Wahner Heide im Winter, © Marc Eickelmann

The Wahn Heath

Re­cre­ation oas­is and refuge for nature

For Co­logne res­id­ents, the Wahn Heath is a green re­cre­ation oas­is right on their door­step, while for 700 en­dangered plant and an­im­al spe­cies, it is one of their last avail­able refuges.

For Cologne residents, the Wahn Heath is a green recreation oasis right on their doorstep, while for 700 endangered plant and animal species, it is one of their last available refuges. This heath landscape is not only the second-largest nature reserve in North Rhine-Westphalia, but also the most biodiverse. Part of the natural habitat of the “Bergisch heath terrace” and covering the territory of Cologne, Bergisches Land and the Rhein-Sieg district, this landscape takes in everything from marshes, ponds and dunes to wetland meadows, dry grasslands, streams and riverside forests. Rare plants like the pink Dactylorhiza sphagnicola, a delicate type of orchid, or the likewise endangered natterjack toad can be discovered along the well-developed network of paths.

The Wahn Heath owes its present day appearance to the variety of activities carried out here in the past. As the land was of no use for agriculture, the farmers from neighbouring villages let their sturdy livestock graze there. Later, the goats, cattle and sheep were driven out when the area began to be used for military manoeuvres. By the end of the 20th century, only one sheep farmer was grazing his animals on the heath.

Animals help to manage the landscape

This had a damaging impact on the heath landscape. As there were very few animals left to graze on young shoots, more and more bushes and trees were able to establish themselves until they displaced the native plants. But in 1993, it was decided that the heath should be preserved and maintained as a traditional landscape. In the northern reaches in particular, goats, sheep, donkeys and cattle, including the Glan, an old Rhenish cattle breed, are again helping to manage the heath. Visitors will even be able to spot a few more exotic-looking animals in the landscape: in 2010, Asian water-buffaloes were introduced to reinforce efforts to preserve the Wahn Heath.

Visitors who wish to explore the area can find information at the converted Turmhof building in Rösrath. The Turmhof centre offers excursions and hikes and has exhibitions on the Wahn Heath. There are three additional information points at Gut Leidenhausen (Cologne-Porz), Burg Wissem (Troisdorf) and the Steinhaus building (Bergisch Gladbach). These also provide good starting points for exploration of the Wahn Heath.

Map of NRW

Images and videos

Be inspired: images of your NRW

Die Scheuerbachsenke in der Wahner Heide zeichnet sich durch ihre Dünenlandschaft aus, © Bündnis Heideterrasse e.V._
Die alten rheinischen Glenrinder helfen die Heidelandschaft zu erhalten, © Bündnis Heideterrasse e.V.
Weg durch die Wahner Heide, © Marc Eickelmann
Winterstimmung auf der Wahner Heide, © Marc Eickelmann
Wahner Heide im Winter, © Marc Eickelmann
Wahner Heide Blick vom Telegraphenberg, © Heidezentrum Turmhof e.V
Wahner Heide Turmhof, © Heidezentrum Turmhof e.V
Wahner Heide Fliegenbergheide, © Bündnis Heideterrasse e.V.

More information

Discover it now!

Learn­ing from nature

Damwild Kolbenhirsche im Wildwald Vosswinkel, © Karl-Heinz Volkmar

Wild­wald Voss­winkel

Read more
The whole Panarbora treetop trail from a bird's eye view, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Panar­bora nature dis­cov­ery park

Read more
Das Stahlwerk in Duisburg präsentiert sich heute in grünem und buntem Gewand, © Thomas Berns

North Duis­burg Land­scape Park

Read more
Infotafel am Geostopp Deilbachtal, © GeoPark Ruhrgebiet

Geo­Park Ruhrge­biet

Read more
Die Scheuerbachsenke in der Wahner Heide zeichnet sich durch ihre Dünenlandschaft aus, © Bündnis Heideterrasse e.V._

The Wahn Heath

Read more
Der Rursee im Nationalpark Eifel, © Nationalpark Eifel - Nationalparkverwaltung

Guided forest walks & ranger tours in Eifel Na­tion­al Park

Read more
Wisent World Bad Berleburg , © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Wis­ent-Wild­ness Wit­tgen­stein

Read more
Sauerland Medebach Bay , © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Medebach Bay in Sauer­land

Read more
Gymnicher Mühle, © Rhein-Erft-Kreis

Gym­nich Mill

Read more
Ausblick auf die Aggertalsperre, © Klaus Stange

The reser­voirs of Ber­gisches Land

Read more
Möhnesee Panorama , © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Möh­ne­see: The “West­phali­an Sea” in Sauer­land

Read more
Ausblick auf den Wupperlauf, © Gunnar Bäldle

The Wup­per

Read more
Wasserentnahmestelle an der Siegquelle, © TVSW Fotograf Siemon

Land of springs in Sieger­land-Wit­tgen­stein

Read more
Seit 2013 bringt die Lippefähre Radfahrer und Wanderer auf die andere Uferseite, © Lippefähre Dorsten

The Lippe flood­plain nature ex­per­i­ence

Read more
Ruhr area Duisburg landscape park windmill, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

In­dus­tri­al Forests of the Ruhr

Read more
Aussicht auf die Rieselfelder, © Münsterland e.V.

The Rie­s­elfeld­er Mün­ster bird sanc­tu­ary

Read more
Erfrischender Wasserlauf im Naturpark Schwalm-Nette, © Naturpark Schwalm-Nette

Schwalm-Nette Nature Park

Read more
Ausblick in die Natur, © Sprave Regionalverband Ruhr

Bis­lich­er In­sel wet­lands near Xanten on the Lower Rhine

Read more
Der Rursee im Nationalpark Eifel, © Nationalpark Eifel - Nationalparkverwaltung

Eifel Na­tion­al Park

Read more
Die Wandergruppe unterwegs in der Natur, mit einen Ranger, © Sauerland-Tourismus e.V. /  Foto Tanja Evers

Ranger tours through the forests of south­ern West­phalia

Read more