In the cover picture you can see the highest elevation in northern Germany – the Brocken. It is situated around 65 km to the south of Brunswick. In summer the area offers several adventures, with small and long distance hiking trails. The tracks lead through deep green needle forests and through landscapes shaped by the characteristic gypsum rock. The Harz mountains is the place to be, for either strolling through nature or authentic villages or if you are a hiking enthusiast, who plans a few day journey.
Cover photo credit: @LianeM
The terrain of the Harzer National Park extends across parts of Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. In summer it is the perfect place to go for a hike. The Harzer-Hexen-Stieg is the most famous hiking trail and leads to the summit of the Brocken, which is 1,141m, the Harz’s highest peak. The track starts in Osterode and ends in Thale or vice versa. It is around 100 km long, so you should book your accommodation beforehand, and make sure you are well prepared. If you don’t want to organize it yourself, there are package hiking deals.
The above picture shows the view from the Brocken summit. If you just want to hike for a day and not on the Harzer-Hexen-Stieg, there are five shorter one-day-hiking routes to the summit in total, with different required levels of fitness.
Amongst them the Goethe way from the Torfhaus is the most frequented and famous one. If you prefer to be in nature on your own, go for another walk to the Brocken, choose sections within the Harzer-Hexen-Stieg or do one of the numerous other hiking trails.
Another lazier but still impressive way to go up is by Harz Narrow Gauge Railway (HSB). Sitting in the historic train and enjoying the view over the hilly and forested landscape is an experience. Actually the HSB is the owner and operator of the longest continuous narrow gauge railway network in Germany. The track only has a width of one metre and the three routes Harzquer, Selketal and Brockenbahn stretch out on a total length of 140.4 km. The ride on the Brockenbahn leads you, as the name indicates, to the summit of the Brocken.
Apart from the Harzer-Hexen-Stieg over the Brocken there are seven different long distance hikes in the Harz mountains. From the 64 km long Harz Monastery Trail to the 200 km Karstwanderweg Suedharz.
The journey of the Harz Monastery Trail goes along the foothills of the Harz from Wendhusen Monastery to the UNESCO old town of Goslar. There you can find peaceful moments connected to nature.
The Karstwanderweg Suedharz on the other hand starts in Sangerhausen and ends in Osterode. The hike is situated in the southern part of the Harz and goes along a landscape formed of gypsum, which is a characteristic type of rock for the area.
If you want to combine your track with an historic element, you should choose the Harzer Grenzweg. It runs around 100 km along the former border between East and West Germany.
Whereas the Selketal-Stieg goes through one of the most beautiful valleys of the Harz. The trail runs for 72 km. The starting point is the Falkenstein Castle and goes over to the UNESCO world heritage town of Quedlinburg.
The Harz mountains offer a great way to escape cities, enjoy nature and have a good time in the fresh air. There are lovely little towns situated along the trails too. Hiking along small paths is the best way to get to know the Harzer National Park. There are tracks to everybody’s liking and abilities and the amount of them is impressive. Do some deeper research about the one best-suited for you, prepare yourself and check the weather conditions before starting your adventure in this unique northern German mountain area.
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