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The Brocken - weather station on the summit

The Brocken – Hiking trails to the summit


A concise landmark, a source of inspiration and a multi-facetted tour destination for a hike – the Brocken fascinates with its eventful history and impressive nature. An extensive Hike on the Brocken is one of the highlights in the Harz Mountains.

Hike on the Brocken – hiking trails on the Brocken

Hiking to the Brocken – along the Ilse river (10 km)

The hiking trail from Ilsenburg to Brocken is reminiscent of the Brocken hike by the poet Heinrich Heine. It leads through the idyllic Ilse valley, along the cascades of the Ilse, over several bridges and bars. From the Hermannsklippe the Heinrich-Heine-Weg follows the steeply ascending Hirtenstieg to the Brocken summit (Tour description from Ilsenburg to Brocken). The way back of the Brocken hike leads via the Heinrich-Heine-Weg or the Brockenstraße – Gelber Brink – Ilsenburg (10 km). Ilsenburg can be reached by car in approx. 10 minutes from Wernigerode.

Hike on the Brocken Schierke – Over the Old Bob Run (6.5 km)

Located at the foot of the Brocken, the small town of Schierke is a good starting point for great Brocken hikes. The ascent over the Alte Bobbahn promises a varied tour. This unspoilt hiking trail begins behind the bus turning point and can also be accessed via Grandma’s toboggan run opposite the youth hostel. At first it goes steadily uphill through the forest. Roots and stones protrude from the ground, a little stream rushes down at the roadside. Soon, the track bed of the Brocken Railway , which is accompanied by the Bahnparallelweg, will be crossed for the first time. The path winds further up and leads to the Brockenstraße. A bit above, the Kabelgraben hiking trail branches off to the left and ends further up again on the road. From now on the hiker continues on the asphalt to the summit, which is surrounded by a scenic path. Return with the Brockenbahn or via the Brockenstraße (6 km).

Brocken hike on the Glashüttenweg (11 km)

At Station Drei Annen Hohne a moderate ascent to Brocken begins. Especially for families with children, the short detour via the dandelion discovery trail and the mockery meadow is worthwhile. Otherwise, the tour starts on the wide forest path opposite the car park, straight ahead and at the fork left up the mountain. Soon the Glashüttenweg is reached, the Trudenstein comes into sight and several paths meet at the spider. If you like, you can cut over the strawberry head and meet the Glashüttenweg again, which leads along the Wormke and through the Jacobsbruch. At the junction of Pfarrstiege a detour to Ahrentsklint is recommended. A little later a path branches off to the right, leads past the rock formations Kapellenklippen and Brockenkinder and back to the Glashüttenweg. This ends a little later before the Ilsenburger curve of the Brockenstraße. Return by train.

Braunlage – Elend – Teufelsstieg (11 km)

Sure-footed, enduring adventurers will have fun on the hike from Wurmberg in Braunlage to Elend and further on on the Teufelsstieg zum Brockengipfel. From Großparkplatz Hexenritt, approx. 5 minutes by car from Braunlage, you follow the Ulmer Weg on the southern slope of the Kleiner Winterberg down to Elend. At the valley guard, a 200 year old spruce, the Teufelsstieg begins. He follows the stony path on which Goethe let Mephisto and Faust hike to Blocksberg.

First the ascent leads through the Elendstal, past Scharfensteinklippen and Mauseklippe. Then the Teufelsstieg meanders southwest around Schierke and joins the Eckerlochstieg at the waterworks. The ascent begins moderately, then becomes really steep, massive granite blocks cover the path, impassable passages are bridged with wooden footbridges. After a breather in the Eckerloch, the climb continues on to the Brocken road, which reaches the Brocken summit a few bends later. The way back of the hike leads over the Goetheweg – Grenzweg – Dreieckiger Pfahl – Bodefälle – Braunlage (10 km).

Easy hike to the Brocken from Oderbrück (14 km)

During the relatively easy Brocken hike from Oderbrück to Brocken there are only about 350 meters of altitude to overcome. For the first section, two variants are available, both of which meet at Dreieckiger Pfahl. One route begins at the Schierker Straße forest car park, leads past the Ehrenfriedhof Oderbrück and southwest past the Brockenfield. The only slightly longer tour starts at the hiking car park of the Oderbrück settlement, first follows the course of the Oder and then the signs for the Bodebruch vantage point. A short time later the triangular pole is reached, the hiker goes on the Kolonnenweg, which leads to the Goetheweg. Next waypoint is former Goethebahnhof, from there the hiking trail runs parallel to the tracks of the Brockenbahn. At the level crossing below the Knochenbrecher curve, the Goetheweg leads onto the Brocken road, which leads up to the Brockenplateau and connects to the summit circular trail.

