A vast forest through which wild streams rush to unite into a single river. Wide meadows stretching along the banks of the river on wide clearings. Wooded hills and steep cliffs that line the winding valleys with old mills, pretty half-timbered houses, magnificent palaces and historic castles.
On a route of 123 kilometres you can experience this beautiful Thuringian landscape, while you cycle along the Ilm Valley cycle path from the source of the Ilm in Allzunah to the mouth of the Saale in Großheringen. Cycling along the river you can not only enjoy the beautiful landscape, but also follow in the footsteps of the poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who lived in Weimar and was inspired by some places along the Ilm.
So that you can ride the cycle path on a relaxed long weekend, we have divided it into four stages, which are between 18 and 37 kilometres long. Most of the route goes downhill and leads you along well asphalted cycle paths. Along the cycle path, you will always have the opportunity to take a break at rest areas or stop in restaurants and cafés. At the end of each stage you have a wide choice of accommodation in the towns and you also have the option of switching to the train if you want to shorten the tour or the weather is not good.
On weekends, the RennsteigShuttle train also takes you directly to Rennsteig station, which is about two and a half kilometres from the starting point at Allzunah. You can find information about the exact timetable on the website: rennsteigbahn.de. So that you don't have to plan much, we have included this short stretch in the first stage. So your trip on the Ilm Valley cycle path can start right away.
The Ilm Valley cycle path is recommended in the brochure "Deutschland per Rad entdecken" by the ADFC (German Cyclist's Association) and is ranked as a quality cycle route with four stars. More information (in German): adfc.de/artikel/radurlaub-als-sternstunde
Actually, the Ilm Valley Cycle Route begins in Allzunah on one of the source streams of the Ilm. But to get you comfortably to the starting point of the bike path, we have you in this first stage also equal to the way there with built. From the Rennsteig train station you cycle for about two and a half kilometers on an almost flat route through the Thuringian Forest until you come to the Ilm Spring in Allzunah. Here begins the Ilm Valley Cycle Path.The Ilm Spring in Allzunah is not the only source of the Ilm. The Lengwitz is one of three spring streams from which the Ilm draws its water. So you cycle on the first kilometer always downhill beautifully along the Lengwitz through the Thuringian Forest, until it merges with Stürzerbach with the other two source streams, the Taubach and Freibach. Together, the three streams form the Ilm. Continue on the mostly gently sloping cycle path past meadows and through the beautiful forest of the Ilm following direction Ilmenau, the first stage destination.If you still have energy after the short 18 kilometer first stage, it is worthwhile to visit the Kickelhahn, the Ilmenau local mountain, on which stands a lookout tower. The tower is the landmark of Ilmenau and offers you a great view. That was also the case of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who was inspired by the beautiful view of the poem "Wandrers Nachtlied".
Today, 37 kilometers of the beautiful Ilm Valley Cycle Path await you, taking you from Ilmenau to Kranichfeld. Through the Schortetal you partly cycle along the banks of the Ilm. Behind Langewiesen, the longest valley bridge in Thuringia crosses your path, which impresses with its impressive 1681 meters in length, especially if you go down by bike.Via Gräfinau-Angstedt you cycle on the cycle path through the Ilm Valley, which leads continuously pleasant downhill. Between the individual villages, which lie on the way, beautiful sections of the bike path await you, which will lead you through beautiful nature with wide meadows and small wooded areas. At Kleinhettstedt you can make a stopover in the mustard mill, which is absolutely worth seeing because of the pretty half-timbered houses. At the mill, you can taste the variety of mustard varieties that are made there and stop by at the restaurant to fortify yourself.After the break, it goes over the karst cave behind Dienstedt to Kranichfeld, today's stage destination. Here you can end the day with a visit to the two castles of the city, the Upper Castle and the Niederburg.
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From Kranichfeld on the 29 kilometer long third stage, which today holds a few exciting climbs for you, to Weimar, where you can walk in the footsteps of Goethe again.The cycle path from Kranichfeld to Tannroda takes you on a relatively direct route. In the small town you can stop for a moment and admire the impressive castle complex. Then it goes through picturesque countryside at the edge of the forest towards Bad Berka. In the spa park of the city you have the opportunity to refresh your legs in the Kneipp facility and pay a visit to the Goethe fountain, whose water should have healing effects.Behind Bad Berka, the cycle path winds its way through the Ilm Valley, which is lined on the left side by wooded hills, some of which have impressive rock faces sloping vertically down into the valley. Here you can also see the remains of the Buchfarter rock castle, which consists of several chambers and corridors, which were probably hewn in the 10th century in the cliffs. Also in Buchfart is an old mill, which invites you with its mill shop for a little break.In a large arc you then cycle over wide fields of the Ilm following direction Weimar. Through the picturesque Ilmpark, it goes to Goethe's garden house, today's stage destination. The house is located in the Ilmpark, where you can enjoy the beautiful nature, before you end the day in the historic city of Weimar.
Today, the last stage of the four-day bike tour is on the Ilm Valley Cycle Route. It is 37 kilometers long and takes you from Weimar to the mouth of the Ilm to Großheringen. From Weimar you drive under the more than 130-year-old six-arch bridge that spans the Ilm Valley, past romantic villages and picturesque castles. On the way on the Ilm Valley Cycle Path, you will always have nice opportunities for rest, whether at a rest stop or the places along the way, with restaurants and cafes invite you to linger.For example, the oil mill in Eberstedt offers such a break, because not only can you eat well there, but you can also experience a lot of different activities. Among other things, you can fish on the grounds, watch goats in the animal enclosure or visit the mill. From Eberstedt you then cycle downhill over Bad Sulza along the Ilm, which is lined with beautiful vineyards, to its mouth in Großheringen. Here you can see from an old wooden bridge, how the Ilm unites with the Saale after more than 120 kilometers.In Großheringen you have the opportunity to continue your cycle tour either on the Saale Cycle Path or to take the train from the nearby train station to return home. Before doing so, however, it is advisable to stop off in one of the wineries in Großheringen to end the beautiful bike tour on the Ilmtal Cycle Path.