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Thuringian Ancient Forest Trails Vessertal - Thuringian Forest

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  • Entlang der Vesser
    Entlang der Vesser
    Photo: Thomas Stephan, CC BY-ND
m 700 600 500 400 20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 km
Along picturesque streams through the core zone of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Thuringian Forest
Distance 20.7 km
7:00 h
455 m
455 m
740 m
423 m
Wild forest, colorful flower meadows and magnificent panoramic views make the Vessertal Primeval Forest Trail one of the most beautiful hiking destinations in Thuringia.

This varied circular hiking trail through intact forest is part of the WWF project Thuringian primeval forest trails.

The approximately five-hour hike starts at the sports field in Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig. (For alternatives, see directions). From here, the primeval forest trail leads to the former ski jumping facility Vessertalschanze and continues south through the core area of the biosphere reserve to Breitenbach.

Here the forest pool invites you to a welcome refreshment, especially on hot summer days. The Breitenbach then leads you back up into the densely wooded region around Vesser. Passing the shepherd's well, you will soon reach the equestrian farm at the Stutenhaus and shortly thereafter the restaurant and hotel of the same name.

Author’s recommendation

You want to not only experience nature, but also protect it? Here you can find out everything about the autumn fundraising hike "Hiking for biodiversity".
Profile picture of Paul Hentschel
Paul Hentschel 
Update: November 24, 2022
Highest point
740 m
Lowest point
423 m
Best time of year

Track types

Asphalt 12.33%Dirt road 59.32%Forested/wild trail 28.34%
2.6 km
Dirt road
12.3 km
Forested/wild trail
5.9 km
Show elevation profile

Rest stops

Hotel und Restaurant Stutenhaus - Vesser

Safety information

Please pay attention to forest-typical dangers and information signs from ThüringenForst. Please stay on the trails!

Always remember that you are not only in a nature reserve, but even in a biosphere reserve. The use of open fire is strictly prohibited in the entire area of the Vessertal. Also the disposal of garbage is only allowed at designated places (rest areas with garbage cans).

Tips and hints


Sportplatz in Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig (710 m) (Alternativ in Vesser oder Breitenbach) (710 m)
50.602019, 10.816098
50°36'07.3"N 10°48'58.0"E
32U 628517 5607143


Sportplatz in Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig (Alternativ in Vesser oder Breitenbach)

Turn-by-turn directions

Sports field Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig - Vessertalschanze - Hohe Leist - Schneidemühle - Sensenhammer - Breitenbach - Breitenbachtal - Trimmdichpfad - Hirtenbrunnen - Erdeberg - Stelzenwiesengrund - Reiterhof - Stutenhaus - Neue Wiese - Vesser - Vesserschanze - Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig.


We start our hike at the parking lot near the sports field in Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig. Here you will find a wooden art stele as well as information signs that get you in the mood for the primeval forest trail hike. If you wish, you can visit the information center of the UNESCO biosphere reserve Thuringian Forest in Schmiedefeld before or after the hike.

From the parking lot, we walk in a southwesterly direction into the forest. After about 45 minutes we reach the entrance portal of the Thuringian Primeval Forest Trail Vessertal at the former ski jump Vessertalschanze. Here we keep to the left and follow the path in a southerly direction.

After a few meters, behind the small bridge over the Vesser. the paths fork. We keep half-left and walk from now on along the lively Vesser.

We pass colorful mountain meadows and wild forest areas, where the trees are allowed to age naturally. Here you should pay special attention to the high percentage of standing dead wood and fallen trees. In a natural forest these are part of it, as they represent the last phases in the life of a tree. Especially old, but also dead trees have special microhabitats, which are essential for the survival of many specialized species.

We always follow the course of the Vesser and pass the Glasbachhütte as well as a former cutting mill.

Passing some resting places and a silver fir gate, we finally reach the entrance of Breitenbach at the Sensenhammer. Here we turn right into the Ziegenrückstraße and after a short time we reach a parking lot for hikers with a resting place. The primeval forest path info sign marks here the southern starting point for the primeval forest path Vessertal.

We continue to follow the Ziegenrückstraße to the next fork in the road, where we leave the road turning left over a bridge (rescue point HBN-7642).

After the bridge we keep to the right and follow the stream uphill. On the next section of the trail, a trim trail called the Generations Vital Trail allows for entertaining stops that may cause the hike to take longer than planned.

You should also bring time for the short path of the senses.

At the Hirtenbrunnen (shepherd's well), where the Breitenbach flows into the Roßbach, you can not only rest but also test your strength on a whole-body trainer.

From now on, the path leads away from the brook along the slopes of the Erdeberg to a crossing of several paths. Here we follow the hiking trail sign over the Lange Leite to the Stutenhaus (3.5 km).

At the next shelter there is another opportunity for a rest before we cross the brook from the Dommigsgrund and tackle the last ascent to the Stutenhaus. Through the Stelzenwiesengrund we reach the equestrian farm, which belongs to the Stutenhaus.

Now we follow the Ziegenrücker road again, before we have the possibility to walk up to the Stutenhaus across a meadow at the next fork in the road. With a great view, you can take a break here and drink something cool.

From the Stutenhaus we follow the Stutenhausstraße in the direction of Vesser.

Immediately before the Runnebaum monument, we leave the Stutenhausstraße to the left and take a gravel path to the crossroads at the Neue Wiese.

Now we hike along the edge of the forest to get back to the Stutenhausstraße a little later. This leads us down into the village of Vesser, back to the stream of the same name. Following the course of the stream, along the Breitenbacher Straße we get back to the Vesserschanze, from where we take the way back to the sports field in Schmiedefeld.


all notes on protected areas

Public transport


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

Journey to Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig

Just enter your desired travel date and the starting point.

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

Getting there

Coming from the A71, exit 16 (Ilmenau West) and continue on the L3004 towards Ilmenau. Follow the road through the town further in the direction of Stützerbach / Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig. At the Rennsteig junction continue straight on in the direction of Schmiedefeld am Rennstieg / Suhl.

You will reach the town via Ilmenauer Straße / Bahnhofstrasse.


 The parking lot for hikers is located on the sports field of the municipality of Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig. An information board refers to the course of the Thuringian Primeval Forest Trail in the Vessertal. (Google NAV point)

Additional parking spaces are located in the center of Schmiedefeld (Google NAV point). There are also signposted hikers' parking lots at the starting points in Vesser (Google NAV point) and Breitenbach (Google NAV point).


50.602019, 10.816098
50°36'07.3"N 10°48'58.0"E
32U 628517 5607143
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


  • sturdy shoes
  • Rainwear
  • First aid kit
  • GPS device or smartphone
  • Drink reserve

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Catja Knepper
August 29, 2022 · Community
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20.7 km
7:00 h
455 m
455 m
Highest point
740 m
Lowest point
423 m
Public-transport-friendly Circular route Refreshment stops available Flora Fauna


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