The Black Forest

Germany is a land blessed with so much natural beauty and historical and cultural interest, but those who are fortunate enough to encounter the Black Forest area will experience an altogether different blend of magic and wonder.

About this Germany walking region
From the upmarket spa town of Baden-Baden in the north to the Swiss border of the South and from the French Alsace east almost to Lake Constance is where you will find the renowned Schwarzwald (Black Forest) – a captivating landscape with a varied vista of meandering hills, valleys, rivers and forests.

The Black Forest region is predominantly made up of two large conservation areas: the Central/Northern Black Forest (3,750 km²/1,448 mi²) – Germany’s largest nature park – and the Southern Black Forest (3,700 km²/1,429mi²).

There is an abundance of woodland – around 60% of the area in total – and to the west, towards the Rhine Valley and France, there are some picturesque vineyards. Most of the land lies at 900m (2,953ft) above sea level, with some of the peaks rising to over 1,300m (4,265ft).

The Central/Northern section is characterised by gentle, rolling hills and several small and charming towns which are waiting to be explored. The Southern Black Forest has quite a different landscape where dense patches of forest hide a number of traditional hill farms. It is this half of the Black Forest which offers the steeper climbs and many would argue, the more dramatic scenery.

There are many wonderful old towns to explore in the Black Forest, such as Freiburg and Calw (the birthplace of author Hermann Hesse) as well as some spectacular waterfalls, including the Triberg Waterfalls, which are arguably Germany’s finest.

A visit to this region would not be complete without tasting some of its famous local delicacies, especially Black Forest ham and the chocolatey deliciousness that is Black Forest gateau. And if you want the perfect souvenir, then it has to be a cuckoo clock! They have been the symbol of the Black Forest for centuries and production is still thriving.

Walking in The Black Forest
The Black Forest enjoys more hours of sunshine per year than any other part of Germany and is blessed with a healthy snowfall most winters, making it a year-round holiday destination. From early May to October, the area becomes a haven for walkers, and just about every corner of this region is worth spending time in.

The Black Forest offers an incredible 20,000km (12,427mi) of well-signposted trails which afford walkers some wonderful sights and viewpoints that often cannot be accessed by car, including castle ruins and waterfalls. For those looking for a more demanding hiking experience, there are plenty of long-distance trails waiting to be discovered as well.

Achertal Valley (C/N)

300km/186mi of well-signposted walking paths ● Wonderful hiking through deep forests, scenic vineyards and fruit tree orchards ● Lose yourself in the tranquillity of Lake Mummelsee ● Kappelrodeck/Waldulm, the famous red wine village ● Mt Hornisgrinde (1,164m/3,820ft), the highest mountain in the Northern Black Forest.

Around Mt. Belchen (S)

The views from the top of 1,414m/4,639ft Mt Belchen offer some of the Black Forest’s finest scenery ● Choose from an amazing 750km/466mi of well-marked walking and rambling routes ● Unique landscape: from vineyards to beautiful hills covered in spruce and fir ● Explore Staufen im Breisgau, the medieval town of Faust.

Around Mt. Feldberg (S)

Deep in the heart of the Southern Black Forest ● Mt Feldberg, the Black Forest’s highest mountain (1,493m/4,898ft) ● Some of the region’s most beautiful walking trails ● Picture-postcard Black Forest scenery ● Charming towns and villages such as Todtmoos and Todtnau ● Marvel at the stunning glacial Lakes Titisee and Schluchsee.

Around Schönwald (S)

A walker’s paradise with unforgettable Black Forest landscape ● Over 1,000km (621mi) of walking trails ● Art, culture and sports galore ● Germany’s highest waterfall and the world’s biggest cuckoo clock ● Don’t miss the German watch museum in vibrant Furtwangen and the impressive Black Forest museum in Triberg.

Bad Teinach-Zavelstein & Calw (C/N)

On the Black Forest Spa Road ● The wonderfully dark, secret Nagold Valley ● Historic Calw, the ‘Hermann Hesse town’ ● Bad Teinach and Zavelstein, little spa towns known for the healing powers of their mineral springs ● Lovely old half-timbered houses ● Discover rambling trails everywhere you go (320m-740m/1,050ft-2,428ft)!

Bühl-Bühlertal (C/N)

Excellent gateway to the Central & Northern Black Forest ● Blooming fruit trees in spring, wine festivals in autumn ● Over 200km/124mi of superbly way-marked trails (123m-1,028m/404ft-3,373ft) ● Top views of the Rhine, the French Vosges and wooded hills ● Bühl, a delightful town full of history and set in vineyards and forests.

Donaueschingen-Hüfingen (S)

Where the mighty Danube (Donau) has its source ● Gateway to the Southern and Central Black Forest ● Less than an hour from Lake Constance (Bodensee) ● Donaueschingen, delightful town full of history and cultural treasures ● Wonderful rambling on the austere and beautiful Baar plateau (640m-920m/2,100ft-3,018ft).

Dreisamtal Valley & Freiburg i. B. (S)

Combine nature with culture ● Hike the wildly romantic Höllental (Hell’s Valley) ● A large array of beautiful, superbly-marked walking routes (340m-1,429m/1,115ft-4,688ft) ● Quaint little towns and villages set amid tree-covered hills and flower strewn meadows ● Freiburg im Breisgau, the lively ‘capital of the Black Forest’.

