National Nature Landscapes in Thuringia
Discover Thuringia's Nature
About one-quarter of Thuringia’s area is preserved and developed as “National Nature Landscapes”. A total of eight protected areas, including the Hainich UNESCO World Nature Heritage National Park, the two UNESCO biosphere reserves Vesser Valley – Thuringian Forest and the Rhön and five nature parks preserve natural treasures in very different landscape regions.
HAINICH NATIONAL PARK – UNESCO WORLD NATURE HERITAGE SITE
The Hainich National Park covers an area of 7,500 hectares. Its natural attraction is the extensive jungle-type mixed deciduous forests rich in dead wood, off ering walkers an exceptional experience of nature. Another unique item is the 546-metre long Treetop Trail which provides a spectacular view of the Hainich forests. The National Park Centre near Thiemsburg should also be included in every visit. There are numerous guided tours and educational programmes available, some of them barrier-free. A near-natural wild-cat show compound, the “Wild-Cat Barn” Information Centre in the wild-cat village of Hütscheroda and the “Hainich View” observation platform allow visitors to see these timid animals.
> Attractions: Treetop Trail, Wonderful Walkers’ Bus, programmes for walkers, cyclists and children, barrier-free programmes, geocaching, Hainichland Route
THURINGIAN FOREST NATURE PARK
The Thuringian Forest Nature Park covers 2,082 km² and is the home of uniquely beautiful natural phenomena, rich traditions and a widely varying culture. Who has not heard of the Rennsteig Trail, which runs for some 169 kilometres across the heights of the Thuringian Forest? You can best enjoy the diverse mix of tourist, craft, historic, cultural and natural attractions on the 450-kilometre long Nature Park Route.
> Attractions: 12 Nature Park Information Centres offer numerous programmes, such as guided and theme walks, e.g. along the Rennsteig, cycle tours, barrier-free programmes
VESSERTAL VALLEY-THURINGIAN FOREST – UNESCO BIOSPHERE RESERVE
The Vesser Valley-Thuringian Forest Biosphere Reserve is a characteristic section of the landscape of the Middle Thuringian Forest and is representative of Central European low mountain ranges. It features a forest proportion of almost 90 % and is the home of the three highest mountains in the Thuringian Forest, namely Großer Beerberg (983 m above sea level), Schneekopf and Großer Finsterberg. Deeply scored valleys, such as the Vesser valley lend the landscape its typical appearance. High moors, such as the Schneekopf Moor near Oberhof, have developed on the flattened parts of the ridges.
> Attractions: guided and theme walks, excursions, animal watching, certified hiking trails, Rennsteig, info garden on the biosphere reserve in Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig
THURINGIAN SLATE MOUNTAINS/UPPER SAALE NATURE PARK
The Thuringian Schiefergebirge/Upper Saale Nature Park directly adjoins the Thuringian Forest Nature Park and covers some 82,800 hectares. It is divided into five quite different natural areas with very attractive landscapes. To the south-west, the countryside is dominated by the traditional slate mines. In the Saale Valley are the Bleiloch and Hohenwarte dam lakes.
The “land of a thousand ponds” is the home of numerous species of water birds and is a significant resting-place for migrant birds.
> Attractions: cycling, certified hiking trail, Green Ribbon Experience, Plothen Ponds, walks with different themes accompanied by trained nature guides
RHÖN – UNESCO BIOSPHERE RESERVE.
The Rhön Biosphere Reserve covers parts of the states of Bavaria, Hesse and Thuringia. Encompassing 185,262 hectares, it is almost twice as big as the German island of Rügen. Even today, this “land of open distances” still has a very rural character and is a major refuge for many threatened animal and plant species. In comparison with other low mountain ranges, this open cultural landscape is unique in its unusually low proportion of forest land. The Rhön region primarily consists of extensively cultivated grasslands and arable land. Because of the associated traditional forms of use, whether meadows with fruit trees or the rearing of Rhön sheep, the area holds a special place in cultural and landscape history.
> Attractions: interactive exhibition and multivision show, specialised talks, information events, hiking, cycling, Hochrhöner Premium Hiking Trail, Rhön Cycling Trail ****, Alpha Point Memorial in Geisa
KYFFHÄUSER NATURE PARK
In northern Thuringia to the south of the Harz region, the Kyffhäuser Nature Park off ers natureoriented relaxation in a unique landscape. Attractions such as the Kyffhäuser Monument, Barbarossa Cave and Panorama Museum are embedded in a landscape which is unrivalled anywhere else in Germany. Adjoining the waters of the Kelbra Reservoir, where thousands of cranes stop to rest, are marshy meadows and salt springs. Beech woods are ideal for long walks, and rough grasslands and steep gypsum slopes are the habitat of feather grasses and pheasant’s eyes which usually only grow in the steppes of eastern Europe or in the Mediterranean region.
> Attractions: hiking and cycling, Kyffhäuser Listening Experience, bird-watching, certified Kyffhäuser Trail with QR codes
SOUTHERN HARZ NATURE PARK
The Southern Harz Nature Park is the part of the Harz region that extends into Thuringia. Here, directly on the edge of a mountain range, you can experience the character of a unique gypsum karst landscape with many natural phenomena, such as sinkholes, karst springs and caves. On the Harz narrow-gauge railways, you can travel from Nordhausen to the Harz region as far as Brocken Mountain, Wernigerode or Quedlinburg.
> Attractions: circular walks, guided walks, certified hiking trails, mountain biking, exploring with QR codes, Sophienhof Goat Alp
EICHSFELD-HAINICH-WERRA VALLEY NATURE PARK.
The Eichsfeld–Hainich–Werra Valley Nature Park covers an area of 858 km² on the western border of Thuringia. Shell limestone plateaux with tall beech trees and numerous cliffs present an impressive picture in the Eichsfeld region. Further south, the River Werra winds past steep rock faces. To the south-east, the jungle begins in the Hainich National Park. In the middle, one of Germany’s most beautiful railway routes can be explored on a bicycle trolley. There is a Nature Park Centre, a discovery trail with an adventure tree house and a garden for exploration by fragrance and touch. The raised beds, can be circumvented by wheelchair users. In the Hainich Climbing Park, there are more than 80 climbing elements on 7 courses – adventure, action and fun!
> Attractions: hikers’ bus, bicycle trolley, canoe tours, certified hiking trail, guided walks, barrier-free programmes, programmes for children and teenagers