The Rennsteig is a 170 km long ridge trail and a historic Grenzweg in the Thuringian Forest, Thuringian Slate Mountains and Franconian Forest. He is also the oldest and annually with approximately 100,000 walkers of the most committed long-distance trail in Germany. It starts in Eisenach district Hörschel the river Werra and ends in Blankenstein at the Selbitz bridge.

  • 2.1 hiking and cycling trail
  • 2.2 language border
  • 2.3 Watershed
  • 3.1 counties am Rennsteig
  • 3.2 Places am Rennsteig
  • 3.3 Numbers of re-measurement in 2003


First mention and name interpretation

Its first mention was made of the Rennsteig in 1330 as Rynnestig. Etymologists are not conclusive about the importance of the name. It can be traced back to the hunter language Rain in the sense of limit. In Old High German the renniweg unlike navigable highways is a narrow running or bridle path. In the mountain freedom for Goldlauter of 1546 is then Rensteig from the speech.

In addition to the Rennsteig known today there were in total German area about 250 more Rennsteige and race routes. These were partly older and partly younger than that of the Thuringian Forest. The interpretation as a pure Grenzweg can thus refute partially.

Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages the Rennsteig marked the border of the duchy of Franconia to Landgraviate Thuringia. Even today, he clearly distinguishes from the Frankish territories of southern Thuringia from predominantly Thuringian- Upper Saxon Thuringia.

Modern age and development as a hiking trail

In 1829, the topographer of Julius Plänckner undertook the first Rennsteig migration of Blankenstein by Hörschel, after the two places determined on the basis of the topography as the beginning and end of the Rennsteig. He charted the way, his description was in 1832 with the first publication of a Rennsteig card input in the " Handbook for travelers through the Thuringian Forest " and so justified the tourist use of the Rennsteig.

The Rennsteig club held from 1897 to 1942 every year around the time of Pentecost, the great " Runst " a Rennsteig hiking. The Rennsteig hiking was contested in six stages. After these stages also most of today's directions orient.

During the German division of the Rennsteig was not continuous, as there are total of six times he crossed the former inner- German border. During this time he officially began on Vachaer stone, a pass just before the High sun, and ended in Neuhaus am Rennweg. Hörschel since 1952 was due to the close proximity to the boundary restricted area, as well as the path leads east of Neuhaus by former restricted area. In Oberhof existed in the time of the GDR (later demolished ) Hotel in the form of a boundary stone.

After more than 40 years of separation, the Rennsteig on 28 April 1990, it was officially re-opened and was again continuously passable. Dorothee Wilms, the then Federal Minister of Intra-German Relations and Sybille Reider, the Minister of Trade and Tourism of the GDR, crossed symbolically at the plate meadow at Spechtsbrunn the marginal band. A memorial stone "Free is the ridge path " and various information boards remember since the story and the event.

The degree of expansion of the path reflects its history still resist: While the western part to Neuhaus on a high density of shelters and picnic facilities as well as a dense signs has, has to offer but little of this infrastructure, the section in Franconia. In addition, a considerable part of the eastern ( Upper Franconia ) section still leads to partly along busy roads.

In Thuringia, the Rennsteig is registered since 1999 as a cultural monument in the memorial book of the Free State of Thuringia. The trail is designated as Single - cultural monument in the sense of a material entity. The monument refers to the historical course of the Rennsteig and its tangible parts landmarks, signposts, memorial stones and signboards and road crossings, passports and rest stops.

Rennsteig stones

Along the Rennsteig are about 1300 historical landmarks. Since the 16th century the Rennsteig, the one Grenzweg was predominantly marked with this political emblem was. Particularly noteworthy are the 13 Dreiherrn stones, of which only ten are located directly on the Rennsteig. Popularly created for these landmarks the name Rennsteig stone. The still existing landmarks are mainly from the 18th century. ( See also List of Rennsteig landmarks in section Saar lobe Hohe Heide )

Except landmarks are am Rennsteig also forest stones and stone crosses and memorial stones.

" A German mountain path 's it! The cities he flees and holds the thicket his shy run. "

"At the June time, when swollen from the gorges of the wooded hills that run through the Thuringian Basin, the heavy scents of jasmine, alder, it was delicious hiking days, here by the industrial almost free, mildly favored, fertile land with its friendly bunch villages of half-timbered houses; and it came from the area of agriculture in which the predominant livestock and followed the fabled mountain trails of planted with spruce and beech ridge mountains, the > Rennsteig <, of the Werra valley from the Franconian Forest to Eisenach, the Hörselstadt, stretches with his deep eyes, so it was more beautiful, significant, romantic ... "

Functions of the Rennsteig

Hiking and Cycle

The Rennsteig was until the end of 2010 an excellent by the German Hiking Association quality trail. He was discovered in 1890 by August Trinius for migrant movement and primarily known for the publications of the Association founded in 1896 Rennsteig far beyond the borders of Thuringia and Franconia. The Rennsteig Cycle Trail was opened on 19 June 2000. He is mainly provided with a water-bound ceiling, partly it is also done on quiet country roads. Here and there he deviates from the historic Rennsteig, so that strong gradients are avoided. Thus it is about 30 km longer than the trail. In winter, when deep snow, cross country skiing or snowshoeing are possible; the Rennsteig is maintained in some areas as a winter hiking trail.

Language border

As a linguistic border of the Rennsteig separates the East Franconian dialects Hennebergisch, Itzgründisch and Upper Franconian dialects of the Thuringian Zentralthüringisch, Ilmthüringisch and Südostthüringisch spoken in the mountains, on the north side and east of the Thuringian Forest.


