Fall is just around the corner and with it comes one of the most memorable seasons for hiking. Meadows and fields glow in the rich yellows of goldenrod, trees are full of ripe plums, pears and apples, and, perhaps what’s most exciting, after those first long-awaited rainy days, among leaves and moss, on sunny clearings, roadsides and forest floors, we can finally say: mushroom season has begun. There is hardly anything in which Yulia and I can lose ourselves so obsessively and passionately as mushroom foraging each fall. We even bought a small gas stove and pans two years ago – and with butter, thyme, salt and pepper in your pocket, you can make the best mushroom pan dish right there in the forest. Folks, how much more perfect could life be? Southwest of Berlin lies the town of Beelitz, which is where our early summer asparagus comes from. Historically, this place is also significant, as it used to be one of the largest health resorts in Germany, the Beelitzer Heilstätten. The asylum buildings, of which there are around 60, cover an area of 200 hectares and have fallen into varying degrees of disrepair over the years. Via the treetop path, you can see the Alpenhaus and the clinic, among others, where a small forest has already spread over the roofs. The windows are smashed, and graffiti can be found on the walls.

Start from Zoologischer Garten on the RE7 regional train directly to the Beelitzer Heilstätten station. From there it’s only a few minutes to reach the first section of the forest. Admittedly, it’s a rather young monoculture forest, mainly consisting of pine trees and a few birch trees. Nevertheless, it’s wonderful to hike there and indeed, as promised, to find mushrooms. After about three kilometers you’ll arrive at the village of Beelitz. Even more beautiful, though, is the open stretch along the Nieplitz River, surrounded by wild meadows and ferns. If you want, you should harvest a generous handful of watercress from the river. Due to its nutrient content, watercress is said to be one of the healthiest foods in the world, and it’s great in a pesto with mushrooms. Eventually as you make your way through the forest, you’ll approach the end of the hike and the highlight of our tour. The interior of the sanatorium, with its impressive meter-long corridor and beautiful dining room, can still be used for events before the building goes into hibernation for renovations. In early October (01 & 02.10.2022) we’ll again, alongside Fortuna Forest, invite artists to fill this place with experimental music, food and film. There will also be a tour to explore the buildings and their history. More info and tickets coming soon. For those who want to go sooner or simply combine the first weekend of October with a hike and mushroom hunting, you can check out our Komoot tour here.

Text & Photos: Laura Iriondo

Walk by Beelitz-Heilstätten – you can find the tour on Komoot here.

Fortuna Forest is hosting a multi-sensory experience at Beelitzer Heilstätten on 01. & 02.10.2022. Follow them on Instagram for further announcements.