Harz is the highest mountain range in northern Germany and is the base of many fairy tales featuring mountains, streams, forests and witches. The Harz National Park extends over the German states of Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt.
The protected area is an abundance of forests, magnificent greenery, ever flowing streams and wildlife. It also provides for an excellent location for people looking to hike and ride while enjoying nature at it’s best.
We set out on a fine weekend to reach the Brocken Summit which is the highest point of the Harz mountains at 1141 m.
We chose to take the Heinrich Heine trail to the summit from Ilsenburg which is the less popular trail to hike to the Brocken because of the distance being longer i.e. 12 kms and also steeper with a climb of 900 m.
The common trail taken by most visitors is the Goethe trail which is 8.5 kms and also has a moderate climb. However, the Heinrich Heine trail is undoubtedly much more scenic and offers much more variety on the trail than the Goethe trail.
The trails are named after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a German writer and Heinrich Heine, a German poet who had taken these trails to the Brocken summit. However, resting huts like this one never existed at that time. Its so much easier now.
Almost half of the distance of the trail runs along a beautiful stream which looks fascinating no matter from where you look at it. Needless to say, you can never be satisfied with just a couple of snaps.
The details hidden in the vastness of the wood are also quite charming.
12 kms of uphill walk does feel exhausting at times, but the views and beauty do make up for it.
Although there are quite well made roads for cyclists, they don’t seem to spoil the natural charm of the park and of course you don’t need to follow those tracks if you want. There are always natural trails to follow.
We really did wonder how Heinrich Heine and others in those times made it all the way without the specially made bridges that are present now. It must have been challenging but equally awarding.
We rested a bit at Ilsefälle, one of the marked points in the trail. However, we never felt like leaving the magnificent view.
Then started the densely populated spruce trees. We wondered how beautiful they look in the winter with the snow on them.
Finally, after a steep climb, we were able to reach Brocken and were awarded with the splendid views of Harz National Park from it’s highest point.
We even caught sight of the BrockenBahn, the well preserved steam engine train which is an alternative to reach Brocken from the town of Wernigerode.
After resting at Schierke for the night, we took the Goethe trail back to Torfhaus, which is one of the other the starting points.
We hiked a total of 28 kms and scaled 900 m on our journey to Brocken and back. It sure was demanding and exhausting, but if one wants to experience the mountains of the fairy tales and witches up close, there is no other alternative.