16 I the Brocken The Brocken I 17 8 Hirtenstieg / Heinrich Heine Way 9 Boulder field Coming from the north you can reach the Brocken on the Hirtenstieg (following the same course as the Harz border path along the Green Belt). Alongside the Brocken Street and the Eckerloch Stieg from the southeast and the Goetheweg from the west, it is the only access for walkers to the Brocken plateau. For 3.4 km it follows a partly concrete-paved former patrol road to Scharfenstein Ranger Station, which is a popular hiking destination with its daily-open rest hut. On 20 September 1824 the poet Heinrich Heine hiked from Harzburg to the Brocken. The descent continued to Ilsenburg in the north. In his honour, the name Heinrich Heine Way is also used for the Hirtenstieg, which was possibly previously used by shepherds driving their livestock to pasture on the Brocken. The ascent from Ilsenburg onto the Brocken is considered the most beautiful. Heine transformed his impressions of the ascent into words in his „Harz Journey“: „The higher we ascend, so much the shorter and more dwarf-like do the fir-trees become, shrinking up, as it were, within themselves, until finally only whortleberries, bilberries, and mountain herbs remain. It is also sensibly colder. ... for it is a road which is to the last degree exhausting, and I was glad enough when I at last beheld the long-desired Brocken house.“ You can visit the new Brockenhaus if you climb the stairs to the entrance on board 9. There you will find a modern exhibition on the subjects of geopark, witches, German history, The geological history of the Brocken area reaches far back into the Paleozoic. In the Devonian, where the Upper Harz today lies, sediments were deposited in a primordial sea. About 300 million years ago, in the Carboniferous, these were folded by plate tectonics into the ancient Harz. Then hot magma from the deeper regions of the earth rose up; however, it did not reach the surface but cooled slowly at a depth of more than 2,000 metres. The result is a so-called pluton, consisting of coarse-grained granite which is composed of the minerals feldspar, quartz and mica. With the magma pushing upward, the surrounding rocks undergo contact metamorphism at almost 1,000 °C and transform into hard and splintery hornfels. For almost 100 million years ago, during the Cretaceous and the Tertiary, the entire Harz was lifted as what is known as a ‘half-horse’ during alpidic orogeny. This ‘horse’ rises uniformly from the south and is cut off in the north. At the same time erosion increased on the surface. The granite was exposed and the Brocken literally etched into the relief from the Harz plateau. The granite itself was weathered into shape by the so-called woolsack weathering. The resulting cliffs crumbled into boulder fields and are found everywhere in the Harz, especially here on the Brocken. They are home to many rare lichens, club mosses and mosses; therefore they may not be accessed. The boulder fields are a designated „National Geotope“ within the National GeoPark „Harz Braunschweiger Land Ostfalen“. famous Brocken visitors and nature in the National Park. In addition, there is a multi-media show and a cafeteria for you.