Hike up the Brocken in Goethe's footsteps

On the Goethe Trail, which is part of the Harzer-Hexen-Stieg you can walk from Altenau via Torfhaus to the Brocken hike.

Follow in the footsteps of Goethe, the master of Weimar Classicism, on the trail named after him between Altenau via Torfhaus, all the way up to the Brocken. The trail is 16.3 kilometres long in total. It is 8.7 kilometres from Altenau to Torfhaus and 7.6 kilometres from Torfhaus to the Brocken. The Goethe Trail from Torfhaus to the Brocken has been around for a very long time. In summer 2021, the trail was extended to include the section from Altenau to Torfhaus.


Here you can discover the newly installed Goethe bench and the bookcase by the water lily pond. This invites not only Goethe fans to linger, but everyone can enjoy the beautiful landscape here.

Incidentally, Goethe walked this path in the middle of winter in just one day. You can do it too! Pack your rucksack, put on your hiking boots and imitate the master.

New section: From Altenau via Torfhaus

You start your hike in the market garden in Altenau and initially walk parallel to the Landstraße 504 to the Altenau herb park. Leaving the park behind you on the left, you will soon reach the water lily pond. The newly installed Goethe bench and the new bookcase await visitors here. Treat yourself to a break, browse through Goethe's works and relax by the pond. The new permanent special stamp of the Harz Hiking Needle for this place will also make your collector's heart beat faster.

Freshly rested, the hike continues via the Tischlertal up to the Dammgraben. The ditch is part of the Upper Harz water management the historic energy supply system of the Upper Harz mining industry. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2010. Parallel to the country road to Torfhaus, you continue along a forest path to the Hedwigsblick viewpoint and cross the border high up into the Harz National Park.

After crossing the Torfhaus road, you walk along a mystical-looking path lined with roots, small sections of moorland and rocks along the way. You pass the "Großer Torfhauslift" ski lift, the "Am Rinderkopf" car park and the youth hostel until you reach the centre of Torfhaus.

From here, you join the second part of the Goethe Trail, from Torfhaus to Brocken, crossing the B4, which you then follow for a short distance.

Section from Torfhaus to the Brocken

You start your hike at the TorfHaus National Park Visitor Centre and walk parallel to the B4 towards Braunlage. Leaving the last houses of Torfhaus behind you, follow the Goetheweg and after a short time you will reach the Großer Torfhausmoor, also known as Radauer Born. It is one of the oldest and largest moors in the Harz. You cross this raised bog safely on a boardwalk of the Harz National Park.

The hike on the Goethe Trail to the Brocken leads you further through the wooded moorland - on the right of the hiking trail you will soon see an artificial ditch that accompanies the Goethe Trail. Goethe was not yet familiar with this watercourse, the Abbegraben - it was only built in 1827 and stretches over a length of 1,540 metres. The ditch is part of the "Upper Harz Water Management System".

Turn right at the next fork in the path and you will reach the Quitschenberg. The hike continues through dense spruce forest. You pass the Brockenfeldmoor and a little later reach the "Eckersprung" in the centre of the Green Belt. Just as most of the Harz streams have their source in the moors of the High Harz, the Ecker has its source here. You leave the protective forest and step out onto an area with only a few trees. The inner-German border used to run here and you follow its former course for a short distance. The track bed of the Brocken railway is now in front of you.

Ascent to the summit of the Brocken

You are now getting closer and closer to the Brocken, at 1,141 metres the highest peak in the Harz Mountains. You can clearly see that the spruce trees are more compact here and many of them are already dead. This is because it is difficult for the spruces to withstand the harsh weather at this altitude.