The town at the northern end of the Black Forest is famous for its thermal baths and its mild climate. Although the Romans already made use of the natural hot springs and built a settlement on the site to take advantage of them, Baden-Baden didn't become a popular spa until the late 18th century, when the rich and famous began using it as their summer residence to escape the heat of their winter residence, Paris. Luxury hotels soon sprang up around the Casino (1810-1811) and the Kurhaus (1821-1824). Today Baden-Baden maintains its reputation as an international spa and has benefited from modern wellness trends. We suggest you visit the Friedrichsbad (1877): a classical steam bath with 16 stations.
Holiday route through the Black Forest National Park
Germany's oldest holiday route runs through the northern Black Forest and is part of the Bundesstraße 500, which begins in Baden-Baden and climbs up steeply to the main ridge of the northern Black Forest, reaching it at Bühlerhöhe. On a rock there is a small church of St. Mary, popularly known as the Adenauer Chapel, with glass windows worth seeing. When the weather is clear, one has a comprehensive view over the Rhine plain to the Vosges.
From Bühlerhöhe, the elevated road runs from 800 to over 1000 meters above sea level. Near Sand am Mehliskopf an all-weather bob run is in operation year round. Here is also the junction to the nearby Schwarzenbachtalsperre and to the cross-country skiing centre Herrenwies.
Below the highest mountain in the northern Black Forest, the 1164-metre-high Hornisgrinde, the road reaches the almost circular Mummelsee, around which leads a short plank track.
The administration of the Black Forest National Park, which the Black Forest High Road crosses over long distances, is located in the nature conservation centre at Ruhestein. To the west of Ruhestein, the only via ferrata in the northern Black Forest leads over the Karlsruher Grat. A few kilometres further south along the road lies the Lothar Trail, which demonstrates the consequences of hurricane Lothar. Over the heights of the Schliffkopf and the Kniebis the road finally leads to Freudenstadt, where it ends.
Quaint half-timbered houses in the birthplace of Hermann Hesse
Through the cloth, wood and salt trade this city in the Nagold Valley became one of the richest cities in Württemberg. The old town is lined with quaint half-timbered houses, whilst the cobbled streets lead to the splendid marketplace. Here, next to City Hall, is the birthplace of Hermann Hesse and at the northern end of the market there is a museum dedicated to him.
From a logging settlement to a health resort
The historical capital of the lower Murg Valley lies on both sides of the Murg River. Gernsbach has grown in size due to the rafting of logs on the Murg. Today the small town is a climatic health resort with beautiful hiking possibilities. In the west the mountain cone of the Merkur forms a striking backdrop, in the east the 908 meter high mountain Teufelsmühle borders the valley, which opens to the northwest to the Rhine plain. A hiking trail leads from Baden Baden via Schloss Eberstein to Gernsbach railway station, from where the return journey begins. (there and back: 41 kilometers, 4 hours, up: 404 meters, down: 400 meters)
Moor on the highest mountain of the northern Black Forest
At 1163 metres, the highest mountain in the Nordschwalzwald is an elongated ridge. In the Black Forest Grinden are treeless moist heaths on a plateau, which were formed after the clearing of the primary forest. However, the high moor on the Hornisgrinde is naturally unforested. From the large car park at Mummelsee a nature trail with information boards leads across the summit level. The moor is crossed on a wooden path. (there and back: 4.8 kilometers, 1:30 hour, up and down: 130 meters)
Local Mountain of Baden Baden
The 670 meter high mountain four kilometers east of Baden Baden offers a great view over the Rhine Valley. It is named after the ancient Roman god of trade, to whom a Roman votive stone found on the summit is dedicated. If you don't want to go up on one of the many hiking trails, you can take the Merkurbergbahn from 1913. At the lookout tower there is a mountain inn. A hiking trail leads through the species-rich mixed forests and on to the bizarre rocks at the Battert. (return 16,8 kilometers, 5:30 hours, up and down: 680 meters)
Romantic wine-growing town on the Roman road
The romantic wine-growing town southwest of Baden Baden was located on the Roman road from Strasbourg to Mainz. The magnificent houses and the partially preserved city wall bear witness to the wealth of the Middle Ages. Above the cemetery there is a statue of Erwin von Steinbach, who was involved in the construction of Strasbourg Cathedral as a builder, and died in Strasbourg in 1318. If you walk from Baden Baden, you pass the cosy Waldenecksee. Via walkways and narrow paths one follows the forest sports trail after the hut to Varnhalt. (There: 8.4 kilometers, 2 hours, up: 140 meters, down: 250 meters)