Hiking trail Betteleiche

Hiking trail Betteleiche

The Betteleiche is a very special natural monument and at the same time a symbol of the eventful history of the Hainich in the middle of Germany.

This hiking trail leads past numerous cultural and historical highlights in the national park, such as the Ihlefeld Cross, the Iron Hand and the Ihlefeld. In spring, the trail leads through magnificent stands of wild garlic and larkspur.


12 km

Starting point
The hiking trail begins at the Kammerforst National Park Information Center and you hike in an anti-clockwise direction. If you want to start hiking directly in the national park, drive to the "Am Zollgarten" hiking parking lot near Kammerforst, hike clockwise and cross the meadows at the end to the road to the hiking parking lot.
Kammerforst National Park Information Center
ObergutKammerforst Straße der Einheit
99986 Kammerforst

Difficulty level
medium, over a long stretch you climb almost 200 meters in altitude



From the Obergut to the beech forest
In Kammerforst, first mentioned in 860, half-timbered houses huddle closely together along the road to the Obergut. The Obergut, a half-timbered building from the 16th century, is home to one of the four national park information centers with the exhibition "Forest in Transition", which is well worth a visit. Here, hikers can always meet a ranger who knows the answers to all their questions about the national park.

From Obergut, take the next road uphill to the left and then turn right onto Reckenbühlstraße, which leads slightly uphill past orchards to the edge of the forest. Here the path turns left and runs along a small larch wood into the Bechstedter Grund, which takes its name from the village of Bechstedt east of Kammerforst, which fell into desolation in 1506.

The hiker now briefly follows the Grund into the forest. After a few hundred meters, the path winds uphill to the left into the national park. Slowly descending again, the forest changes almost imperceptibly from beech forest to ravine forest, characterized by ash and maple.

Ravine forests are characteristic of the many dry valleys of the Hainich, which only carry water for a few days a year. Ash and maple trees have replaced beech in the tree layer. Early bloomers form colorful carpets on the valley floor - the color palette ranges from the white of the spring snowflake and wood anemone to the red-violet of the corydalis and the blue of the liverwort to the yellow of the lesser celandine, wood goldstar, yellow anemone and cowslip.

Through the Thamsbrücker Grund
Along the Thamsbrücker Grund you will find boundary stones with the following letter sequences carved into them: THB for Thamsbrück, vH for "von Hopfgarten", the former owners of the Ihlefeld, and GF for the municipality of Flarchheim. To the right, the trail now climbs up a massive wooden staircase to the Breiter Weg (part of the "Waagebalkenweg"). Here the hiker turns left and reaches the Betteleiche through deciduous woodland rich in structure.

There is a legend surrounding the Betteleiche, which Hermann Gutbier described as early as 1894: Locals and passers-by used to lay donations and petitions for the monks of the hermitage at Ihlefeld at this oak tree. To protect the offerings from the weather, the monks cut a box-shaped hollow in the trunk of the tree. The oak slowly took on its shape as the weathering progressed.

At the Betteleiche, the view opens up to extensively used meadows, overgrown fruit trees and, on closer inspection, the overgrown remains of a settlement - the legendary deserted village of Ihlefeld.

The history of Ihlefeld begins around 1110 - the Brotherhood of St. Anthony was given a wooded area where monks built the "Eilfelden" hermitage. This soon played an important role as a "Walpert", a place of pilgrimage. In 1443, the hermitage was acquired by St. Catherine's Monastery in Eisenach and used primarily as a farm. The Reformation and the Peasants' War then put an end to religious life in Hainich. The Ihlefeld now came into the possession of the von Hopfgarten family as a feudal estate. In 1964, due to the construction of the Weberstedt military training area, the Ihlefeld buildings were demolished. In 1995, a shelter was built on the vaulted cellar of a former forester's lodge, now the Ihlefeld shelter.

Continue along the wide road past the Ihlefeld cross on the left in the forest, the oldest field monument in the Hainich, to the crossroads with the "Iron Hand". Here the hiker initially follows the ring finger in the direction of Craula - Gotha (straight ahead).

Iron Hand
The Iron Hand is mentioned in the Langensalza official register as early as 1554. The unconventionally curved fingers of the forged work of art point to various places in and around the Hainich. The original Iron Hand is located in Mülverstedt.

After about 250 m, the Betteleichenweg turns left onto the Triftchaussee, from where you turn left again onto the reforestation areas of the former Weberstedt military training area.

Succession in the Hainich means development into mixed deciduous forest. Following the end of military use and sheep grazing, succession can now be observed on the former shooting ranges, from the dense, felty grass stage with thistles, teasel, chicory and St. John's wort along the edge of the path, to the gradually denser scrub stage of sloes and roses, to the young ash forest.

Before you reach the "Am Zollgarten" hiking parking lot, a species-rich forest edge is formed on the left. From the parking lot, you can enjoy an impressive view over the Thuringian basin.

A paved road leads back to Kammerforst.


A feast for the eyes in every season Impressions from around the year from Jens Fischer Start slideshow