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Stage report from the Harzer Grenzweg hike, January 2021
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1: Tettenborn to Wendeleiche (17 km)
We started at noon in Tettenborn with wonderful winter weather. We looked in vain for signs from the Harzer Grenzweg. Across from the rifle club house, we sensed that the dirt road could be right. We were happy that the snow wasn’t too high and that we were making good progress. The first goal was reached quickly, the Cistercian monastery Walkenried. Behind the monastery, the hiking trail led us over the Kolonnenweg through the Südharz nature park. In the Ellrich city forest we passed the two-country oak. This very bizarre split trunk grows half west and half east of the border. In the meantime it was getting dark. With our two headlamps it went an hour further to the Wendeleiche. The nearby shelter offered us a perfect place to stay. We set up our tent behind it.
2: Wendeleiche to Braunlage (20 km)
The night was calm and very cold. In the morning, the Brocken viewpoint gave us the motivation we needed to get into our frozen hiking boots. After a leisurely breakfast, we followed the hiking trail past the Ehrenplan refuge and on over the Großer Ehrenberg. We hiked in wonderful winter weather and in the best of spirits. Behind the B4 road we took a lunch break in the Drei-Länder-Stein refuge on Jägerfleck. A boundary stone from 1750 marks today’s border point between the border between Lower Saxony, Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt. We hiked a few kilometers parallel to the cross-country ski trail in the direction of Wurmberg. We could enjoy the snowy winter landscape in peace and silence. The concrete slabs of the column path were hidden under a thick layer of snow. In the mountain village of Hohegeiß we had a delicious pea soup in the early evening. We sensed the natural monument “Ring of Remembrance” in the dark and went further into the night. The border situation as it was during the Cold War can be experienced in the open-air border museum Sorge. We crossed the B 242 and on the other side it was noticeably uphill. The Harzer Grenzweg leads you into the nature reserve of the Bodewiesen. Under a starry night sky and near the Ramser sawmill on a wooden bench, we set up the tent around 7:30 p.m.
3: Braunlage nach Ilsenburg (27 km)
It took us 2 hours that morning before we started. What for ?! Maybe everything goes a little slower in winter. The day was overcast and it was snowing. It wasn’t far through the Bremke valley to Braunlage. On the B 27 there is a granite stone to commemorate the division of Germany and reunification. Over the northern flank of the Wurmberg (971m) the trail up to the triangular pole, again a historic three-country stone. From here it was about 7 km to the Brocken. The highest mountain in the Harz (1142m) was a restricted area from 1961-1989.
Cold east wind, thick foggy soup, few people, everything closed and no panoramic view. After a short break we are on the south side back down towards Bad Harzburg. Today’s Scharfenstein ranger station was the location of a barracks for the DDR border troops. In the evening twilight we came to the Eckertalsperre. Here the border ran right through the barrier wall, half to the east and half to the west. It quickly became pitch dark and the certainty that we were still in the National Park Harz made us go on. We set up camp late at the edge of the national park border.
4: Ilsenburg nach Osterwieck (28 km)
The next morning in daylight we were very enthusiastic about the beauty of nature in this valley and the flowing Ecker. Soon we reached Stapelburg and the “Jungborn” area. The remarkable sanatorium from 1896 completely disappeared during the Cold War. Today it is being reconstructed again. On the B 6 there is again a monument to commemorate the opening of the border on November 11, 1989, a border post with a “look into the past”. Here on the north side of the Harz Mountains, large areas of arable land determine the landscape.
No mans land
The Harz foreland is flat, there´re exclusively forest roads to Abbenrode. There was no longer any trace of snow here and it began to rain. In the old so-called no man’s land, it sometimes went dead straight on small tarred roads. There isn’t much going on on the country roads until Wiedelah. Once you have reached the town of Wülperode, it is another 10km from here to the end point “Großer Fallstein” (288m) at Osterwieck, the Rhoden border tower.
For more information about the Harzer Grenzweg route don´t hesitate to contact us. Feel free to watch our videos on YouTube and explore our other trails we´ve experienced for you!
Take care and go out and make it happen!