After checking into our tiny apartment, we wanted to go out for an evening walk and chose the "Torfhausmoor" as our destination. It is located by the tiny village "Torfhaus" which also has a pretty big visitor center with all kind of information, tips and maps about the Harz National Park.
We got there in the evening when the sun was already standing low and by that time hardly any people were out and about. The short walk we had chosen was supposed to be 4,5km long and take about 1 to 1.5 hours. But when setting out at the Visitor Center we took off along the wrong path and ended up taking a different route due to our little mistake. We nevertheless enjoyed our walk and hit all the "important" spots anyway, even though not in the order we were supposed to.
Along the way we came by the "WaldWandelWeg" (Changing Forest Walk), that we hadn't realized was right along the way. But it was good luck, because it was very interesting.
The Harz used to be covered in spruce trees, but those didn't fare too well during the last few summers, which were unusually hot and dry. Then the bark beetles came and destroyed a lot of the already weakened trees. So right at the moment the Harz National Park actually looks pretty scary. Most of the areas that used to be covered in dark green trees are now gray with dead, broken tree stumps sticking out of the ground. It is a strange sight to behold. But the "WaldWandelWeg" taught us that naturally very different trees would be growing here. The spruce forests were human made and now nature it basically just taking back control. It will take a while before the forest will look lush and green again, but it's not necessarily a bad thing, even though it might look almost apocalyptic at first.
Continuing on our way, we then came by the Torfhausmoor. One of the Harz's upland moors it is home to whole lot of specialized plant species and animals, some of which are now very rare. A wooden plankway leads across some of it's surface. That is mostly to keep people from walking into the delicate bog, but of course we did see quite a few shoe prints besides the path. It's always sad to see that people just don't seem willing to take care of nature, even though they are out here to enjoy it themselves.
By the time we reached the Torfhausmoor it slowly started to get darker. So we walked across the boardwalk, took a few moments to appreciate the landscape and searched for some plants that are known to grow here. For example the "common sundew", a carnivorous plant. We then walked back towards the parking lot on along the Goetheweg. Alongside the trail runs a trench called the "Abbegraben", which is part of the extensive water systems used to run the mining equipment, back in the times when the Harz was an important mining region, that have now been declared a UNESCO cultural heritage.