Bavarian Forest
National Park

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Hiking Area

Watzlik-Hain Experience Trail (Poto: Alice Alteneder)

Primeval forest experience

A very long time ago, in places more than 200 years ago, and in the area around the Großer Falkenstein, protected areas came in to existence that today belong to the oldest and most significant remnants of primeval forests in central Europe. For visitors to the national park they are one of the biggest attractions, alongside the mountain peaks and the pastures in the northwest of the park,. They are connected by especially attractive hiking trails.

History and development of the protected area

Very old routes cross the Bohemian Forest. They connect the area around the Danube with the Kingdom of Bohemia and were thus known in our region as “Böhmwege" or Bohemia Ways. At the same time they also presented a danger in times of war as a possible point of incursion for hostile armies. The 18th century in particular was characterised by conflicts between Bavaria and Bohemia. Initially, military considerations lay behind the decision of the Bavarian dukes not to use the forests that were close to the border and alongside roads. In the case of conflict putting up barricades could make a road impassable. We owe it to this strategy, that we have, for example, the “Mittelsteighütte" area of primeval forest. Other regions were a long way from settlements and thus so difficult to connect that the exploitation of timber was put off. The rocky precipices on the eastern slopes of the Großer Falkenstein were described as being extensively like primeval forest, when the planned timber exploitation really got going in the Bavarian Forest about 150 years ago. At that time the value of the remnants of primeval forest such as the Höllbachgespreng were already being recognised. The Bavarian King Max I decreed in the middle of the 19th century that such important natural forest stands from the past should be taken out of use. Legally speaking the forests were first formally protected in 1914.

Watzlik-Hain Experience Trail

This forest stand, in character primeval, can be crossed on the way to Schwellhäusl. From the Black Stork circular trail or from the green triangle trail there is a branch off that leads through the giant trees and the wilderness composed of standing and lying tree corpses. As no risk prevention measures are carried out on this unmarked path, particular care is required. It is recommended that it is not used when there are strong winds.

Primeval forest area Mittelsteighütte

The 38 hectare, old protected area begins immediately behind the houses of the village of Zwieslerwaldhaus and can be accessed easily on good hiking trails. The marked hiking trail can be used from different starting points. Other hiking trails cross the area with its large firs, beech and spruce, for example the “Green Triangle" hiking trail (from the Zwieselerwaldhaus Guesthouse) or the Yew hiking trail, which is the shortest way from Zwieslerwaldhaus (P1) to the summit of the Großer Falkenstein.

Primeval forest area Höllbachgespreng

On the steep slopes above the Höllbachschwelle (a small artificial reservoir) is the spring (Gespreng!) of the Höllbach. This particularly natural and dark area of forest with a waterfall and house-high rock faces covered in lichen used to be avoided by people. It’s probable that our forebears thought that this was the entrance to hell. Today several marked hiking trails run through the area. Starting points for hikes include the car parks in Zwieslerwaldhaus, in Scheuereck and on the Weiße Brücke.