The Lüneburg Heath is a heath and geest landscape in the northeast of Lower Saxony. It extends over a huge area and contains extensive heather areas in the center of the nature park. The core is protected as a nature park and may only be entered on foot or by bike. Therefore, the region offers perfect conditions for hiking and cycling tours. In fact, even the E1 European long-distance hiking trail leads through the Lüneburg Heath. There are also over 50 other signposted hiking trails within the region. These lead through idyllic forests, magical moors, and dreamlike heather areas. One of them is the Osterheide, which is east of the town of Schneverdingen. The Osterheide was created from a military training area after operations there was stopped. It not only serves the residents of Schneverdingen as a local recreation area but is also very popular with tourists. In fact, a hike through the extensive heathland looks like a spectacular ride on a purple sea of flowers. However, the heather only blooms from early August to mid-September. You can find the current state of flowering on the nature park website. In this post I will introduce you to a simple but wonderful hike through the heart of the Osterheide. Have fun while reading.
Schneverdingen Train Station
Easily accessible, no incline, sandy paths
Heath only blooms in August/September
How to get to Osterheide
Getting here by train
If you rely on public transport, Osterheide is an ideal destination for you. It can be reached easily with the Heidebahn. This train shuttles every hour between Hanover and Buchholz with a stop in Schneverdingen. You can find timetables on the Deutsche Bahn website. It is only a few minutes from the train station to the heather.
Driving by car
By car, you leave the A7 at the Schneverdingen exit and take the B3 to reach Osterheide. There are free parking spaces directly on the main road or on the L170 just before entering the town. The parking lots and the train station are marked on the map.
The shuttle bus in the park
There is also a free shuttle bus within the Lüneburg Heath in the summer months, which goes to the region’s popular destinations. You can find the timetables and the route network on the nature park website.
From Schneverdingen to Lake Silvester
Since we came by train at the time, my route starts at the train station in Schneverdingen. It is still early, many people get off the train and set off towards Heide. Mainly retirees. We stop right at a small kiosk at the train station (open until 6 pm) and order coffee first. After recharging and a 10-minute walk through quiet residential areas, we reach the Osterwaldweg. This leads us into a wooded area, in which we discover isolated heather plants between the trees. The sun shines through the green leaves, birds are chirping, and the smell of moss pervades the nose. Suddenly we stand in the clearing and look out over a huge sea of purple plants. Deeply impressed, we snap a few pictures and “set sail”. The path becomes sandy and ruts from horse-drawn carriages cross our path.
The sun slams down on us mercilessly and makes us sweat. Nowhere shade. The horizon flickers. Again, and again, we sink into the dry sandy path. This leads straight ahead through extensive heathland and flat land. Only the dark green juniper offers a contrast to the purple plants. After a few hundred meters we pass a large sheepfold. With a little luck you can watch a herd of Heidschnucken grazing here. Heidschnucken can often be found in the Lüneburg Heath, which is mainly kept for the meat nowadays. It is considered a delicacy in the region and is served with cranberries. If you like game, you should definitely try it.
About 300 meters after we have passed the stable, we turn into the yellow marked path towards Lake Silvester. The picturesque lake is named after a British officer and offers a good opportunity for a rest in peaceful surroundings. If you are brave enough you can certainly swim here but expect silt and leeches. Despite the heat of over 30 degrees, we were not in the water. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures here.
Short Facts for your Trip
Since the heather only blooms in summer, I recommend visiting in August or September. An old rule says that the flowering period lasts from 08/08 to 09/09. You can find the current flower status on the nature park website. In summer, the temperature can rise to over 30 °C. But July and August are also the months with the highest rainfall. Here you can find a detailed climate table for Schneverdingen.
Deeper and deeper into the Osterheide
We leave the Lake Silvester behind us and continue hiking through the magnificent heather. After a while we have to cross the B3 and then reach the aforementioned parking lot. From here the route leads for around 1.5 kilometers through a forest area in which no heather can be found. We enjoy the hike in the shade. Insects chirp in the grass, birds sing in the trees and small branches crack under our shoes. When we get to the clearing, we are looking forward to a kilometer-wide heathland. The route ahead of us runs almost 6 kilometers along the paradisiacal heath. However, unprotected in the blazing sunshine. The path becomes partly sandy again and twice passes small forest areas. We take a short break here to escape the sun for a while.
The hiking trail continues to Hof Möhr, from where a small nature trail starts through a forest with beech and oak trees. We are exhausted from the weather and the kilometers hiked. Our water is empty. The sun burns. Sunburn is looming. So, we ignore the information boards and follow a boardwalk that leads over the Möhrer Moor. This path brings us again into the wide heather of the Osterheide.
On the last stage, extensive heather areas and sandy paths await us again. After a while, the second car park will be reached. This is opposite the road that leads to the Pietzmoor. If you still have enough power, I can highly recommend the 5-kilometer circular route through the moor. After we have left the parking lot behind us, we slowly leave the heather. It is only a few hundred meters to the train station.
In summary, the hike presented is easy to tackle, but 18 kilometers long. The route lets you participate in the beauty and idyll of the Osterheide and gives you varied insights into nature. If you want to experience even more, there are other highlights of the Lüneburg Heath in this area.
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The area around the Osterheide
As already mentioned, the Pietzmoor is located near Schneverdingen. A circular route leads through the spectacular moor and provides insights into unique nature.
Another possibility is to hike to Wilsede to explore the Totengrund or the Wilseder Berg. The shuttle bus will bring you back comfortably and free of charge.
In the north of the city there is the Höpen nature reserve, where you can watch a herd of Heidschnucken at certain times when driving out and in. In addition, to the north is the Heidegarten: A garden with countless different types of heather. If you still know interesting places nearby or liked my post, please let me know in the comments. I’m happy about every message.