The dense forests of Germany’s Black Forest region are the inspiration behind stories and legends and are a big draw for hikers from all around the world.
But it’s not just the history of the region that inspires. The trails on offer in the Black Forest are routinely voted as some of the most awe-inspiring hikes out there.
Whilst the number of routes means that anyone can enjoy a holiday hiking in the Black Forest regardless of skill or fitness level.
As we know this region of Germany so well, we’ve decided to share with you some of our favourite Black Forest hiking trails.
We also share some tips for hiking in the Black Forest too, amongst other information. But first, here’s a few fun facts about the Black Forest to get you excited for your upcoming hiking adventure!
Some Black Forest Facts:
- The Black Forest extends northeast for 160 km from Säckingen, Upper Rhine River (on the Swiss border) to Durlach (near Karlsruhe).
- The Kinzig valley divides the Black Forest into two parts, and the highest mountain is Feldberg which sits at 4,897 feet tall!
- The forests are mainly made up of fir trees and the dark shadows that these trees create give the Black Forest its name!
- The main cities in the area are Freiburg im Breisgau, Offenburg, Lahr, and Rastatt.
Hiking in the Black Forest: Where to Stay
Before we share with you the best hiking trails in the Black Forest, you may be wondering where’s the best option to stay when visiting the region.
Luckily, whether you are looking to engage in a hike of epic proportions or opting for a more sedate and leisurely trip, the Black Forest offers visitors an array of beautiful locations to base yourself.
From our own experience, the city of Freiburg im Breisgau, which is known as the gateway city, is perfectly poised on the forest’s edge and is a great place to be based for any Black Forest hiking stay. Particularly if you’re only planning short hikes. There’s plenty of accommodation options in the city, spanning from budget friendly to five star hotels.
For a more immersive experience, and if you’re planning longer hikes, then camping in the Black Forest is a fantastic option.
There are numerous campsites, spaces for RVs, and if you follow a few guidelines to be a considerate camper it is also possible to wild camp. We cover all you need to know about camping in the Black Forest in a previous article.
The Best Hiking Trails in the Black Forest For Fun, Views & Adventure
The Black Forest trails we’ve chosen will bring you some of the best views and lots of fun and adventure.
However don’t be put off by the length of them. Almost all of these trails are actually split up into several stages, with each stage being much shorter in length.
If you like the idea of hiking of one of the trails below, we give you a link to find the trail map and more information on the different stages for each below too. Happy hiking!
1. Baden-Baden Panoramaweg
An easy day trip from Freiburg is the gorgeous spa town of Baden-Baden, home to the Baden-Baden Panoramaweg.
The circular route is 45km in length with an ascent of 1420m, but it’s divided into four smaller sections with entry and exit points along the way. So you don’t need to do the whole route. If you do decide to do the whole route, it should take around 12 hours.
You can also opt to take the mountain railway to Merkur, the mountain beside Baden-Baden.
It’s a breath-taking route that hikers can navigate all year round and is suitable for all technical levels.
As you will guess by the name, the ‘Panoramaweg’ will bring spectacular panoramic views out and across the Black Forest.
See a map of the trail and more information here.
Another gorgeous Black Forest hiking trail to try is the Belchensteig, a 15km circular route through the south of the Black Forest to the summit of Belchen Mountain.
This is thee third highest peak (1414m) in the Black Forest, but it’s often described as the most beautiful climb in the region. From the top you’ll get more fantastic panoramic views.
Rare fauna and species can be found along the trail too. The best starting point is from Wiedener Eck.
There is also a cable car (Belchenbahn) to help with the ascent or descent if required. So you can choose to only walk half the route if you wish.
See the trail map and more information here.
3. The Ortenau Wine Trail
The Ortenau Wine Trail is an alternative hike for wine lovers that is a part of the Baden Wine Route – a gorgeous countryside trail that winds through wine country for 200km.
The first section starts in Baden-Baden, taking you through Offenburg and Lahr until reaching Ringsheim and is roughly 70km.
Time your trip with special Wine Hiking Days in September in Offenburg or the Wine Show in May.
One of the wine towns on the 70km route is Lahr, which hosts a wine festival in May. It’s also home to colourful timber-framed houses, and a flower festival in autumn that lasts three weeks. So if you can tie in your hike with any of these events you’ll get to experience some culture too.
The wine trail is suitable for all levels as it’s mainly undulating terrain and paved. It’s a massive part of the history of this region, and well worth doing.
You can get a map and more detailed information of the wine route here.
