Preparing for and Planning Your Hike

Preparing for and Planning Your Hike

Today’s an exciting hike because it’s overcast and might be raining. We weren’t sure if we’d dare to do the hike considering the weather, but it doesn’t look so bad, at least from the window of our kitchen.

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While getting ready for the hike, I thought I’d write about just that; how to get ready for your hike. It’s become a bit of a ritual, and it’s all about planning so you can enjoy the hike from beginning to end! There’s nothing super complicated to work out, but once you’ve left for the hike, you don’t want to turn around, so it’s important to go through a check list. Also even though hiking isn’t meant to be stressful, or full of risks, some thought and planning ahead of time helps you make the most of it. I suggest to figure out details such as where the trail starts, where it ends, how long the hike could take, and what the terrain will be like (lakes, forests, lots of suburb). This gives you an idea when to ride the train to the trail head, when to expect to ride a train home, if there is time to hang out during or at the end of the hike and catch a later train, etc.

So, assuming you have a mobile phone, and a good backpack here’s my preparation recommendations.

1. Choose your trail: I still rely on Wander Kompass.  To see the distance, expected time, and start and end points.

2. Get an overview: I like to checkout the trail geography in more detail with Google Maps

3. Find the train schedule for the start and also the end of your hike with bahn.de

4. Make sure you have enough day light! TimeandDate.com is a good site for this. Assume you don’t want to be finishing in the dark, try to end the hike 30-45 minutes before sunset.

5. Pack a lunch! Probably my favorite part, figure out what you’ll eat along the way and pack a bag!

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In addition to some food, I think snacks like nuts and dried fruit, a candy bar, and water all make good consumables. Also don’t forget your camera and a book to read on the train to and from your trail head!

6. Lastly, make screenshots of the hike. Since your phone may not have service through the entire hike, I suggest to load the entire map as plotted on WanderKompass.de and make screen shots of the hike from an zoom level that allows you to see details like, turns in the trail, street names, bridges and other milestones. Here are the screenshots I made for the hike today:

Start of 3rd stage hike from Brieselang, 66 Lakes Trail
Start of 3rd stage hike from Brieselang
2nd step of of 3rd stage
2nd step of of 3rd stage
3rd Step
3rd Step
4th Step
4th Step
5th Step
5th Step
6th Step
6th Step
7th Step
7th Step
8th Step
8th Step
9th Step
9th Step
10th and final step
10th and final step

So that’s it! If you have any suggestions let me know by sending an email or writing a comment.

Marquardt to Brieselang – Stage 2

I’m writing this after doing the Brieselang to Hennigsdorf trail, so I have a little more perspective now. Just didn’t get around to writing about our 2nd hike on the 66 Lakes Trail until now for personal and work time constraints.

One early memory of the trail is actually a abandoned looking train station and some farm lands. However, I ended up thinking about this hike as the bridges trail as most of it follows along a canal, and also alongside a highway, so there are many bridges to walk by. Also, it was a bit unglamorous for some highway stretches, but the bridges and peaceful canal were redeeming. It was also the first hike were we started to actually see the 66 Lakes Trail markers with more official looking national park style signs, which refer to it as “66 Seen – Rund um Berlin”. It’s worth noting that in a couple places the Wander Kompass trail didn’t keep up with the markers and we felt lost, but in the end the bridges and other landmarks helped us to stay on course.

At the end of the trail, we arrived at Brieselang which is a larger then Marquandt, but has a depressed feel to it. There was a Gasthaus in the middle of Brieselang, which is worth noting, as I think you could spend the night for multi-day hikers, and also it you wanted, at the Gasthaus, or at a Beer Garden next to the Brieselang Hauptbahnhof, you could plan to eat and have a drink before hoping the train.

