Depending on your level of experience and confidence, there are many outdoor activities that will appeal to all, beginner to expert. The broad differences in landscapes found throughout Germany are astonishing, from the Baltic coastline in the North, the enchanting Black Forest, to the base of the Allgäu Alps. Each region offers its own unique topography, and with that comes a wide range of possibilities to keep you entertained. With Germany offering over 7000 trails to choose from – hiking, walking and trail running are great ways to indulge in nature all year round.
Exploring the vast Black Forest
Well known throughout history, specifically through the writings of the Brothers Grimm, this forest expands for 6000 square kilometres, offering numerous hiking opportunities. It is dotted with historic villages, some dating back to the Gothic tribes that settled in the forest escaping from the reign of the Roman Empire. With the rolling grass hills, ancient villages and heavily wooded areas, the Black Forest offers great options for hiking and walking trips.
1. Seeblick – Mummelsee Loop from AchertSeeblick is a beginner to intermediate level hike, with only a 5.3 km round trip. This is an easy 2-hour outing, taking your time to enjoy the sights on the way. The trail starts with a single-track path that is easy to navigate with the signage into the forest. Roughly 1.5 km in, some sights to look out for are the ancient rock slabs that have historical markings of past settlers while enjoying a slight increase in elevation. The next checkpoint would be the Hornisgrindeturm und Aussichtsplateau, a 360-degree lookout tower at the peak of Hornisgrinde (1,164 m), offering a great view of the expanse of the Black Forest and the surrounding peaks. On the last half of the trip, the path descends onto the Mummelsee, a small lake with some shops to grab a quick snack on the go. Always a good bet: visit the baker in the parking area – the last stretch of the hike will lead you back to the starting point.
2. Schluchseer Jägersteig – Bildstein Loop from Schluchsee
For something a bit lengthier, this hike is 13.8 km, with a good portion of it being on a wide gravel road – making it quite a comfortable hike. Starting from the Schluchsee Train Station, you will walk about 1 km along the Schluchsee Lake until the entrance of the hike. After 200 meters on this footpath, you will be presented with an overlooking view of the Schluchsee from within the trees. The path then continues through the pine forest for another 7 km, when a viewing point will provide the clearest (depending on the weather) sight of the magnificent lake. Continuing on the hiking path, you will arrive at the water’s edge of the lake, this spot has pleasant beaches and rocks to relax on and have a picnic or rest if needed. The last stretch of the trail runs along the lake’s shoreline, leading back to the train station.
3. Edelfrauengrab-Wasserfälle – Deglerbad (Noble Woman’s Grave waterfalls)This hike is relatively advanced, offering a few impressive waterfalls on the way, with particular reference to the first – the Nobel Woman’s Grave. This first highlight is roughly 3.8 km into the hike – a great spot to take a moment to read the story behind the name, located on a white signboard, near the elevated footbridge to view the waterfall. After another 250m, be sure to take a side view of the ancient stone bridge from the Roman times. Continue for another 150m and you will arrive at a waterfall forming a small pool halfway down the face of the cliff.
Less than 1 km further you will find a Schnappsbrunnen (a liquor fountain), which serves as one of two of these ‘fountains’ on the trail. This drinks stop offers a great place to rest your legs while sipping on a well-deserved schnapps, beer or soft drink. Many benches and sitting areas allow for a relaxing picnic, just remember to buy some snacks from the local baker and shop before starting the hike, in Ottenhöfen. Also, a reminder to bring change, as the payment method is depositing the money in a cash box at the ‘fountain’. Once rested and fuelled up, a short stretch on the trail will take you to a breath-taking viewing point – Herrenschrofen. For another 4 km, the path runs through the forest and opens up to rolling farmlands, overlooking the village. After this relatively long stretch, hikers are awarded with the last Schnappsbrunnen. The last 2 km of this hike runs along farm roads back into Ottenhöfen.
It is advised with these hikes to consider the weather conditions (some trails could have snow or ice hazards), transportation, and the level of difficulty. Hiking with at least one other person is safest and advised. Overnighting in one of the small villages is always a tranquil getaway, but day trips are very easy. Public and private transport are both available to reach the destinations.
There are still tons of these exciting trails to be discovered. Even if you haven’t always been enthusiastic about getting active outside, it is always a good time to find ways you can enjoy it and increase your general health while doing so!