Now is the time of year when it’s starting to feel like winter has perhaps overstayed its welcome and needs to make a decision.  It’s high time for it to bow out gracefully for summer’s arrival so we can start exploring some of Germany’s waterways by kayak.  Either that, or it needs to rage back in with a vengeance and drop some fresh snow so we can try out new skis a friend in Nikolausberg gave us.  No more of this wishy-washy, in-between nonsense.  Anxious to go exploring, we gave up on waiting for warmer weather and set off on Sunday to investigate a newly opened attraction called the Baumwipfelpfad Harz, or Tree Top Trail.

Baumwipfelpfad Harz, Bad Harzburg, Germany

Recently completed, the dome is the first of its kind in Lower Saxony.

Located in the town of Bad Harzburg at the northern edge of Harz National Park, it took us about an hour by car to reach the dome from Göttingen.  Once we sorted out the rather confusing cluster of buildings with two separate ticket booths, we bought “kombi” tickets for the one-way Tree Top Trail as well as a ride on the nearby cable car.

Baumwipfelpfad Harz, Bad Harzburg, Germany

The Tree Top Trail runs for a kilometer through the forest and is elevated 26 meters above the ground.

Since dogs aren’t allowed on the raised trail, we left Touille in the car to nap while we first followed the walking path over the main road.

Baumwipfelpfad-Tree Top Trail, Bad Harzburg, DE

The upper viewing platform offers nice views of the surrounding forest, though the trees are still bare in winter.

A few minutes later, we were spiraling slowly upward in the dome to the top.

Baumwipfelpfad Harz, Bad Harzburg, Germany

From the top platform, Travis looks down on the lower levels of the dome.

Not surprisingly, we mostly had the trail to ourselves.  Considering that spring has not yet sprung, the trees hadn’t even begun to bud yet and they remained draped in brown.  Like us, the forest was waiting for warmer days and blue skies.

The pale winter light filters through the bare trees along the trail.

As we passed each of the 18 platforms and 33 viewing stations, I was disappointed to find that all of the signs and displays were only in German.  We’re always curious to learn about the local plants and animals when we travel, but we could only look at the photos.  The displays were really colorful, creative, and interactive, too.  Giant pine cones carved in wood with informative tags dotted the path and pictures illustrated the species of local trees and how to identify them.  I suppose the site is marketed more toward locals, particularly families with small children, but I hope that in the near future we might see the addition of multilingual audio guides so a much larger audience can truly appreciate their stellar displays.

One of the viewing platforms along the trail has several educational displays as well as stairs to the ground for folks perhaps feeling a bit “height challenged.”

At the end of the elevated Tree Top Trail, we reached a split in the trail that was marked with creative, carved wooden hiking boots pointing the way.

Baumwipfelpfad Harz, Bad Harzburg, Germany

Carved hiking boots like these mark several of the trail intersections.

One path sharply zigzagged directly above us on the steep hillside and another lazily curled around the hill to angle more gradually to the summit.  Short and steep it was.

Baumwipfelpfad Harz, Bad Harzburg, Germany

From one of the switchbacks, the Tree Top Trail is visible far below.

Cresting the top of Burgberg, or Castle Hill, we were surprised to find the remains of an old castle, though it was mostly just the stone outline in the ground.  The restaurant on top was clearly far more popular with visitors.

Burgberg, Germany

A restaurant is available at the top of Castle Hill.

We walked out to the viewpoint overlooking Bad Harzburg, where I was more interested in this really neat fish lock than the hazy village below.

Burgberg, Germany

A common practice on bridges throughout Europe, the chained perimeter at Castle Hill is decorated with locks.

From the top of Burgberg, we boarded the Castle Hill cable car, which whisked us back down to the parking area.

Burgberg, Germany

For folks who prefer not to hike at all, tickets just for the cable car can be purchased at one of the ticket booths below.

Eager to explore the area’s more wild side, I ordered a couple of macchiatos to go, Travis passed our parking slip on to the next car driving through the parking lot, and we turned back onto the main highway to drive deeper into Harz, Germany’s first national park.

Know Before You Go
  • Dogs are not allowed through the turn-style onto the 1-km raised trail, but they’re welcome on leash on surrounding trails, of which there are many!
  • From the parking area and ticket booth for Baumwipfelpfad, it’s also possible to hike to a popular lynx enclosure about 4 km east near Rabenklippe.  More info here.
  • Official site for Baumwipfelpfad “Tree Top Trail”.  If you receive a 404 error code or have trouble accessing their site, make sure your English-speaking computer didn’t automatically add “/en” to the URL.
Map of Baumwipfelpfad Harz Trail

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