The Rennsteig in summer
Welcome to Germany’s most popular high-altitude hiking trail!
Most holidaymakers who spend their holidays in Oberhof are probably united by the enthusiasm and passion for hiking. The Rennsteig is without doubt one of the most attractive hiking trails in Germany and fascinates every nature lover with the scenic beauty and the warm hospitality of the locals.
Some facts about the history of the Rennsteig
The Rennsteig hiking trail is actually a historical border path that runs along the ridge of the Thuringian Forest, the Thuringian Slate Mountains and the Franconian Forest and is already mentioned in historical documents of the 9th century. Many of the 1300 boundary stones that have been erected here since the 16th century are still preserved today. In 1832, the topographer Julius von Plänckner published the first map and route description of the Rennsteig, thus enabling it to be used for tourism. From 1890 onwards, during the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II, a veritable boom in hiking was triggered by the so-called hiking writer August Trinius and his books about the landscape of Thuringia.
The trail is 170 km long and leads from the Hörschel district of Eisenach to Blankenstein an der Saale. The Kammweg runs from north-west to south-east at an altitude of between 500 and 970 metres. During the division of Germany it could not be walked along its entire length, as it crosses the (former) inner-German border six times. The route was reopened in April 1990 and is now not only the oldest but also the most frequently used long-distance hiking trail in Germany. Year after year a total of around 100,000 enthusiastic nature lovers march along it. In 2008 it was awarded the title of “Qualitätswanderweg Wanderbares Deutschland” – a distinction for which high standards must be met and very special hiking experiences guaranteed.
Oberhof as starting point
If you spend your holiday in a nice hotel or a cosy guesthouse in Oberhof, you will hardly be able to resist the temptation to discover one or the other stage of the famous trail. The town is situated at an altitude of 825 m and due to its geographical position it belongs to the middle Rennstein region. From this most famous and popular holiday resort in Thuringia, two of the six traditional sections of the beautiful long-distance hiking trail can be walked. The route over the Großer Inselsberg stretches over a length of 30.8 km and the stage to Kahlet is indicated as 27 km. The Inselsberg, at 916 m, is one of the highest elevations and offers fantastic panoramic views of the Thuringian Forest Nature Park.
An incomparable hiking experience is also offered by the circular route over the only one thousand metre high mountain in Thuringia, the Schneekopf. The 22 km long tour can be mastered under normal conditions within approx. 4.5 hours. The observation tower on the summit then allows a grandiose view from exactly 1001.11 m height. A holiday in Oberhof is worthwhile at any time of the year and a hike is just as attractive in spring and summer as in autumn and winter when the paths are partly covered with snow. The Rennsteig is also an ideal area for hiking with the whole family, as it is a ridge path, it is relatively flat, not extremely strenuous and can be managed with an average level of fitness. The fantastic landscape that is crossed on a Rennsteig hike and the idyllic small towns that can be visited in the region make up the special charm of this quality trail, which can be combined wonderfully with other regional and long-distance trails. For example, the Via Porta pilgrimage route, which runs from Volkenroda to Waldsassen in Franconia, uses its central and eastern sections.
On the road by bike
Since 2000, there has also been a Rennsteig cycle path, which has attracted cyclists from all over Europe to Thuringia. For the most part, the trail runs directly along the footpath, but at some points it has to make way for parallel routes, so that its entire length is 195 km. If you want to discover the Thuringian Forest on a bike, you can also tackle individual day stages from a fixed accommodation. Some of the routes are very demanding and therefore just the right thing for fit and ambitious athletes!
The GuthsMuths-Rennsteiglauf takes place every year in mid-May and more than 15,000 runners register for it. Different course lengths, up to the Supermarathon (73.9 km), are possible. The race is considered the toughest mass cross-country race in Europe and was officially organised for the first time in 1973. Those who are on holiday in the area at the time of the race will be thrilled by the prevailing atmosphere. Since 2011, due to the great success of the event, an autumn run will also be held every year at the beginning of October.
On the other hand, the various events at the Rennsteig railway station, which is located between Schmiedefeld and Frauenwald, are more leisurely. From concerts to motto rides with the steam train, there are always exciting programmes that are equally interesting for children and adults.
A stay in a comfortable hotel or a cosy guesthouse in Oberhof offers a variety of fantastic possibilities for visitors who love nature and enjoy being outdoors.
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