Barfußparks (lit. "bare-foot parks") grew out of the barefooting movement in Germany, as a method of introducing a largely shod world to barefoot living. Barfußparks have since spread to neighbouring Austria, and at least one has been set up in England.

The intent of a barfußpark is to give individuals -- most of whom do the majority of their walking wearing some form of footwear -- the opportunity to feel the sensations their feet have been missing. They generally take the form of hiking trails of some length (the longest is approximately two miles), through various sorts of improved and unimproved terrain over which guests would not normally walk barefooted. Specially-constructed trail segments are often included, ranging from stepping stones to rope walks and log bridges, though the length of most trails is composed largely of cleared -- but otherwise unimproved -- path.

Foot Sensation Trails

Much more common, due to the ease of setup, are short "foot sensation trails" installed temporarily for community events. These trails are usually a hundred or fewer metres in length, and consist of patches of various materials arranged to provide a continually-changing experience. Barefoot-living groups provide these trails for everything from neighbourhood parties and schoolyard festivals to citywide music and arts happenings.

Notable Barfußparks

  • Bad Sobernheim: This trail caters to everyone from the adventurous (who can cross the river Nahe on a rope bridge) to children (a ferry is provided). A foot-friendly playground -- including a basin of the rich loam for those children who just must get themselves muddy -- is available as well.
  • Bad Wünnenberg: A shorter trail (under a mile) than the park at Dornstetten, it makes up for what it lacks in length by sheer variety. Along the trail one finds patches of materials unique to the area -- everything from woodland findings to pebble walks -- installed to give a wide range of sensations. Highlights of the Bad Wünnenberg trail are the mud pool (yay!) and the numerous creek crossings.
  • Dornstetten: Situated in the German Black Forest region, a popular tourist destination, it's one of the earliest barfußparks established. Its trail terminates at a barefoot water playground. This park is sponsored by a local vascular medicine clinic, so situated along the trail, one finds signs suggesting activities promoting vascular health.
  • Lienen: Designed and installed as a community project by the village of Lienen, this barfußpark is still manned and maintained entirely by volunteers from the community. The mile-and-a-half long trail is about evenly divided between constructed "sensory experiences" -- such as cobblestone paths, bark beds, and footbridges -- and the purity of natural forest. And, like many others, Lienen's park has a children's playground for those too young to hike the entire trail.
  • Soell in Tyrol: "Witches' Water" is a historically-oriented theme park which contains a one-mile barefoot trail. It ranges from wet meadow to a two hundred metre "water trail" bedded with large granite stones and foot-massaging gravel.
  • Trentham: The first barfußpark founded in the UK, the Trentham Italian Garden's "Barefoot Walking Experience" is set in the picturesque surroundings of one of the most impressive modern display gardens open to the public.

Further Reading

  • http://www.barfusspark.info/en/
  • http://www.in-lienen.de/barfusspark/index.php?lang=EN
  • http://www.barefooters.org/
  • http://www.barfusspark.de/
  • http://www.trenthamleisure.co.uk/Italiangarden.html

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