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Circular hiking trail - Vessertal - Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig - Thuringian Forest

· 3 reviews · Hiking route · Thuringia · Open
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  • Green to the sky - more nature is not possible
    Green to the sky - more nature is not possible
    Photo: © Domenik Ketz, Thüringer Wald
Hike through Germany's oldest UNESCO biosphere reserve across unspoilt meadows and rustic forests.
Distance 37.4 km
10:30 h
902 m
901 m
870 m
423 m

The circular trail leads through the oldest UNESCO biosphere reserve in Germany. For more than five decades, nature has been developing in the core zone directly in the heart of the Vessertal - without human intervention. Thus, the circular hiking trail seduces with almost unique natural beauty in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Thuringian Forest.

In the three zones of the reserve, it is "naturally" beautiful: the meadow valleys rich in blossoms, the multi-coloured mountain meadows, the light-flooded beech forests, the primeval mixed mountain forests with the high-closed ferns and the gently rippling springs that become crystal-clear refreshing mountain streams.

The circular trail consists of two tours of different lengths in the north and south of the Vessertal. Both start at the former "Walter-Ulbricht-Schanze"


The northern loop takes you through the small village of Vesser past the Ten Ponds up to the Cold Hostel. Shortly afterwards you will reach the Salzberg. From here you have a fantastic panoramic view of the entire region. In winter, the ski lift is a centre of attraction for downhill skiing fans from all over the region. Via the Wegscheide and Potsdamer Platz, you descend again to the Vessertal. The Adlersberg is a popular excursion destination with a lookout tower and a mountain inn. The loop ends at the Hotel and Restaurant Stutenhaus.

The southern loop leads around the Großer Herrenhügel directly into the core area of the biosphere reserve. Along the course of the river Vesser you head south to Breitenbach. The Waldbad invites you to a welcome refreshment, especially on hot summer days. The Breitenbach eventually leads you back up into the densely wooded region around Vesser. Past the shepherd's well, you soon reach the equestrian farm at Stutenhaus and shortly afterwards the  restaurant and hotel of the same name. 

The Vessertal circular hiking trail with its natural character occupies a special place among the hiking trails in the Thuringian Forest.

Author’s recommendation

A visit to the Biosphere Reserve Information Centre in the house 'Am Hohen Stein' in Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig is an experience for the whole family.
Profile picture of Touristinformation Schmiedefeld
Touristinformation Schmiedefeld
Update: April 20, 2023
Highest point
870 m
Lowest point
423 m
Best time of year

Track types

Asphalt 14.37%Dirt road 50.29%Forested/wild trail 32.44%Path 1.90%Road 0.97%
5.4 km
Dirt road
18.8 km
Forested/wild trail
12.1 km
0.7 km
0.4 km
Show elevation profile

Rest stops

Adlersbergbaude und Aussichtsturm - Vesser
Hotel und Restaurant Stutenhaus - Vesser
Berggasthof "Blockhaus"

Safety information

Please be aware of the hazards typical of the forest and follow the instructions of the ThüringenForst staff.

Always bear in mind that you are not only in a nature reserve, but even in a biosphere reserve. The use of open fires is strictly prohibited in the entire area of the Vessertal. Disposing of rubbish is also only permitted at designated places (rest areas with rubbish bins) 


Tips and hints
UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Germany



Biosphere Reserve Information Centre in the house 'Am Hohen Stein' in Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig (686 m)
50.607204, 10.814317
50°36'25.9"N 10°48'51.5"E
32U 628377 5607717


Biosphere Reserve Information Centre in the house 'Am Hohen Stein' in Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig

Turn-by-turn directions

Information centre biosphere reserve (Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig) - sports field - Walter-Ulbricht ski jump - 

Northern route:
Schneidemühle - Vesser (village) - hiking and ski hut "Am Crux" - barbecue area Vesser (registration with the municipality required) - Zehn Teiche - Vesserquelle - Kalte Herberge - Salzberg - Wegscheide - view of Vesser - Potsdammer Platz - Adlersberg - monument "Helene Lankenau" - restaurant and hotel Stutenhaus - Vesser (village) - Schneidemühle - Walter-Ulbricht-Schanze

Southern route:
Glasbachhütte - Döllsrod - Breitenbach - Waldbad Breitenbach - Hirtenbrunnen am Roßbach - Reiterhof Stutenhaus - Restaurant und Hotel Stutenhaus - Vesser (Ort) - Schneidemühle - Walter-Ulbricht-Schanze

Public transport


You can reach Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig by bus from Ilmenau (line 300 IOV) or from Suhl (line K towards Vesser). To plan your journey, please use this link to the Deustchen Bahn journey planner:
Journey to Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig


Just enter your desired travel date and starting point.

You can reach the Vessertal circular hiking trail on weekends in an environmentally friendly way with the RennsteigShuttle and RennsteigBus (line 300): Erfurt-Ilmenau-Bahnhof Rennsteig and continue by bus from Rennsteigkreuzung to Schmiedefeld


By road

From the A71, take exit 16 (Ilmenau West) and continue on the L3004 towards Ilmenau. Follow the road through the town and continue on the L3004 towards Stützerbach / Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig. At the Rennsteig junction, continue straight on towards Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig / Suhl.

You will reach the town via Ilmenauer Stra&szlig / Bahnhofstr. 


Use the parking spaces opposite the butcher's shop Kummer (Google-NAV-Point) or at the bus stop "Kino" (Google-NAV-Point


50.607204, 10.814317
50°36'25.9"N 10°48'51.5"E
32U 628377 5607717
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

Book recommendation by the author

Author’s map recommendations

Book recommendations for this region:

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  • Sturdy shoes
  • rainwear
  • First aid kit
  • GPS device or smartphone
  • Beverage reserve


Parts of this content were machine translated using German as the source language

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Steffen Heinze
October 04, 2022 · Community
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When did you do this route? October 03, 2022
Mario Klotz 
August 25, 2020 · Community
When did you do this route? July 28, 2020
Robin Melzer
April 22, 2019 · Community
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Foto von : Rundwanderweg - Vessertal - Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig - Thüringer Wald • (22.04.2019 16:41:25 #1)
Photo: Robin Melzer, Community

Photos from others

37.4 km
10:30 h
902 m
901 m
Highest point
870 m
Lowest point
423 m
Public-transport-friendly Circular route Scenic Multi-stage route Refreshment stops available Flora Cultural/historical interest Fauna 'Healthy climate' Insider tip


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Maps and trails
  • 2 Stages
recommended route Difficulty moderate Stage 1 Open
Distance 16.1 km
Duration 7:00 h
Ascent 460 m
Descent 459 m

Eine herrliche Wanderung ins Biosphärenreservat und das wirklich GRÜNE Herz Deutschlands

from Paul Hentschel,   Thüringer Wald
recommended route Difficulty moderate Stage 2 closed
Distance 21 km
Duration 7:00 h
Ascent 455 m
Descent 455 m

Along picturesque streams through the core zone of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Thuringian Forest

from Paul Hentschel,   Thüringer Wald
Distance  km
Duration : h
Ascent  m
Descent  m
Highest point  m
Lowest point  m
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