can enjoy a fantastic view of the Dornburg castles. You now go downhill through a beech forest towards Dorndorf, where you will happily move into your accommodation.
This stage offers you the great combination of castle sightseeing and breathtaking views. The 14 kilometers and 360 meters in altitude are almost insignificant. You start at Dornburg train station and take the stairs to the Dornburg palaces. Allow a little time to take a close look at the three castles in their differences.We continue in the direction of Neuengönna. Just turn around on your way from time to time - you will be rewarded with a great view of the Dornburg castles. You walk past gardens, fields, over orchards and further downhill until you reach the Plattenberg and enjoy a great view of Porstendorf, Beutnitz and the Gleistal. On your way you will pass other viewpoints. At kilometer ten you can also watch paragliders take off when the thermals are good. A fantastic photo opportunity!From now on it's only downhill towards Rautal and Jena. Soon the view opens up to Jena-Zwätze - and the wonderful vineyard in this area, the "Jenaer Käutzchenberg". The thought of a fine drop and a hearty meal makes your mouth water. It's good that you will soon arrive in the Jena district of Zwätze and can celebrate your end of hiking in an inn.
Your hike today takes you to a large conqueror monument, the Napoleon Stone, and through beautiful nature. At just under ten kilometers, the stage is relatively short - so you can start quite late and extend your breakfast to a brunch or take a long break on the way. It starts in Jena-Zwätze.You follow the signs towards Rautal, walk towards Burschenplatz and then continue towards Closewitz. Incidentally, this hiking trail runs parallel to the Winterling circular trail. The path is named after the small, yellow flowers that are in full bloom here in February and completely cover the forest floor. That is a fabulous natural spectacle! The Steinbach Gorge, a canyon in miniature format, is also interesting. Soon you will cross the open land area of the natural history grove via a former military training area.Here you can take a detour to the Napoleon Stone. On the one hand, a historical monument awaits you, and from here you can also enjoy a wonderful view over the Saale valley, to Jena and up to the Leuchtenburg. We continue towards Landgraf, past the Blinker Monument and the fitness trail to the observation tower. Either you stop right here at the Landgrafen restaurant or you hike past rock outcrops and the sunny mountains to the destination of your tour, the Gasthof Papiermühle on the western outskirts of Jena.
A wonderfully enchanted forest and a wonderful vantage point await you on your way. You only cover eleven kilometers and have enough time to enjoy your day to the fullest. It starts in Jena. You follow the signpost towards the forester's house and turn into the idyllic Mühltal. Soon after the first and only significant climb you will reach the Kahles Höhe viewpoint. You can make yourself comfortable on the bench and refresh yourself with a sip of water.Now you dive into the magical forest. You will encounter triple pines and winter linden trees until you reach another highlight: the Bismarck tower. The tower was built in 1909 in honor of Bismarck on the summit of the 328 meter high Tatzend. The politician had visited Jena in 1892. The tower is a 21 meter high round tower made of limestone blocks. From above you have an excellent view over Jena and the surrounding landscape.You continue to hike along the “Schlauer Ux” adventure trail to the Sternlinde. On the two-kilometer hiking trail, children and their parents learn a lot about the flora and fauna in the Jena city forest at 18 stations. If your stomach is rumbling, you can take a detour to the forest tower and the Forsthaus inn and fortify yourself with Thuringian specialties. It then continues on the forest path to the Ernst-Haeckel-Stein. From here you can enjoy a great view of the Lebetal, Winzerla, Ammerbach and Cospoth. The forest path and a forest path then descend into the Lebetal and on to Ammerbach.
Orchids as far as the eye can see and a romantic village idyll - this hike welcomes you with a lot of lovely scenery and great views. You start in Ammerbach and walk out of town. Soon you will reach a leisurely hiking trail above a meadow, from where you can enjoy views of Ammerbach and Lämmerberg.Then you get to the pretty little village Nennsdorf, which you leave immediately towards nature. Your path winds gently uphill past pine trees and through clearings to the plateau, which welcomes you with great views. It continues through mixed forest, wide meadows, fields and orchards until you reach the Leutratal and climb steadily downhill through the forest. Orchids bloom on the limestone slopes and on the meadows in early summer - a uniquely beautiful sight. But otherwise you can also hike here in wonderful nature.The autobahn, which now runs through a tunnel, once ran along the small town of Leutra. Nature can regain its place at this point and it does so with great success. The idyll here is simply overwhelming. Above Leutra, a path turns half-left and climbs steadily uphill towards Jagdberg. Once at the top you can see the imposing Leuchtenburg in the distance. On the ridge, the path turns left towards Göschwitz to your destination. You can now comfortably return home by train and look back on nine exciting and relaxing days on the SaaleHorizontale.