Freudenstadt & Baiersbronn (S)

A good base for exploring the Northern Black Forest ● About 850km/528mi of splendid walking trails (450m-1,100m/1,476ft-3,609ft) ● Large number of themed trails such as the ‘Kniebis mill route’ ● Landscape full of verdant forest beauty ● Freudenstadt, beautiful old market town ● Baiersbronn, rich with culinary surprises.

Kaiserstuhl-Tuniberg (S)

One of the sunniest regions in Germany ● Vistas that come high in the 'Wow' ratings ● 420km/261mi of waymarked rambling trails (190m-551m/623ft-1,808ft) ● Known for its top wines and superb regional cuisine ● Vine-covered hillsides and chocolate-box towns and villages ● Don’t miss one of the many wine festivals (from May-Nov).

Kinzigtal Valley (C/N + S)

A real gem, a valley in the very heart of the Black Forest ● Where the surrounding woods might have been the home of Snow White ● Extensive walking and rambling route network (175m-940m/574ft-3,084ft) ● Walk amid the heady smell of pine ● The home of the bright red Bollenhut (traditional PomPom hat dating back to 1750).

Markgräfler Land (S)

Right in the corner where Germany, France and Switzerland meet ● Nick-named “the Tuscany of Germany” ● Known for its sun-kissed vineyards and Mediterranean feel ● Ramble through wonderful fruit orchards, colourful meadows and peaceful villages and towns ● Find an abundance of gentle walking paths and themed (wine) trails.

Murgtal Valley & Baden-Baden (C/N)

Gateway to the Northern Black Forest ● Pamper yourself in Baden-Baden, ‘the grand dame of German spas’ ● Extensive walking- and themed trail network (138m-1,055m/453ft-3,461ft) ● From beautiful woodland scenery to fascinating medieval towns and quaint villages ● Explore the romantic landscape of the ‘Heuhüttentäler’.

Renchtal Valley (C/N)

Truly a heaven for walkers ● 1,000km/621mi of walking and rambling trails (173m-1,000m/568ft-3,280ft) ● Superb views overlooking sun-drenched vineyards and tree-covered hills ● Attractive and authentic Black Forest towns: Oppenau, Oberkirch, Lautenbach and Bad-Peterstal-Griesbach ● 50 min to Strasbourg, France.

Rothauser Land (S)

Deep forests like the countryside you see in fairy tale story books ● Sunny plateaus with a dazzling array of flowers ● Pretty traditional villages and characteristic Black Forest hill farms ● Enjoy the wonderful scenery and great hospitality ● Vast network of walking, hiking, woodland and themed trails (450m-1,100m/1,476ft-3,609ft).

Sasbachwalden (C/N)

On the sunny side of the Black Forest! ● Varied landscape: vineyards, meadows, forests, pretty little villages ● 600km/373mi of walking trails (180m-1,164m/590ft-3,819ft) ● The enchanting town of Sasbachwalden: half-timbered houses, flowers and wine ● Winner of the ‘most beautiful community in Germany’ competition.

Schuttertal & Ettenheim (C/N + S)

On the western fringes of the Black Forest ● Schuttertal Valley, a rambler’s paradise (205m-750m/623ft-2,461ft) ● Quaint little towns and villages off the beaten path ● Lots of walking trails amidst fruit orchards, vineyards, meadows and gentle forest hills ● The appealing baroque town of Ettenheim, with a wealth of history on display.

St. Blasier Land (S)

Popular walking area with breathtaking Black Forest scenery (520m-1,350m/1,706ft-4,429ft) ● Practically every corner is worth exploring ● Criss-crossed by a large number of signposted trails ● St. Blasien, ancient town and location of the area’s famous ‘Klosterkirche’ (cathedral from 1768) ● Explore authentic towns and villages.

Südwärts / Southwards (S)

Nature, art and culture where Germany, Switzerland and France meet ● Extensive network of walking routes ● From undemanding days out to challenging hikes (330m-1,170m/1,083ft-3,839ft) ● Hard to beat for its unforgettable landscape, part tamed by foresters and farmers, part truly wild ● Medieval towns and pretty villages.

The Hotzenwald (S)

Gentle walking where Germany meets Switzerland ● Extensive rambling route network from 350m-1,050m (1,148ft-3,445ft) ● Delight in lush green meadows and outstanding views as far as the Alps ● Themed walks such as the chapel- and herb trail ● Quaint little villages and hamlets all around… best way to explore is on foot!

Wutachschlucht Gorge & Lenzkirch (S)

Walking along deep ravines and up to summits with stunning Black Forest views ● Lenzkirch, climatic health resort surrounded by more than 150km/93mi of walking trails (810m-1,192m/2,657ft-3,910ft) ● Hike the spectacular Wutachschlucht forest canyon ● Take a steam train trip on the historic ‘Sauschwänzlebahn’ (pigs tail train).


Travel Information

Best time for a walking holiday...
May to October

Fly to...
EuroAirport (FR), Baden Airpark (DE), Friedrichshafen (DE), Zürich (CH), Stuttgart (DE), Strasbourg (FR), Frankfurt (DE)

Germany Walking Regions