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Trail - "From Bach to Goethe" - From Arnstadt to Ilmenau - Thuringian Forest

Hiking route · Thuringia · Open
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  • Photo: Enrico Minner, Thüringer Wald
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Music and literature - united on one hiking trail. Discover the sonorous world of Johann Sebastian Bach and the word universe of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Distance 26.3 km
8:00 h
672 m
460 m
603 m
275 m
What do two famous Thuringians have to do with a  trail? ... Although Goethe spent a lot of time on the road in the local forests and Bach also had to cover the odd stretch on horseback, these two contemporaries are actually more concerned with the fine arts than with the (certainly very rough) life of a wanderer.

And yet this trail not only connects the towns of Arnstadt and Ilmenau, it also connects two worlds. Bach's works originate from the early 18th century and Goethe was born only one year before Bach's death in 1749. As different as the creative periods may be, music and literature go hand in hand (not only on this trail).

The tour starts at the market in Arnstadt. Not far from the Bach Church, there is a bronze statue directly on the square. It depicts a relaxed youth man. A lankiness cast in metal and a hint of youthful rebellion against conventions surround this statue. And it's true: Bach was far ahead of his time in some areas - some examples of his early and later works bear witness to this. He got his first permanent job as an organist here in Arnstadt.

The tour takes you past the large church (take a look inside - it's worth it!) in a northerly direction to the former Neideck Castle in Arnstadt. Today, unfortunately, only remains of the complex can be seen here, but a miniature illustrates the splendour of the former residence building.

Past the theatre in the castle garden, turn east and join the Luther Trail right next to the sports and leisure pool. From now on, head straight south and towards the Thuringian Forest. Pass the Kurhausplatz and follow the railway line until just before the "Fasanerie" animal park and then turn into Kirschallee. Through the idyllic allotment gardens you soon reach the first foothills of the Thuringian Forest and enter the "Große Luppe" nature reserve.

Between Kuhberg and Pappelberg, the trail runs through the still gently rolling landscape near Arnstadt to the Wipfratal viewpoint. From here you have a fantastic view to the south, over Reinsfeld with its historic fortified church, to the Heyda dam.

Continue past the "Ziegenried" nature reserve to the former Reinsburg Castle. At an altitude of almost 600 m, however, only the remains of the former robber baron's fortress are still visible today.

The trail follows a winding forest path to the next vantage point on the Rabenberg and on over the Walsberg to the Halskappe and the Heydaer Berg. Through the "Veronika Berg" nature reserve, you soon reach the Karolinenblick from where you have a wonderful panoramic view over Martinroda to the mighty Reichenbach bridge on the 71 Highway. The trail soon climbs back up through the village to the Thüringerwald Highway. Now Ilmenau is not far away.

Passing the Hirtenbusch ponds, you reach the "gateway to the Thuringian Forest" not far from the Pörlitzer Höhe. After a detour through the historic cemetery and past the Goethe Fountain, the tour ends at the GoetheStadtMuseum on the market square.

For seasoned hikers, the second section on the trail of the great Thuringians begins here: The Goethe Trail takes you over the local mountain of Ilmenau, the Kickelhahn, past the famous Goethehäuschen and the Gabelbach hunting lodge to the Gabelbach Mountain and Hunting Hotel and on via the historic Auerhahn forest inn to the Goethe Museum in Stützerbach.




Author’s recommendation

The annual "Bach Festival" in Arnstadt is not only a crowd puller, but also a musical event highlight in the Thuringian cultural year.
Profile picture of Goethe Stadt Ilmenau
Goethe Stadt Ilmenau
Update: February 28, 2023
Quality route according to "Wanderbares Deutschland"
Highest point
Neck cap, 603 m
Lowest point
Arnstadt, 275 m
Best time of year

Track types

Asphalt 7.57%Dirt road 34.07%Forested/wild trail 34.06%Path 19.59%Road 3.74%Unknown 0.93%
2 km
Dirt road
9 km
Forested/wild trail
9 km
5.2 km
1 km
0.2 km
Show elevation profile

Rest stops

Hotel Stadthaus Arnstadt
Thüringer Kloßhotel Goldene Henne - Arnstadt
Schellhorns Restaurant & Bar - Arnstadt
Hotelpark Stadtbrauerei Arnstadt

Safety information

The trail runs partly on very winding forest paths. Please always make sure your footing is safe and do not leave the signposted hiking routes.

Tips and hints

The hiking trail on

The hiking trail on


Market, Arnstadt (290 m)
50.833550, 10.945517
50°50'00.8"N 10°56'43.9"E
32U 636998 5633119


Official residence, Ilmenau

Turn-by-turn directions

Arnstadt market square with Bach monument and Bach church - miniature buildings at the foot of the Neideck tower - fish gate - Wollmarkt square - follow the course of the Gera river - Reinsfeld market path - detour to the Walpurgis monastery possible - uphill to the height of the Haselkoppe (580m) - lookout - Karst quarries of the Reinsberge - detour to the Kanzel Plaue possible - along a ridge trail to the Reinsburg - Halskappe (605m) - Martinroda - "Ilmenau footpath" - Hirtenbuschteiche - Oberpörlitz - Schlingegrund - Ilmenau cemetery - Amtshaus with the seated Privy Councillor Goethe


all notes on protected areas

Public transport


Arnstadt and Ilmenau are connected to the Deutsche Bahn network and are directly linked to each other. Use DB's travel information to search for connections:

→ To Arnstadt


From Ilmenau → back to Arnstadt

Getting there

Coming from the A71, take exit 14a (Arnstadt Süd) and continue on the L1048 west to Arnstadt. Follow the main road in Arnstadt to Schloßplatz and then turn left into Schlossstraße.


Use the Schlossstraße car park (Google NAV point)


50.833550, 10.945517
50°50'00.8"N 10°56'43.9"E
32U 636998 5633119
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


  • Sturdy shoes
  • Rainwear        
  • First aid kit      
  • GPS navigation device or smartphone


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

Questions and answers

Question from Wolfgang Nüchter  · March 07, 2022 · Thüringer Wald
Show more
Answered by Paul Hentschel  · March 08, 2022 · Thüringer Wald


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26.3 km
8:00 h
672 m
460 m
Highest point
603 m
Lowest point
275 m
Public-transport-friendly Scenic Refreshment stops available Cultural/historical interest Linear route


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