Before I came to Germany, I had heard of the Black Forest and the Ardennes Forest in Belgium. I assumed Germany would be a pretty green country. I was surprised just how green it is! There are forests everywhere! The Germans LOVE trees! We are lucky in the KMC area to be right in the middle of the Palatinate Forest
What is the Palatinate Forest?
The Electoral Palatinate territory dates back to the Holy Roman Empire and is the area of Germany now called Rheinpfalz. The KMC is right in the middle of the Palatinate and the 1771 square kilometers of forest within this area is the Palatinate Forest. There are about 12,000 kilometers of trails in the Palatinate Forest used for running, walking, biking or horseback riding. There are even places to do rock climbing.
You can go rock climbing in the Kaiserslautern area?
Yes, but its a little bit of a drive to the South. There are red sandstone cliffs with ruined castles above them. These cliffs are about 15 km southeast of Pirmasens. There are some beautiful photographs of this rock climbing area at this German web site. The forests are beautiful but are they safe?
The forests are safe to use
You should use common sense though. Don’t travel alone. This is good advice for several reasons:
1. You have someone to talk to
2. There is safety in numbers
3. If someone is injured, you have someone who can help with you.
You can walk alone with your dog or horse, but I always enjoy going on walks with my wife. We have a 90-minute route we take that starts at our front door. The forest is only 400 meters from our home. It’s very relaxing and different every time we go on a walk.
How is it different each time you go on a walk?
The first difference is the weather. We will go on a walk even if it’s raining. We always have jackets and coats with hoods so if it suddenly starts raining; we just flip the hood over our heads and keep going. After a windy storm, you’ll find branches or sticks on the walking trails. In the winter, the snow and frost can make some very beautiful scenes. We have many walking trails within walking distance of our home.
How many different paths can we take from our home?
The number is quite high, depending on how far you want to go. If you ride a bicycle, the number is staggering, as there are splits in the trails in many places. We sometimes drive to specific spots, park the car and start our walk from a new location. We can choose heavily wooded walks or walks on the edge of a forest on top of a ridge with wonderful views. We don’t see many other people on our walks normally.
The walking trails are not crowded
Because there are so many trails and we are in a fairly rural area, the density of people on the trails is pretty low. We will see more people on Sunday out for a walk if the weather is nice, but normally you don’t run into a lot of people. It’s a wonderful way to spend an hour or two with nice weather.
We live at the bottom of a 300 foot rise so getting to the bulk of the walking trails means we have to walk uphill a bit first. This can be a problem for older people. When my wife’s parents were visiting a few years ago, we wanted to drive to the top of the hill to start our walk. We didn’t know if this was ok to do.
We asked our German neighbor what to do.
He said we had to ask the forestmeister for permission. The forestmeister is a local person in charge of a section of the forest. He or she has special training and can give you permission for things like cutting a tree down for firewood, or driving on the forest trails in a special case like my wife’s mother. We ended up not driving on the trail and went to another walking trail instead with a designated parking area. There are so many that are so close, it was easier than tracking down the forestmeister for permission.
In summary, you have to spend time in the local forest!
The trails go on and on for as long as you want to keep going. The forest trails are safe, but travel with a friend for safety. Be respectful of the forest and ask the forestmeister for permission to cut any trees down, take wood out of the forest or special requests like driving on the forest trails.
Bring your camera on your next walk and send us your pictures enjoying the Palatinate Forest!