Experience of nature

The Zittau Mountains Nature Preserve is similar to a park. The image of the landscape is characterised by an extraordinary variety, individuality and beauty. Huge unused areas make the impressive views, which characterize the special recreational value and the natural pleasure of the scenery, possible. The rich structure of the landscape, with an immense variety of habitats, offers ideal living conditions and hidden retreats for many plant and animal species.

The eagle owl (Bubo bubo)

is the largest type of owl worldwide. The female bird has a wingspan of up to 180 cm.
The eagle owl at approach
The eagle owl finds ideal nesting and hiding places predominantly in the weathered sandstone formations with their distinctive longitudinal strips. Due to this and to the good availability of food in the foothills, there has been a small but stable population of eagle owls in the Zittau Mountains for many years.

The eagle owl at approachAt dusk and dawn you may hear the calls of this impressive predator in the valley of the so called "Devil's Mill" (‘Teufelsmühle') in Niederoybin and the "Felsenstadt" rock formation in Jonsdorf. If you are lucky, you will catch a glance of the shy bird flying between the rock massifs. In order not to disturb the eagle owls while laying eggs or rearing the offspring, certain climbing destinations are closed at these times of year.

Flyer eagle owl (PDF 0,56 MB)


Beech forest on the Lausche slope

The Alpine Shrew (Sorex alpinus)

belongs to the rarest of mammals in Saxony. This small mammal, which normally appears only in high alpine regions, has been observed repeatedly in the old beech forests surrounding the Lausche Mountain, which is at 793 m above sea level the highest mountain in the Zittau Mountain range.




The flora of the nature park is as diverse as the landscape of Germany's smallest low mountain range itself. Attentive hikers may discover floristic particularities on almost every walk.



Colourfully-flowering mountain pastures, indicator of very low-nutrient soil, are to be found especially on the mountain slopes. Here you may even find Arnica montana, which is normally rare in Saxony. The plant is also known as leopard's bane, wolf's bane or in Germany - "Bergwohlverleih".

At the food of mountain Lausche lays the "Lauschemoor". Here you can not only find great carpets of common lousewort (Pedicularis sylvatica), but also year-round the round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia), as well as many different kinds of protected orchids and peat mosses.



Strange sandstone rocks

or more craggy massifs, broken by volcanic phonolite, create romantic valleys and eerie but beautiful gorges, which invite you to extended exploration.


Rock formations,

oft hidden in the forest and looking like mythical creatures (an uncle and an aunt, or a St. Bernard dog,...) are worth seeing, as is the large "rock alley" (‘Felsengasse') in Oybin - a piece of nature's artwork.
Leaflet - Geological natural monuments (PDF 1.40 MB)

Educational Trails

Thirteen educational nature trails, some crossing over to the neighbouring Lusatian Mountains on the Czech side, convey a vibrant nature experience as well as informing about the 1,000-year-old cultural landscape. For the first time ever, a new leaflet summarises the various nature and cultural trails in the Zittau Mountains Nature Preserve; this leaflet, which will be available as of autumn 2010, provides the natural preserve with valuable information material for environmental education and marketing, as well as an accompanying leaflet for guided tours and excursions.

  •  Nature trail "Habitats in the nature preserve"
  •  Nature trail "Lausche - moor" (CZ) at Waltersdorf
  • Waltersdorf "Monument trail Waltersdorf"
  • Nature trail "Lusatian Mountains (CZ) - Zittau Moutains (Ger)"
  • Nature trail "Millstone quarries of Jonsdorf"
  • Nature trail "Alte Leipaer Straße Olbersdorf"
  • Nature trail "Johannisstein Hill" (CZ - Ger) Educational strip mining trail "Lake Olbersdorf" Educational strip mining trail "Olbersdorf - Hartau"
  • Nature trail "Schülerbusch Mittelherwigsdorf" Nature and cultural trail "Bertsdorf-Hörnitz"
  • Educational "orchard" trail in Großschönau
  • Nature trail for children in Lückendorf - "The maple dwarf visits the little highwood man"

Guided tours

As part of its public work, the Zittau Mountains Nature Preserve offers guided tours on natural history in collaboration with the nature and tourist information centre Großschönau.
The starting point is the "Naturparkhaus Niederkretscham" in the recreational resort Waltersdorf.



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