A hike of about 10 kilometers from Kleinern led us through the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park to Hemfurth on Lake Edersee. Just the thing for nature lovers and hikers!
Kellerwald-Edersee National Park
The Kellerwald-Edersee National Park is located in northern Hesse in the beautiful Waldecker Land. The largest part of the area is located south of the Edersee and includes approximately the mountainous region of the Ederhöhen. The area is very hilly and almost completely covered with forest.
Here you can find about 50 smaller and larger mountains with a maximum height of about 626 meters. The highest point is the Traddelkopf with 626.4 meters, the lowest point is below the weir of the Affolderner Lake with 194 meters. For hikers who enjoy walking through hilly terrain, the region offers several well-signposted tours of varying lengths.
Several springs rise in the national park and flow to the surrounding larger rivers and lakes. The Eder and the Edersee, together with the Affolderner See and the high storage reservoirs of the Waldeck pumped storage plants, are among the largest bodies of water in the region.
From 1800, the region began to be systematically reforested with beech trees. At that time, poaching and unauthorized logging in the forests occurred again and again due to the population. At times even soldiers of the electoral government protected the forest area. The chief forester of the Waldeck region, Karl Kruhöffer, was particularly adamant in his fight against these crimes. He became known, however, for his loud voice, which allegedly enabled him to shout instructions to his employees across two valleys. He was given the nickname “Waldböker” by the local population.
For many years, the Eder Heights were among the favorite hunting grounds of the Prince of Waldeck. The animal population was kept artificially high, which pleased the hunters, but the damage caused by the game was very great for the farmers. In 1894, the Waldeck part of the Eder Heights was fenced in. In 1934, the fenced area was extended to 47.46 km² and state hunts were held there until the National Socialist era. From 1963 to 1984 the Edersee game reserve was officially a game reserve.
In 1989, nature reserves began to be established and, after long negotiations, the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park was successfully opened in 2004.
Since 2011, the beech forest area has been part of the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site Primeval Beech Forests and Ancient Beech Forests of the Carpathians and other regions of Europe, together with the Hainich National Park, the Grumsin Forest and Jasmund, and the Serrahn part of the Müritz National Park.
It goes uphill
Our hike started in Kleinern and led us first on flat paved paths along freshly mowed fields towards the forest.
I have tracked the exact course of the hike through the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park. It can be traced very well on the map and of course also hiked.
After a while, the path led us into the hilly forest area. The paths here are now unpaved, somewhat narrower and partly quite uneven. From now on it was uphill!
To the right and left of the path stretched the characteristic forest landscape of the National Park. Here, on the rather nutrient-poor soil, mainly copper beech grows and the ground is only rarely covered with ground-covering herb layers. If you pass by one of the forest meadows, you may discover arnica, devil’s claw or one of the more than 550 fern and flower species, depending on the season.
The wildlife has also developed very well over the years in the forests of the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park. In addition to the mouflons and fallow deer that were released for hunting purposes at the time, with a little luck you can also see red deer, roe deer and wild boar. Many smaller animal species such as foxes, martens, polecats, hares, hedgehogs, dormice and even the European wildcat are native to the national park. I find it especially exciting that 15 species of field mice alone and numerous bird species can be found there. So every now and then we heard the birds chirping on the way. Unfortunately, I can not assign the bird voices to the appropriate animals, but there should be about 75 breeding bird species in the national park.
I liked the partly quite steeply ascending path very much. Since it had just rained, it smelled fresh and damp. The ground was a bit muddy from time to time, but still very walkable. Unfortunately, I had no towel with me, otherwise I would certainly have tried the Kneipp basin at the side of the path.
Viewpoint over the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park
After a while we reached the first high storage basin of the Waldeck pumped storage plant, which is located in the area of the National Park. This is located on the Peterskopf, a mountain with a height of 506.6 meters.
The water that is stored there is used to generate electricity. It rushes through huge pipes to the turbines in the pumped-storage power plants and is converted into energy via technical processes.
Somewhat above the water basin is a viewing platform, from which you have a great view over the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park. In good weather, the view is supposed to be very good. We had rainy and slightly hazy weather, but could still look quite far. Fortunately, a sign has been installed, which helps with its information somewhat with the orientation.
I am very impressed by the view of Lake Affoldern, a reservoir of about 1.65 km². This is the lower artificially created basin for the pumped storage power plant and also serves as a flood retention and equalization basin for the Eder, Edersee, Fulda, Weser and Mittelland Canal as well as a storage basin for the “Affoldern run-of-river power plant”. After the reservoir, originally created in 1929, was extended several times, it can now hold 7.6 million m³ of water.
The lake belongs to the National Park and is a bird sanctuary and fishing area. Numerous migratory birds rest and breed here. Since the lake never completely freezes over due to the hydroelectric power plant, you can even find migratory birds wintering there.
If you walk past the small reservoir from the viewing platform, you will come to a hut. Here you will find the hiking station at Peterskopf. This has the name “Waldbölker” and is reminiscent of the aforementioned head forester, who communicated loudly with his colleagues. In the hut, which is open from Easter to October (Tuesday – Sunday 11-17 h), tired hikers can stop to have a drink and a bite to eat.
Only a few steps away from the hut is the mountain station of the funicular. Those who don’t like to walk uphill can comfortably take the cable car to the top and thus reach the viewing platform in just a few steps.
The bottom station of the Peterskopfbahn is located at the western end of Lake Affoldern near Hemfurth. It was built at the same time (1929) as the dams on the Petersberg. In the beginning, the railroad was used for the transport of material and workers. It was probably also used to transport parts of the huge pipes that run right next to the railroad line. Since 1983 the railroad has been used for tourist purposes. The ride lasts about 10 minutes and there is a difference in altitude of 290 meters over a distance of 917 meters.
Current fares and travel times can be found on the provider’s website.
Downhill to Hemfurth
From the train station our hike went from now on only downhill. Initially still on somewhat wider paths, we quickly returned to the beautiful forest area of the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park.
Here we followed a section of the Edersee primeval forest trail for a while. This 68 kilometer long signposted hiking route runs around the Edersee. The path is narrow, very natural, uneven and in some places it was a bit steeper, so you should pay close attention to where you step.
I really like this part of the hike. Walking between the trees on the soft forest floor, breathing the fresh air and listening to the silence of the forest – what a dreamy time out in nature.
The last section of the hike led along the road to Hemfurth to the shore of the Edersee, where our hike ended after about 10 kilometers.