Walk the complete Harz Witches Trail, crossing the old border from West to East Germany
Immerse yourself in the legends and fairy tales of this magical region
An enchanting walk through the highest mountain range in northern Germany
Discover mystic forests, rocky canyons, towering cliffs and picturesque medieval villages
Follow in the footsteps of Goethe as you climb the Brocken, North Germany’s highest peak
Hiking in the Harz mountains
One of Germany’s most beautiful and popular hiking regions – the Harz Mountains – is located right in the middle of the country. Famous medieval towns with half-timbered houses offer a fascinating cultural contrast to the mystic forests of the Harz Mountains. The region has been renowned as a hiking paradise since medieval times, due to its thousands of kilometres of well-signposted hiking routes.
One of the most famous hiking trails of the Harz region is the Harz Witches Trail. This trail leads you from West to East, crossing the entire Harz Mountains and winding 100 kilometres on old trading routes through the upper Harz region. Beginning in the medieval town of Osterode in Lower Saxony, the trail passes through the Harz and upper Harz national parks, crosses the old Iron Curtain, before ending in the dramatic Bode Valley canyon in Saxony-Anhalt. Along the way, you will also climb the highest mountain peak of the area – the “Brocken“. Legend has it that witches and devils gathered here on Walpurgis Night (a traditional spring festival). You will have the option to finish your trip with an exploration of Quedlinburg, one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe.
The Harz Witches Trail has been certified as a “quality trail” by the German Hiking Association.
|8 DAYS / 7 NIGHTS||From €750 per person sharing*
*Discounts available for children under 13 sharing with 2 adults.
||3* standard hotels with continental breakfast. Extra nights can also be booked at any of the hotels along the way.|
|AVAILABILITY||You can start on any day of the week, subject to availability, from April 1st to October 31st.|
|DIFFICULTY||This hiking trip is graded easy-moderate overall. The Harz Witches Trail is suitable for beginners, although a certain degree of surefootedness is required.|
|WALKING WITH A DOG||It is possible to book this hiking tour from Osterode to Thale accompanied by your dog. We are happy to request dog-friendly accommodation for you. Please ask us for a quote and let us know the size and breed of dog.
Please note: Additional costs for your dog (e.g. for public transport or in the accommodations) are not included in the tour price and have to be paid on site.
Day 1: Arrival in Osterode
Surrounded by the well-maintained city walls, the historic centre of Osterode offers a beautiful setting for the start of your walking holiday in the Harz mountains. You can take a wander around the cobbled streets, lined with picturesque half-timbered houses, and enjoy a relaxing coffee or beer in the historic Marktplatz.
Osterode is easily reachable by train from Berlin or Hannover.
Day 2: From Osterode to Clausthal-Zellerfeld
Distance: 15 km | Ascent: 511 m | Descent: 163 m | Walking time: 4 hrs approx.
You begin your first day’s walk on the Harz Witches’ Trail with an uphill section which follows ancient trading routes. You will see parts of the World Heritage “Oberharzer Wasserregal”; a system of dams, reservoirs, ditches and other structures, much of which was built from the 16th to 19th centuries to divert and store the water that drove the water wheels of the local mines.
Finally, you reach the university town of Clausthal-Zellerfeld, where you can visit Germany’s largest wooden church, the Marktkirche zum Heiligen Geist.
Day 3: From Clausthal-Zellerfeld to Altenau
Distance: 15 km | Ascent: 303 m | Descent: 361 m | Walking time: 5 hrs approx.
Leaving the mountain town of Clausthal-Zellerfeld, you will mainly walk along forest paths and narrow trails as well as the characteristic dykes and mineral springs of the Harz region. The route is relatively flat, with no major ascents or descents. Your destination for the day is Altenau, a very pleasant village with a beautiful park.
Day 4: From Altenau to Schierke/Wernigerode via Brocken Mountain
Distance: 19 km | Ascent: 658 m | Descent: 38 m | Walking time: 6 hrs approx.
