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Feldbergsteig: Wandern im Schwarzwald

Let’s star with the obvious: German is an AWESOME language. I bring this up now because the English word “wander” shares roots with the German word for hike, “Wandern.” It’s a telling connection.

We were lucky that Titisee is just a 1/2 hour bus away from the trailhead for Feldbergsteig, (the Feldberg climb). The official short description of the hike is a “first-class hike with marvelous views and idyllic, narrow paths in the middle of a protected natural environment,” and somehow this is an understatement.

It still feels as if you’re peacefully meandering around the forest. You find yourself in a highly-maintained pathway, but there’s enough time and scenery between each crossroads to make you feel as if you’re (almost) alone in nature. You get to really enjoy your surroundings as a result of this wonderful wandering way.

Be forewarned: this is a long and picture-filled post. I mean, it was a 4 hour hike (plus breaks!) jam-packed with beauty!

Information centers in the Black Forest provide free formation, including this booklet on the hikes in the area. Feldbergsteig is a 12.2 km trail, with 571m elevation gain.

We started behind a nature center and hiked up the tallest part of the Black Forest: Feldberg Peak (1493 m). This was the steepest part of the climb, but easily skippable if you chose to take the ski lift.

First trail marker welcomes us. Tower is visible from the bottom.

We’re in in winter as far as calendars go, but it didn’t feel too cold at any point. The temperature remained hovering around freezing, just above it during sunlight and just below it when dark. Somehow, we’ve managed to avoid any significant snowfall.

This means we didn’t get to see  snow-laden anything, let alone a white Christmas, but the bright side is a more manageable hike considering we didn’t come with snow pants or “snow shoes.”

Winter beauty up Feldburg.
Jon’s expression sums up the hike; and this is just the very start of it!

At the top is a monument to German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck and a beautiful panorama view.

This is the closest to snow we’ve gotten! Left: Railing for the panorama view. Right: Can see the Feldberg Tower a little further up.

The 11-story Feldberg tower enhances the panorama view and supplements the Black Forest experience with a small museum exhibit dedicated to Black Forest Ham, or “Schwartzwälder Schinken.” Did they know we were coming? And could I ask for anything better?!?

Germany heavily regulates what can be labeled as genuine Black Forest Ham.
Did you know that Juniper berries take 2 years to ripen?
The exhibit showcased the ingredients visually as well as with these scent boxes where you could isolate each flavor/ingredient. Caption on the left: Hams are cold smoked at 15-25°C for several days above native conifer wood, mostly fir wood and sawdust.
At the top, we stepped out to a view of Bismarck monument on one side, and the Vosages Mountains on the other.
To the south, we could see the Swiss Alps (and the sun)

After enjoying the interactive exhibit and tower’s views, we continued on past our first Hütte, a lovely feature of this German hike, and many others. We quickly found many of the stops along the trail would be closed for the winter season.

Trail markers, our first view, and a close-up.

A hütte (“hut”) in the Black Forest is place where one can grab a drink, a snack, and enjoy the view with something uniquely from the surrounding area.

Zastler Hütte, further in the valley.
We stopped at a naturfreundhaus, closed, but perfect for a lunch of black forest ham (blurry) sandwiches 🙂

Some Hütte carry local beers, others local cheeses, or homemade desserts and liquors. About half the hütte along our path were closed for the winter, but not all. Baldenweger Hütte, about halfway through the hike, was open and provided the perfect break and Hütte experience. The picture at the top of the page is the view out the window!

Left: Beautifully carved watering trough. Right: Hazelnut liquor and Apple cake with strussel topping.

I wanted to try the hazelnut liquor, which comes highly recommended (by the official trail description!). I missed the single serving on the menu so ended up buying a bottle. Whoops. At least we could take it with us!

Signs with the Feldbergstein seal and a yellow diamond reassure you you’re going the right way.

As a “Premiumweg,” this trail is scrupulously maintained and sits in a protected nature reserve. Germany and the Black Forest take credit for inventing hiking, despite how incredulous it seems. Perhaps they mean they were the first to promote maintained routes for the sake of their beauty and enjoyment rather than as a way from point a to b (could this even be so?).

The paths were varied, some looked like what you might expect, others looked like goat trails, some had wooden stairs, others had planks laid out for traction.

We found ourselves meandering beside many delicate waterways before our final few landmarks.

Cows (or Kühe) in front of Raimartihof. So fuzzy!
Feldsee Lake
After the lake, it was up up up! Right: Woodpecker holes.

Another lovely detail (/major quality): it wasn’t just pro hikers or granola heads. There were parents with babies in carriers, elderly couples, and others our age.I’d read it can get quite busy, as this is one of the most popular hikes in the Black Forest (with good reason) but in this “winter” season we never found ourselves with more than one other group/couple of people.

I can’t speak to the other trails here, but I do feel like with this one we were able to get a wonderful sense of the Black Forest.

One Comment

  1. red red

    Merry Christmas! What a treat to see all the views you both worked to achieve! So awesome! Thanks for sharing.

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