Germany's south-western cornerstone is about 160 kilometers long and between 20 and 60 kilometers wide. The descent towards the Rhine is steep while the transition into the Neckar and Danube Valleys to the east is a more gentle one. With its fragrant meadows, dark forests and crystal clear waters, the region is still the epitome of the perfect world. The Black Forest is ideal for leisure activists: hiking, mountain biking, climbing and whitewater rafting is just as popular as visiting one of the many thermal baths between Baden Baden and Bad Griesbach.
Spa town on the Hochrhein
The spa town lies on the Hochrhein, which at this point forms the border to Switzerland. In the north begins the Hotzenwald, the southern foothills of the Black Forest. The city also includes a part of the Fridolin Island in the Rhine, whose affiliation was long unclear and has only belonged to Germany since 2013. The city became famous through the verses of Joseph Victor von Scheffel, “The trumpeter of Säkkingen”. The love story between a commoner and a lady was one of the most widely read works of German literature in the 19th century. Landmarks of the city are the Fridolinsmünster and the covered wooden bridge over the Rhine.
Beautiful views from the highest mountain of the Black Forest
At 1,493 metres, Feldberg is not only the highest mountain in the Black Forest but also in Germany not counting the Alps. A nature reserve has been established around the summit with its subpolar vegetation. Especially during inversion weather conditions during winter you have sensational views. Then the Vosges mountains pile up on the other side of the cloudy sea, while in the south the snow-capped Alps glitter – from the Zugspitze to the Bernese Upper Alps. In the House of Nature, which also serves as the administrative seat of the Southern Black Forest Nature Park, there is a permanent, interactive exhibition. Behind the house begins the nature trail “Wichtelpfad im Auerhahnwald”. (return: 2.2 kilometers, 0:45 hours, up and down 60 meters)
Distant views of Mont Blanc
To the south of Freiburg lies a mountain peak called Schauinsland (“look into the country”); with 1284 meters one of the best viewpoints in the Black Forest. Especially in the fall, when the mountains rise “above the clouds” phenomenal views open up: to the Vosges, the Hornisgrinde and the Bernese Alps, even to Mont Blanc. Those who do not want to hike to the summit can take the Schauinsland-Tram.
Germany's highest lake
The glacial lake dating back to the last ice age was enlarged in 1930 with a dam wall which raised its level by 30 meters. Today it is the largest lake in the Black Forest. The Schluchsee is popular with swimmers and sailors. In contrast to the Titisee the shore it is easily accessible from almost everywhere. Many hiking trails skirt the lake. An 18-kilometer-long level trail around it is also suitable for parents with prams. From May to October the walks can be combined with boat trips.
Bathing lake amid beautiful forests
The lake surrounded by beautiful forests has, according to legend, waters of immeasurable and imperceptible depth. When trying to measure it, a voice from the bottom resounds: “You fathom me out, I will drown you.” But in actual fact the ice age lake at an altitude of 850 meters is only 20 meters deep. Large predatory fish such as pike and lake trout, as well as eels and many other small species live in its nutrient-poor waters. A hiking trail leads around the two-kilometer long lake. Swimming, sailing and pedal boating are also possible.
Waterfalls and cuckoo clocks
Germany's highest waterfalls, the famous Black Forest Railway, as well as being a year-round fog-free location make Triberg a popular and worthwhile holiday destination. The area around the entrance to the waterfalls is reminiscent of Disneyland. Here and in the town center shops offer cuckoo clocks, carvings, souvenirs, Black Forest ham and cherry brandy (Kirschwasser). To a large extent the quality products are handcrafted, but the plastic cuckoo clock ‘made in Taiwan’ can be found here as well. Also worth seeing is the Black Forest Museum which is located near the lower entrance of the waterfalls. For those who want to escape the hustle and bustle – the countryside around Triberg is fantastic and only a few hundred meters away you won’t see or hear either the cuckoo clocks or woodcarvings.
The life and work of earlier generations in the Black Forest
The open-air museum located at the exit of the Gutach Valley into the Kinzig Valley was built around the Vogtsbauernhof. Mills, day labourers' houses, sawmills and a chapel were added to the magnificent Vogtsbauernhof. With all your senses you can experience how people lived and worked in the Black Forest: In the stable there are domestic animals of old breeds, sheep and goats graze on the pastures, in the black kitchens there is a smell of smoke and ham. Daily activities provide variety throughout the season: cooking in the black kitchen, daily mill demonstrations, a museum workshop for families. In addition, there are events such as the day of traditional craftsmanship, the autumn and slaughter festival.
In the footsteps of charcoal makers and glass carriers
There have been glassworks in the remote Windberghochtal ever since the 12th century. Their fragile products were transported with great care through the Black Forest. The glass carriers with their custom-made “backpack cupboards” were specialized in this. The hike passes several huts and leads through a magnificent wilderness with waterfalls and ancient forest. In good weather you have a wonderful view up to the Alps. (return: 14.1 kilometers, 5 hours, up and down: 372 meters)