East Hesse Highlands
The East Hesse Highlands (German: Osthessisches Bergland) describes a heavily wooded range of hills lying mainly in the German state of Hesse, but also extending a little way into Lower Saxony to the north, Thuringia to the east and Bavaria to the southeast. The region is sandwiched between the West Hesse Depression to the west, the Weser Uplands to the north, the Thuringian Basin to the northeast, the northwestern edge of the Thuringian Forest to the east, the Spessart to the south and the Wetterau to the southwest.
The East Hesse Highlands forms a natural region (no. 35 or D47) and is both part of the European Central Uplands as well as the Rhine-Weser watershed. It includes the Vogelsberg-Meißner Axis, also known as the Hessian Central Uplands, the East Hesse Depression and the Rhön.
The West and East Hesse Highlands together form the Hesse Highlands and correspond to the geological unit of the Hesse Depression in its wider sense, because geologically recent layers of Zechstein and Bunter sandstone, and in places even younger Muschelkalk rocks, from the lower Jurassic and Tertiary periods have been preserved here.
The Hesse Environmental Atlas distinguishes the following major geographical units (three-figure numbers):
- 35 East Hesse Highlands
- 350 Lower Vogelsberg
- 350.1 Northern Lower Vogelsberg
- 350.2 Northwestern Lower Vogelsberg
- 350.3 Eastern Lower Vogelsberg
- 350.4 Western Lower Vogelsberg
- 350.5 Southern Lower Vogelsberg
- 350.6 Giesel Forest
- 351 High Vogelsberg (including Oberwald)
- 351.0 Western High Vogelsberg
- 351.1 Eastern High Vogelsberg
- 351.2 Oberwald
- 352 Fulda Depression
- 352.0 Fliede Valley
- 352.1 Fulda Basin
- 352.2 Großenlüder-Lauterbach Trough
- 353 Vorderrhön and Kuppenrhön (including Landrücken)
- 354 Hohe Rhön
- 354.0 Southern Hohe Rhön
- 354.1 Hochrhön
- 355 Fulda-Haune Plateau
- 356 Knüll Upland
- 356.0 Western Knüll Foreland
- 356.1 Eastern Knüll Foreland
- 356.2 Hochknüll
- 356.3 Homberg Upland
- 357 Fulda-Werra Uplands
- 357.0 Neuenstein-Ludwigseck Ridge
- 357.1 Bebra-Melsungen Fulda Valley
- 357.2 Solztrottenwald and Seulingswald
- 357.3 Sontra Hills
- 357.4 Stölzinger Upland (Stölzinger Hills)
- 357.5 Witzenhausen-Altmorschen Valley
- 357.6 Melsungen Upland (including Günsterode Heights)
- 357.7 Kaufungen Forest (including Söhre)
- 357.8 Meissen Region (including High Meissner)
- 357.9 Sontra Upland (including Schlierbachswald)
- 358 Lower Werra Uplands
- 358.0 Lower Werra Saddle
- 358.1 Treffurt-Wanfried Werra Valley
- 358.2 Eschwege Basin
- 358.3 Sooden-Allendorf Werra Valley
- 358.4 Witzenhausen-Hedemünden Werra Valley
- 358.5 Rosoppe-Frieda Bay
- 358.6 Höheberg
- 358.8 Neuseesen-Werleshausen Heights
- 358.9 Sandwald
- 359 Salzungen Werra Highlands
- 359.0 Stadtlangsfeld Hills
- 359.1 Salzungen-Herleshausen Werra Valley
- 359.2 Frauensee Hills
- 350 Lower Vogelsberg
The East Hesse Highlands is bounded immediately to the east by the West Hesse Highlands and Lowlands. Almost all of the region is formed by Bunter sandstone and this defines both its relief and the surface of the land apart from occasional layers of overlying volcanic basalt.
All the prominent ridges are, at least partly, characterised by volcanic features. Between the Hoher Meissner (754 m) and Kaufungen Forest (up to 643 m high) in the north, the Knüll (636 m) in the centre, the Vogelsberg (773 m) in the southwest and the Rhön (950 m) in the southeast, there are numerous individual singularities which catalogue the volcanic activity between the two Central Uplands regions.
