Germany’s natural treasure: The Bavarian Forest National Park

Bavarian Forest National Park – Germany’s first national park

Bavarian Forest National Park

The Bavarian Forest National Park is located in the federal state of Bavaria, in the southeastern region of Germany. It was established in 1997, on August 1, and was the first national park in this state. In 1997, the protected area was expanded to 243 square kilometers.

Bavarian Forest National Park and its climate, topography and general information

The Bavarian Forest and the Sumava National Park (aka Český les) form the largest forest conservation area in Western Europe.

The philosophy of the national park is best summed up as follows: “Let’s leave nature alone.”. In practice, this statement is very carefully adhered to. In the Bavarian Forest, nature develops freely according to its own laws – human intervention is reduced to a minimum like nowhere else in Europe.

In the Bavarian Forest National Park, visitors have the rare opportunity to observe the incredibly interesting processes of development of the untouched forest biotope. You can look forward to about 80 kilometers of beautiful winter ski runs, about 200 kilometers of cycling paths and over 300 kilometers of marked hiking trails.

Bavarian Forest Viewpoint

Bavarian Forest National Park and its flora

In the protected landscape you can wonderfully tour the pristine, mountainous, medium-altitude landscape, which is 95% covered by forest. The valleys are dominated by mixed mountain forestsThe valleys are dominated by mixed mountain forests, while the highlands and the slopes are dominated by spruce forests. spruce. Beech, rowan, ash, maple and other trees grow in the park. Widespread flowering and vascular plants, ferns.

In addition to the forests, the lands of the Bavarian Forest National Park sparkle with the smooth surface of of Lake Rachelsee (by the way, it is the only lake here whose origin is glacial), transparent mountain streams and mysterious peat bogs.

Panorama of Bavaria Forest

Other attractions in the national park include a variety of hiking trails: the Gorges and Wilderness Trail, the Waclik Grove, the hiking region around Lusen Mountain, the Seelensteig Trail, and the Steinberg Rock Region and trails through the Rachel-Falkenstein Forest.

Within the territorial boundaries Bavarian Forest National Park The Bavarian Forest National Park has a harsh continental climate. It is characterized by long, snowy winters, during which the temperature and other weather conditions fluctuate, due to the difference in altitude in the local area – from 600 to 1453 m.

Views of the Bavarian Forest

Bavarian Forest National Park and its fauna

The harsh climate has also had an impact on the fauna characteristic of the national park. In the protected area there are nesting grounds of the raven, owl and eagle owl. In addition, the park is home to the following species of animals and birds: otter, peregrine falcon, lynx, wood grouse, common honey buzzard, beaver, black stork, wild cat and others.

Bridges for walks in the Bavarian Forest

A typical inhabitant of the Bavarian forest is the red deer, which spends the winter behind bars so as not to harm the trees. Elk can also be seen in the national park.

Bavarian Forest Park – a place of unity with nature

Today, the only place in the heart of Europe where an untouched, wildlife-rich green space has survived is the Bavarian Forest National Park, to which the Bohemian Forest, located in the Czech Republic, adjoins.

The Bavarian Forest is different names for the same 24 thousand hectares mountainous area and the difference in names is due to its geographical location: the granite rock, around 300 million years old, separates the basin of the most beautiful river Danube from the Vltava, picturesque Bavaria from the Czech Republic rich in ancient traditions and the Czech national park Šumava from the German Bavarian Forest.

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History of the Bavarian Forest

For about 150 years, forestry work was carried out in this marvelous mountainous region, but many parts of the reserved forest were not damaged by human activities and no irreparable damage was done to the Bavarian Forest, because the protected area is far away from large human settlements.

In 1969, the Bavarian authorities decided to preserve the unique forest and create a national park in this area. Over time, thanks to the protection of the state, the felling of trees was completely stopped, drainage ditches were blocked, resulting in the disappearance of traces of human activity and the restoration of the raised bogs.

Today, the Baumwipfelpfad wooden bridge trail stretches between the tops of tall fir trees and is the best place to appreciate the scale and beauty of an age-old forest.

The length of the trail is 1,300 meters, and you can see the forest in all its picturesque diversity from a height of eight to thirty meters. There are information boards along the trail for inquisitive hikers, where you can find interesting information if you are good at English and German.

