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The Rennsteig - Thuringia

"Rennsteig" is a generic term used for many of the ancient trade routes throughout Germany (Rennsteig translates "racing steep") - and there are thought to be more than 200 of these. However, when Germans talk about THE Rennsteig, they are referring to the high altitude path through the Thuringian Forest - a long distance path that is one of Germany's most famous walking routes. The Rennsteig is one of three long-distance paths known as the "three big Rs" - the Rothaarsteig and the Rheinsteig being the other two. The Rennsteig follows the main ridge of the Thuringian Forest joining Hörschel, near Eisenach, with Blankenstein on the River Saale. We recommend that you walk the Ressnsteig in the opposite direction - from Blankenstein to Hörschel - so this is the route we have outlined in this guide.


The Rennsteig is a high-level path that meanders predominantly through spruce forest and other wooded areas. Because this region has been relatively inaccessible until quite recently, there is an abundance of animal and plant life to enjoy. It is this that gives this walk its special appeal. Some sections of the walk run alongside roadways. However, even these sections are often punctuated by some truly beautiful views.


People do not seen to be neutral about The Rennsteig! Many walkers are so enthusiastic about it that they return year after year to do their "Runst". (This is the German term for "walking The Rennsteig"). In contrast, others are less enthusiastic about it, referring to it as a "walker's motorway" because of its popularity. The reality is that - apart from when there are special events - it is really not that busy.


So is this walk for you? Do you want to do your own "Runst"? If you are looking for a comparatively easy way. If you want to walk along good and well marked paths with numerous rest spots and shelters throughout, then the Rennsteig may be just right for you. You will also find that this route is well served by public transport and that there is a variety of accommodation available.