Germany’s National Parks: Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park

Located less than an hour from Kaiserslautern, Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park is Germany’s newest national park. It is also one of its best. Established in 2015 with territory in both Saarland and Rheinland-Pfalz, the park offers sprawling vistas, fantastic hikes, large populations of wild animals, old growth beech forests and much more. Put this one on your day trip list!

The German approach to National Parks

Though national parks may seem old hat to Americans who grew up visiting the Grand Canyon, the Everglades, the Appalachians, and so many other amazing spots, the national park movement is still gaining steam in Germany. And, as with so many other nature-related subjects, the Germans do national parks really well. First and foremost is a commitment to letting parks grow wild, untouched by human intervention.

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This isn’t to say that people are not welcome in parks: far from it, in fact. Another pillar of German national park management has to do with educational outreach. Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park is a living testimony to that: the park offers educational tours for families and students, and its website is loaded with activities for children (for use before, during, and after visits). If you’ve been looking for an excuse to visit a German national park, Hunsrück-Hochwald is a great place to begin.

What to do in Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park

If you love walking and biking, the park is for you. Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park has numerous hiking trails. The aptly named “Dream Loops” are perfect for day trippers. Each of the half-dozen loop trails is between four to nine miles long, and all of them lead walkers through some of the best (and sometimes downright dreamy) wilderness in the park. Most are accessible to anyone who is in reasonably decent physical condition, and most can be finished in less than three or four hours.

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Another great way to see the park is from the back of a horse. Guided riding tours are yours to reserve, and the park also partners with an outfit that does two or three-day trail rides. Make sure to plan in advance if you’re interested.

If you’ve never tried geocaching (and especially if you have), the park is a phenomenal geocaching destination. These digital treasure hunts are fantastic ways to fill a day, and are lifesavers if you have children.

The wilder side of Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park

Germany’s national parks play a key role in providing safe havens for wild animals like cats and wolves, most of which had been hunted to near extinction during the preceding centuries. Hunsrück-Hochwald is no exception. If you’re looking for wildlife, there’s a good chance you’ll spot something.

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The park is home to large populations of deer and wild boar, and has a small but growing population of wild cats (not to worry, though…these aren’t North American-sized cougars we’re talking about; Germany’s wild cats look like adorable fluff monsters…but still, don’t try to get near one if you see one). The park also has over 250 species of butterflies.

The landscape is equally fascinating. It boasts moors, rolling hills, river bluffs, old growth beech forest (you’ll feel like you’ve entered some sort of primeval ancient world when you step into one), and gorgeous creeks and rivers.

Getting to Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park

By car, it takes a little under an hour from Kaiserslautern to reach the Erbeskopf National Park Gate, which provides the best access to the park. Plan on 1.5 hours if leaving from Wiesbaden and 2.5 hours from Stuttgart.

Categories: Attractions, Biking, Kid Friendly, KMC Area, KMC Area, KMC Area, Road Trips, Sports, Travel, Walking