The Rennsteig, Germany's oldest and best-known long-distance hiking trail, is both a cult and a myth. Here, you'll experience the magic and naturalness of the Thuringian Forest Mountains up close, while satisfying your desire for both a physical challenge and immersion in some seriously beautiful nature.
The Rennstieg stretches over 105 miles (169.3 kilometers) and tells the story of some valuable German history. Serving as a border and trade route since the Middle Ages, the historical path winds its way from Hörschel on the Werra through to the Thuringian Forest, across the Slate Mountains and the Franconian Forest — all the way to Blankenstein on the Saale. So you can experience the best of this trek, we have divided the full route into eight relatively easy stages.
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The Rennsteig begins at the Werraufer in Hörschel. Here, so it is custom, you should take a pebble, which you throw in the hall at the end of your tour. The first stage leads you about 19 kilometers almost steadily uphill. At the large Eichelberg (310 m above sea level) offers a beautiful view of the Wartburg, before you pass the Vachaer Stein. The obelisk and signpost is reminiscent of an old passport that Napoleon used already. Continue on mostly well-walked paths to the destination to Ascherbrück, which is easy to find, because the tour is consistently marked with a white "R".
Did you know already? The real meaning of the name Rennsteig is "to move fast". Originally, it was an old trade route that linked important cities and places where mainly urgent messengers were traveling.
The second stage takes you to about 25 km from Ascherbrück to Ebertswiese. Here condition and sure-footedness are in demand, because on the large island mountain reaches the Rennsteig with 916 m over the sea level its second highest point.
The summit compensates you for the strenuous climb with a breathtaking view. Downhill it goes in the direction of Possenröder cross. Here rest benches and a refuge for a break. Soon after you reach your destination, the Ebertswiese - one of the most beautiful mountain meadows in the Thuringian Forest.
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Unlike the first two stages, the third is a true recovery for tired hikers. From Ebertswiese you walk on easily accessible paths about 17 kilometers to the border eagle. A short break is worth the lookout tower on the Krämerod. If you climb the platform, you are guaranteed a great view over the Thuringian Forest before you reach the border eagle, which marked an earlier border.
Tip for sports enthusiasts: From the Grenzadler it is worthwhile to take a short detour to the ski jumps on the Rennsteig in the Kanzlersgrund.
On the fourth stage, it goes from Grenzadler to Allzunah. On the approximately 23 kilometers you come to the highest elevation of the Thuringian Forest, the Great Beerberg with 983 m above sea level. NN, over.
Shortly after the start, the first highlight is already waiting for you: the Rennsteiggarten. It is home to some 4,000 mountain plants from around the world and is well worth a visit. At Plänckners Aussicht (973 m above sea level) you are standing on the highest point of the entire Rennsteig. Enjoy the panoramic view!
Continue to a monument dedicated to the inventor of the "Rennsteige": Herbert Roth. Just a short trip to the Bunker Museum Frauenwald and you have arrived at the destination in Allzunah.
From Allzunah to Friedrichshöhe (about 24 kilometers), the Rennsteig changes from the ridge of the Thuringian Forest to the Thüringer Schiefergebirge. On the fifth stage you walk past the "Dreiherrensteinen", which testify that the Rennsteig is not only a mountain trail but also a borderline. Then you cross the center of the trail.
Immediately behind Masserberg it is worth climbing the steps of the Rennsteigwarte. The observation tower offers a fantastic view over the region. In good weather you can already discover the destination Friedrichshöhe in the distance.
On well-walked paths you run on the sixth stage about 22 kilometers from Friedrichshöhe in the direction of Spechtsbrunn. Before you leave the starting point, you should visit the exhibition of the Nature Park Thuringian Forest in the former school building. After about three kilometers you will reach the Dreistromstein. The special feature of this monument is that the rainwater here flows directly to three different rivers - the Elbe, the Main and the Rhine. After Neuhaus am Rennweg, the highest-lying city in Thuringia, Spechtsbrunn is not far away.
Tip: A look into the baroque village church of Spechtsbrunn from the year 1747 is worthwhile.
On the seventh stage from Spechtsbrunn to Brennersgrün, it will take about 20 easy kilometers to negotiate over one of the most important pass crossings in the Thuringian Forest, the "Cold Kitchen". Here you meet u.a. on the Kurfürstenstein, the oldest and most beautiful crest stone of the Rennsteig, and pass the border between Thuringia and Bavaria. Shortly before the final destination Brennersgrün is still the miniature world Mooshäuschen a local landscape gardener, which is really magical.
From Brennersgrün you can easily walk on approximately 21 kilometers to the finish of the Rennsteig to Blankenstein.
With the eighth and last stage you cross twice the former inner German border. The official end point of the hike is the Selbitz Bridge, where the Selbitz flows into the Saale. Do not forget to hand over your stone from the Werra to the floods. So the eventful days on the Rennsteig will be remembered and you will be lucky enough to come home, says the custom.