The Harz Mountains Nature Park, located in Germany's northernmost highlands, is a landscape of great diversity comprising broad upland plains and meadows, and wild and romantic wooded valleys.
Signs of the earth's living history and of mining activity can be seen everywhere, including at the medieval Upper Harz Water Management System (now a UNESCO World Heritage site). The drains, channels and artificial ponds of this system can be explored on foot or by bike. The Lower Harz is characterised by deciduous forest and the valleys of the Ilse, Bode and Selke, which Heinrich Heine wrote about in his Harzreise travelogue. Castles, palaces and churches bear witness to over 1,000 years of eventful cultural history and the traditions and customs of the people who lived here. But there are plenty of other activities as well. You could take a trip on the Harz narrow-gauge railway or enjoy a hike on the 8,000km network of trails that make the area so popular with walkers. Detailed maps and themed walks make it easy to find your way around. A series of leaflets are available on particular themes, helping you to get your bearings and find out more about the area. Family-friendly activities include the educational nature park trails in the town of Stangerode and an exhibition at Stolberg Castle on the local beech forests and the Natura 2000 Harz conservation area. Hikers may especially enjoy the Harzer Wandernadel (Harz Walking Badge), which involves collecting a stamp at a series of 222 signposted checkpoints to gain the Harzer Wanderkaiser (Hiking Emperor of the Harz) award.