The trail is accessible to parents with baby carriages and handicapped persons, thanks to the elevators that operate to descend and ascend the trail.

The Baumwipfelpfad trail ends in an oval, forty-meter-high wooden tower, from which you can even see the Alps on a sunny day. The trail is completely safe, even in places where there are “surprises” for particularly active hikers, such as a thin plank to walk on, or the option of hopping from platform to platform to pass a certain section.

The ecosystem of the Bavarian Forest varies depending on its location on the mountain slopes, i.e. the altitude: mixed forests cover the valleys with green cover, while conifers predominate in the highlands. The spruce-pine forest is the dominant landscape of the national park, but, although not in large numbers, other species grow here as well, such as willows, alders and white birches. Beech forests in the park occupy two downstream regions, Hainsimsen and Waldmeister, which due to their rich flora are most popular with park visitors.

Thousands of streams flow through the mixed forests and spruce forests of the park, which are rich in wonderfully diverse grasses and whose clear ribbons run down the slopes of granite mountains and flow into the high marshes.


About 40% of the precipitation in the Bavarian Forest National Park is snow, and the thick snow cover covers the mountain slopes for eight months. The temperature is determined by both the continental and maritime climate of the region, and it varies with altitude, that is, every hundred meters the thermometer column falls by 0.5 ° C.

The average temperatures are recorded at between +3°C and +5°C. Not surprisingly, German people describe the weather in the park as three quarters winter and one quarter cold.

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The topography

The landscape of the park is accentuated by the long, rounded at the tops, mountain domes of the Bohemian Massif, which frame the rising slopes and plateau-like valleys in soft lines. In the Bavarian Forest stretches the glacial Lake Rachelsee of amazing beauty and three, with small glaciers, marshy and water bodies covered with rushes.

Wild animals and birds

The fauna of the Bavarian Forest National Park is characterized by an enormous variety of animal species. Here live red deer, whose number reaches a large size, lynx hunts hiding in the branches, otter ploughed through the waters, marten goes out at night to hunt, Norwegian wolf prowls in search of prey.

Four species of industrious woodpeckers live in the Bavarian Forest: black woodpecker, spotted woodpecker, three-toed woodpecker and white-backed woodpecker. grouse and capercaillie hide under trees, and the order of birds of prey is plentiful here, sparrow owls, hawks, honey buzzards prowl the skies, and owls and eagles hunt at night here.

Fauna and flora

Flora and fauna of these places is amazing. Due to the fact that the nature here is almost not in contact with industrial objects, and the ecosystem is in its original form, it was possible to restore the population of many animals that were on the verge of extinction.

The animal world of the forest park can be called unique. Peregrine falcon, forest cat, black stork, beaver, honey buzzard – this is not a complete list of animals living in the territory of Bavarian reserve. Stream banks are the habitat and breeding ground of otters.

Between the trees roam red deer and elk, lynx and wolves hide. You can even meet a bear, although it is considered a rare guest of the reserve.

There are also many birds in the forest, from grouse and wood grouse to hawks and owls.

Of the trees, the most common are conifers and beeches, their height reaches 40-60 meters. There are two regions where beech forests grow in the reserve: Hainsimsen and Waldmeister. Both are located in the low mountains, thanks to the rich flora and more favorable climate, are considered the most attractive for visitors to the reserve.

And of course, how not to mention the natural spruce forest. It is located at an altitude of up to 1200 meters above sea level.

Here the grasses, like tall green waves, cover large areas, forming a soft natural carpet under your feet.

Water in the National Reserve is represented mainly by mountain streams. Steep rises contribute to the velocity of the streams, and on gentle slopes the streams expand rapidly. Over so many years, the water has formed quite a few gorges, the most famous of which are Sagwasser, Kleine Ohe, and Großer Höllbach.

The springs, poor in terms of nutrients, are oxygenated. Throughout the year, the water temperature does not rise above 10 degrees Celsius. There is no vegetation on the water because of the constant shade, steep climbs and high flow rate.

There is also a glacier-carved natural lake in the Bavarian Forest. It is called Rachelsee and covers an area of 5.7 hectares.

