Observing animals on a night hike

14. June 2016 - Alexander Schmidt

Night Hike – 12 Exciting Challenges for a Nocturnal Adventure


Action & Trips


At night everything seems different and much more mysterious! That’s why a night hike is always a special experience for me. Now in summer is the ideal opportunity for a night hike: the summer nights are balmy and it’s light for a long time, so you can discover more. With the following 12 ideas, your next night hike is guaranteed not to be boring.

What Is Special About a Night Hike?

Logically, that it takes place at night! But what does that mean and why do you go hiking at night at all instead of enjoying your well-deserved sleep?

At night there is a completely different atmosphere than during the day. Everything seems much more secretive. And this is true for any place, whether you are exploring the forest, a small town or a big city. The world is literally bathed in a different light at night.

But away from civilisation and street lights, summer nights can be pitch black. On a night hike in complete darkness, you experience the familiar surroundings in a whole new way: although you can no longer rely on your eyes at night, all your other senses are sharpened. Suddenly the air smells and tastes intensely of moss, sweet blossoms or damp earth.

Whether you are interested in nocturnal animal life, are into goosebumps and creepy atmosphere, or are simply adventurous and nocturnal – a night hike is always an adventure and a perfect change from everyday life. Nighttime excursions in nature are especially beautiful. At night, they offer an incredible soundscape.

Night Hike for Animal Lovers

Night hike with nocturnal animals as a highlight

Nocturnal animals in the forest

At night, especially in the forest, you can hear and, with luck, observe many animals that you never see during the day. Owls, eagle owls, bats and nightingales populate the night sky. Foxes, badgers and lynxes make their way between the tree trunks. Hedgehogs, martens and mice patter through the creaking undergrowth and moths, beetles and fireflies buzz through the ferns.

So, if you are quiet, careful and patient, you can discover a variety of different animals on a night walk in the forest. It is best to equip yourself with torches and use them to explore the thicket of the forest. Be careful, however, that you don’t startle the forest dwellers you want to observe.

Some nocturnal forest animals can see at night almost as well as during the day, for example the lynx with its proverbial good eyes. Unfortunately, this European predatory cat species is threatened with extinction in Germany and is very rare. So if you catch sight of a lynx on a night hike in the forest, you are very lucky. In the northern Black Forest and other forest areas in Germany, lynx were released again a few years ago and hopefully their population is recovering.

Fluttering Night Owls of the Forest

Bats, on the other hand, are basically just as blind in the dark as humans. They have developed a different orientation system that helps them find their way in the dark: ultrasonic sounds. These sounds are deafeningly loud and fortunately we humans cannot hear them because they are above the sound threshold that we can perceive.
Particularly the nocturnal birds of prey, such as the tawny owl or the barn owl, have perfected the ability to glide through the night almost silently – not even a rustling of the wings can be heard. This is due to the special design of their feathers with a kind of teeth with which they avoid air turbulence.

This makes them silent hunters of the night. The fact that it can fly silently is of great benefit to the owl: it often hunts in pitch darkness. Even though the owls’ eyes see extremely well at night, they cannot fully rely on them at night.

This is why the owl must use its hearing and for this it is necessary that it does not make the slightest noise when flying. Otherwise it will miss the movements of its prey and the owl runs the risk of being noticed by them.

You should also use your hearing, because you can only eavesdrop on most forest animals at night. But that can be particularly exciting: the call of an owl, the chirping of crickets, the crackling of branches in the wind and the rustling of leaves form a unique soundscape.

Night Hike – 4 Challenges for Animal and Nature Lovers

  1. Who discovers the most animals?
  2. Who takes the best animal photos at night?
  3. Who can recognise the most night birds by their call?
  4. Who finds the most interesting things on the forest floor? (for example animal tracks, pine cones, acorns, moss, mushrooms, etc.).

Night Hike for Creepy Fans

The sounds you hear in the dark and the creeping shadows fire your imagination, so it’s no wonder that many people also associate a night hike in the forest with goosebumps and scary stories. Perhaps, like me, you experienced your first night hike as a child at a school camp. It was a matter of course that the supervisors read out a scary story.

Even as a child, I enjoyed that pleasant shiver you feel when you read or hear something scary. Even today, I am a big fan of the horror genre. If you, like me, love pleasant scares and the dark poetry of the night, you should definitely sweeten your night walk with a few scary stories. Of course, you can pick out a few stories beforehand to give the others the shivers. Or you can stop off somewhere and read stories to each other by torchlight from a book you’ve brought along. Maybe you have experienced something really scary yourself that you can tell?.

Night Hike – 4 Challenges for Scary Fans

  1. Who manages to scare the others the most?
  2. Who tells the best ghost story or reads it out best?
  3. Who knows the scariest story that is supposedly absolutely true?
  4. Tell each other the scariest thing you’ve ever experienced! Whose account makes your hair stand on end the most?

Night Hike for Stargazers

Night hike for stargazers and amateur astronomers

Powerful starry skies on a night hike through the forest

On a clear day, you can gaze up at a magnificent starry sky above you in the forest at night. For city dwellers in particular, this is a rare and unusual sight: because of the many lights in the city, you can only see a few stars in the sky at most, just the brightest of all.

Outdoors in nature, on the other hand, you can marvel at the firmament in all its glory. No wonder the night sky has fascinated people since time immemorial and stimulated their imagination.

In ancient Greece, the first astronomers began to study the arrangement and movements of the stars and planets. They recognised figures from their myths and legends in the patterns of the stars and named the asterisms after them – the origin of the constellations still known today.

Many people know about the Big Dipper, but who has really discovered it in the sky themselves?And there are many more figures to discover in the night sky. If you are not already a professional in the field of astronomy, I can only recommend that you take a star map of the northern hemisphere with you on your night hike. Nowadays, of course, there is already a suitable App.

Some nights in summer, a particularly large number of shooting stars can be seen. This is an unforgettable spectacle and the ideal celestial spectacle for a romantic night walk for two. Shooting stars are often mistakenly called meteor showers by laypeople. Astronomers, on the other hand, speak of meteor streams or shooting star swarms.

If you are a particularly interested stargazer, bring your binoculars or a professional telescope to the astronomical night walk. With them, you can also see fainter stars and planets and study the craters on the moon’s surface. This is also a great pleasure for imaginative science fiction fans like me!

Night Hike – Challenges for Amateur Astronomers

  1. Who can name the most constellations?
  2. Who sees the most shooting stars? (on a shooting star night)
  3. Who discovers the strangest pattern on the surface of the moon? (with telescope)
  4. And my favourite challenge: Who discovers extraterrestrial life? 😉

Checklist* for a Night Walk in the Forest

  • 1 torch per person
  • Midnight snack, because hiking at night also makes you hungry 😉
  • Book with good scary stories (e.g. Stephen King’s Night Shift)
  • Good camera for night shots
  • Smartphone for weather app, star app, emergencies
  • Walking map
  • Star map

For a warm night:

  • Cooler bag with soft drinks or beer
  • Mosquito spray

For a cold night:

  • Thermos flask(s) of tea (or mulled wine)
  • Pack an extra jacket to put on

On Abenteuer Freundschaft you will find many more tips for excursions and ideas for activities with friends. You can also browse our ideas portal for general leisure ideas for activities with friends, the family and with your partner.

If you always want to be informed about the latest tips and ideas from Abenteuer Freundschaft, just follow us on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter! 😉

*This article contains so-called affiliate links: If you order products via these links, we receive a small commission and you support us without changing the price of the products.


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