Location of geographical units
The northern part of this natural region includes the Fulda-Werra Uplands, with the Hoher Meissner and Kaufungen Forest, which descends to the Lower Werra Land in the northeast and into the Salzungen Werra Uplands in the southeast. In the southwest of the area are the Knüll Uplands, in the south the Fulda-Haune Plateau and in the southeast the Anterior Rhön and Kuppen Rhön (including the Landrücken) to the southeast, which run into the High Rhön still further to the southeast.
South of the Fulda-Haune Plateau and west of the Rhön are the Lower und High Vogelsberg hills, the former encircling the latter.
- Wasserkuppe (950.2 m, High Rhön)
- Kreuzberg (927.8 m, Bavarian High Rhön)
- Dammersfeldkuppe (927.9 m, Border of Hesse and Bavaria, High Rhön)
- Heidelstein (925.7 m, Border of Hesse and Bavaria, High Rhön)
- Milseburg (835.2 m, Kuppen Rhön)
- Taufstein (773.0 m, High Vogelsberg)
- Kasseler Kuppe (753.6 m, Hoher Meissner)
- Gebaberg (750.7 m, in the east the Thuringian Anterior Rhön)
- Pleß (645.4 m, Salzunger Werra Highlands)
- Hirschberg (643 m, Söhre))
- Bilstein (641.2 m, Kaufungen Forest)
- Eisenberg (635.5 m, Knüll)
- Knüllköpfchen (633.8 m, Knüll)
- Rimberg (591.8 m, southeastern Knüll foothills in the Ottrau Highlands)
The central river in the area is the Fulda, which runs from south to north and leaves the East Hesse Highlands just before its confluence with the Werra in the West Hesse Depression. Left of the Fulda lie the Knüll and Vogelsberg, right of it the major part of the Fulda-Werra Highlands and the Rhön.
Right hand tributaries of the middle and lower reaches of the Schwalm, which lie almost entirely in the West Hesse Depression, drains the western part of the area, whilst left hand tributaries of the Werra drain the east. Only the source of the Schwalm and the mouth of the Werra lie within the Highlands themselves.
The tributaries are also north of the Rhine-Weser watershed, apart from the Ohm the only tributary of the Lahn, which is clearly oriented in a south-to-north direction, whilst the streams running into the Main tributaries of the Nidda, Kinzig and Franconian Saale flow south.
Table of most important rivers
The most important rivers of the East Hesse Highlands are listed in the following table, in clockwise order, beginning on the north side of the Rhine-Weser watershed by the Vogelsberg.
For a better overview or to see them listed in a downstream order, by river system, enter the DGKZ numbers after the number of the parent river followed by a dash.
River names and lengths listed in italics are those which clearly leave the region of the East Hesse Highlands (depressions on the perimeter excluded), where catchment areas and discharges are given in italics, it indicates that part of the catchment area is external and has significant tributaries from outside the East Hesse Highlands (see the notes below the table). Main rivers are linked if they are entirely located outside the area.