Furthermore, the Rennsteig forms the watershed between the river systems Werra / Weser, Saale / Elbe and Main / Rhine. On Three power stone at Siegmundsburg the catchment areas of all three streams meet.


The Rennsteig runs along the ridgeline of the Thuringian Central Mountains from northwest to southeast mostly. Altitudes of around 500-970 meters It starts in Eisenach district Hörschel on the Werra (196 m above sea level. NHN ) and ends after 168.3 kilometers (historical length) in Blankenstein an der Saale (414 m above sea level. NHN ). In 2003, the Rennsteig by the Thuringian State Office for Surveying was re-measured; while a total length of 169.29 km was determined. The Rennsteig crosses the former German - German border total of six times. The marking is consistently very good, usually a white R, called Mareile. Since 2008, six local alternative routes were signposted at the request of migrant associations, which avoid the main roads or connect scenic view points. These variants are a total of about 22 kilometers long and are marked with a blue R. Along the Rennsteig there are numerous picnic areas and about every 5 to 10 km small open shelter huts. For medical care, the Thuringian mountain rescue bases were established.

The creek crosses the Spitter in the area of the nature reserve Ebertswiese, at 700 meters altitude, is the only flowing water in the central part of the Rennsteig the course of the alpine path, only to feed the nearby Spitterfall. A second, the Rennsteig forming cross creek is located in the southeast with the Doberman, already for the Franconian Forest projected part directly to the Thuringian- Bavarian border west of Brennersgrün, a district of Lehesten.

Cross the Rennsteig tunnel run four: On the one named after him Rennsteig tunnel, with its 7916 and 7878 meters ( two tubes ) of the longest road tunnel in Germany. It is the opened in 2003 the A71 motorway tunnel. The second is the 3039 meter long Brandleite tunnel, which was opened in 1884 and the railway line from Erfurt to Schweinfurt passes under the Thuringian Forest. Both tunnels intersect with a vertical distance of only seven meters. The third is the 549 meter long tunnel Förthaer the Werrabahn. The fourth is the 8314 meter long tunnel Bleßberg of property under construction railway line Nuremberg -Erfurt.

Shaping the traditional six stages as follows:

  • Hörschel - Big Island Mountain ( 32.8 km )
  • Big Island Mountain - Oberhof ( 30.8 km )
  • Oberhof - Kahlert ( 27.0 km )
  • Kahlert - Limbach ( 19.7 km )
  • Limbach - Steinbach am Wald ( 30,0 km)
  • Steinbach am Wald - Blankenstein ( 28.0 km )

Counties am Rennsteig

The Rennsteig touches the town of Eisenach, the Wartburg district, the districts Gotha, Schmalkalden -Meiningen, the city of Suhl, the Ilm-Kreis, the districts Hildburghausen, Saalfeld- Rudolstadt, Sonnenberg, Kronach and the Saale- Orla-Kreis.

Places am Rennsteig

From northwest to southeast: Hörschel, Claus Berg ( Gerstungen ), Wolfsburg - Unkeroda, Ruhla, Steinbach, Brotterode, flea Seligenthal, Tambach- Dietharz, Oberhof, Suhl, Schmiedefeld, Stuetzerbach, Allzunah, Ms Forest, Neustadt am Rennsteig, Masserberg, Friedrich height, Siegmundsburg, Scheibe-Alsbach, Steinheid, Neuhaus am Rennweg, Ernst Thal am Rennsteig, Spechtsbrunn, Tettau Steinbach am Wald, Lauenhain, Lehesten, Grumbach, Schlegel, Blankenstein

Numbers of the re-measurement in 2003

The evaluation of the measurement results from 2003 showed a length of 169.294 km. Nevertheless, the historical figure is still 168.3 km used as a length specification. Total run 121.457 km on the original Rennsteig, while 47.837 km run changed. The various types of paths have been determined as follows:

The Rennsteig runs on 14.761 km through Bavaria. The maßtechnische center is located near the Great Dreiherrenstein in Neustadt am Rennsteig.

Tailed ways

Go from the Rennsteig from other regional and long distance trails or share a portion with the Rennsteig:

  • From the Wartburg in Eisenach to Neuhaus am Rennweg the International Mountain trail of friendship Eisenach -Budapest on the Rennsteig runs.
  • From the Big Island mountain of existing since 1936 and 1993, re-opened, 324 km long Thuringia -Rhein- trail on Oberellen, Bad Hersfeld, Alsfeld, Homberg ( Ohm), Staufenberg, Herborn, Westerburg, Hatton of Hausen leads up to the castle Engers ( Neuwied / Rhine ).
  • On Dreiherrenstein the Breitunger Rennsteig begins.
  • Near the Triniusblick in Ruhla begins the Sallmannshausen houses Rennsteig.
  • From the decorations to the north leads the historic Salzmannstraße.
  • The pilgrimage route of Via Porta uses the central and eastern part of the Rennsteig.


Since 1973, on the Rennsteig the GutsMuths Rennsteiglauf, a fun run, organized. With more than 14,000 participating runners and walkers he is considered the greatest country race in Europe.

The Rennsteig song is a folk song which expresses the local ties in Thuringia. The lyrics were written by Karl Mueller, the music of Herbert Roth.

The Rennsteigbahn (see a Rennsteig station ) is a branch line that is no longer used on regular passenger services since 1998.

The traditional greeting among hikers Rennsteig is more than 100 years " Good Runst ".

In the legend of the Rennsteig states: The true hiking enthusiast takes origin from the Rennsteig a stone from the river Werra, carries him to the end of the hall in his pocket and throws it back into the water there. In even-numbered years to the Rennsteig by Hörschel Blankenstein - so southeastward - be hiked in odd-numbered years in the opposite direction.