Marquardt Hauptbahnhof, Beginning of Stage 2, 66 Lakes Trail
Marquardt Hauptbahnhof, Beginning of Stage 2
66 Lakes Trail
A quiet shady path, just to the left was a major shipping facility for Zalando.
66 Lakes Trail marker, Stage 2, 66 Lakes Trail
66 Lakes Trail marker
A friend of this trail, a long canal, 66 Lakes Trail
A friend of this trail, a long canal
The first of many national park trail markers for the 66 Lakes Trail a.k.a. Rund um Berlin
The first of many national park trail markers for the 66 Lakes Trail a.k.a. Rund um Berlin

Potsdam to Marquardt – Stage 1

Potsdam to Marquardt – Stage 1

So this is it. We started out the trail from the very beginning. After a little random dabbling we decided to go hike the 17 stages of the 66 Lakes trail, in the way it was organized.

The first trail starts in Potsdam, a touristy city about an hour outside of Berlin, which we aren’t strangers to, so to go back for the start of the trail at the Brandenburger Tor in Potsdam, wasn’t completely welcome. But in the interest of trying to follow each step of the trail, we began where many others probably do as well. At the landmark, we expected a sign or something, but there really isn’t any indication that the trail starts there or Luisenplatz.

Brandenburger Tor, Potsdam
Brandenburger Tor, Potsdam

From the Brandenburger Tor, the trail walks up Schopenhauer Strasse to the entrance of the Lustgarten and than past the front, and by the Schloß Sanssouci.

Looking out from the Schloss Sans on Stage 1 of the 66 Lakes Trail
Looking out from the Schloss Sans
Early on in the trail, here leaving the Sanssouci Palace Gardens
Early on in the trail, in the Sanssouci Palace Gardens

It wasn’t until we were heading out of the Palace Gardens  that we finally saw the first 66 Lakes Trail marker.

The first marker!
The first marker!

We soon discovered these markers are everywhere, painted, or as stickers. Typically you can expect to see one every 50-100 meters. Though other times it feels like you’ve gone a couple kilometers without seeing them. After those long questionable stretches, it’s comforting and a bit of relief to see another and know you are still following the trail.

Markers on the 66 Lakes Trail
Still newbies to the trail, this was one of the first markers we saw, which slowly gave us confidence in the markings of the 66 Lakes Trail

The first trail was unusual in that it makes use of the gardens and palaces in Potsdam, so you end up doing some funny zig-zagging, perhaps the intent was to do some showing off in this well decorated section of the trail.

Statues in the front of the Astrommisches Zentrum Im Neuen Garten 6
These guys are in great shape! Statues in the front of the Astrommisches Zentrum
Im Neuen Garten 6
Entrance of the Astrommisches
Entrance of the Astrommisches

The last real Palace and Garden section of the first trail leaves you with a impressive view of the Schloss Cecilienhof.

Schloss Cecilienhof Ökonomieweg - Neuer Garten
Using the wide angel lens
Schloss Cecilienhof, Ökonomieweg - Neuer Garten, 66 Lakes Trail 1
Schloss Cecilienhof, Ökonomieweg – Neuer Garten

Also just called “Cecilienhof” the palace is a very different style from the others, also the last palace to be built during the rule of the Hohenzollern family that ruled Prussia until 1918. It’s famous for being the location of the Potsdam Conference in 1945 where the US, UK, and USSR decided how to divide up Berlin following the end of World War II. It’s also one of the many UNESCO World Heritage sites in Potsdam.

Just a stones throw form Cecilienhof is the Meierei Brauerei which was actually closed when we walked past it, but we’ve been before and is worth a visit on it’s own if you find the time. I think I would have wanted to stop for a beer, it’s a good thing they were closed, perhaps we would have gotten tired and given up.

It was hard to avoid pictures of our shadows
A low hanging sun in the north makes it hard to avoid pictures of our shadows on this short January day.

Long shadows in the low light of a Winter Day
Long shadows in the low light of a Winter Day
Some sections of the trail don't offer much of a trail to walk on
Some sections of the trail don’t offer much of a trail to walk on
Schlänitzsee, from Schlosspark Marquardt
Schlänitzsee, from Schlosspark Marquardt

Things actually ended in a strange way for us. The trail appeared to finish in the Schlosspark Marquardt, at the Schloss Marquardt, but the gate to the mansion was locked shut, and it was pretty clear we weren’t supposed to be back there. So we walked around through someone’s backyard to leave the property. Aside from that it was a nice place to wrap up the hike. But Marquardt is small so don’t expect much, and the train ride back to Berlin requires a regional train to Potsdam, then another from Potsdam Hauptbonhof, back to Berlin, so give yourself 90 minutes from the end of the trail to your destination in Berlin (if that’s where you’ll be going).

Schloss Marquardt
Schloss Marquardt
Schloss Marquardt
Schloss Marquardt

That was pretty much it. We’ve done 3 more trails since this one, so my thoughts and writing here come with more hindsight. Hope you enjoyed. Next post should be about trail number 4!

– Thomas

Mission all 66 (72) lakes / 17 stages

Mission all 66 (72) lakes / 17 stages

We love to explore nature, it’s a great way to relax. So after doing the fun and obvious around Berlin we started to explore the parks, and as those had been exhausted we ventured further into the hiking (or if you refuse to call flat trails that… “walking”) scene of Berlin. After looking up a few popular hikes we got interested in what else was out there. Eventually we stumbled upon the “66 Lake Trail” (“Der 66-Seen-Wanderweg” in German), a 416km long trail that loops around Berlin mostly in the state of Brandenburg, connecting many (72 in total) lakes. It’s divided into 17 stages, mainly as each stages starts in one town and ends in the another before it becomes the next stage. Though Berlin and Brandenburg’s landscape doesn’t vary a whole lot, the idea of being out in nature and exploring all these lakes was very attractive so we put it on the list.

This blog is partially for the purpose of detailing our adventures, but also to help other English speakers who might have the same problems we had in exploring the trails, perhaps because most of the information is only available on German sites.

The trouble only started when we got ready for our first day of checking out the trail. Since most of the sites dedicated to the 66 Lake Trail are in German, we were always a bit unsure if we were missing something. But in general the sites that mention the trail or feature all of its  stages are pretty vague. The more we searched through the information we found none of them really explained where the trail was in detail. Just a pin on a map with no address or coordinates to aim for.

There were two real difficulties for us in getting out and hiking, first was we didn’t have a long day ahead of us, so we weren’t planning to hike an entire stage in one day, each stage averages roughly 25km, we have just an hour or two to get out and explore one of them, so finding something nearby was important. The second issue was that for a while, as I researched where all the trails were. None of the websites or blog posts actually provided an address or GPS coordinate for the trails. So getting started was not easy, and we didn’t want to be lost in one of these random towns off the beaten trail.

There is an ebook about it, the book can be viewed here and purchased here for 14 euros. And many sites list varying details such as this one and this one on scoutlander.com which happens to make a similar attempt as KS and I will try for – documenting their exploration of the trail. Also trip advisor has a string about hikes in Berlin, in which the 66 lake trail is mentioned, but there’s not much more to go on then that. What ended up being the most helpful was this page on “Wanderkompass.de”, which actually shows a Google Map with full GPS outline of the trail.

So, all of that complaining now behind us, we’ll see how much better I can document the trails, how to find them, and what to expect!

First Trail:  The first trail we tried was a piece of the 21km 8th stage stretch, running between Strausberg and Rüdersdorf. I had stumbled upon photos of Herrensee and wanted to go see the trees growing up out of the water. But there doesn’t seem to be much documented about Herrensee and the 66 Lake Trail yet. So search by that criteria was difficult and a waste of time. Instead of locating a good place to start on the trail, we just headed to the end of the S5 line and got off at Strausberg-Hegermühle S-Bahn stop with some google maps cached onto my phone we wandered off into the woods looking for a trail around Herrensee.

After located the lake we started to see the 66 Lake Trail marker, a white square with a blue circle. Finally, we had found the 66 Lake Trail, and suddenly the excitement and energy for discovering all 72 lakes was fresh again!

Herrensee
Herrensee
Herrensee
Herrensee
Herrensee
Herrensee

This small section, on the rainy cold day was enough to wet out interests. We knew the days would be getting longer, and the long hikes were a fun way to get out of the city and explore Germany’s countryside in a day. I hope this blog ends up full of useful information to help others get out and hike the many trails around Berlin.