Today is the highlight of your Harz walking holiday, as you climb to the summit of Brocken – the region’s highest peak (1,142 m) located in the heart of the Harz National Park. The Brocken is associated with many myths and legends of witches and devils. It is the focal point for the Walpurgis Night festival, when witches and devils are said to gather on the mountain. Your hike to the summit follows the Goethe Trail, named after the famous writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who is known to have climbed the mountain several times during his life. If the weather is on your side, the magnificent view of the Harz Mountains will compensate for the challenging ascent.
After enjoying some refreshment on the plateau, you will then start the more comfortable part of the day. You will board the Brockenbahn steam engine (ticket not included), for a very scenic journey to the either the nearby spa town of Schierke or to Wernigerode.
Day 5: From Schierke/Wernigerode to Rübeland
Distance: 23 km | Ascent: 414 m | Descent: 641 m | Walking time: 6 hrs approx.
If you have stayed in Wernigerode, you will begin the day with a short bus ride to Schierke.
On today’s hike, you will pass the “Trudenstein” mountain. Stop to enjoy the wonderful panoramic view before descending to the waterfall in Königshütte. You then follow the Bode river through Tiefenbachtal. As you reach the Hoher Kleef viewpoint, you can enjoy a fantastic view over today’s destination – the village of Rübeland. Located on the Bode river, Rübeland is known for its caves with enormous stalactites and stalagmites, which are well worth a visit.
Note: due to a lack of accommodation in Rübeland, your accommodation for tonight will be in one of the nearby towns of Hasselfelde or Elbingerode.
Overnight: Hasselfelde or Elbingerode
Day 6: From Rübeland to Altenbrak/Treseburg
Distance: 15 km | Ascent: 390 m | Descent: 458 m | Walking time: 4 hrs approx.
Distance: 20 km | Ascent: 485 m | Descent: 639 m | Walking time: 5½ hrs approx.
On today’s section of the Harz Witches Trail you wander along idyllic forest and meadow paths, through an old mining area, with many interesting geological features. Following the course of the Bode river, you pass the Wendefurth dam before reaching the peaceful and idyllic village of Treseburg or Altenbrak.
Overnight: Altenbrak or Treseburg
Day 7: From Altenbrak/Treseburg to Thale
Distance: 15 km | Ascent: 598 m | Descent: 739 m | Walking time: 4½ hrs approx.
Distance: 10 km | Ascent: 302 m | Descent: 402 m | Walking time: 3 hrs approx.
The last section of the Harzer-Hexen-Stieg takes you through the dramatic Bodetal Gorge, which is steeped in legends. High granite rocks tower above the narrow riverside path, while the river itself flows through a spectacular series of rapids and clear pools.
Your destination is Thale. For a nice ending of your tour, we recommend taking a chair lift up to either the Hexentanzplatz (Witches’ Dance Floor) or the granite rock “Rosstrappe” for wonderful views over the gorge.
From Thale you can reach Quedlinburg within a very short time via train or bus. A beautiful World Heritage town of half-timbered houses, a towering castle and cathedral on the hill above town, Quedlinburg is one of the best preserved medieval and renaissance towns in Europe and is the perfect place to finish your Harz Witches Trail.
Overnight: Thale or Quedlinburg, depending on availability
Day 8: Departure
Your walking holiday comes to an end after breakfast this morning, unless you have booked any additional services with us. You have the possibility to prolong your walking holidays with some additional nights, e.g. in Quedlinburg or other towns along the Harz Witches Trail. We will gladly book further overnight stays for you so please do not hesitate to ask us!
*Walking distances may vary depending on accommodation available.
Getting to Osterode
Departure from Thale/Quedlinburg
|Quedlinburg has a train station and regular trains connect to Berlin (approx. 3 hours) and Hannover (approx. 2 hours), as well as several other destinations in Germany. Check Deutsche Bahn’s website for more information.|