North of Freiburg lies the Kaiserstuhl (“Emperor's Chair”), a group of hills that rise up from the Rhine Valley. Its name is most likely owed to King Otto III, who held court at Sasbach in 994 and later became emperor. Germany's warmest region is famous for its white wines, but also for its great variety of orchids. Wild hyacinths grow between the vines, irises bloom on the slopes and green lizards and mantises live in the meadows. The best way to explore this sunny area is on foot via the 22-kilometer Kaiserstuhl-Path which leads from Endingen to Ihringen.
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)
The 260 m long drawn-out establishment towers as a hilltop castle at 757 meters on the eastern edge of the Vosges Mountains on a mighty rock with phenomenal views of the Upper Rhine Valley. From the castle almost all the trade routes of the Upper Rhine Valley could be controlled. Together with the opposite ruins of Oedenbourg (Petit-Kœnigsbourg) it forms a unique ensemble that is one of the most visited tourist attractions in France.
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.
Last floodplain forest on the Upper Rhine
When the Rhine was still a tributary of the Rhone and flowed into the Mediterranean, dewing Gletzscher had formed a huge lake between the Black Forest and the Vosges. Later, after the Rhine had dug its way through the barrier of the Taunus Mountains, the lake became a wetland biotope with large riparian forests and a maze of water arms with an extremely diverse fauna and flora. When the Upper Rhine was straightened and tamed in the 19th century, only Taubergießen remained of the area. With almost 2,000 hectares of land, it is today the largest nature reserve in Baden-Württemberg. Several hiking trails lead through the “last jungle on the Rhine”. Boat trips with traditional fishing boats are also offered. A popular circular route is the Swamp Beaver Route (round trip: 13 kilometres, 3 hours, up and down: 20 metres).