5 Tips for Hiking in the Black Forest, Germany

I enjoy hiking in the Black Forest, located in the state of Baden-Württemberg in the southwest corner of Germany.

But finding information about hiking the Black Forest in English can be a challenge. Just as it is finding info about hiking in the German Alps.

hiking to a ruin overlooking Baden-Baden, Germany

How to Find Hiking Trails in the Black Forest

The larger cities all have tourist information available in English on their websites, i.e. Baden-Baden or Freiburg.  There is also the Schwarzwald Tourismus Site. It’s the official tourism site of the Black Forest.

Most of these websites list the popular long-distance trails, such as the Westweg or Ostweg, However, they often do not include maps or list the shorter day hikes. This book is a good resource in English for the Westweg.

If it’s maps you’re looking for then you’re the best bet is to head to the local tourist office. Hiking maps are usually available for a small fee.

This past weekend we purchased a map of hiking trails of the Feldberg (the highest mountain in Germany outside of the German Alps) for .50 cents.  They may/may not be in English. However, they’re still useful even if they’re in German because they list the trail length and elevation to help you choose a suitable trail.

More detailed maps are also available for purchase in bookstores, however, these are almost always in German.  If you’re going to be in the area for a while this book lists 15-day, three treks and five cycling routes.

The Alt Schloss (Old Castle) in Baden-Baden overlooking the Black Forest.
The Alt Schloss (Old Castle) in Baden-Baden overlooking the Black Forest.

Where to Buy Hiking Equipment in the Black Forest

Hiking equipment can easily be purchased in the larger centers in the Black Forest. However, I recommend purchasing it earlier.  Most stores are closed on Sundays. And if you’re in a small town, stores may also be closed on Saturday afternoon.

It’s also important to ensure you have enough clothing.  I usually hike in a shirt that wicks the sweat away.  I also bring both a fleece and a rain jacket with me, while hiking in the Black Forest. You can see my recommended Day Hiking Packing List here.

We recently walked by these semi-hidden route markers while hiking
We recently walked by these semi-hidden route markers while hiking.

Trail Markers in the Black Forest

Most hikes in the Black Forest are well marked with different coloured route markers.  This sounds easy enough to follow. And often they are. But it’s also not uncommon for one hike to follow several different coloured route markers.

So you need to pay attention to which route markers you are following and at which point the colour changes.  It’s also not uncommon to not see a route marker where you would like to see one.

On several occasions, we’ve come to a crossroads without a route marker in sight.  Normally when this happens I choose a path and several hundred meters later come across another route marker. It then tells you if you have chosen the right path or need to retrace your steps and try the other way.

Huts are common while hiking in the Black Forest.
Many hiking trails in the Black Forest have at least one hut enroute. This is one of many huts found in the Feldberg region where we stopped for a drink and to stretch our legs.

Mountain Huts in the Black Forest

Another thing I really enjoy about hiking in the Black Forest are all the huts.  Most of them serve up a small menu of homemade local food and drinks.  Some even offer accommodation.  On almost every hike we stop at a hut for at least a drink.  But be warned, don’t depend on huts for subsistence.  Always bring enough food and water with you and if you happen to stumble across a hut, great.

But don’t depend on huts for subsistence.  Always bring enough food and water with you and if you happen to stumble across a hut, great.

On countless occasions, we have seen a hut on our map only to find out that it is closed because we’ve arrived too late. Many huts close by 4 or 5 pm. Or we have arrived offseason and the hut is closed for a few weeks or months. Or the hut is closed for a holiday.

This has happened so many times I’ve lost track. Germany has a lot of holidays, especially in May and June.

I always bring plenty of food and water with me assuming a hut will be closed. Then if it’s open, it’s a nice surprise.  Hiking on an empty stomach and dying of thirst takes the fun out of it.

We came across this outdoor bread oven while hiking dating back to the 1500s.
We came across this outdoor bread oven while hiking dating back to the 1500s.

Related Reading: Heidelberg Castle in Germany: Everything You Need To Know

What You’ll See When Hiking in the Black Forest

You’ll have a lot of options.  Are you looking for views?  Castles and castle ruins?  Culture? Traditional farms?

Tell the tourist office what you’re looking for and they can recommend a hike based on what you’re looking for.

I really like Baden-Baden for the number of hikes it offers, including one to an outstanding castle ruin (pictured in the top 2 photos).   It’s also easy to get to via public transport and other tourist sites within the city, including mineral baths which feels so good on tired muscles after a long day of hiking.

It’s also easy to get to via public transport and other tourist sites within the city. Furthermore, it’s known for its mineral baths which feels so good on tired muscles after a long day of hiking.

View from the Feldberg. On a clear day you can see peaks hundreds of kms away
View from the Feldberg. On a clear day you can see peaks hundreds of kms away – unfortunately, it wasn’t a clear day when we went.

If you’re looking for views and don’t mind hiking with a lot of other people around (there is a gondola taking people to the top, so you definitely won’t be alone), I would recommend the Feldberg.

The views are amazing on a clear day.  There’s a variety of hikes to choose from, a number of huts you can stay in. It’s also easy to get to via public transportation from Freiberg.

Water fountain for cooling off (not for drinking) seen on a trail near Dobel.
Water fountain for cooling off (not for drinking) seen on a trail near Dobel.

Hiking to Off-The-Beaten-Path Places in the Black Forest

I’m also a fan of “off the beaten path” places, which are my personal favourites.  These can be a bit more challenging to find, especially if you don’t speak German and are relying on public transportation.

But one such place is Calw, which is easy to get to from Stuttgart by train.  It offers a variety of hiking options, including one hike that leads you to a henker site. The place where women were beheaded on the suspicion of witchcraft and then up to a castle ruin.

Tours

You can purchase yourself a Black Forest card which will give you access to a multitude of activities and places for three days. This includes entrance into many of the museums and even a rides on the gondola in Feldberg.

During winter enjoy a snow hike in near the Titisee which includes a rustic meal that will keep you warm and full. Whether in summer or winter, hiking in the Black Forest is always fun.

If you’re really looking for some thrilling adventure why not try a canyoning tour in the Black Forest. You’ll even have the unique opportunity to stay in a tree tent for the night.

Accommodation in the Black Forest

Stay in Baden-Baden at the Alte Buchbinderei Appartements and enjoy the rustic atmosphere. Be sure to make a stop at the mineral baths that the town is so well known for. They are perfect after a long hike or even if you’re just in need of some R&R.

Freiburg is the perfect place to start your hiking adventure from, especially if your itinerary includes the Feldberg. Stay at Hampton By Hilton Freiburg and enjoy some rest whether it is before you start your hike or at the end of it.

And remember after hiking in the Black Forest, you need to reward yourself with a big slice of Black Forest Cake. Enjoy!

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