Written by Magda from wanderfolk.de

Magda Lehnert is a freelance journalist and, with her travel and outdoor blog Wanderfolk turned one of her greatest passions into a profession. Since 2015 she reports on the blog and in magazines about her road trips, hikes and microadventures.

Rain. The first thing we noticed in the early morning was its steady drumming on the roof of our camper. Why of all things did this June weekend, when we had gone hiking and swimming in the Harz mountains, have to be so cold and wet?

A little reluctant we ventured out into the cold, clutching tightly to our steaming coffee. Around us, the hikers' parking lot was empty. No one was crazy enough to go out voluntarily in such weather. But since our only alternative was a day on a clammy bus, we decided to trudge off anyway - after all, we weren't made of sugar, at least that was our pitiful motto for the day.

Since heroism just yet is not just a nostalgic construct from storybooks, in response to our brave decision, such a strong wind actually swept across the landscape as only the Harz mountains know at this time of year. All at once the sky was freed from its gray clouds as we caught sight of what we had come for: The Oderteich. Dark blue and silvery, its water surface shimmered and reflected the densely grown trees. What a breathtaking contrast to the bright, sandy shores! All alone and surrounded only by fresh, rain-drenched air, we stood in the midst of a setting that one might expect in North American national parks, but certainly not in Germany. And we knew: Here, somewhere between the federal highway and the forest, we had found a little paradise when we least expected it.

We have to thank this paradise of local silver production at the beginning of the 18th century. At that time, it became necessary to dam the Oder River at the inlet weir of the Rehberger Graben in order to better supply the mines with whipping water. Thus, between 1715 and 1721, the oldest dam in Germany was built in today's national park. Together with other structures of the Oberharzer Wasserregal, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. To this day, the water of the Oderteich still powers several hydroelectric power plants in Sankt Andreasberg, the Samson mine and in the Sperrlutter valley.

Around the lake a circular hiking trail leads; first along the sandy beaches on its west side, on small bridges over streams, up to the ghostly deadwood forest in the north and finally over wooden planks along the eastern shore. Even though this trail is just shy of 4 kilometers long, with a bit of childlike imagination, you'll find so much magic along the way that - especially with a camera in hand - it's hard to get ahead. If the short round hike is still too short for you, you can either extend it with a detour to the signposted Clausthaler Flutgraben, also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, or continue on to the neighboring Torfhausmoor. However, if you are luckier with the weather than we were and experience a summer that can be called summer, you will find a unique water landscape for swimming on the eastern and western banks.

Cover photo: Favorite place in the Harz Mountains - the Oderteich © Magda Lehnert


The historic dam in the Harz Mountains is located near the Braunlager district of St. Andreasberg and was the largest dam in Germany until the end of the 19th century. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since July 2010.

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