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Massif du Hohneck & Kastelberg

Alsace  >  France

Located in the heart of the Vosges at the height of Colmar, the third highest point, the Hohneck massif (1363 m) has a remarkable alpine character.

Description

Located in the heart of the Vosges at the height of Colmar, the third highest point after the Grand Ballon and the Storckenkopf, the Hohneck massif (1363 m) is typical of the old forests and altitude meadows of the Vosges. This subalpine meadow (or thatch) gives way rather abruptly to steep slopes facing east which testify to the past glacial erosion. North of the summit opens the Frankenthal-Missheimle cirque (classified Nature Reserve) bordered by multiple rocky bars, and to the south by the Wormspel circus with gentler slopes, undisputed refuge of chamois.

It's one of the most richest ornithological site of the region. Nesting species in the meadows are Eurasian Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit and Northern Wheatear. The screes that dot the southern slopes of the cirques and the rock walls are home to Rock Bunting and Alpine Accentor  (all rare). With a little luck, the Peregrine Falcon and Common Raven are also visible. In rocky environments, Wallcreeper and Crag Martin sometimes appear. Eurasian Eagle Owl is also possible in the screes.

The forest areas at the foot of the circus or between the Schlucht pass and the Hohneck summit are home to classic birds: Ring Ouzel,  and Citril Finch on the fringe, Coal Tit, Crested Tit and Willow Tit, Nutcracker (rare), Red Crossbill, Black Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wood Warbler (beetles) ... Thousands of passerines (finches, thrushes, pipits ...) fly over the Vosges passes during their migration.

Late August is the best time to see Dotterel on its stopover. The low vegetation at the Hohneck and Kastelberg summits is indeed favorable to the  post-nuptial migratory stopover of this shorebird.

Because of the great diversity of species present, each season is interesting. A day in my or june is a good choice and an be combined with Tanet-Gazon du Faing.

Access to the sites is theoretically possible all year round, but the heavy winter snow prevents regular use of the paths leading to the ridges, and the dangers of avalanches can be prohibitive.

Details

Access

From Gérardmer or Munster, join the Col de la Schlucht by the D 417. Then follow the Route des Crêtes (D 430). You then have to reach the top of the Hohneck where there is a parking lot (from the hotel). Explore the high stubble by taking one of the many paths that run through it, such as the one that leads to the Schaeferthal pass. To discover the rock birds of the Wormspel circus, take the marked “blue triangle” path which descends to the Schiessrothried lake. You can get around the lake by taking the Fond-du-Cirque trail. You must observe early in the morning, especially between May and September, to avoid the many tourists.

Terrain and Habitat

Forest, Mountain, Grassland

Conditions

Mountainous, Rocky

Circular trail

Yes

Is a telescope useful?

Can be useful

Good birding season

All year round

Best time to visit

Autumn migration, Spring

Route

Unpaved road

Difficulty walking trail

Strenuous

Accessible by

Foot

Birdwatching hide / platform

No

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Map

Top 5 birds

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