Bavarian Forest
National Park

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Martinsklause (Photo: Maria Hußlein)

The state border between Germany and the Czech Republic runs along much of the ridge of the inner Bavarian Forest. It is to a great extent identical with the watershed between the Danube and Elbe and therewith also between the catchment areas of the Black Sea and the North Sea. Most of the streams that have their origins in the national park flow into two tributaries of the Danube, the Ilz and the Regen. Only the streams with their sources on some of the eastern slopes between Rachel and Lackaberg flow towards the Czech Republic into the catchment area of the Elbe. Conversely some of the streams with their origins in the high areas of the Šumava flow towards Bavaria and therewith into the Danube, for example the Große and the Kleine Regen.

Flowing water

The watercourses of the Bavarian Forest National Park are typically mountain streams, which from their sources on the gentle inclines up in the high areas, enter the steep sloped areas and thanks to the steep gradients reach high speeds and attain great powers of transportation. Through the effect of these forces the water forms impressive gorges in many places, lined by great boulders (for example the Sagwasser, Kleine Ohe, Großer Höllbach). With their entry into the flatter valleys the character of the wild streams changes, becoming wider and slower flowing bodies of water.

Many of these streams were heavily channelled and excavated in previous centuries for the purpose of timber transportation and as a result have lost much of their original character.

According to water ecology criteria, the streams of the Bavarian Forest National Park belong in the category of the “trout region". The nutrient poor, fast flowing waters have high oxygen saturation levels and a water temperature throughout the whole year of less than 10° Celsius.

As a result of the natural conditions in the area (shade, steep gradients, and high speed of water flow) there are in or on the water practically no flowering plants. The vegetation is conditioned by flooded water moss.

A large part of these running waters are habitats for endemic animal species such as the white-throated dipper or grey wagtail, and is partly also the habitat of the otter. The characteristic species in the water is the brown trout, which is joined by just one other fish species, the bullhead.

Still water

The only natural lake of the national park is the Rachelsee, which has a size of 5.7 hectares. It is a cirque morainal lake carved out by a glacier, and lies at an altitude of 1,071 metres at the foot of a 300 metre high rock face, known as the Seewand.

The water of the Rachelsee is categorised as “permanently strongly acidic" and thus existence threatening for fish (the pH-values vary between 4.0 and 5.0). Floating mats and sedge are the typical vegetation on the banks.

Also to be counted as natural areas of still water in the national park are some of the larger bog lakes (pools filled with boggy water in the raised bogs), of which the largest is the so-called “Latschensee in the “Latschenfilz" just east of Buchenau.

In addition, there are a number of artificially constructed reservoirs, which at one time served to increase water quantities for timber transportation. These “Klausen" or “Schwellen" are restricted downstream by an artificial dam or an earth dam. The largest and most impressive among them are maintained as valuable cultural historical monuments (the Reschbachklause and the Martinsklause, for example).

The largest reservoir in the region, the Trinkwassertalsperre (literally drinking water reservoir) at Frauenau, which has a water surface of 94 hectares may lie outside the national park, but its northern and eastern banks border directly on to the national park. Almost all of the catchment area lies in the area of the national park.