Total length – 16 km
Trail time – 2.5 hours
Route difficulty - average
1. Red oak is a very beautiful, but a dangerous alien. Its homeland is North America. The oak appeared in the 20-30s of the last century in the Bialowieza forest, it was planted near the forestry as an ornamental tree. Decades have passed, and the intensive "guest" invasion into the ancestral forests began. Red oak lives much less than common oak, but it is unpretentious, and its seeds are quickly carried by jays and squirrels. Spreading, it displaces the native trees, so it is recognized as the most dangerous alien kind of woody plants.
2. The birch with the "Bison Head". Large growths on trees trunks are called knars. Knars are formed when some non-indigenous organisms are introduced into the living tissue of the trunks or branches. Most often mushrooms are in this role. A knar can be especially large on birches: sometimes their sizes are twice the thickness of a trunk! The fantasy of nature turns knars into fairy-tale works. The knar on this birch, reminiscent of a large bison head, was discovered more than 20 years ago. This is a great place for memorable photos.
3. The oak - "hermit". A swamp once stretched at this place. The oak, which grew on its outskirts, captured the former landscape in itself. The tree is unusual for the forest: its thick-set silhouette is typical for oaks growing on open space. Such bogatyrs are not too high, but tend to quickly "fatten". This tree is "only" 300 years old, and the diameter of its trunk is already 1.5 m! The oak had three main branches, but in the XX century one of them was broken in a hurricane. A large hollow opened in its trunk, which had been eventually settled by a family of timber carpenter ants. These insects are the forest janitors: without touching living tissue, they process the dead one.
4. The swamp "Tatar bagno". "Bagnos" are called swampy, impenetrable marshes in Belarus and Poland. Chronicles indicate that during the great Tatar-Mongol invasions nomads groups reached Belovezhskaya Pushcha. In the thirteenth century there was a Tatar camp surrounded by a bagno - the swamp protected from a sudden attack by the Slavs. A terrible swamp has now dried up, overgrown with bush and alder, but in the spring the "bagno" is still impassable. During the rest of the year, tall hummocks and some marsh plants are reminiscent of it.
5. The tract "Turlyui". Soon after the First World War, several large fires occurred in Pushcha. One of them completely destroyed this tract. In the early 1930s, Polish foresters, who were the owners of the Bialowieza region then, planted a huge black stain of fires with pine seedlings. Poor sandy soils prevented the growing trees from reaching "ship's" heights, and even now the eighty-year-old forest looks like a young thirty-year-old forest even in more favorable conditions.
Nevertheless, "Turlyuy" is a great place for walking and mushrooms picking.
6. Attack of the bark beetle. Great Belovezhskaya Pushcha has a long-standing enemy. We are talking about an insect called a "bark beetle". Bark beetle, as you might guess, devours a sub-bark layer of trees, primarily coniferous species.
A small beetle sometimes inflicts incredible damage to Pushcha. The decrease of groundwater level, which occurred as a rash reclamation result in the 60s of the last century, seriously affected the natural immunity of trees. Bark beetle attacks are therefore more often observed in arid summer seasons, when there is a prolonged heat. Employees of the national park are taking all measures for the timely elimination of bark beetles.
7. The former narrow-gauge railway. In 1915, during the First World War, huge territories west of the Bug were occupied by Germany. The Germans immediately took up the industrial development of Pushcha.
Using the slave labor of captured French and Russian soldiers, the new owners entangled the great forest with a network of narrow-gauge railways with a length of 325 km in just 18 months! Today, asphalt roads are laid on the sites of some narrow-gauge railways.
8. The century-old oak forest. The one of the forest areas, which can be called the "Golden Fund" of Pushcha. Broad-leaved trees mostly grow here, with a predominance of oaks - this is a typical scene of ancient forests of Central Europe. The giants roots, which average age exceeds 200 years, and many - even 400 years - go into a particularly fertile land called scientists "brown forest soil." To the east of Belovezhskaya Pushcha these soils can’t be found anywhere else. In the old oak forests like this, the richest and most valuable natural communities of plants and insects are concentrated.
