There are only a few forested areas in central Europe where you find good hiking opportunities. There are fewer still with mountains. The Black Forest in Germany is one of the best hiking areas for a couple reasons.
My name is Simone and I am from The Black Forest in Germany. I have hiked in North America and Australia, so I know how other people think of hiking. A friend once pointed out to me while living in San Francisco, California; American’s are “goal oriented”, while Europeans are “process oriented”. That is a great way to understand the differences in hiking between these cultures. You may need to shift gears to get the hiking groove here, but once you get-it, you’ll never be the same.
Canadians hike in expansive forests where they encounter few people. Americans and Australians are also familiar with such massive landscapes. Hiking there often requires careful preparation to meet nature in such remoteness. In The Black Forest the weather changes quickly. You will often think the locals look over-prepared with all their gear – until the weather changes and you now wish you had known about that and over-prepared too.
But The Black Forest its different in other important ways.
Its not as remote as it sounds. Here the challenges are mostly cultural. Language is a challenge as most Germans in the area do not speak English. Accommodations are a challenge. Transportation is a challenge – bus and train schedules are not reliable. Your mobile device and a maps app will not work the way you are accustomed. If you take those “modern” things for granted, you will get lost and stranded often here in The Black Forest.
The Black Forest offers 23,000 kilometers of trails that are parsed with Hutte. These small way-stations offer lite meals and drinks for hikers, which are only open mid-day to late afternoon, but not every day. Some have rooms to overnight for the more adventuresome – but you can’t expect to just walk in – it’ll be booked out.
No backpacks! We use Rucksacks. Sleeping in a tent is unheard of in The Black Forest. Everyone makes their way to a local Pensions or Bed & Breakfasts – which are almost always booked. And part of the days hike includes a nice meal and drink at a nearby restaurant- which the good ones are always booked.
Maybe Germans do have goals after-all!
All this may sound like Germans don’t really hike – you would be wrong to assume that. Germans are perhaps the most enthusiastic hikers you will find anywhere in the world. In fact hiking may be the single most common pastime in Germany. If the sun is shining, Germans will be outdoors. You can expect to be meeting, and be greeted by locals along the trail.
Germans have cultivated a rich hiking ecosystem that you should experience once in a lifetime. Enjoy the “Processes”!
Add it to your bucket-list.
I arrange such tours for select English speaking visitors. There are not enough accommodations in The Black Forest for every tourist in the world – and we like that it is Off The Beaten Path. I arrange the transportation and accommodations that you as a visitor will not likely be able to manage alone.
Traveling makes you a better person. Don’t waste time. Live now. Go out and explore!