The world heritage area in Hainich National Park amounts to 1,573 ha and includes the central zones of the national park with particularly old beech woodland.
In this part, the old beeches were able to develop largely undisturbed by human influences. This wilderness, which has been designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site, can be discovered along the "Welterbepfad", the World Heritage Path. The 9.5 km long circular walk gives an insight into the varied structure of the unique "Ancient Beech Forests of Germany", here in Hainich on limestone. The walk takes about 3.5 to 4 hours and starts from the ramblers' car park "Craulaer Kreuz".
9.5 km (with a detour to the Wartburgblick plus 0.8 km)
medium, with a staircase of 100 wooden steps
The first interesting item on this walk is a stone cross, the Craulaer Kreuz, which was probably put up here in memory of someone who had an accident and died at this spot a long time ago. From here, you can see far into the Thuringian Basin and up to the ridge of the Thuringian Forest.
The path descends quickly down into the forest and winds its way through a beech forest in which nature rules alone. Old beeches can age here gracefully and die when their time has come. Around them, young trees strive for the best places in the sun. In spring, the smell of wild garlic is prevalent throughout the forest.
When the path meets the developed path, you descend into wilderness with its natural dynamism of growth and decay. In spring, carpets of flowers cover the forest floor. After the turn by the Gänserasen, the path follows the bottom of the Langes Tal, a primeval woodland with fallen and decaying giant trees. Soon it is time to take the turn to the Sperbersgrundweg and go up the wooden staircase (only 100 stairs) up a limestone slope, where you pass plenty of deadwood, which is host to tinder fungus and many other forms of life.
The beech forest on the limestone ridge is full of bizarrely shaped trees, until the path finally reaches the open area of the former military training area and leaves the world heritage area. From here, it is worth to take a detour to the "Wartburgblick".