Torfhaus – Eckerstausee – Brocken summit (14 km)

The large car park in Torfhaus is a popular starting point for a Brocken hike. A challenging route leads around the Eckerstausee, over the Scharfensteinklippe and then on the herdsmen’s climb to the summit. Behind the Harz National Park Visitor Centre, you first descend the slope to Schubensteinweg. After the Schubensteinklippen the hiker follows the stony Kaiserweg to the north, turns off to the ski monument and connects to the Pionierweg. Now the tour runs along the river Ecker, which slowly dams up to the lake. Finally, the dam is reached and crossed. On the other side, you continue along the Frankenbergweg until the path to the Rangerstation Scharfensteinklippe and Frickenplatz branches off to the left. At this crossroads the partially steeply ascending Hirtenstieg begins. It leads on natural ground, past Hermannsklippe, Bismarckklippe and Brockenkinder directly to the summit of Brocken. The Brocken hike leads back via the Goetheweg – Grenzweg – Dreieckiger Pfahl – Torfhaus (6 km).

Once you have reached the destination of your Brocken hike, you can take part in a National Park guided tour with the Ranger on the Brocken. You should definitely combine the ascent to the summit with a ride in a steam locomotive. The track sticks are quite high only for the last part Schierke – Brocken.

The Brocken – Highlight in Harz

Already visible from a distance, it rises from the forests of the Upper Harz: the Brocken with its striking, often foggy and wind-rotten summit. If one thinks of the Harz Mountains, the highest mountain range in Northern Germany is probably the first to be associated with the 1141 Meter measuring lump within the district of Schierke near the timbered town of Wernigerode. Its rounded summit, overgrown only with dwarf shrub heath and surrounded by extensive upland moorland, captivates nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts with its sparse beauty.

The name of the geologically unique mountain in the Upper Harz was formed in the late Middle Ages. It was probably created because of its irregular shape, referring to the rough plateaus and broken block heaps that characterise it. Heinrich Heine aptly formulated a few centuries later: The “old, world-famous chunk” had something “understandable, tolerant”, but also “his boyish, fantastic times”.

Land marker of cultural history

The use of the Brocken as a vantage point dates back to prehistory. Already in the Bronze Age the mountain served as landmark for an observatory, which was located on the Großen Mittelberg, the locality of the Nebra Sky Disc, southwest of the Brocken. In the course of the Landesaufnahme des territorial gewachsenen Königreichs Hannover the mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauß carried out his triangular survey of the dominion from the Brocken using the excellent views of the mountain.

Its exposed location in the Hochharz, the occasionally extreme climatic conditions and the surprising weather changes made the Brocken an ideal location for a weather station from the late 19th century onwards, and from the 1930s also for various radio transmitters. The television tower built there in 1935/1936, today a hotel and viewing platform, is the first in the world. The building of the Weather Station on the Brocken was built in 1939 and established as a reference station of the German Weather Service in 2010.

Brocken – development to a destination

At the turn from the late Middle Ages to early modern times, the first widely known ascent of the Brocken took place. The doctor and botanist Johannes Thal hiked the mountain about in the middle of the 16th century and wrote a description of the subalpine flora found during the Brocken ascent.

In the 18th century, the Brocken became increasingly attractive for scientists, artists and those seeking relaxation. Taking into account the increasing travel and hiking tourism, from 1736, the year of construction of the listed building, Shelter for hikers cloud huts, accommodations and inns on the summit of the Brocken were built to serve as a refuge for hikers during the rapid weather changes typical of the Brocken.

With the steam locomotive on the Brocken
With the steam locomotive on the Brocken – Station Drei Ahnen Hohne

Since 1899, the Harzer Schmalspurbahn has been taking numerous Harz visitors comfortably from Schierke through spruce forests and heath landscapes up to the Brocken summit and back again. Integrated into and adjacent to the transmitter building are modern hotels, cosy restaurants and scientific-historical information facilities such as the Brockenhaus.

The ensemble of buildings combines Harz hospitality with a varied historical and natural experience, inviting you to explore and slow down on the mountain. The origins of the Brockenhotel date back to around 1800. After fires and destruction during the Second World War, the current building was rebuilt in the 1950s and can boast the highest hotel in the north of Germany.

Legendary Blocksberg

Ghosts, witches and demonic dance meetings at Walpurgis in the night of the first of May – myths and legends are entwined around the chunk called Blocksberg, some of which can be traced back to the Middle Ages. A major contributor to this legend was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who climbed the mountain in 1777 and in the Walpurgis night metaphorically richly coated his “Faust”, made the magical mountain or the area around Schierke a piece of world literature.

This was so formative that even Heine could not resist the “amusing Blocksberg stories” and “great, mystical, German national tragedy of Doctor Faust” during his ascent of the Brocken.

An active nature experience and an eerily beautiful, fantasy-stimulating world of legends form a special connection along the Harzer Hexenstieg, which runs right through the Harz mountains, and the Teufelsstiege, which climbs the Brocken mountain. And perhaps one or the other will encounter a legendary phenomenon while hiking at the Brocken and in the national park in the dusky coniferous forests, foggy high moors or behind the rugged rock cliffs.

