Hiking in the Black Forest
A wooded mountain range in southwestern Germany, the Black Forest is an area rich in history, culture, and stunning natural diversity. Famous for its ham, its clockmakers, and its historic mountain villages and farmhouses, the Black Forest is a great place to visit at any time of year. Come to uncover an older, slower, more traditional and iconic Germany – one that might be found in the pages of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. With a long tradition of hiking in the area, the best way to explore the Black Forest is to walk it: follow one of the signposted historic trails as it weaves through mountains, valleys, farms and villages, stopping for cake and beer in the taverns along the way.
Beginning at Pforzheim and running 230 kilometers south to Waldshut, this route passes through dense forests and moorlands before heading to the plateaus of the Kinzigtal Valley and the high peaks of the south – which feature stunning views onto the Alps.
3. Ostweg (East Trail)
Running along the eastern side of the Black Forest for 240 kilometers from Pforzheim to Schaffhausen, the Ostweg traverses the hilltops of the Länge before continuing to the Wutach Valley and the Upper Rhine. This trail, following a route that is less mountainous (and less exhausting) than the previous two trails, nevertheless features a diverse natural environment characterised by a mix of variegated sandstone and shell limestone.
4. Schluchtensteig (Gorge Trail)
A more recent addition to the Black Forest hiking options, this trail was opened in 2008 and has already become one of the most popular trails in the region. Located in the southern Black Forest and running for 118 kilometers between Stühlingen and Wehr, this route takes in a variety of impressive gorges, plateaus, lakes, and mountaintop views. Consisting of small footpaths and a wide variety of rough and smooth ground, this is an adventurous trail that can only be passed between May and November.
5. Ortenauer Weinpfad (Ortenau Wine Trail)
Traversing the winegrowing region at the foot of the northern Black Forest, this route connects Gersbach and Diersburg. This 120 kilometer trail features views over the Rhine Valley and the Voges Mountains, providing fascinating insights into the cultivated landscape of the area – particularly through the variety of winery and orchard tours available to curious travellers.
6. Markgräfler Wiiwegli (Markgräfler Wine Trail)
This route stretches the 84 kilometers from Weil am Rhein to Freiburg through the Markgräfler winegrowing area in the southern foothills of the Black Forest. A gentle trail winding through vineyards, this route provides beautiful views over small wine villages, the Rhine Plain, and the Voges Mountains along the entire route. Normally divided into 4 stages, the Markgräfler Wiiwegli provides a relaxing opportunity to explore the area, with many inns and Straußwirtschaften (wine taverns) along the route to enjoy refreshments and chat with the locals.
Jayme Collins, originally from Canada, now lives in Berlin and works for GoEuro, a new multi-mode travel search engine. She is hoping to explore the Black Forest by foot this summer while drinking plenty of wine and eating as much ham and cake along the way as possible.
Photos 1-7: Guillenperez, Fr Antunes, Gwp57, Romanboed, Nicholas_T, Print57, Esclarabunda