In Alsace, a walk on the canopy

Look at the forest from above, examine every detail of the canopy, follow, through binoculars, a squirrel which jumps from trunk to branch, then take itself for a bird… A dream. Which becomes reality, in Drachenbronn-Birlenbach (Bas-Rhin), in the north of the Vosges mountains. The “chemin des cimes”, a wooden structure that rises 23 meters above the ground, offers a unique scene, where beech, birch, chestnut, spruce or larch mingle. A striking contrast between the orange and scarlet color of the leafy trees and the pine green.

The “chemin des cimes” consists of a wooden ramp which first winds through the middle of the forest, a few meters above the ground. Then the path rises gradually, rolls up on itself and forms a circular tower from which one ends up dominating the landscape. The ramp, whose slope does not exceed 6%, is wide enough to accommodate the whole family, children who run in front of them and their grandparents who walk at their own pace, but also people with reduced mobility or handling a stroller.

Along the route, 1,050 meters in total, playful facilities have been placed, monkey bridges, passages on grids, balancing beams, which amuse young and old. Interpretive panels present the plants and animals that can be spotted. Better, however, to come early in the morning or late at night, and remain silent, to hope to see deer, wild boar, why not martens.

From the top of the tower, you can see not only the canopy, but also, in the distance, the ruins of some castle on the ridges and, below, between two forests, quiet villages whose red roofs shine in the sun. To the east, beyond the Rhine, the Black Forest forms a very recognizable barrier. And towards the south, in great beauty, we can see Strasbourg Cathedral. The view is unusual, even for those familiar with Alsatian landscapes. The northern Vosges massif, protected by a regional nature park since 1975, forms a landscape continuity with the palatine forest in Germany. The two together were set up as a transboundary biosphere reserve by Unesco in 1998. Besides the dense forest, the region is characterized by pink sandstone rocks, streams, ponds and marshes.

The wooden ramp first winds through the middle of the forest, a few meters above the ground, then gradually rises, twisting around itself to form a circular tower.

After having filled their eyes with the 360-degree panorama, the more adventurous lie down in a metal tube located in the center of the structure. In this toboggan, the descent, barely 4 seconds, is exhilarating like a toboggan ride!

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