4. The Two Valleys Trail
The Two Valleys Trail (Zweitälersteig Trail) starts near the sunny city of Freiburg. It takes in both the Simonswald and Elz Valleys. It is 108km and is a hike for the more experienced and physically fit.
Hikers will climb 4,120m, and it’s the only route in Germany to have an age restriction – no under 16s!
Along the way you’ll discover striking waterfalls, thick, dense forests, gorges, and various rock formations. The paths are often relatively narrow as they zig-zag at astonishing heights.
Look out for the pilgrimage chapel on the Hörnleberg mountain. You will deserve that slice of Black Forest Gateau at the end of this exceptional trail! In our opinion this is one of the best hiking routes in the world.
See the trail map and more information here.
5. Middleweg (Middle Route)
From Pforzheim to Waldshut is the Middleweg (Middle Route), a long-distance hiking trail through the Black Forest covering 230km.
This trail was established in 1903, and will allow you to discover magical Schwarzwaldian woodlands, medieval castles, and gorgeous lakes.
The trail starts from the Enz and Nagold Valleys. It goes over the Hochfirst mountain, which looks out over Titisee, before continuing to Lake Schluchsee.
In the south, you have the choice to go through the Schwarza and the Schlücht Valleys or the Mettma Valley. The hike goes through lots of small towns, but steep ascents require some level of fitness and take around nine days to complete.
As long distance Black Forest hiking routes go, this is one of the best. Camp along the way or stay in BnBs in the towns you visit to get the best experience.
See more info on this fantastic hike by clicking here.
6. Schluchtensteig Trail
A crossover with the Middleweg is the Schluchtensteig Trail which takes in the raw beauty of the southern part of the Black Forest close to the Swiss border.
The 119km route also takes in the iridescent Lake Schluchsee as well as the impressive Wutach, Gutach, Rötenbach, Haslach and Wehra gorges, and St Blaise’s Cathedral.
The trail opened in 2008 and has become popular with experienced hikers. You will come across ladders, and parts of the route have no footpaths, so proper hiking equipment and shoes are necessary. The views alone are worth the effort though.
See the trail map, different stages, and more info here.
Hiking in the Black Forest: Some Must Know Tips
Hikers are well catered for in the Black Forest with well maintained trails and lots of campsites near them.
The enchanting surroundings in this region are world-famous, but nevertheless, there are some essential tips to keep in mind when embarking on a hiking adventure in the Black Forest.
- If you need maps in English, it would be best to come prepared and print one out. You can buy maps at local tourist offices for a small fee, but they will most likely be written in German.
- Towns and cities will have hiking gear and clothing but remember that all stores are closed on Sundays.
- Trail markers are handy, but with so many trails in the Black Forest, make sure you’re following the right one as they often overlap.
- Bring food and water, especially if you are hiking off-season. In high season there are mountain huts which are great places to stop for food and drink and sometimes accommodation too.
- If planning to use a campsite or BnB while hiking, make sure to book well in advance during high season. The most popular places often get booked up fast.
- There are many different water sources in the Black Forest, but try and make sure you pinpoint a few on your route before leaving. Take plenty of water, but remember to top up at any streams you find. A collapsible water bottle like this one could be a very useful purchase.
- Take blister plasters! And put them on at any sign of a blister forming – don’t wait. Expect all different types of terrain.
- If you need to go to the toilet while hiking you should do it far from water sources, such as rivers and lakes. Make sure to use a trowel (such as this folding one) to bury any human waste, don’t just leave it out in the open.
Hiking in the Black Forest: Other Activities to Try Out When Visiting
You will never run out of things to do in the Black Forest region, with countless towns, cities, castles, museums, and outdoor activities to enjoy.
You can enjoy guided snow hikes near Titisee or stop off in Baden-Baden for a relaxing spa treat in the winter. Vineyards across the region are open to visitors, and it’s an absolute must that you try some Black Forest Gateau!
Meander the cities and quaint towns of the region, taking in weekend markets and old castle ruins. It’s also possible to take tours in cities such as Freiburg in English or seek out the area’s museums detailing the history of the Black Forest and its industries, such as cuckoo clock-making or glassblowing – both make our previous list of must-see places to visit and things to do in the Black Forest.
You may also want to detour from your hike to visit some of nature’s spectacles, such as the Triberg Waterfalls. Or go swimming and boating on lakes Titisee and Schluchsee.
And if you get the chance, do drive/bike along the Schwarzwald Hochstrasse. This 60-km panoramic road goes between Baden-Baden and Freudenstadt.