Dortmund and its woods: Habitat for deer and owls and for people too

So, you reckon Dortmund has very few woods, do you? Cos it’s in the Ruhr Region … Well, in fact, Dortmund has lots of woods, it’s just that most of them go by different names.

Dortmund’s woods are called Süggel, Bittermark, Reichsmark, Niederhofer Holz, Kurler Busch and the like. And of course there’s also the Schwerter Wald and Rahmer Wald. But no matter whether they’re referred to as Wald, Holz or Busch: If you like woodland walks, there are plenty of options if you feel like some peace and quiet among the trees.

The Niederhofer Holz: Dortmund’s only old-growth forest

Probably the oldest forest which has not been disturbed much over the years is the Niederhofer Holz, located between Dortmund-Wellinghofen and Höchsten. The most easterly part of this small forest is mostly left to its own devices, the reason for this is mundane and slightly creepy: during World War II, there was an ammunition depot at the Niederhofer Holz. When it was blown up, bits of shrapnel ended up in the trees. You can still see some of the bunker constructions to this day.

Reichsmark and Bittermark: the green lungs of Dortmund’s South

A river in the forest Bittermark in Dortmund.
© DORTMUNDtourismus Forest Bittermark in Dortmund.

Dortmunds largest woodland area consists of the Bittermark and Reichsmark forests. There are lots of paths through the Bittermark, with a cenotaph in a large clearing in remembrance of a massacre committed by the Nazis on Good Friday 1945.

People walking their dogs, joggers, mountain-bikers and hikers visit the rolling Bittermark woodlands all year round. The fact that the A 45 autobahn cuts through the forest is no problem for walkers or cyclists, because the “Sauerlandlinie”, as it is called, runs over a number of bridges, so you can simply cross underneath it.

Further south, the Bittermark merges with the Reichsmark forest, which stretches right up to the steep cliffs overlooking the River Ruhr in the Syburg district.

Süggel, Rahmer Wald, Kurler Busch – woods in every direction

Should your accommodation be located in the north-western or north-eastern parts of the city, there are also plenty of options to enjoy woodland walks. The area also boasts woods, even if they are not quite as deep as their southern counterparts, they are still ideal for leisurely walks or bike tours.

Watch out, deer crossing! Deer are not uncommon

Although Dortmund’s woods are much frequented by people, they are also home to lots of deer. They usually hide among the dense greenery, but it’s not unheard of for joggers to come across a herd of them or to come face to face with an individual doe standing in the middle of a path, before disappearing into the undergrowth – just to be on the safe side.

There’s no reason to worry about wild boars here, though. While some other big cities have aggressive wild boar populations, Dortmund is spared this thanks to the ring of motorways, the River Ruhr and the Dortmund-Ems Canal surrounding the city.

Did you know?

After the War, the Allied Forces blew up the ammunition they found in the bunkers at the Niederhofer Holz. As a result, the surrounding trees are riddled with thousands of bits of shrapnel. If you look carefully at the trees surrounding the bunkers, you can still see the scars in the bark. A piece of shrapnel in a tree could cause serious damage to a sawmill, so the Niederhofer Holz has been allowed to grow more or less as it pleases.