Get to Ilmenau via Erfurt (connected to the ICE network and perfectly accessible from all over Germany) with the "Erfurter Bahn" (a regional railway company) hourly. From the Ilmenau railway station it's a 10 minutes walk to the initial point of the track.
Motorway A 71 (Erfurt - Schweinfurt), take the exit no. 16 'Ilmenau-West' and go ahead in 'Schmiedefeld / Rstg. / Stützerbach / Martinroda' direction. Then follow the federal highway B 4. There are enough parking places nearby.
At the Erfurt airport take a tram (line 4) to Erfurt main station and take a regional train of the "Erfurter Bahn" to Ilmenau there. From the Ilmenau station it's ten minutes to walk to the initial point of the track.
"Only places where you have been by foot are places where you have really been" – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It's all in the name: Goethe, as the eponym for this hiking trail, visited Ilmenau at least 28 times
The "Goethe Path" (which is the english expression for the German word "Goethewanderweg") is a hiking trail leading from Ilmenau to Stützerbach (or vice versa). It's 19 km long, and on its course there are 17 considerable domains where Goethe left his marks. The indication of this track is a white "G" in Sutterlin lettering on a brown background – this Sutterlin G was used by Goethe himself to sign his works.
The track starts in the center of Ilmenau. Here the Goethe monument can be found, and in the 'Amtshaus' (located directly at the market place) there's a museum with exhibitions about Goethe's work. The next station is the Ilmenau graveyard. Here is the grave of Corona Schröters who was Goethe's favorite actor and the impersonator of Iphigenie.
Go ahead following the path over the 'Sturmweide' to the 'Ilmenauer Berggräben' ("Ilmenau mountain ditches"). Goethe was not only a poet but also a politician. He was a secretary of the Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach government, and amongst others he was responsible for the underground mining. The "mountain ditches" were built to transport water to the mines in order to drive the pit wheels.
The next stop is the 'Schwalbenstein rock' where Goethe wrote the entire 4th act of his play 'Iphigenie auf Tauris' ("Iphigenia"). Nowadays there's a mountain hut.
After the 'Schöffenwiese' ("juryman lawn") and the 'Marienquell'" ("Mary's spring") the Goethe Path leads to Manebach. Here the 'Kantorhaus' ("Cantor's house") is located – in its garden Goethe drew some scientific charts.
About the 'Great Hermann's rock' ("Großer Hermannsstein") Goethe wrote: "mein geliebter Aufenthalt, wo ich möcht wohnen und bleiben" ("my beloved habitation where I want to stay and live"). This referred to a large cave which he visited frequently, amongst others also together with Charlotte von Stein who was a very close friend to Goethe.
The 'Kickelhahn', a 861 meters high mountain, is the next station. Here Goethe wrote "Wandrers Nachtlied (ein Gleiches)" ("Wanderer's Nightsong II") in the year 1780. Goethe wrote two poems called "Wandrers Nachtlied", and the newer one is meant here.
After the 'Jagdhaus Gabelbach' (a hunt lodge), that houses a museum about Goethe's natural scientific research, the 'Finsteres Loch' (a cascade which is mentioned in Goethe's poem "Ilmenau") and the 'Waldgasthaus Auerhahn' (Forest inn mountain cock), the hiker gets to Stützerbach, where the trail ends at the 'Gundelach House'. Here Goethe stayed for the night when he visited the village, and nowadays it houses a museum about Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
The Goethe Path is no loop road which means that the hiker either has to walk back the same route or one can take a bus (line 300) back to Ilmenau.
The track isn't that difficult, rather easy, hence it's doable for both adults and kids.
Escape Address: Am Markt 1, 98693, Ilmenau, Thuringia, Germany
The Rennsteigtunnel (official name 'Tunnel Rennsteig') is with 7,916 meters the longest car tunnel in Germany, and the fourth largest tunnel with two tubes in Europe. It's part of the motorway A 71 between Gräfenroda and Oberhof, and it crosses below the crest of the Thuringian forest resp. the Rennsteig.
Oberhof is just 30 km away from Ilmenau – and it's world famous for its winter sports facilities: Biathlon, Ski Jump, Cross country skiing, Bobsleigh, Luge ... these sports made Oberhof world-renowned. But Oberhof is – of course – not only a place for professional athletes, there are enough opportunities for amateurs as well.
A perfect finish of the day: the H2Oberhof (nice wordplay btw). The bath and wellness temple was newly rebuilt recently, and is glistening in its renewed splendor. Have fun in the water park with its 110 m long slide and later on relax in the wellness area with seven saunas and many offers for massage, physiotherapy and beauty applications.