9. The site with forest cultures. In 2002 a massive drying out of spruces occurred in these places, and the surviving trees were blown down by a hurricane. The national park employees planted new seedlings, whereafter protected the site with a fence and left some in the open. Years later, it will be clear how much the abundance of deer affects forest renewal: outside the fence deer will not leave saplings any chance of survival - sprouts are eaten before they can rise.
10. New forest on the felling site. Pushcha was the timber source from olden times. Though over the centuries, the rulers of the great forest had avoided the so-called clean felling - the most convenient for harvesters, but the most ruthless for nature. However, it happened, black times occurred there too. Solid felling of the times of World War I, as well as of the 1920s of the last century was the largest logging in the whole history of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Only during the German occupation of 1915-1918 there was more timber transported than in the previous 500 years! Then the Poles did clear cuttings. Fortunately, the Polish authorities sought to mitigate the damage from the industrial exploitation of Pushcha. Pine seedlings were planted at the cuttings site. Part of the felling has overgrown by itself – the "derived" forest appeared more natural there.
In large sectors near the former narrow-gauge lines young hornbeam, aspen, birch grow today- the living reminders of old wounds.
11. Oaks-giants. The category of "giants" traditionally consists of trees, which trunk exceeds 1 meter in the cross section. A group of oaks growing here fits the definition fully. Their average age exceeds 250-280 years. The trunks of some are noticeably thicker than the magic numeral of 100 cm. At the same time, these bogatyrs can not be ranked among the rare representatives of their species: there are more than 1000 giant oaks in Belovezhskaya Pushcha!
12. Ashenvale forest. Among the treasures of Bialowieza ashenvale forests occupy a special place. They, like old oak forests, remind of the almost extinct forests of Central Europe, in which broad-leaved tree species dominate. Scientists consider ash a rarity: the fact is a very specific, largely unique combination of environmental conditions are needed for their existence. The soil must be very fertile and, what’s important, of a certain moisture content. If there is little more water - alder grows, little less - the place of ash is occupied by oaks. An extremely rich, specific flora and fauna is preserved in the Bialowieza ashenvale forests.
13. Black alder forest. Black alder can claim the role of the Pushcha secrets’ guardian. In the old days, when the great forest was surrounded by impassable swamps, the alder thickets conquered all the humid lowlands. Since then, alder forests or, as foresters say, olses are the least disturbed plant complexes by man. "Hard" timber for production rarely attracted the procurers’ avid eyes, and impenetrable woods turned out to be the best refuge for animals and birds invariably.
14. The feeding meadow. Since old times, the meadow serves as a "dining room" for the beast, primarily deer, roe and wild boars. The animals are fed with hay and grain. It is difficult for many ungulates to survive harsh winters without the help of jaegers. In the Soviet period, when the "reserved" hunting flourished, similar feeding meadows were created in different parts of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Now they are much smaller, the number of wild inhabitants is regulated naturally.
15. Marks of the hurricane. Elemental forces leave incredible marks in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. The chronicles tell of terrible fires and violent storms. When fires happen infrequently now, then wind, snow and rain, as before, challenge Pushcha for strength. In late February 2002, a powerful hurricane swept through the forest. When as if compressed airwave smashed the trees, Pushcha moaned and cracked. The squall completely destroyed the forest in a 6 km long strip and a width of 100 to 700 meters. Old trees fell or broke like matches at the height of a third of the trunk. All lasted no more than 10 minutes. Now a huge barren on the former forest site is gradually overgrown with young trees.
16. The border checkpoint. The state border divides Pushcha into the Belorussian and Polish parts. On the national park territory there are several border outposts. One of them is named after G.I. Kofanov - one of the first border guards, awarded with the Order of the Red Star and heroically died in Belarus in 1939.
17. The road "Brest-Belovezh". Old cobblestones lay under the smooth asphalt of this road, where horses, drawing stagecoaches and noble carriages, stroke out sparks with their horseshoes. The most important road for its time, connecting Brest with the capital of Pushcha - the village of Belovezh, was built in the first half of the XIX century. Now the ancient tract is part of the Pushcha internal roads.
18. Animal enclosures. Enclosures with wild animals are one of the main sights of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. It is interesting that the first "menagerie" was created in the great forest in 1841. Then the first tourists appeared here. Now the area, enclosed with a mesh fence, is 20 hectares. Conditions, which are as close as possible to natural ones, are created for the enclosures’ inhabitants.