The treetop trail in Hainich National Park

Primeval forest on the doorstep

Ever wondered what a primeval forest looks like from above? Find out on the treetop trail in Hainich National Park. But hang on a minute, a primeval forest in the heart of Thuringia? Don’t worry, you won’t need to channel your inner Indiana Jones and battle your way through a jungle. Comfortable shoes and a sense of adventure are all you need for this memorable trip.

At 13,000 hectares, Hainich is the largest single area of deciduous forest in Germany. Around half of it is a national park, and since 2011 even a UNESCO World Heritage site. Large swathes of the national park used to be restricted military zones, remaining completely untouched for decades. Here, the woodland was left to grow freely according to nature’s ancient rhythms, and the ‘primeval forest’ returned. The result is an ocean of beech trees, the predominant species here. It looks a bit like an enchanted wood from a fairytale, and you can see it all from above on the treetop trail.

A thrilling experience in the great outdoors

The starting point is the Thiemsburg forester’s lodge. From here, a short walk along a wide hiking trail featuring interactive information boards leads to the treetop trail. This gradually rises to a height of 24 metres, where you find yourself among the treetops of the forest canopy. Up here, you can feel the wind in your hair and explore the many interactive stops where the inhabitants of this ancient woodland tell their stories. Rest areas along the way provide a place to relax before the action-packed part begins. At dizzying heights, daredevils can venture out onto rope bridges to experience the swaying of the trees – perfect for wannabe Tarzans. You certainly need a head for heights here, and on the viewing tower at the end of the trail. There are 231 steps to the top, but you will be rewarded with magnificent panoramic views at 44 metres above the ground.

©Tino Sieland, KTL – Kur und Tourismus Bad Langensalza

Back to the forest’s roots

If you fancy something more sedate after all that adrenaline, head to the national park’s two exhibitions. In the interactive Root Cave, you will find yourself shrinking to the size of a microorganism as you learn what life is like beneath the tree roots. Over in the Discover Hainich’s Secrets exhibition, there are even more fascinating facts to delve into.