At the start of this fabulous adventure, you pick up a stone that will accompany you on the entire Rennsteig. There is an old hiking tradition to fish a stone out of the Werra River in Hörschel, the beginning of the Rennsteig, and to stow it in your pocket. According to legend, your Rennsteig adventure is only considered a success when you throw it into the Selbitz River at the finish in Blankenstein.
Take good care of your stone as you follow the Rennsteig Cycle Path through the unique heights of the Thuringian Forest, the Thuringian Slate Mountains and the Franconian Forest. Over three days, you can expect endless forests, great views, delicious Thuringian specialities and many places steeped in history.
The route is waymarked with the green ‘R’ and mostly stays off the popular Rennsteig Hiking Trail. Only about 25 kilometres (15.5 miles) are completely identical to the hiking route, which is signposted with a white ‘R’. The Rennsteig Cycle Path avoids particularly crunchy root passages and steep climbs by following lonely forest paths and asphalt side roads. A gravel bike or a mountain bike with minimal suspension would be your perfect companion. A touring bike will still make it along the Rennsteig Cycle Path though. No matter which bike you take, you will only be able to enjoy the constant ups and downs of the trails if you are in good shape.
On the official Rennsteig website, you can find lots of important information, for example, if you spontaneously decide on a different stage destination or if the accommodation I suggested is already fully booked.
After passing numerous picturesque villages and the former inner-German border, you search for the legendary stone in Blankenstein. Here, after 195 demanding kilometres (121 miles) and about 3,300 metres (10,826 feet) of altitude, the official Rennsteig Cycle Path, and thus your gravel adventure, come to an end.
You can reach the starting point in Eisenach in just over three hours by train. As some places are not well connected from Blankenstein, you can alternatively cycle 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) on the directly adjacent Saale Cycle Route to Hof. Here, you have a lot more trains to choose from to return home, hopefully without a stone in your bike bags.
You start at the main train station in Eisenach and roll comfortably the first ten kilometers to the official start of the Rennsteig in Hörschel. Here you get a small pebble from the Werra or from the specially set up bowl to carry it over the Rennsteig and to throw it back into a river at the destination in Blankenstein. This hiking tradition should bring luck and be a guarantee for fond memories.
After a delicious breakfast, you start the second stage with a long climb up to the famous ski resort Oberhof. At the Schmücke weather station at an altitude of 942 meters, you will reach the highest point of the Rennsteig cycle path a short time later. The sun terrace of the rustic Suhler Hütte beckons in the immediate vicinity.You …
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The third and last stage is again scenic and steeped in history. After 16 kilometers you will cross the former inner-German border. A memorial here commemorates the victims of the Berlin Wall who lost their lives in this section of the border.Thoughtfully we continue in the direction of Lehesten. Here you pass the old slate quarry, in which the so-called blue gold was mined for seven centuries until 1999. No wonder there are so many pretty slate-roofed houses here.
Colección de cicloturismo by Belén Castelló (belletoscan)