The lake is located at an altitude of more than 1000 meters near the boulders, the water is acidic and dangerous for fish.

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At one time, the administration of the reserve created a number of artificial reservoirs and the Trinkwasser Talsperre water reservoir in Frauenau. The latter site occupies 94 hectares and is located outside the Bavarian Forest (only the eastern boundaries of the huge freshwater reservoir enter the park).

Open landscapes and attractions of the park

Blooming meadows and hayfields are beautiful peaceful places in the Bavarian Forest, especially the “Schachten”, a former pasture located in the highlands, has a landscape value. Around the pasture are scattered “gray” boulders, many anthills have been built near old trees, and the air rings in summer with the many insects that live there.

In the park for convenience, laid out and marked three hundred kilometers of hiking trails that help visitors not miss the most interesting things in the Bavarian Forest. For example, interesting plants can be found by following the paths marked with the symbol of plantations and shy roe deer can be seen, for example, on the paths marked with the animal symbol.

About two hundred kilometers take up bicycle paths that lead to the most interesting sights, such as the gallery “Forest of Spirits”, where bubbles from the well saturate the “village pond” with fresh water.

Thematic tours of the park are free of charge. A playground has been built for children and a children’s hiking trail is laid out here.


Swamps and bog forests are considered the most ecologically clean places of Bavarian Forest. To get to the bogs you have to climb up to the plateau. Here, at an altitude of over 1,000 meters, pools of slowly moving water create the ideal conditions for the formation of bogs.

If you want to get to know them better, you should go to the complex of the Großer Filz and Klosterfilz bog valleys between Lake Riedlhütte and Lake St. Oswald. Here actively grow spruces, firs, rowan, birch – the landscape is very diverse.

It is noteworthy that the spruces grow low on peat soils (the so-called dwarf trees), in the marshy acidic soils prevail pine forests.

Things to do in Bavarian Forest

  1. Hike the Baumwipfelpfad, the longest suspension road in the world, safely anchored between strong tree poles. The total length of the road is 1.3 kilometers. The ticket price for adults is about 8 euros, for children about 7 euros.
  2. See the free exhibitions in the main information center of the Bavarian Forest – Hans-Eisenmann-Haus. Here you can learn all about tree growth and pollution.
  3. Take a tour of the museums of the Bavarian Forest Reserve.
  4. Visit the village of Marktl, the birthplace of Pope Benedict XVI. Here you can buy exclusive souvenirs, including cakes in the form of a mitre, religious board games and the original beer “Papst-Bier (beer of the Pope).
  5. Rent skis and hit one of the great ski slopes of the Bavarian Forest.

Hiking and biking

Of course you can also hike the standard hiking trails (there are more than 300 kilometers). Visitors do not even need a guide, the routes are marked with special signs – trees on a white background or animal symbols on a yellow background.

And the park also opens its doors to cyclists. There are more than 200 kilometers of landscaped bike paths. There are several tracks for adults and children with different levels of training. For example, the sections at the foot of the mountains are very easy, and the mountain paths are provided for experienced athletes.

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There are special places where you can leave your bicycle.

Before walking through the Bavarian Forest it is recommended to visit the information center; there are several of them in the reserve, each dedicated to something different – flora, fauna, water resources, the location of the enclosures where the animals live.

