It’s mystical, it’s atmospheric and it’s one of the most enchanting sceneries to be found in Germany: The Harz Mountains, the country’s most northerly mountain range, are steeped in legends and myths. They are also a popular hiking region, and the best way to explore the magical world of the Harz is the Harz Witches’ Trail (Harzer-Hexen-Stieg) in Saxony-Anhalt, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
The 94km route between Osterode in the southwest and Thale in the northeast of the Harz Mountains is one of Germany’s top trails and enables visitors to discover the most beautiful spots in the Harz mountain range and experience the entire variety of this fairytale-like part of the country.
Hikers will encounter an impressive variety of cultural and natural highlights on the way, such as the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Upper Harz Water Management System, the world’s largest combined system of ponds and ditches, as well as valleys, mountain meadows, moors, creeks and forests. Part of the route coincides with the Green Belt, the former border between East and West Germany, linking the Harzer-Hexen-Stieg closely to the country’s reunification. The trail finishes at the Bode valley, one of the most striking rock valleys north of the Alps.
The undoubted highlight of the Harz Witches’ Trail is the Brocken in Harz National Park, the highest mountain in northern Germany rising up to 1,141 metres. It’s here where one of the most famous scenes in Goethe’s Faust is set with the devil taking Faust up the Brocken on Walpurgis Night when, according to local legend, witches gather to celebrate and await the arrival of spring on the night from 30 April to 1 May. Visitors can join in the spectacle every year when on the last day of April everywhere in the Harz region people with pointed hats and broomsticks gather for Walpurgis Night fun and events and to prepare for their flight to the Brocken.
Depending on time, experience and preference, hikers can choose if they want to cover the Harz Witches’ Trail in four or seven days and choose the route’s legs accordingly. For further information special holiday offers and events see http://en.harzinfo.de/ or call 0049 (0)5231 34040.
More information on the Cultural Heart of Germany (Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia):