The barrier-free nature trail “The Wild Way”
The barrier-free nature trail “The Wild Way” is part of this experience: ten highly interactive stations provide information about the wilderness, forest development and biological diversity within the Eifel National Park. Boardwalks through the forested wilderness provide special insights into the natural world.
“The Wild Way” may sound like uneven terrain, trip hazards, obstacles and tricky paths. Wrong. Over the decades, the natural wilderness and spread within the Eifel National Park, but “The Wild Way” nature trail remains totally barrier-free. It is not just those who are sure-footed, but also people with a disability – whether it is a physical impairment, a visual impairment, blindness, deafness, hearing difficulties or learning difficulties – can experience the best and perhaps most unusual side of nature.
A roadworks sign like you would find on the motorway shows visitors the way. Here it is nature that is responsible for the building works. It is estimated that the workers – in this case storms, trees, bushes, birds, beetles and fungi – will have the wilderness project finished in around 250 years. But you don’t have to wait until then to discover the unspoilt terrain. Since the “works” were opened in 2014, there has been a wide, wheelchair-friendly boardwalk running through the mixed forest of beeches, maples, birches and spruces. The so-called “windthrow area” at the beginning of the path offers a change of perspective right at the very start. Storm Cyril raged here in 2007, flattening and uprooting trees. They remain in that state of destruction. This is because, unlike in managed forests, in which the fallen trees are removed, in the Eifel National Park the nature is left to itself – humans don’t meddle with the growing and decaying causes by the natural construction works.
In fact, the opposite is actually true: along “The Wild Way”, it is humans that are learning from – and about – nature. “Don’t you know what a forest is? Is a forest simply ten thousand cords of wood? Or is it a verdant delight for all mankind?” Quotes like this one by playwright Bertolt Brecht accompany visitors on their walk along “The Wild Way”. At each of the, mostly interactive, ten stations, visitors are also challenged to pay more attention to their natural environment – to listen to a piece of audio or to relax on a “lounger” in the shape of a beech leaf and to simply gaze at the treetops around you.
The fun-filled course in the heart of the “Wilder Kermeter” barrier-free natural adventure area in the ecological heart of the Eifel National Park is equally suited to a short walk and to a daytrip for the family. It is easily accessible by both car and bus. A barrier-free footpath with tactile paving for the blind runs from the car park and bus stop to the entrance to the natural adventure area, where you can find an interactive map display (incl. Audio guide) providing information for your visit to the “building site”.
A certified nature experiece
"The Wild Way" has been certified by "Reisen für Alle" and described as being appropriate to the target group. You can download the detailed report here (in german) or obtain them from the National Park authority.
The fully accessible Wild Kermeter area for experiencing nature can be reached via the Kermeter-Hochstrasse road (L15) between Schleiden-Gemünd/-Wolfgarten and Heimbach-Schwammenauel. A guidance system in the ground will lead you from the car park to where the hiking path network begins at the Kermeter resting point.
You can reach the Wild Kermeter area by taking the bus no. 231 from Heimbach station or the centre of Gemünd to the fully accessible bus stop "Kermeter-Höhe". The Wild Kermeter area can also be reached from Heimbach station by taking the "Mäxchen" double-decker bus.
A guidance system for the visually impaired will take you along a barrier-free path from the bus stop to the Kermeter resting point. Bus no. 231 runs Mondays to Fridays all year round, and between Easter and the end of the autumn holidays, it also runs at weekends and on public holidays. "Mäxchen" also runs at weekends and on public holidays from May to the middle of October.
In the summer months, it is possible to take the bus to get to and from the guided ranger tour every Sunday at 1 p.m.