Skip to content


Harz Karst Landscape Earthcache

A cache by Team TravelingViking Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 10/27/2004
2 out of 5
3 out of 5

Size: Size:   not chosen (not chosen)

Join now to view geocache location details. It's free!


How Geocaching Works

Please note Use of services is subject to the terms and conditions in our disclaimer.

Geocache Description:

Do some research and find *your* karst phenomena online before you go...

Click To Rate This Cache
View the handicap ratings for GCKY4B Profile for TravelingViking (1M TBmiles)

Harz Karst Landscape Earthcache

Find and document any four phenomena typical for a karst landscape in the southern Harz area. Karst is the term used for rocks that can be disolved to form cave and related features. This cache was placed by Leah and Olaf of TTV - Team Traveling Viking.


The southern Harz region in Germany is the biggest gypsum rock cover in Middle Europe. The term "Karst" originates in Croatia and is used to describe geological phenomena that are the result of rocks capable of dissolving in water. These are stones and layers of earth rich of limestone, gypsum, calcium, dolomite and rock salt. Over the years the rain water dissolves stones or entire earth layers resulting in earth or sink holes, caves, cliffs and an underground river system.

In the Harz area the Karstwanderweg (Karst Trail) passes by many Karst phenomena. The entire trail is more than 200km (120 miles) long and is very well described on This web page is currently only available in German, an English summary of some of the phenomena was compiled for the description of this Earthcache.


Der südliche Harz hat eine der grössten Gipsablagerungen in Mitteleuropa. Der Begriff "Karst" kommt aus dem Kroatischen und steht für "Vorwiegen der unterirdischen Entwässerung". Es befinden sich dort vorwiegend Gesteinsschichten die wasserlöslich sind wie Kalkstein, Dolomit, Gips und Steinsalz. Über Jahre hinweg löst sich das Gestein in verscheidenen Schichten und es entstehen Hohlräume, Höhlen, Erdfälle und unterirdische Flusssysteme.

Der Karstwanderweg im Harz führt an vielen Karst Phänomenen vorbei. Der gesamte Wanderweg umfasst mehr als 200km und ist sehr gut Beschrieben auf Ein paar Stationen des Wanderweges sind weiter unten in Englisch zusammengefasst.

To log this Earthcache as a find, you need to find and document four different phenomena anywhere on the Karstwanderweg that are typical for a Karst Landscape:
  • Water that disappears into the ground
  • Water that re-emerges from the ground
  • Hollow spaces like caves or earth holes
  • Cliffs of karst rock

To document a find of one of these phenomena, take a picture of it (with you or your GPS in it) and record the position. Upload the pictures to your log with the position and a short description of the location.

Um diesen Earthcache als gefunden eintragen zu dürfen müssen vier verschiedene Karstphänomene am Karstwanderweg gefunden und dokumentiert werden:
  • Wasser das im Boden verschwindet (Schwinde)
  • Wasser das aus dem Boden kommt (Quellen)
  • Hohlräume wie Höhlen oder Erdfälle
  • Felswände aus Karst Gestein

Um einen Fund zu dokumentieren macht ein Bild von dem Phänomen (mit Euch oder Eurem GPS im Bild) und bestimmt die Position. Wenn Ihr ein "log" erstellt, die Bilder bitte mit Positionsangabe und kurzer Beschreibung auf den GC server laden.

Unless otherwise noted all caves, cliffs and holes in the area may not be climbed into/onto. The nature of karst rock is that it constantly dissolves and can break at any time. Some of the caves here record up to 5 tons of debris coming down in cave-ins every year.
Soweit nicht anders beschrieben ist das Betreten von allen Höhlen und Felswänden verboten. Das Karst Gestein verändert sich durch die Lösung in Wasser laufend und kann jederzeit ein- oder abbrechen. Einige Höhlen erzeugen jährlich bis zu 5 Tonnen Abbruchmaterial das herunterfällt.
Caches on the way

The following caches are close to the Karstwanderweg and have a karst phenomena in the vicinity.

Caches entlang des Weges

Folgende Caches liegen alle in der Nähe des Karstwanderweges und nicht weit von einem Karstphänomen.

Multi-cache (2/2.5)
Size: Regular
12 Oct 04 Scharzfels by Luke Short (GCKTME)
Traditional Cache  (3.5/3)
Size: Regular
22 Oct 04 Dunkles Himmelreich by TravelingViking (GCKX18)
Traditional Cache (1/2)
Size: Small
17 Oct 04 Steinkirche by crowd-surfer (GCKVX4)
Traditional Cache (1.5/2)
Size: Regular
3 Oct 04 Mystische Rhumequelle by "A"-Team (GCKQ04)
Unknown Cache (5/4)
Size: Small
22 Oct 04 Harzer Silver Joker Cache by TravelingViking (GCKWZW)
Traditional Cache (3/3)
Size: Regular
8 Oct 04 Jette one by Emil_Strauss (GCKR38)
Traditional Cache (2/3.5)
Size: Micro
17 Nov 04 Hainholz-Micro (höher als Du denkst) by harzradler (GCM39X)
Traditional Cache (3/3)
Size: Regular
10 Oct 04 Matha one by Emil_Strauss (GCKRMK)

Suggested Stations

For those who do not speak enough German to search for suitable locations of the phenomena required, here are a few suggested sites. These are just suggestions, you are encouraged to go out along the Karstwanderweg and find suitable locations on your own.

