© Wilfried Rave - Naturpark Steinhuder Meer

Nature and More

A perfect place for nature lovers

Enjoy the Gift of Nature

We want you to succumb to the fascination of the lake and experience nature up close. The glittering water, which lays in front of you, is the heart of the 420-square kilometer nature park. You can explore the broad moor areas, as well as moraine landscapes with sandy grounds, the foothills of the low mountain range (Mittelgebirge) und vast grassland. The main habitats are the wetlands (Meerbruchswiesen) on the western shore of the lake, the dead moor in the north east, the dunes north of the lake and the alder swamp forests in different lakeshore areas. On the 32-kilometer loop path around Lake Steinhuder Meer you can discover diverse landscapes surrounding the lake by bike or foot.

The Pearl of the Nature Park

We would like to tell you about Lake Steinhuder Meer and its fascinating landscape. Let us hike along the 32-kilometer path that loops around Northwest Germany's largest inland lake.

Lake Steinhuder Meer Loop Path

The path borders the lake, which rests in the center of the nature park like a glistening pearl. By foot or by bike, the circular path is a great way to experience the park's diverse landscape. During our hike the scenery along the shore will continually change. Sometimes trees directly line the water's edge, sometimes reeds. At other times, the flat remnants of a giant dune cut the water to create a fine sand beach. You will find yourself in the shadow of a forest that suddenly opens up to a wide marsh. Later, you reach a wooden walkway leading into a pristine marshland forest of alder trees, a paradise for song and water birds.

Nature and Bird Observation

A wooden walkway leads to an observation tower in the middle of the nature reserve. Let us climb up and peer out at the lake from up above. With a little luck we will be able to see swans, pochards and black coots, or we can marvel at the sea eagles and cranes flying in circles. The glittering water forms the core of the nature park. Also, you can see vast moorland areas, such as the moraine formation with sandy coastal crests, the ridges of the mountain ranges and the long meadowlands.
The major ecological habitats are the wetlands on the west coast of the lake, the dead moor in the north-east and the nearby dunes north of the lake as well as alder forests, that are dispersed throughout different regions around the lake.

Look, we are lucky: a western curlew! How proudly it struts over the marshes. It has the longest bill of all the birds found at Lake Steinhuder Meer. The western curlew feels at home in this habitation, just like the black-tailed godwit, the common snipe, and not to forget, the great stork. This makes Lake Steinhuder Meer an internationally important wetland, with ten thousands of waders, water and migratory birds using it as their breeding and resting ground. Let us now descend the tower and continue on, leaving the landscape and animals of our region behind. You can get more specific information from the experts in the Ecological Protection Station in Winzlar (ÖSSM), the Nature Park House in Mardorf or in the Nature Park Information Center in Steinhude.

 

Ecological Protection Station Steinhuder Meer (ÖSSM)

The Ecological Protection Station works to protect the natural environment and the biodiversity at Lake Steinhuder Meer. It is located in a traditional 150-year-old farmhouse in Winzlar. Here, an exhibition explaining natural phenomena of the lake awaits the visitor. For example, rare and recolonized animals and plants are presented. Some of them can be observed in the diorama in life-size or live on webcams. Additionally, the importance of the lake for the bird migration is explained. Another subject area is the significant role of high moors for the climate change and the important renaturation, which is demonstrated by interesting aerial photographs. The Ecological Protection Station offers observations amidst nature. The annual program contains around 130 events, such as excursions, bicycle tours, nature experience tours for adults and children and many more. We owe it to these dedicated experts that many wildlife - such as the green tree frogs and the majestic crane, whose trumpeting calls can be heard from far away - once again live at Lake Steinhuder Meer.

Water buffalos at Lake Steinhuder Meer

One way we have promoted the settlement of endangered species is by rewetting the wetlands on the west coast of the lake. Step by step ponds and pools were created, which surprise visitors with an unexpected guest. Whoever wanders along the path through the wetlands will discover a herd of water buffalos. Some of the buffalos enjoy bathing in the pools, others eat the hard bulrush grass on the edge of the ponds. Rice fields in Lower Saxony? Mozzarella production in Rehburg? By no means. The water buffalos prevent the rare amphibian spawn waters from becoming overgrown. Native bovine species despise the grass in the moory water and might drown in the ponds.

Nature Park House and Nature Park Information Centers

The protection of plants and animals in the wetlands and in the dead moor is also the topic of the Nature Park House in Mardorf, the Nature Park Information Center in Steinhude and on Wilhelmstein Island. Modern media technology, display boards and experience rooms help you comprehend the natural world and the virtual boat trip is also very informative. If you prefer to be outside, you should accompany one of our competent guides on an excursion to the wetlands or the moors.

Guided Moor Hikes

The nature park guides offer guided tours on a regular basis, starting in Mardorf or Steinhude and take you to the dead moor. The high moor is considered one of the most ancient landscapes of the earth, a place of mystery and legend. Only the most specialized plants can subsist on the marshy subsoil, which is mostly made up of water and is as acid as lemon juice. Even harmless plants in the marshlands take on "something sinister" wrote the TV journalist Horst Stern: "Sundew lures insects, then captures them with its sticky fingers." Stern continued: "There's something melancholic, even ominous about it. Gloomy stories about the bubbling deeps, about men who met their end in the sinking marshes, and whose souls make their rounds in the nearby villages. The meager trees appear like crippled men creeping along the grounds, holding themselves up with crooked fingers on the unsteady ground." Now, it's honestly not nearly so eerie, because today we don't believe in ghostly spirits, and because your excursion leader will know how to guide you safely through the moors.

Day Trip to the Mountains

In case you want to get away from the damp lowlands and moors, at Lake Steinhuder Meer you can also go mountain climbing…well, almost. The northern most remnants of the low mountain range, called Rehburg Mountains, the sculpted ridge and the forested mountain Brunnenberg have an elevation of 161 meters. From there you have a fantastic view of the whole Nature Park Steinhuder Meer, like a scene from a painting. At the end of our hike around the lake we would like to give you something to take with you as you continue on. Depending on your preferences, you can experience the whole variety of Lake Steinhuder Meer as a hiker, walker or bike rider. An intricate network of walkways connects the themed paths and trails, that wind through the whole region.

Enjoy the gift of nature.