Circular hiking trail around the Oderteich

Oderteich pond - a highlight of the Upper Harz water management system

You start your hike at the "Oderteich" bus stop or at the car park there. After crossing the road, you will see the water surface of the Oderteich pond on your right. Here you first walk over the dam wall to the eastern bank of the Oderteich. At the end, you will see a forest on your right.

This has been left very unspoilt, with lots of deadwood and trees of different ages. This is one of the oldest forest stands in the Harz Harz National Park. This forest was protected from deforestation soon after the Oderteich was created. It is intended to prevent soil erosion in order to ensure a sufficient amount of water in the Oderteich.

Harz primeval or mountain spruce

A special feature of this forest are some of the remaining Harz original or mountain spruces, some of which are over 300 years old. With their spindly shape and short, downward-pointing branches, they have adapted to the harsh conditions of the Harz winters, with high snow pressure and strong winds. If you look closely, you can also discover the so-called deadwood regeneration that characterises a natural spruce forest with a high proportion of dead wood. Decaying tree trunks serve as a nutrient-rich seedbed for the new forest generation. On the forest floor, the spruce seedlings are usually overgrown by grasses and blueberries, whereas on top of a tree stump they can develop freely. This gives them a "place in the sun" in the truest sense of the word. When the old tree trunk has eventually died, the spruce that has sprouted and grown on it stands as if on stilts.

Oderteich Upper Harz hiking
©Tony Hätscher

One such stilt spruce is on the left, a few metres behind the small wooden staircase. The path soon leads you along a boardwalk built by the national park through a moorland spruce forest with some open moorland areas. The spruce trees that grow here only sporadically and stunted bear witness to the harsh conditions in this extreme habitat. Only special species such as peat moss, cotton grass or the ragged hair sedge can survive here. With a bit of luck, you may discover the cranberry or the round-leaved sundew, an insectivorous plant, in the peat moss. After the moorland area, continue your hike on bark mulch through the spruce forest. At the next fork in the path, keep left, cross the Oder and continue straight ahead at the next fork. After another 500 metres, cross the Rotenbeek ("Red Brook") on a wooden bridge.

Oderteich Upper Harz hiking

the route around the Oderteich

Harz mountain streams

Both streams have a special colour: almost dark brown and fluffy with foam. Anyone who thinks that this is dirt in the water is mistaken. Harz mountain streams are among the cleanest in Germany. As these streams, Oder and Rotenbeek, originate in the moorland areas, they are coloured by the natural substances of the moors: humic acids and proteins. This means that the water is only visually cloudy, but still pure and clean. Stay to the left and walk through the forest, which is particularly fascinating here due to its composition. Old, thick spruce trees in the deadwood mingle with the new, fresh green generation of the forest. You will have reached the northern end of the Oderteich when you reach the mouth of the Rotenbeek. From here, you now return along the western bank.


Hiking the Upper Harz Oderteich stream
©Tony Hätscher