He is smart. He has a large territory. And he is famous for his surprise attacks. The goshawk is a shy bird of prey and the phantom of the forest. One of the longest premium hiking trails in northern Hesse is named after him - the Habichtswaldsteig.

Habichtswald Nature Park

Claudia Thöne looks up and scans the sky. She is responsible for the hiking trail within the Habichtswald Nature Parks. "I was lucky enough to see a goshawk just recently," she says, beaming. To spot this bird of prey - that is the wish of many hikers. For this purpose, the 85-kilometer Habichtswaldsteig on four stages until the Edersee many opportunities - different viewpoints, impressive landscapes.

Alpine looking ascent to the Schreckenberg mountain

The tour "On the wings of the hawk" starts in the half-timbered town of Zierenberg at the foot of the Dörnberg. The walk leads from the market square through the medieval old town of Zierenberg out into the wild nature. The heart pumps, the breath goes faster than the legs - the route leads straight away tightly uphill. "In some places, the Habichtswaldsteig offers challenges for experienced hikers or those who want to become one," says Claudia Thöne, and she is also a bit out of breath. The reward for the initial effort follows on the Schreckenberg: the panoramic view from the observation tower to the basalt peaks jutting out of the forest is spectacular. 

Castle ruins and small half-timbered towns along the way

We continue through one of the largest juniper heaths in Europe at the foot of the Dörnberg. It smells aromatic, it buzzes and color blobs shine out of the green. A wide variety of plants, insects, especially butterflies and birds feel at home in this biotope. In spring, anemones, orchids and primroses bloom here. "The greenery is different in every season," reports the Habichtswaldsteig representative. "Beech trees, oaks and maples color the forest differently, and in addition, the hedges blossom one after the other. It pulls you on and on because you can discover something new around every corner," Claudia Thöne enthuses. Not only the landscape experience and the constant search for the hawk make the attraction of the footpath. Small half-timbered towns like Naumburg or Waldeck and castle ruins like the Weidelsburg also provide cultural experiences in the middle of nature. 

Fairy tale resting places

The path winds towards Kassel to the largest European mountain park. It goes through meadow valleys, fields and fairy-tale forests with bubbling brooks. Isn't that Rumpelstiltskin peeking out from behind a tree trunk? The Brothers Grimm and their fairy tales have indeed immortalized themselves here. Near Kassel are the Rest areas along the Habichtswaldsteig about the life, work and impact of the famous Fairy Brothers inspired. "We wanted to integrate the fairy tale tradition into the trail, and so we designed rest stops along the way that invite you to dream and appeal to your senses," Claudia Thöne explains. For example, you feel quite like a prince on a wooden throne with a panoramic view of the landscape. Or one floats on the sky swing over the landscape. Just like a hawk spreading its wings and gliding silently through the air. A feeling of freedom. A feeling of adventure. And then your stomach tells you: hungry! 

Award winning treasure chest food for hungry hikers

The descendants of the Grimms have also come up with something for this, or rather Lukas Frankfurth, head of the Parkhotel Emstaler Höhe, which is located in the direct vicinity of the Habichtswaldsteig: Fairy tale feast box is the name of the special kind of picnic. "Those who don't want to carry snacks in their backpacks simply order a picnic box from us. We deliver the box, which is fitted with a combination lock for security against unauthorized access, to a coordinated hiking rest area and also pick it up again," explains the restaurateur. Thanks to a specially developed process, the freshly prepared food would stay warm for two hours. Frankfurth's idea of the treasure chest for hungry hikers has meanwhile won awards: the Hesse Tourism Prize and the GrimmHeimat-NordHessen Prize. The names of the menus with regional specialties are based on the Grimm fairy tales. The "Brave Little Tailor" - goulash from the Habichtswald pig with mashed potatoes - or "Cinderella," a lentil and vegetable stew with smoked pork.

Strengthened in this way, we set off on the last stage into the Waldecker Land to the Edersee. The route is demanding and leads over the steep slopes of the Urwaldsteig in the Kellerwald Edersee Nature Park to the retaining wall. "For those who prefer to take it easy, I recommend one of the shorter of the eight extra tours," says expert Thöne. For example, the ten-kilometer tour "Around the Mountain of the Fairy" or 15 kilometers "In the Valley of the Two Castles". In general, the stages can be customized. "If you want, you can also halve the tour "In mysterious mountain world", then you are not so long on the road," advises Claudia Thöne. And she also has a tip for a short excursion: the gorge-like Firnsbach Valley with its footbridges along the course of the stream and the unusual basalt columns. This section of the Habichtswaldsteig is wildly romantic - and with a bit of luck, a hawk will glide silently by between the treetops. 

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Cover photo: Hiking in the footsteps of the Brothers Grimm - and in search of the goshawk

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