Top 10 attractions in the Bavarian Forest

  1. The Great Arber Mountain (Großer Arber) is the highest point of the Bavarian Forest, located near the border with the Czech Republic. The height of the mountain is 1,456 m. On the Big Arber is a ski slopes, the longest of which is 2000 m.
  2. Glass Road (Glasstrasse) is a hiking trail, the length of which is 250 km. It begins in Waldsassen and ends in Passau. On this route tourists meet numerous studios, museums, stores and workshops.
  3. Glass Museum (Glasmuseum) – its exhibits tell tourists about the history of glass production, which counts 4 thousand years. Entrance fee is 7.5 Euros. Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 09:00-17:00, Saturday to Sunday from 10:00 to 16:00.
  4. Museum “Bavarian Forest” (Museumsdorf Bayerischer Wald), located in Tittling. This is an open-air museum, which occupies 30 hectares. Tourists will see farms XVII-XIX ct and 150 typical Bavarian forest houses built from natural wood. The entrance fee is 6 euros.
  5. Forest Museum (Waldmuseum) is situated on the territory of the former brewery. Its exhibits are devoted to the flora and fauna of the reserve, local customs, glass production and life in the forest. The cost of the entrance ticket is about 4 euros.
  6. The Tier-Freigelande Nature Park in Neuschönau. This is the ideal place for walks in the fresh air. Almost all fauna of the Bavarian Forest inhabits the spacious aviaries set up along the paths. It takes about 3-4 hours to walk around the biopark. Admission is free.
  7. The Little Arber Lake (Kleine Arbersee) is a beautiful corner of the Bavarian Forest that will please those who love beauty and solitude. The lake lies on a hill and is surrounded by a thick coniferous forest.
  8. Burg Weissenstein fortress, from the top of which you have a stunning view of the surrounding scenery. In good weather you can even see the border with the Czech Republic. Every summer there is a festival of knights, where people dress up in medieval costumes, participate in various competitions and contests. Entrance to the territory of the fortress is 1 euro.
  9. Celtic Village Gabreta (Gabreta) – open-air museum, whose exhibits introduce guests to the Celtic culture.
  10. Fairytale Castle (Märchenschloss) in Lambach is a very beautiful building. Its interior is decorated with elegant furniture and things of past centuries.

A visit to the park

To visit the park the best time is in May, all summer and early September. At this time the weather is comfortable, which can in no way spoil a long walk through the Bavarian Forest.

You can eat at the cafe “Waldwirtschaft”, built across the street from the parking lot, and near the entrance to the forest trail. The cafe is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and you can order yourself soup for 3 euros, a sausage for 1 euro, or a full meal for 9 euros during this time.

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How to get to Bavarian Forest

You can get to the park by train or bus.

The easiest way to the park is from Munich, take the regional express train to Platling or Passau station and change to the Waldbahn line.

You can get to the Bavarian Forest by car from Munich via the A92.

Tips for hikers

The high-altitude forest path begins with a small entrance tower. There is an elevator for ascending and descending, so the Bavarian Trail journey is also accessible to disabled people and parents with strollers. The trail leads tourists to a huge wooden tower 44 meters high, resembling an egg. From here, there is an incredible view of the green forest sea. On a sunny day, you can even make out the silhouettes of the distant Alps on the horizon.

The trail is completely safe: it is supported by sturdy wooden poles and fenced with railings. But adventurous hikers won’t get bored either: small surprises are prepared for them along the trail. You can walk, for example, on a thin wooden board, even thinner ropes or jump from platform to platform. However, it is also safe: a safety net is stretched under the “risky” sections.

The best time to visit is from early May to early September, when the weather is sunny and warm and comfortable for long walks in the fresh air.

On the other hand, it’s hard to resist the allure of the autumnal forest, despite the risk of getting caught in the rain: Bavaria’s golden autumn is usually at the end of October. In bad weather (thunderstorm, hail, strong wind, icy tracks) the attraction does not work, but a little rain or snow will not be a hindrance.

Tourists can have lunch in the cafe Waldwirtschaft, located at Böhmstraße 37, 94556 Neuschönau, opposite the parking lot, near where the forest trail begins. The cafe is open from 9:00 to 20:00 in summer time. The menu is quite democratic: a sausage costs 1 euro, soup – 3-4 euro, the second course – from 5 to 9 euro. But it is better to buy water in advance in a store: a half-liter bottle of mineral water will cost 2 euros.

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Where to stay

In the Bavarian Forest you have the possibility to stay in small lodges among the wilderness (well equipped and fully habitable) or to choose from many nearby hotels of 3 stars and above.

All information is available at the information centers on the territory of the reserve.

The cost of a room for two starts at 5,000 rubles.


Germany is rightly proud of its high mountain park. Here is a unique, untouched by man flora and fauna, mixed forests, rare animals.

In winter, the park opens its doors to fans of extreme entertainment, and in summer invites to numerous sightseeing tours. To allow guests to see the reserve in all its glory, there is a high-altitude trail, as well as many hiking and biking trails and routes. Everybody can find an activity to his or her liking – easy and extreme walks as well as real hikes lasting several hours are offered here.

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