Harz National Park (Nationalpark Harz)

Harz National Park



Location: Lower Saxony  Map

Area: 247 km²


Description of Harz National Park

Harz National Park is a protected natural area located in the Lower Saxony region in Germany. Harz National Park covers an area of 247 km². Unlike many other nature reserves these lands are virtually uninhabited by men other than several dozens of park rangers.


Geographical location
The Harz National Park is located in the western part of the Harz (see Upper Harz) and extends from Wernigerode and Ilsenburg in the north to Herzberg and Bad Lauterberg in the south. In its peripheral areas, the park is located at heights of 230 m in the north to 270 m in the south and rises to 1141.2 m above sea level. NHN at the summit of the Brocken.

The headwaters of several rivers such as the Bode, the Oder or the Ilse are located in the area of ​​the national park. The Oder flows through the Oderteich and feeds the Oder dam located on the southeastern border of the park. Other dams and standing waters within or on the edge of the national park include the Eckertalsperre and the Silver Pond. The highest peaks are the Brocken, the Bruchberg and the Achtermann.

Today's cross-border Harz National Park was created on January 1st 2006 through the merger of the Harz National Park in Lower Saxony and the Hochharz National Park in Saxony-Anhalt. Since the merger, Andreas Pusch has been the head of the large conservation area.

The Hochharz National Park was set up on October 1, 1990 two days before German reunification on the basis of a Council of Ministers resolution of the GDR government on the national park program. The park encompassed the eastern high Harz around the Brocken between Eckertalsperre, Hohnekamm and Schierke, later extended to Ilsenburg. The region is characterized by little-touched flora and fauna, which is mainly due to the so-called "Brocken Urwald" forest, which has not been used for forestry for centuries, and the location directly on the former German-German border. In the GDR era, the Brocken was accessible with an easy-to-obtain pass until 1961. From August 13, 1961, it became a restricted area, so it was no longer used for tourism. Since the 1970s, forest problems such as bark beetles or fungal infestation have also appeared in the Harz. In the course of the spirit of optimism at the time of reunification, they were also the ones who initiated the establishment of the national park. On January 1, 1991, the national park administration in Wernigerode began its service under the direction of Hubertus Hlawatsch. Peter Gaffert acted as Hubertus Hlawatsch's successor from 1995 until the merger with the western Harz National Park (2006).

The Lower Saxony part of the park was launched on January 1, 1994 after four years of preparation. Wolf-Eberhard Barth was the founding director. Although the two countries have been talking about a joint national park project since the fall of the Wall, it took another twelve years to implement.

The Harz National Park belongs to the European umbrella organization EUROPARC Federation, a network of national parks, biosphere reserves and nature parks. Among other things, he deals with the exchange of information, training, public relations and lobbying. The German section EUROPARC Deutschland e. V. of this umbrella organization has also organized the network of many large protected areas in Germany.

In 2005 the national park was included in the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas.

The national park currently employs 160 people who work in the national park administration offices in Wernigerode (headquarters), the branch in Sankt Andreasberg OT Oderhaus and in the area. The head office is home to the following departments: general administration, nature conservation, research and documentation and public relations. The forest treatment and game population regulation department is located in Sankt Andreasberg. The employees of the national park guard, who are also known as rangers, give tours and take on tasks in public relations and environmental education, right through to looking after information points and national park houses.

In addition, the National Park Education Center is located in the National Park House in Sankt Andreasberg. The education center and the rangers work closely together. The main task of the education center is to create wilderness areas.


Getting there

A nostalgic way of getting here is to take the Harzquer / Brocken Railway from Wernigerode or Nordhausen, for detailed information, see the Brocken article.

Suitable places for arrival and, if necessary, accommodation are in Lower Saxony: Bad Harzburg, Altenau, St. Andreasberg, Herzberg and Braunlage, in Saxony-Anhalt Ilsenburg and Wernigerode. Specific travel information can be found in the local articles.

Cyclists on the Weser-Harz-Heide-Radweg pass the national park area on the section from Herzberg to Riefensbeek-Kamschlacken.


Around the park

The best way to explore the national park is on foot. In winter, cross-country skis are also a popular means of transport due to the attractive network of trails. In many places there are parking spaces for hikers from which you can take day trips. The park can also be easily reached by environmentally friendly local public transport. The extensive network of hiking trails in the area of ​​the national park is well marked. Nevertheless, it makes sense to use a hiking map so that you can orientate yourself better.

There are no trails in the national park. In order to protect nature, entering the forest or park away from designated paths / trails is not permitted. Instructions from rangers in the area must be followed in this regard. In the park live z. Sometimes very shy wild animals such as the lynx and the wild cat, which need appropriate retreats. Wild animals, which are often "frightened" in winter, use an unnecessarily large amount of energy to escape from humans in deep snow. If this happens more often, such "overactive" escape behavior can lead to death, especially in severe winters. Even supposedly rare individual disturbances on disused, closed hiking routes therefore add up.

Notes on Openstreetmap in this regard: In the free wiki world map, some paths are shown in the park area that have been closed due to the nature conservation reasons mentioned above. For "normal users" of Openstreetmap, however, these routes may not be immediately recognizable as blocked routes on the map. The symbol for "blocked route" in Openstreetmap-Mapnik is an overlaid, wider red dashed line. This applies e.g. B. for the quiet zones on the much-visited Brocken (see also the literature section there or sketch on the right). These routes are usually no longer included in regular hiking maps.