Flying high over the Volcano

In addition to the numerous fossilized tracks and bones of terrestrial saurians palaeontologists also discovered a near-complete 40 cm long skeleton belonging to Cabarzia trostheidei. This saurian is several million years older than the famous “Tambach Lovers” and a predecessor of the later mammals. A reconstruction of this animal can be seen along the Saurian Discovery Trail. And which plants grew here? The vegetation growing in this landscape with rivers, lakes and volcanoes consisted of tree ferns,  giant horse-tails with thick stems, plants with oblong leaves upto 50 cm long, seed plants with fern-like leaves (seed ferns) as well as diverse conifers. The latter are believed to be the predecessors of our conifers today. The large number of specimens found in the quarry present quite an exact picture of the flora and fauna in this volcanic period.

Did you know that the Grosser Inselsberg is the remains of a volcanic crater? A walk along the Tabarz Volcano Trail gives you some idea of how tremendous volcanic eruptions continuously shook and reshaped the supercontinent Pangaea 300 to 270 million years ago. The wildly romantic Lauchagrund is one of the most beautiful ravines in Thuringia. Here the stream Laucha winds its way through some bizarre rock formations. These are impressive remains of the volcanic past and today offer excellent challenges for climbers. The active quarry (Bad Tabarzer Hartsteinwerk) is a treasure for geologists and palaeontologists. This is one of the most important sites for finding insects from the Lower Permian (Rotliegend). In 1989 scientists made a sensational find here, a fragment of a giant mayfly. This insect had a wingspan of 45 cm and is the largest insect from this period ever to be found in Germany. A life-sized reproduction of the giant insect can be seen in the exhibition “Gipfeltreffen“ in the lookout on the Grosser Inselsberg.

  • Distance / Category: approx. 11 km,
  • Circular trail (also suitable for mountain bikers)
  • Elevation  : approx. 400 – 710 m above sea-level
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Trail characteristics: forest roads, sandy gravel roads, paved footpaths in the towns, some asphalted sections
  • Geological stations: large Rock Park (Steinpark) in the Kneipp-Spa Park Arenarisquelle presenting rock types from 300 million years of Earth history, Backofenlöcher (Oven Holes) in the Lauchagrund,  Haderholz-Porphyry rock formations, Lookout Aschenbergstein
  • Touristic stations: Märchenwiese (Fairytale meadows), Spa and Family Baths “tabbs“, high-wire course, Grosser Inselsberg, Art Galleries
  • Information: Tourist-Information Bad Tabarz, Naturepark and GeoInfoCentre in the lookout on the Grosser Inselsberg

Text: B. Aschenbrenner (PhD)

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