World natural heritage Grumsiner Buchenwald
The sun hangs lower in the sky; the light shimmers a slightly more golden shade—autumn is just around the corner. Having spent the entire summer relaxing at our favourite lakes near Berlin, the turn of the season invites us to discover new destinations in the region. We’ve selected an extraordinary destination for this first recommendation in our Countryside Getaways series, which we’ll be bringing you in upcoming months. We haven’t even featured this pristine forest in any of our travel guide books yet. A walk through dense woodlands past a series of little lakes awaits.
Over the last century, the forestry and agriculture industries have erased much of the region’s natural habitats. Nevertheless, traces of the ancient beech forests that once dominated these landscapes still remain today. And one of these cherished remnants springs unexpectedly from a landscape of sprawling fields. The UNESCO World Natural Heritage site Beech Forest Grumsin is carefully tucked away in a vast landscape that spans Wolletzsee, Werbellinsee, Altkünkendorf and Angermünde. Grumsin Forest, which has remained undisturbed for over two decades, is located in Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve. The forest itself is characterised by a large number of hollows. In some parts of the forest, time gave way to a series of lakes, swamps and moors. And occasional granite boulders made their way into the landscape—all of the above are remnants of the Weichselian Glacial period which characterised and shaped much of Berlin and Brandenburg’s scenery as we know it today. This majestic forest reveals itself to us as an enchanting place. We’re delighted to have the opportunity to trade our regular urban backdrop for a long stroll through pristine woodland for the day.
We set out on the 75-kilometre drive to Altkünkendorf from Mitte, Berlin. Sufficient snacks and refreshments for the day in tow, we drive for an hour before arriving at our destination and parking our car on the side of the road.
A series of marked hiking trails lead through the forest; each recognisable by individually coloured leaf-shaped symbols en route. You’ll come across these signposts throughout the entire forest. If you want to hike the official trails, we recommend choosing one of the following (more detailed descriptions of each can be found here):
Orange Beech Leaf
The hike with the jungle trail.
Start: Info point in Altkünkendorf | Distance: 10.5 km | Duration: approx. 3 – 4 hr
Yellow Beech Leaf
A journey through the woods.
Start: Info point in Altkünkendorf | Distance: 10.3 km | Duration: approx. 3 hr
Red Beech Leaf
The long circular tour.
Start: Info point in Altkünkendorf | Distance: 21.5 km | Duration: approx. 8 hr
Green Beach Leaf
Start: The info point at Groß Ziethen Geopark | Distance: 7.2 km | Duration: approx. 2.5 hr
We set out on a 3-hour stroll through Grumsin Forest. Our journey takes us past a sea of impressive 300-year-old beech trees and a string of little moors that appear like black specks between the trunks adding character to the scenery. It must be our lucky day—first, we spot an owl and later a white-tailed eagle, both of which call these wild forest and lake-lined landscapes their home.
Hoping to turn in before dusk, we drive back to Berlin in our soothingly silent car and admire the sky as twilight slowly sets in. As we follow the A100 highway back into the city past rolling fields and grasslands, we take a moment to try and capture the scent of fresh forest air in our memories and appreciate the sense of calm that accompanies us all the way home.
If you’re interested in exploring more beech forests in Europe, we recommend checking out the app Weltnaturerbe Buchenwälder—you’ll find lots of detailed information, hiking trails, and maps of other beech forests here. Jasmund National Park on Rügen Island, for example, is also featured in the app.