During the GDR, Harz was a divided region, separated by the “anti-fascist protection wall”. However, where a wall once stood, today you will find re-awakened nature. You can hike along the Harze Border Trail from the former inner-German border and through the Harz Mountains.
Barbed wire, watchtowers and searchlights once made it possible to pass through the border. Today, the patrolled pathway’s concrete slabs are the only traces of this history. Along the 91-kilometer-long (56.5 miles) Harz Border Trail, which is part of the Green Belt nature conservation, you’ll find relics from the division of Germany, as well as tranquil nature and wonderful views. This hike takes you on a journey through Germany’s recent past.
In six impressive stages, the Harz Border Trail takes you from a border tower near Hornburg to Tettenborn, a Bad Sachsa district, passing the magnificent mountain range to the south along the way. The trail is characterised by idyllic nature reserves such as the Eckertal Valley with its dam, scenic cliffs and fragrant forest paths. In addition to the GDR history en route, you can also explore the crumbling ruins of the Ahlburg castle, the Drei-Länder-Stein and the art project “Ring der Erinnerung”. A highlight of the hike is climbing the highest Harz mountain, the 1,141-meter-high (3,743 feet) Brocken. If your legs get tired, you can also hop on the Brockenham steam train to Schierke.
Each stage begins or ends near a larger town, so you will always find accommodation en route. As the Harz region is very popular, we recommend you book well in advance.
Avid stamp collectors will also get their money’s worth on the border trail. Along the route, you will come across wooden stamp boxes. You can trade the stamps for a Harz walking pin in bronze, silver, or gold. If you want to earn the Harze Border Trail pin, you need to collect them all. Pick up the stamp booklets at one of the many tourist information offices in Harz. They contain information about the locations of the stamp boxes.
You can reach the Harz region easily by train. Goslar is a central starting point at the northern end of the Border Trail. From here, a regional train leaves every hour for Schladen, the closest station to the starting point. Bad Sachsa, the southern end of the long-distance hiking trail, is also well connected by rail.
So grab your hiking boots and set off to learn more about German history on the enchanted paths of the Harz Mountains.
The first stage along the former inner-German border leads you from an old border tower across vast fields and sleepy places with pretty half-timbered houses. Depending on which starting point you choose, you have a shorter or longer hiking day ahead of you.The Harzer Grenzweg begins somewhere in the middle of nowhere on the old Galgenberg south of Hornburg. To get here, you can either spend the night in the tranquil Hornburg, where a hostel and guest houses are available as accommodation. From here you walk about 3.5 kilometers to the border path. Or start your hike at Schladen train station, which is reached every hour from Goslar. The border tower on the Galgenberg as a striking starting point is about ten kilometers from the train station.At the old border tower you collect your first stamp of the Harz hiking pin. A wide dirt road with a wonderful view of the Brocken brings you to the Little Fallstone. Here is one of the typical pointed roof shelters for you if you want to enjoy the view longer. Your way leads you through the small villages of Bühne, Rimbeck and Göddeckrode with its rustic village church with half-timbered elements.In Wülperode, the "Zur Alten Tischlerei" guest house with its adjoining café garden and antique shop attracts a break. Strengthened you walk along golden grain fields and find - in the middle of the field landscape - a meaningful concrete block on the edge of the path. The closer you get, you will recognize the numerous details of the art object, which symbolizes a section of the border line.The first stage ends in the tranquil Wiedelah. From there, the HarzBus 210, 821 and 822 runs regularly to nearby Vienenburg, where you can find some accommodations. Alternatively, you can hang the two kilometers there on foot.
Look forward to idyllic floodplain forests, a castle ruin and the gently winding river course of the Ecker on the second stage of the border path. In addition, you can whip out your stamp book three times today and symbolically influence German history on 11/11/1998.With the second stage you start again where you left the border route the day before. This leads you over the first few kilometers across extensive fields. South of Abbenrode you dive into the forest area and thus into the picturesque nature reserve Oker- and Eckertal. At the level of Stapelburg you can look at a piece of the inner German border wall and decorate your stamp book with the associated special stamp.You now follow the gently curving course of the Ecker and meet “Jungborn”. There was once a spa on the site, which was built in 1896 by the bookseller and natural healer Adolf Just. Some information boards tell you more about the story. Here you collect another special stamp for the themed hiking needle.Around two and a half kilometers further you have the option of making a detour to the pigeon cliff to the left and to the raven cliff to the right. At both points not far from the border path you can get another stamp. The Rabenklippe is also one of the most beautiful viewpoints in the region and you can stop by the excursion restaurant of the same name. Located directly on the border path, a wooden sign points to the ruins of Ahlsburg, which you can reach via a short climb.After about 19 kilometers you leave the border path and hike to the whey house. The restaurant is unfortunately currently closed, but the hiking bus number 875 runs five times a day from April to November between the Molkenhaus and Bad Harzburg. So you can easily get to numerous accommodations. Before you get on the bus, get the stamp with the number 169, which hangs on the whey house. Alternatively, you can hike from here to Bad Harzburg. It is four kilometers from the whey house to the city center.
