Set out from Berlin and escape to Schönower Heide for a day of deer spotting, wild mushroom foraging and more.
Most visitors choose to park their cars in the parking lot at the main entrance toward the eastern end of Schönower Chausee. Because we came here in search of solitude, we chose to spend the day wandering the western side of the conservation area, which tends to be less frequented and parked our car at Schönower Heide’s side entrance on the corner of Bernauer Damm.
The most popular trail in Schönower Heide is the 5-km circular tour that leads around the entire park and past the main wildlife enclosure. This area fenced off to protect a range of different herbivores, including mouflons and deer, as well as a list of rare and endangered plant species. Tread quietly, and you should easily be able to spot the grazing animals through the fence.
If, like us, you decide to come here to forage, please keep in mind that this is a wildlife conservation area and any lands that are protected by fences should be left untouched. That being said, there are plenty of little paths that lead off the main trail into the surrounding forests. Diverse species of trees, shrubs, flowers and mushrooms await nature enthusiasts in these rapidly changing landscapes. In one section, you might find yourself trodding on soft, mossy undergrowth in the company of towering pines. Fifty metres further, you’ll suddenly be stepping over slippery layers of fallen leaves between dense clusters of birch trees.
Thanks to autumn’s late awakening and some reliable rainfall in the weeks preceding our trip, we didn’t have to go far to find what we were looking for. By carefully skimming the little paths that lead off the main trail, we discovered seemingly endless clusters of fungi in myriad shapes and sizes. Inky caps, chanterelles, Steinpilze, boletes, toadstools—we certainly weren’t able to identify nearly half of what we stumbled across. In the end, Steinpilze were the only species we could safely single out. Luckily, we brought a paper bag to take home a handful for a hearty foraged soup. Nevertheless, we collected samples of a number of the other species we came across in a small basket, which we took back to Berlin to play around with some spore sprinting
Mushroom Identification App Recommendations
Pilze App is a free German app that provides detailed descriptions and photos of 200 endemic mushroom species. Shroomify is a free English app that helps you identify mushroom species by clicking through a fixed set of characteristics. The app also features exciting facts about the various species as well as tips for further reading.
Many of the mushrooms featured in the photos in this article are not edible. Never consume mushrooms unless you are certain that you have identified them correctly and can guarantee that they are safe to eat.
For best views of the enclosure, we recommend selecting a route that takes you past one of the observation decks; the main deck is located in the middle of the heathland. You’ll find the other deck further along the trail on the north-western side of the park. Keep your eyes peeled for rubble or signs of former buildings en route–these historical, mostly demolished constructs are the last remnants of an area that once served as an active training base for military forces. You can also shorten your hike by cutting back through the heathland via one of the paths that connect the northern and southern side of the park.
Gorinsee (Berlin Edition, p. 23) is only 2 km east of Schönower Heide. The lake’s beer garden is currently closed, but it’s still lovely to pop by here on a sunny day to take in the view. Other lakes approximately 20 – 25 km further north include Liepnitzsee (Berlin Edition, p. 39), Rahmer See (Berlin Edition, p. 49), and Wandlitzer See (Berlin Edition, p. 63). Head to our Berlin Edition for more information.