When I was a kid, I used to have this dream where I was flying over my neighborhood, high enough to safely clear the roofs of houses, but just low enough to brush the treetops. The canopy walk at Hainich National Park, located just outside Eisenach, Germany, brought me pretty close to reliving that dream.
The nearly 150-foot-high and 1,740-foot-long walkway puts visitors at eye level with Hainich’s primeval beech forest, affording them to up-close views of more than 180 species of birds, 450-plus species of beetles and various woodland creatures such as raccoons, deer and wild cats. Along the path, guests also have the opportunity to get a fresh perspective on some 800 plant and 1,600 fungi species that inhabit Hainich.
But the primeval forest is truly the highlight of the walkway and national park, which was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011. When I visited, the greenness of the leaves seemed almost unnaturally bright. Combined with the crisp air and the possibility of seeing a wild cat, the atmosphere felt almost enchanted.
I may not have gotten to fly over the forest (and I only spotted a raccoon), but the 18,500-acre national park still left me feeling pretty dreamy.