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 at the University Hospital in Jena Lobeda and 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 past a Slavonic rampart. 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 on a high path above 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!
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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.
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, you can look forward to a very beautiful wine slope, the Golmsdorfer Gleisberg - especially in autumn a blaze of colors.
Your hike today takes you to a large conqueror monument, the Napoleon Stone, and through beautiful nature. The stage is relatively short at just under ten kilometers - 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 natural history grove and then you will enter the open land area of a former military training area.
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 at the Mühltal stop in Jena West. 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.
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 the 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 onto the plateau, which rewards 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.