On foot through icy or snowy landscapes: Even in the cold season, many hikers are drawn to nature. In Hesse, the offer ranges from torchlight hikes to snowshoe tours.
Kassel/Schotten (dpa/lhe) - The snow crunches under your shoes, the frost covers nature with white glitter: hiking in winter is a special experience. "As in general, hiking in Hesse in winter is becoming more and more popular," says Franziska Andree from the German Hiking Association based in Kassel. The corona pandemic was a kind of starting signal for this. "When hiking, you can unwind in the fresh air and get a shot of vitamin D." This is particularly important in the dark season, when you don't go outside as often.
The offer in Hesse for winter hikers is diverse. There are guided tours in the Vogelsberg Volcanic Region Nature Park. The cities of Homberg (Ohm) and Amöneburg are offering winter hiking weeks in cooperation in January and February 2023. "There are various guided hikes on offer," explains Ilka Schacht from the Vulkanregion Vogelsberg Tourismus GmbH. "We are surprised at how popular it is."
A special highlight is also a torchlight hike for adults and children, which takes place on December 30th at the turn of the year on the Hoherodskopf near Schotten. But even without a guide, winter hikers will get their money's worth in the nature park in central Hesse. "All paths can be walked nicely in frosty weather," says Schacht. When it rains, it can of course be a bit slippery here and there, since the paths also run over unpaved ground, she warns. According to Schacht, when there is snow, a three-kilometre circular hiking trail is rolled from the Taufstein trail house.
There is currently a special offer in the Habichtswald nature park in northern Hesse. A fairytale Christmas trail, which leads from the Hercules visitor center via the Elfbuchen lookout tower back to the starting point, invites you to a discovery tour in the footsteps of the Brothers Grimm until the end of the Hessian Christmas holidays.
The 3.2 kilometer circular route is lined with 15 Christmas trees, whose tree decorations were made by children from kindergartens and elementary schools in and around Kassel. "On each tree there is a board with a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm - illustrated, suitable for children and in an abridged version," explains the deputy manager of the nature park, Annika Ludolph.
As in 2020, the fairytale Christmas path, which can be used with prams and handcarts, was set up again this year as a joint project by Kassel Marketing and the Habichtswald Nature Park special purpose association. "He's very popular again this winter," says Ludolph. Just like the other hiking trails in the Habichtswald, which would be rolled in stable, frosty conditions.
Winter hikers will find around 40 kilometers of groomed winter hiking trails around Willingen in the Waldeck-Frankenberg district. "Guided hikes from Willingen and the neighboring towns are also on offer," says Martina Lohmann from Willingen Tourist Information. A special offer away from the prepared paths is snowshoe hiking. "There are guided tours. But if you prefer to set out on your own, you can also rent special snowshoes that you can strap on," reports Lohmann.
Varied tours are also part of the program of the Upländer Winter Hiking Day, which usually takes place every two years, but had to be paused twice due to the corona pandemic. According to Lohmann, the next one is planned for January 2024. The three-day event is very popular and attracts numerous winter hiking fans to Willingen.
Things are mystical in the Knüll Nature Park. The nature park in northern Hesse, which was only founded in 2021, recently offers 20 new certified premium hiking trails, which also invite you to hike in winter. The easy circular route "Schwan am Silbersee", for example, offers fabulous views of the landscape around the Silbersee, which was shaped by the former brown coal opencast mine, says managing director Katrin Anders. "Even in foggy winter weather, the round is worthwhile - then the forest and former mining landscape seem mysterious." In sunny, windless and clear winter weather, she particularly recommends the "Hoher Knüll" fable trail. "If there is enough snow, it's worth taking the sled with you," advises Anders.