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
Today there is literally a chunk in front of you. The third stage takes you to the highest point in the Harz Mountains and all of northern Germany. It is best to pack an extra layer, because it is usually cold and windy on the Brocken. With a distance of around ten kilometers, you have a short day ahead of you.From shortly before 11 a.m. the first bus will take you back from Bad Harzburg to the Molkenhaus or you can simply walk the few kilometers back to the border path. The Ecker still accompanies you a little bit until it flows into the beautiful reservoir at the Eckertalsperre. There is the first theme stamp of the day on the dam. You stroll along the north bank of the reservoir and then hike on soft forest floor to the Scharfenstein. At the associated ranger station you can take out your stamp book again and have a small snack. If you come at the right time, a ranger will provide information about the forest, wilderness and trails in the Harz Mountains.From now on it goes steadily uphill to the Brocken. It is about 500 meters to master over the next four kilometers. The climb is not even the biggest challenge. The wide perforated concrete slabs on which military vehicles once patrolled require increased attention so that you don't accidentally bend over. However, the fantastic view of the Eckertalsperre sweetens the strenuous ascent. At the “Eiserner Tisch” rest area, you can rest in the refuge before tackling the last meters of altitude. When you see the red and white striped mast, you are almost there.On the 1,141-meter-high Brocken summit, you can reward yourself with drinks and food for an all-round panorama and get the stamp with the number 9, which will find space in the thematic booklet. Double and multi-bed rooms are available at the Brockenhotel so that you can experience a great sunset up here.If you would like to hang up a few more kilometers, you will find cheap accommodation and restaurants south of Brocken in Schierke. You should allow around an hour and a half for this. Otherwise you can alternatively take the famous Brockenbahn down to Schierke.
After the challenging climb the day before, you can look forward to a leisurely day of hiking downhill. On your way along the former border from Brocken to Braunlage you collect three themed stamps.After a delicious breakfast with a beautiful sunrise, you can once again enjoy the view from the highest mountain in the Harz Mountains. If you have stayed in Schierke, you can either hike back to the Brocken via the adventurously rocky Eckerlochsteig and collect another stamp, or the Brockenbahn takes you up again.Now it goes down again and on the first piece always along the Brockenbahn rails. Again and again you hear them whistle first, then the dark smoke of the steam train appears between the conifers. If you are lucky, you will meet the Brocken Benno on the way down. He runs to the summit almost every day and, as a deserved “hiking emperor” and special ambassador for the Harz hiking pin, hands out his very own special stamp.At the wooden shelters "Eckersprung" and "Dreieickiger Pfahl" you get two themed stamps. Then it goes further down on the steep border path, which is paved with concrete slabs. In the first post-war years, "Schierker Feuerstein" was smuggled here and the path was therefore also called Schnapsweg. At the rest stop at the Kaffeehorst, at the foot of the Wurmberg, you can give your joints a break and continue filling up your stamp book. If you still have energy, you can climb the second highest mountain in the Harz Mountains, treat yourself to a refreshment in the restaurant and stamp your booklet.The fourth stage ends at the former border point on the B27. From here you walk one and a half kilometers parallel to the main road to Braunlage, where you will find a large selection of accommodation.
On the penultimate stage of the Harzer Grenzweg you accompany the rivers Bremke and Warme Bode and can find out more about the German division into two in the open-air border museum.The fifth day along the former inner German border begins with a wonderfully rich forest. You first follow the turns of the Bremke, which flows into the Warm Bode after about two kilometers. The border path now always stays close to the gently winding river, so that you can hear the romantic babbling on your right and walk past the edge of the forest on the left.After you have crossed the Warm Bode, you make a hairpin at the village of Sorge and find yourself on a straight. In the distance you can already see the relics of the former border system - an old border tower, a piece of border fence with barbed wire and some information boards give you an impression of how this strip was defended in the times of German division. If you follow the history path, you can get further information and meet a border pillar and an earth bunker. At the border museum "Ring of Memory" there is the next theme stamp.Without distinctive dangling, the column path leads you to the intersection with the Erich-Rüdiger-Weg just before Benneckensteiner Straße. The fifth stage ends here. In Hohegeiß, around one kilometer to the west, you will find various accommodations.
Your stamp book still seems so empty to you? Don't worry, that is changing today. In addition to places steeped in history and beautiful views of the Harz landscape, there are a total of six stamp boxes on your tour on your last stage on the Grenzweg.The last day begins on the outskirts of Hohegeiß, where the Green Belt lives up to its name. The border path runs along a forest road through dense mixed forest, leaving civilization behind. You can get the second special stamp for the themed hiking pin at the spacious refuge at “Drei-Länder-Stein”. Just a few steps further you will find the stone of the same name, which was placed here in 1749. At this point it marks the meeting of the federal states of Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Lower Saxony.Located high on the ridge, on which you have been moving for a while now, you have some nice views of the Brocken in the distance. At the Wendeleiche, the next small refuge with stamping facilities is waiting for you. The oak was once the base of a viewing platform to which a spiral staircase led. Today you only see two rusty iron structures that were part of the stairs.While the way is slowly losing height, you collect a border stamp on the "stepmother" and only a few hundred meters further the last special stamp "two-country oak". The forest opens in front of you and you walk the last few kilometers as you started the border path - across fields and small villages. You can pull out your stamp book at the Sachsensteinhütte and the historic gypsum kiln again, then you will pass the idyllic crane ponds to your destination.In Tettenborn, a district south of Bad Sachsa, you ended your trip along the Green Belt and the former inner German border. From here you walk around 3.6 kilometers to Bad Sachsa train station or a good four kilometers to Bad Sachsa, where you can stay in the youth hostel, for example.