Keen to experience the forest environment in the Bregenzerwald? We’ll tell you where and how whilst providing instructions to enhance your experience! Different types of forests characterise the landscape in the Bregenzerwald including moorland forests, ravine forests, alpine forests and (a special feature) even plenter forests. The best way to experience the region’s forests is on foot in the unspoilt mixed beech forests. Prime examples include the Schnepfegg from the Wendelin Chapel towards Rosenburg and Gopfberg or the area near Andelsbuch via the Bezegg to Bezau. Enjoying the fresh scent of resin is an added bonus whilst exploring mixed coniferous forests such as those near Krumbach or around Schönenbach.
- When exploring forests, try to plan in as much time as you can. If possible, leave your mobile phone at home and leave other distractions such as a watch or cigarettes behind. Doing so will allow you to fully engage with the forest environment. Also, avoid using the forest for exercise purposes or monitoring your heart rate, blood pressure or metres of ascent and descent. Instead, walk through the forest carefully, slowly, cautiously and, if possible, barefoot!
- Take time to tie your hiking boots to your backpack and try walking without them whenever possible. Good areas include paths, root tracks and the forest floor. You’ll be amazed how good it feels to directly connect with the ground beneath your feet. Once you’ve removed your socks, go quietly, deliberately and slowly. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how good it feels to get a free-of-charge foot reflexology massage. The length and intensity are entirely up to you! Discover rustic root paths between the Alpe Kanis mountain pasture and the Edelweiss Alpine Inn beneath the Kanisfluh (starting point: Rossstelle, the mountain station of the Mellaubahn cable car) amongst other places. Enjoy the pleasant sensation of the ground beneath your toes. Feel grounded, present in the moment, and united with nature and all your senses. Soon, the first forest animals will begin to reveal themselves.
- Listen closely to the sounds of the forest, the rustling of leaves, the creaking of well-worn branches, birdsong, the squeaking and bleating of hidden forest animals, or the rustling of a bank vole just at your feet.
- Feel the tree bark and taste freshly sprouted beech leaves (they have a lemony flavour) or young, resinous spruce shoots.
- Those who walk barefoot more frequently exercise the soles of their feet, which makes walking without shoes easier and easier. It’s amazing how quickly our bodies adapt to nature!
- As you proceed, feel free to lean against a beautiful old tree. Embrace it, standing firmly atop its roots. Doing so will give you a solid sense of steadfastness, long life and primal power.
- Another way to connect is to become aware of the different aromas. For instance, a beech forest smells different than a larch or stone pine forest. By the same token, an old natural forest is more strongly dominated by the aroma of mushrooms, whilst a rain-soaked forest smells different than a sunlit forest clearing.
- Weather permitting, why not seek out a soft spot on a patch of moss or dry leaves and take a rest (or nap) for a while. As you sit silently, life awakens around you: curious forest animals appear that you might otherwise never or only rarely see. It’s a deep, soothing and relaxing experience.
- Feel better? Keen to give something back? Why not plant a tree as a tribute to your experience. Give the seedling a name and ensure that it will outlive you. In this way, the tree will be part of your story for many generations.
Author: Conrad Amber
Issue: Bregenzerwald Travel Magazine – Summer 2023