The Bavarian Forest National Park is Germany’s first and largest national park, and one of its most stunning. Its appeal lies in its abundant wilderness, which has flourished with minimal interference from man. The park promises a breathtaking landscape, majestic peaks (the most famous ones being Großer Falkenstein, Lusen, and the Großer Rachel), extensive hiking and biking trails, mirror lakes, sports opportunities, a fascinating tree-top walk, and more. Let us explore its most wonderful sights and activities together.
Baumwipfelpfad Bayerischer Wald
The tree-top walk (Baumwipfelbad) at Bavarian Forest National Park promises a close encounter with nature and adventure for the entire family. A 1,300-meter-long wooden barrier-free walkway leads visitors to the base of the dome-shaped observation tower, offering fantastic views of the forest on the way. You can also choose to participate in exciting activities en route. However, the best is saved for the last. From the 44-meter-high observation deck, you get to feast your eyes on uninterrupted views of the forest and even the snow-clad Alps.
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The unbelievably picturesque lake, Rachelsee, lies deep in the lap of the forest at an altitude of 1,071 meters (3,514 feet). This crystal-clear mirror lake is steeped in local myths and dark legends. It is believed that the lake was named after the devil’s grandmother, Rachel. The natives also recount the story of an evil woman who was the last to sail on this lake, and on whose death, a flock of jet-black ravens accompanied the coffin.
The Bavarian Forest National Park has approximately 300 km (186 miles) of clearly-marked hiking trails, including hiking paths and circular trails. A hike through this dense forest, past gurgling streams and under a thick green canopy, proves to travelers that the forest really lives by its motto: Let Nature Be Nature. Over half of this forest is completely untouched by humans, which considerably ups its romance factor.
Cyclists get to enjoy the tourist highlights of the forest and also explore the more isolated regions along a 200-km-long (124 miles) clearly marked biking trail that connects the forest with Šumava National Park in the Czech Republic. At certain points that can be accessed only by hiking, there is excellent provision for storing your bikes safely. Remember that a high level of fitness is a prerequisite for cycling in this rugged, mountainous terrain. However, a mountain bike is not necessary.
While the forest is a delightful area to explore when it basks in sunlight, it turns into a mystic land in winter. Winter finds the forest floor blanketed in a thick white carpet, the lakes frozen rock hard, and the branches heavy with the burden of snow. As most animals go into hibernation, and the stream of tourists considerably thins out, an almost eerie tranquility descends on the forest. However, several thrill-seekers arrive to indulge in cross-country skiing, tobogganing, hiking, snowshoeing, and other winter sports. The forest department is understandably extremely stringent about tourists not disturbing the peace of the forest or startling the animals in any way.
At the Bavarian Forest National Park, adventurous souls can indulge in geocaching – a treasure hunt for the tech-savvy. It basically means using a hand-held GPS device to locate a cache hidden in the woods. The cache is normally a container containing a logbook. It is a wonderful way for people of any age to spend a few fun hours while bonding closely with nature. Understandably, travelers who wish to indulge in geocaching need to stick to rules set by the forest department.
The Tierfreigelände is a sprawling animal enclosure without any visible barriers and made to resemble the natural habitat of the inhabitants as closely as possible. This is your chance to see 40 domestic animal species, including European bisons, wolves, wild boars, lynxes, and bears freely going about their lives. The path around the Tierfreigelände is barrier-free and promises a whole lot of excitement for the entire family.
The Großer Arbersee is sure to take your breath away with its virgin, rustic charm. This lake is a memento of the Ice Age. A hike along a well-marked path around this crystal lake would reward you with views of small waterfalls, imposing peaks in the horizon, sump wells, and impenetrable wilderness. You can delve deeper into the lake in a boat and engage in some fascinating bird-watching.