© Harz: Magische Gebirgswelt

In Goethe's footsteps from Torfhaus to the Brocken summit

Short facts

  • start: Nationalpark-Besucherzentrums TorfHaus
  • destination: Nationalpark-Besucherzentrums TorfHaus
  • 21,00 km
  • 5 hours 30 minutes
  • 1140 m
  • 747 m
  • One way tour

best season

„Travelling the Harz and not climbing the Brocken summit would mean the same as having been in Rome without having seen the pope“, the writer Christian Wilhelm Spieker observed already in the 19th century. He was not alone in his view, for the Blocksberg, as it was called in former times, has been the main destination for Harz travellers since the 17th century. It was quite an effort then to climb the 1,141 metres of this highest peak of Northern Germany. Its former wilderness as well as rapid weather changes hindered the ascent.


The Brocken is not just a mountain, but possibly Germany’s first touristic nature destination. The writers Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Heinrich von Kleist were among its distinguished visitors even before 1800, as was Alexander von Humboldt who later became an eminent naturalist. Numerous Brocken hikers of the past have left to posterity their impressions in poetry, travel accounts or academic essays. While some enjoyed the magnificent scenery in sunshine, others complained about rain, storm and sore feet.


Already by the end of the 18th century the summit guest books showed more than 400 entries every year. Since 1825 numbers of guests already exceeded the 2,000 mark. The appeal of the mountain and the popularity of the Goethe Trail remained unbroken until today. Each year, thousands of hikers make the ascent from Torfhaus over the distance of 9 kilometres via the Goethe trail. The ascent of the hike is about 350 metres and requires 5 to 6 hours out and back.


The ascent of the Brocken via the Goethe trail is rightly regarded as a highlight by many visitors to the Harz. Countless cultural sights and fascinating natural phenomena are found along the route like pearls on a string. This hiking app will help you discover the numerous small and big, visible and invisible wonders at the wayside.


Since 1990, the Brocken Mountain was situated at the heart of the Upper Harz National Park which was almalgamated with the Lower Saxon national park in 2006 to form the Harz National Park. Covering 250 km² this is Germany’s largest forest wilderness area. National parks aim at protecting natural landscapes on a large scale where natural processes can take place without human intervention. There are 4,000 national parks worldwide that range among the most popular attractions of their countries.
Before starting your hike to the Brocken you are invited to visit the TorfHaus National Park Visitor Centre. There you can find out everything there is to know about the Harz National Park. A walk through the exhibition will show you what to expect on your hike to the Brocken summit and will give you an idea of the spectacular scenery of the Harz National Park.

Tour waypoints

TorfHaus – the National Park-Visitor Centre

In Goethe's footsteps to the Brocken

About charcoal and grimed chaps

The Great Torfhaus Moor

Beware of moor carnivores!

What is a National Park?

Weltkultur trifft Nationalpark

Was ist eigentlich ein Nationalpark?

Natural forest dynamics around the Quitschen Mountain

Regeneration on decaying wood

National Parks – precious heritage of Germany's reunification

The "Green Belt" – Lifeline along the former border

The Brocken Railway

Peat digging of the Goethe Moor

The Brocken old growth forest

Weather extremes on the Brocken

Brockengarten

About flying witches and hardy lichens

Subalpine heathland

Why are there no trees on the Brocken summit?

Brockenhaus

A little house in the clouds

Malerblicke im Harz - 15. Brockenhaus

Brockenhotel

Scenic views

Birdlife of the mountain spruce forest

Where the mountain stream is rushing

Experiencing nature with all senses

Valuable production forest – useless ancient woodland?

Welcome to the forest walk

Do spruce trees grow on stilts in the Harz Mountains?

Radau stream

Peat working at the Great Torfhaus Moor

Tour-Dashboard

Pavings

  • Path (7%)
  • Street (14%)
  • Asphalt Coating (10%)
  • Hiking Trail (6%)
  • Crushed Rock (63%)

Weather

Next steps
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