Brocken – Centre in the National Park

Until about 1800, the coal and steel industry had led to the deforestation of large parts of the Harz Mountains. After Count Christian Ernst von Stolberg issued a decree in the first third of the 18th century punishing the destruction of the Brocken forest, a rethinking in favour of the natural landscape began in the early 19th century.

In 1890, the Brockengarden was created on the craggy mountain top as the successor of a plant garden in Schierke as part of the first plans for the Harz National Park. The botanical garden presents subalpine vegetation and has a stock of more than 1,500 different plant species from high mountain regions as well as an experimental area for biotope protection.

Since 2006 the Upper Harz Mountains between Wernigerode and Ilsenburg as well as Herzberg and Bad Lauterberg have been home to the Harz National Park with the Brocken in the centre, which is predominantly left to natural dynamics. If you don’t want to take the nostalgic steam train up to the summit, which has been restored to its natural state after the fall of the Berlin Wall, you will be lucky enough to encounter the rare animal and plant species of the Harz Mountains while hiking through the beech and spruce forests on steep mountain slopes, boggy plateaus and deep river valleys. Many plants have adapted optimally to the living conditions around the Brocken.

In addition to red deer and roe deer, lynx and wildcats roam the original landscape in the national park again today. The naturally protected sundew thrives in the raised bogs and the Brockenhabichtskraut and the Brockenanemone have their only location in Germany on the mountain plateau.

Manifold hiking trail network

The untouched nature runs through numerous serpentine-like paths around the visitor magnet Brocken, which guarantee a landscape experience, an active holiday and relaxation while hiking. Whether on the Heinrich-Heine-Weg enjoy panoramic views, on the tracks of the Poetlord on the Goetheweg walk or along the Harzer Hexenstieg dive into the world of legends and fairy tales – the highest elevation in Northern Germany has the right hiking route for every interest and condition, even if you have to climb over a few (rock) boulders from time to time in the truest sense of the word.

Hide at the foot of the Brocken

The popular climatic health resort Schierke on the south-eastern slope of the Brocken is one of the best places to enter the well-marked network of paths, as Schierke is geographically the closest to the Brocken of all cities in the Harz Mountains. The townscape in the rock-fringed river valley of the Kalten Bode, characterised by historic buildings and elegant villas, makes Schierke a centre of Harz tourism. In addition, Schierke has a station of the Harzer narrow-gauge railways and hiking trails around the city, on which you can admire the landmark of Schierke, the flintstone cliffs, or follow informative nature trails.

You can choose between several possibilities for the ascent to the Brocken. Depending on personal preferences and athletic fitness, either the historic railway or the asphalted Brocken road or the hiking trail which is demanding in parts are suitable. The steeply ascending and conditionally demanding, but always very charming path passes rugged mountain spruce forests and bubbling river veins, ruffled by the wind, until after about eight kilometers and two hours the highest mountain of the German north is reached.

Torfhaus – on the tracks of Goethe to the Brocken summit

Torfhaus is suitable as a western starting point for the hike around and on the Brocken. Due to its elevated location, it offers an optimal view of the summit in clear weather. If you want to do a day hike, you can also start the exploration tour through the Oberharz in the spa town Altenau. Its northeastern counterpart is Wernigerode, the colorful city with its richly decorated half-timbered houses overhroned castle in neo-Gothic style , from whose terraced gardens you can take a look at the Brocken plateau before hiking. Thanks to its good transport connections and artistic architecture, Wernigerode is the ideal base for excursions to the Harz National Park.

Situated only directly outside the Harz National Park, the Harz Mountains also lure visitors to the Wurmberg with their two striking cliffs and panoramic views of the Harz mountains. After the Brocken, it is the second highest peak of the traditional Harz low mountain range and legendary like its big brother – the geologically, geographically and historically unique Brocken. Brocken hike: the highest destination for hiking in the Harz Mountains is the Brocken, whose plateau is accessible via the Brockenstrasse and the Hirtenstieg. These entrances are accessible on many, differently difficult ways. Here you can find all hiking trails on the Brocken.

A dense network of paths invites you to hike in the Harz National Park. Individual tours to the Brocken summitcan be put together from the numerous trails in the High Harz. Since the summit itself is only accessible in two places, all hiking trails meet on the last sections either on the asphalted Brocken road or the former Kolonnenweg Hirtenstieg. Popular starting points for a Brocken hike are Torfhaus, Schierke, Wernigerode and Ilsenburg, but also Oderbrück and Drei Annen Hohne. A Brocken hike can easily be combined with a ride on the Brocken Railway. You can climb the Harzer Schmalspurbahn in Wernigerode, Drei Annen Hohne, Schierke or at the station Steinerne Renne.

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