THE BROCKEN HIKE IN HARZ ( July 22, 2016)

With an altitude of 1141 meters high, Brocken is the highest mountain of Northern Germany and naturally in the Harz mountains. It is situated 17 kilometers away from the historic old town of Wernigerode,  in a small idyllic mountain village of Schierke where the famous herbal liquor Schierker Feuerstein (35 % alcohol content) is concocted.

Eversince we’ve learned about this mountain, we have been meaning to climb it. But we had to wait for a few days until the temperature went down  a bit as we were experiencing an average of 28 degrees C for the last few days and it was not good to hike with that temperature!

 It was early Friday morning, July 22 when we drove to Schierke. It was a nice day, not too warm, and in fact a bit cloudy! After an half hour drive, we arrived at the parking area reserved for mobilhomes and big buses. It is situated next to a big parking area for cars . It is free of charge, but overnight stay is not allowed.

 Parking : Parking Am Thalchen, Hagenstrasse

                 38879  Schierke

Coordinates :   N:  51.76455    E:  10. 66685

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 There are information boards located at the parking area and the hike to Brocken also starts here. However, Hans and I first went to the Tourist office housed in The Loipenhaus  where we received a hiking route from the friendly tourist officer.

 THE HIKE

The hike to Brocken is a linear 2-hour 7-kilometer long hike. It is also possible to reach the top by boarding on the Brocken steam train which departs from Schierke train station every half an hour, but the ticket is too expensive – 39 euros pp, including trips to any point in the Harz area. A separate ticket is not possible to be purchased.

 It was raining when we left the tourist office so we decided to grab a cup of coffee first and waited for the rain to stop. At 11.30 we finally started our hike, even though there was still some kind of drizzle. It took us 6 hours to complete the hike, including our many stops along the way and of course, our one hour stay at Brocken.

 The first 2 kilometers of the hike up to the Alte Bobbahn was an easy one where we walked in a wide not too steep path. At this point, one could choose which way he wanted to go : go uphill which is  a half kilometre shorter way, or  walk on the path alongside the railway.  We followed the path that run parallel the railway which is the Bahnparallelweg, which was an easy path.  We saw the  steam train passed at least  twice while we were here.  There were also some nice spots where one could stop and admire the passing of the train.  After walking for about 2 kilometers, at the point where the train would turn left, we turned right and began our climb. The path at this point was stony, steep and a little messy.  There was also an open area with only tall dead pine trees.

 THE BROCKEN      

After one  kilometre, we arrived at the main road, the Brockenstrasse   and from here it was only 1.2 kilometers walk to the top.  In no time, at about 14.00, we reached the top! Yes, we made it! Again! We are in Brocken! It was busy up here. The steam train arrived a few minutes later. Many passengers went in and out.  We had a very special experience of witnessing the coming and going of this famous steam train that  drives up to this height! It was like watching some scenes in one of our favourite TV programs, Rail Away!

 Hans and I took a long walk in Brocken. We went to the Brockenhaus and bought a few souvenirs; inside the Brockenhaus is a kind of museum over the flora and fauna  in Brocken, entry is 5 euro pp. We went to the viewing platform located at the 8th floor of the Brocken Hotel and had wonderful views of the Harz mountains on a clear day! We watched the train’s arrival and departure from the Brocken station. There is also a Brocken garden, but unfortunately it was already closed by the time we were there. There are also a souvenir shop and a couple of stands where one could buy some food and refreshments.  It was a busy day in Brocken; many hikers arrived from different directions : Schierke, Ilsenburg,  and Bad Harsburg  among others.

 THE HIKE BACK

 After about an hour, we decided to hike down. But then, it started to rain again. We waited for a while and sensing that the rain would not stop for the next hour, we decided to just hike back anyway. So there we were, with no other protection, walking in the rain. This time, we took a different path, the Brockenstrasse. It was a bit longer but  a lot easier. We followed the main road for about half an hour and then turned right following the board that said a short way to the village. We ended up at Alte Bobbahn again, watched and filmed the train passing by, and decided  to walk  back to the Schierke station and not directly to the  parking. This has caused us an extra 2 kilometers of walking. The rain has stopped at this point, thank goodness. It was almost 18.00 when we were back in the camper.

 It was very beautiful day, regardless of the rainpour! We have conquered the Brocken, saw the amazing Brocken steamtrain and we had another great hike again. We would worry about the muscle pain the next day…..

 Our customary pictures together 🙂

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