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The land and its people

Between beeches and brooks

North Hessen – the home of the Brothers Grimm

Strolling through Hessen’s only national park is a wonderful feast for all the senses. Even experienced nature lovers will find there is plenty more to learn on a walk with ranger Hermann Bieber. You can even learn about the different temperatures of trees.

With the ranger through the national park

It’s worth a visit just to hear the park’s rustling and rippling sounds. “When it comes to the forest, there’s nothing better than walking along the streams during the different seasons”, says Hermann Bieber, smiling. He leads a good life. After all, he gets to spend a lot of time here. As a trained forester and ranger in the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park (North Hessen), he knows the waters of this area better than almost anyone. And that’s saying something: There are over 800 springs in the unspoilt nature of the national park. They gurgle and ripple their way down the valleys coming together to create bubbling becks and provide a habitat for freshwater snails, brook trout and amphipods. And people love this place even more than the animals do: “There’s so much to see here, especially in spring when everything is green. There’s no better therapy than the sound of water”, explains Bieber, beaming.

The ranger is out and about in the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park almost every day. He leads walking groups, runs excursions and keeps an eye on the place. He also enjoys walking here during his spare time.

It stimulates the senses, helps combat stress, gets you active and teaches you all about biodiversity: Pleasant strolls through the forests of the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park can inspire you in many ways, feeding your body, mind and soul. The powerful, silvery grey trunks of beech trees with large canopies, wild ash and alder along the streams, and gnarled oaks and maples growing on the hillsides amidst a sea of boulders – they are all part of the story of this unique, centuries-old forest landscape, which is still almost untouched and has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its beech trees. The copper beech is the clear star in this range of trees, covering an enormous area that’s perfect for endless strolls and hikes. This is the only national park in Hessen and the centrepiece of the area’s nature reserve,protecting one of Europe’s last great and almost entirely natural copper beech forests.

The next natural wonder is just a few metres away – hardly surprising given the surroundings. Visitors walking here with Hermann Bieber and other national park rangers can’t miss it: “There’s always something new to discover here. Even nature lovers who know their stuff are continually surprised by what they find”, explains the ranger. The cheddar pink flower is just one example: It’sbeen here since the Ice Age and it’s so rare that it doesn’t grow anywhere else to the north. Another example are the black and yellow fire salamanders, which have found the perfect place to leave their larvae in the crystal-clear waters of the forest streams.

See, hear, smell, feel, taste: The ranger teaches all his guests how to use these five main skills during a forest walk. The trained nature expert certainly knows his stuff. He even inspires youngsters with his passion for the forest, making them forget their smartphonesas they learn the difference between warm and cold trees: “It’s quite simple”, explains Bieber. “Rub your hands together and place them on a smooth beech trunk – it will feel cool; put your hands on a larch and it’ll feel warm.” The explanation is simple: When you put your hands on smooth bark, most of your hand is in contact with the tree and this draws the heat from the skin to make your hands feel cold. When you put your hands on the rough bark of a larch, only a small part of your hand is in contact with the tree so you lose less heat. 

The national park is absolutely perfect for a full sensory experience. Information boards have been kept to a minimum to preserve the character of this evolving virgin forest. But there are twenty well-signposted, circular hiking trails, which take you over hill and dale and offer good orientation. Each route is marked with an animal or plant symbol. You don’t have to worry about how to get to the wilderness either: The circular hiking trails are easily accessible by public transport. There are also 13 car parks near the hiking trails. And if you want somewhere to cool off after a long walk in the summer, you’ve found the right spot. Lake Edersee shimmers through the treetops. The water is of an outstanding quality and perfect for a refreshing swim. We highly recommend a visit to the lake after your nature trail. The lake is surrounded by the 68-kilometre Urwaldsteig Edersee path, leading you through dry oak forests to the north and the national park to the south. 

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