|Berfa||Schwalm (r)||20.0||42.2||218||Ottrau Upland||355.0||4288-16|
|Grenff||Schwalm (r)||22.0||86.4||711||Ottrau Upland||355.0||4288-32|
|Rohrbach||Fulda (l)||18.0||73.9||576||Neuenstein-Ludwigseck Ridge||357.0||42-714|
|Jossa||Fulda (l)||22.9||122.0||780||Schlitzer Land||355.1||42-54|
|Lütter||Fulda (r)||17.5||50.7||672||Hohe Rhön||354||42-14|
|Pfieffe||Fulda (r)||21.5||117.1||1,235||Stölzinger Hills||357.4||42-78|
|Losse||Fulda (r)||28.9||120.6||1,418||Stölzinger Hills||357.4||42-96|
|Nieste||Fulda (r)||21.8||88.1||921||Kaufungen Forest||357.7||42-98|
|Ulster||Werra (l)||55.5||421.0||5,279||Hohe Rhön||354||41-4|
|Weid||Ulster (r)||36.0||539||Hohe Rhön||354||414-4|
|Felda||Werra (l)||38.8||Hohe Rhön||354||41-?|
|Streu||Franconian Saale (r)||35.5||Hohe Rhön||354||244-2|
|Brend||Franconian Saale (r)||26.2||Hohe Rhön||354||244-32|
|Sinn||Fränkische Saale (r)||61.1||Hohe Rhön||354||244-8|
|Schmale Sinn||Sinn (r)||27.6||103.6||1,439||Hohe Rhön||354||2448-2|
(*: the source of the Haune lies, strictly speaking, still just in the Western Rhön Foreland, 353.1
**: the Wehre rises, strictly speaking, in the Rommerode Hills, 357.53, the eastern foreland of the Söhre)
***: the values for catchment area and discharge of the Taft are limited to the Hessian part and do not include its confluence area in Thuringia)
The following parts of the (catchment areas of the) rivers listed are not in the East Hesse Highlands:
- Antreff - entire middle and lower course in the Upper Hesse Ridge
- Schwalm - almost all left tributaries in various parts of the West Hesse Highlands; river lies on the wester boundary of the area
- Fulda - mouth lies on the northwestern border; left tributaries above the Eder lie outside; of the catchment area of the Eder, which is largely in the Rest-Fulda catchment area, only the right-hand tributaries of the Schwalm come from the East Hesse Highlands, whilst the Eder is fed by the West Hesse Highlands apart from the upper course which is fed by the Süder Uplands.
- Streu - lower course in the Grabfeld
- Brend - middle and lower reaches lie, without major tributaries, in the part of the Südrhön belonging to the Spessart region
- Sinn - middle and lower courses lie in various parts of the Spessart
- Bracht and Seemenbach - lower courses lie, without major tributaries, in the Büdingen Forest region of the Spessart
- Nidder - from the Seemenbach on the it runs along the eastern boundary of the Wetterau to the Ronneburg Hills, but without any major tributaries
- Horloff - middle and lower reaches on the southeastern boundary; (only moderately sized) right tributaries from the Wetterau
- Nidda - from the confluence with the Horloff it runs into the Wetterau; where it is joined by the Wetter and Nidder
- Wetter - leaves the East Hesse Highlands shortly after its source and nimmt draws water from, inter alia, the Taunus.
- Ohm - from the confluence with the Felda it runs through various parts of the West Hesse Highlands
- Dickinson, Robert E (1964). Germany: A regional and economic geography (2nd ed.). London: Methuen, p. 512. ASIN B000IOFSEQ.
- Elkins, T H (1972). Germany (3rd ed.). London: Chatto & Windus, 1972, p. 223. ASIN B0011Z9KJA.
- Dierck Henningsen (1986) (in German), Einführung in the Geologie the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (3. ed.), Stuttgart: Ferdinand Enke Verlag, pp. 49–54, ISBN 3-432-88513-X
- Map and Description of the East Hesse Highlands in the Hesse Environmental Atlas
- River data from WRRL Hesse
- LAGIS: Geological map of Hesse
- Map services
- Landscape fact file (by major units)
- 350 (Lower Vogelsberg)
- 351 (High Vogelsberg)
- 352 (Fuldaer Senke)
- 353 (Vorder- and Kuppenrhön (including Landrücken))
- 354 (Hohe Rhön)
- 355 (Fulda-Haune Plateau)
- 356 (Knüll-Upland)
- 357 (Fulda-Werra-Highlands)
- 358 (Lowe WerraHighlands)
- Lower Werra Country (excluding Lowe Werra Valley)
- Sooden-Allendorf and Witzenhausen-Hedemünden Werra Valley
- 359 (Salzunger WerraHighlands)
- Hesse_Highlands-uebersicht0.kmz map and Hesse_Highlands-uebersicht0.kmz aerial photo of the East Hesse Highlands