Wildcat Path

Walking along the Wildcat Path

The Wildcat Path takes you on a 7 km tour of the varied countryside in and around Hainich, the kingdom of the wildcat. The Wildcat Barn has lots of information about this secretive dweller of the national park and is an excellent place to start this walk. Next door you can see four real specimen in the Wildcat Enclosure.

This circular walk comprises some upward slopes. Especially in summer, please remember that there are longer stretches where you won't find any shady trees. Geocaching fans get their money's worth doing a Multi-Cache on the subject "UNESCO World Heritage Sites".

Back in Hütscheroda, you can dine, rest and rejuvinate in the hotel "Zum Herrenhaus", a certified National Park Partner, with its grounds full of mature trees and a wide variety of artworks in the park.

The wildcat trail is one of a total of four "Thuringian primeval forest trails" in the Hainich National Park, a project of WWF Germany. Selected hiking trails throughout Thuringia have been awarded this title. The aim of the Thuringian primeval forest trails is to promote acceptance and ecological understanding of forests that are not used for forestry through experiencing them. The creation of the Thuringian primeval forest trails is also intended to support nature-friendly regional development and generate additional added value in tourism.


7 km

Starting point
Hiking parking lot Hütscheroda near the wildcat barn in the wildcat village Hütscheroda

Wildtierland Hainich gGmbH Schlossstr. 4
99820 Hörselberg-Hainich OT Hütscheroda

Difficulty level
medium, some climbs have to be mastered



Wildcat barn
The wildcat barn is the first port of call for all guests to the wildcat village. An exhibition welcomes you to the Hainich World Heritage Site and provides information about the shy inhabitants of the national park - the wildcat and the lynx - and about the "Wildcat Rescue Network".

Wildcat clearing
First, follow the bitumen road about 400 m uphill to the "Wildcat clearing" viewing enclosure. Here you can observe the velvet paws and their lively prey. The best way to do this is to hide between piles of wood, climb into a cave or climb the observation tower.

Sculpture trail
Follow the sculpture trail in a northerly direction to the former settlement of Hesswinkel, the youngest deserted settlement in the Hainich. In recent years, works of art by various international artists have been created along the trail as part of sculpture symposia.

Young mixed forest
After about 200 m, you reach the national park boundary. Immerse yourself in a young mixed deciduous forest with a fascinating variety of species. In addition to tree species such as birch and aspen, which are often the first to colonize such reforestation areas, you can also discover almost all other deciduous tree species that occur naturally in our native deciduous forests.
The hike now leads through the territory of the wildcat, which feels particularly at home in this mosaic of young forest and clearings. However, the vast majority of hikers will not actually spot them.

Fat oak tree
When you reach the crossroads at Mittelweg, you will find yourself in front of a Kindel landmark: the "Fat Oak" is an impressive tree that clearly shows its eventful history. In the middle of the Kindel military training area, it was one of the few trees that were left standing when the area was cleared in the 1960s and 1980s. The reason for this was presumably better orientation. It is also assumed that these trees were used as targets, as some of them show considerable damage.

"Hainichblick" observation tower
At the foot of the tower, which was erected in 2011, a photo documentation gives you an idea of the dynamics of nature here. On the tower and in the refuge at ground level, you will find a wealth of information about the landscape, various animals and the "wildcat rescue network".
The viewing platform at a height of 20 m not only offers a fantastic panorama, the view to the south also raises awareness of the need to protect wildcats and other animals. See the landscape through the eyes of the wildcat and follow the only safe route to the south - the corridor between Hainich and the Thuringian Forest.
To the south-west is Eisenach with the UNESCO World Heritage Site Wartburg Castle. There is no other place in the national park where you can experience the connection of the "Wartburg Hainich World Heritage Region", the combination of culture and nature, more intensively than here!

In these areas, the currently still open landscape is characterized by thousands of young trees and bushes. You will come across hedges of blackthorn and hawthorn and can observe how the forest is slowly reclaiming these areas. With a bit of luck, you might even spot a roe deer, wild boar or red deer. This section of the trail is enchanting in summer with a sea of flowers and a multitude of butterflies. Red-backed shrikes and great grey shrikes breed in the dense hedgerows and the Hainich National Park soon bids hikers farewell.


More information can be found in the leaflet.

Image: Wildcats in Hainich National Park
Rare, shy and never tame Wildcats in Hainich National Park Start slideshow