Water that disappears

As the Karst layers can transport a lot of water, creeks and little rivers on the surface sometimes just disappear in the ground and emerge somewhere else as a spring.

Steinaschwinde at
N 51°35.500', E 10°31.120'

What we have here is the creek Steina disappearing in the ground. Only on high water does some water remain in the riverbed. On low water it disappears completely in the ground. Visit the same creek further up hill and down hill to see the differences in the water level. Pictures and an illustration are on the German web page Steinaschwinde. There is also a map of the area.

From here the water moves underground to Salzaspring near Nordhausen, some 20km from here (13 miles). Once underground, the water moves very slowly. For this underground journey the water needs multiple months.

Itelteich at
N 51°34.785', E 10°38.495'

This little lake overflows at this location and the little creek from the overflow just disappears into a massive wall of Karst rock. In the past it flowed into a little cave, but the entrance was buried by a rock slide. Pictures and an illustration are on the German web page Itelteich. There is also a map of the area.

Creek Steina with water, and a few hundreds yard...

... further down - creek Steina without water.

Water that emerges

As the ground in a Karst area has many hollow spaces and an underground river system, all the water flowing in it must emerge somewhere.

Ruhmequelle at
N 51°35.398', E 10°18.618'

At the Ruhme spring the Karst layer hits a sandstone layer that cannot carry as much water and thus the water is forced to emerge from the grounds again. Pictures and an illustration are on the German web page Ruhmequelle. There is also a map of the area.

The Ruhme is the major spring of the Harz Karst Landscape and produces about 2.5 cubic meter of water PER SECOND. That is considerably more than 200 thousand liters (or 50 thousand gallons) per day.

As the water emerges from far below ground its temperature is widely independent from current weather conditions and remains between 8 and 9 degrees Centigrade all year (46 to 48 Fahrenheit).

Kranichteiche at
N 51°34.610', E 10°34.450'

These little lakes changed their appearance considerably during the last decades due to the mining of gypsum. Surveys have shown that the above the surface creeks feeding the lakes bring less water than is leaving the lake, so there must be additional underground springs or creeks flowing into the lakes. Pictures and illustration are on the German web page Kranichteiche. There is also a map of the area.

A little cave nearby is dry today, but was created when the water was still higher and flushed out dissolvable layers of rock.

At the Ruhme spring

Hollow spaces like caves or earth holes

As Karst rock dissolves in water, hollow spaces are created whenever water flows through Karst layers. This way hollow spaces are created that often cave-in when the reach a certain size, creating an earth hole on the surface. Only if thick layers of harder rock are involved can the hollow spaces remain their structure and form caves.

Himmelreich at
N 51°34.880', E 10°38.850' or N 51°34.820', E 10°38.550'

The cave at Himmelreich was discovered accidentally when in 1868 a railroad tunnel was under construction here. With a length of 170m (510ft) a width of 85m (255ft) and a height of up to 15m (45ft) it was gigantic, especially considering that the width of the hill it is in is only some 260 meters (780ft). Pictures and illustration are on the German web page Himmelreich. There is also a map of the area.

Waldschmiede at
N 51°35.281', E 10°35.398'

The little hollow areas here are created slightly differently. Instead of rock being dissolved, here the surface rock changes from anhydrite to gypsum which enlarges the volume of the rock by up to 60%. Under the pressure the surface begins to rise. Unfortunately these hollow spaces are very unstable due to the continues pressure. The particular "cave" shown here collapsed in 1990. Pictures and illustration are on the German web page Waldschmiede. There is also a map of the area.

Himmelreich: a cave in a tunnel

The remains of the Waldschmiede

Cliffs of Karst rock

These are cliffs that were formed by the erosion of karst rock like  limestone, gypsum, calcium, dolomite or rock salt.

Westersteine at
N 51°36.012', E 10°26.490'

About 240 million years ago this area was covered by an ocean. However, at this particular location it wasn't very deep and there was a reef. As with every reef, the corals forming the reef left behind limestone. Today one can actually still recognize which side of the reef was facing the surf and which was facing a calmer lagoon. On the lagoon side of the reef several mussels and snails were found during geological surveys. Pictures and illustration are on the German web page Westersteine. There is also a map of the area.

Sachsensteinwand at
N 51°35.000', E 10°34.900'

This wall was created by the little river below it constantly washing out the base of the cliff. Pictures and illustration are on the German web page Sachsensteinwand. There is also a map of the area.

The Sachsensteinwand

Additional Hints (No hints available.)