Waterfalls, a narrow canyon, adventurous paths, nature conservation area, a via ferrata and great views can be seen in this hike of about 4-5 hours.
The hike starts in Ottenhöfen (30km south of Baden-Baden) from the parking area for hikers near the Edelfrauengrab Waterfalls (sign-posted). Form here it is only a few steps to the bottom cascade of the waterfalls, where the Edelfrauengrab is located. From there the way is climbing further up the adventurous paths and footbridges along the Gottschläg valley, a nature conservation area.
Further and further you climb up to the Karlsruher Grat at the head of the Gottschläg Valley, there you can use the via ferrata. From there the path leads back to Ottenhöfen from the Bosensteiner Eck at the top end of the via ferrata via the 'Brennte Schrofen', where you can enjoy a great view on the Black Forest and the Rhine valley. The overall distance is approx. 12 km, the difference in height 500m, a walking time of 4-5 hours should be allowed for.
The Gottschläg Valley conservation area with the waterfalls and the Karlsruher Grat (Karlsruhe Ridge) further up is surely an outstanding scenic attraction in the Northern Black Forest.
Photo: View from the Karlsruhe Ridge
A wonderful way of getting to know the Black Forest is a hike along the 'Schluchtensteig', a hiking trail in the southern Black Forest. This trail was not opened until 2008 but is already one of the most popular hiking trails in the Black Forest.
The Schluchtensteig crosses the South Black Forest regional park along the southern edge of the Black Forest. It not only takes in the impressive gorges of the Wutach, Gutach, Rötenbach, Haslach and Wehra (photo) but also regularly ascends to mountain tops and other lookout points which provide a view of the gorges below and the mountains of the High Black Forest and the Swiss Alps. The trail also runs past Lake Schluchsee, the largest lake in the Black Forest. The high plateaus around the villages of Dachsberg and Ibach present an interesting contrast.
The Schluchtensteig is not a footpath, it often runs over narrow trails, over rough and smooth and sometimes up steep tracks and ladders. It is therefore advisable to wear good quality hiking shoes. The hiking trail is passable from May to approx. November. Hiking on the Schluchtensteig is not recommended with snow and ice.
Anyone who wants to hike over the full length of the trail can divide it up into six stages of approximately 20 km each. Needless to say, shorter sections can also be tackled depending on the available time and fitness.
Places along the Schluchtensteig
The city of Triberg is located directly on the Black Forest railway line and is famous for Germany's highest waterfalls, which have an overall drop of 163 metres over 7 cascades. More than half a million people visit this spectacle of nature every year.
There are three entrances to the waterfalls, which are reached via asphalted paths, steps and footbridges. You should be a reasonably good walker of course, and the paths are totally unsuitable for prams and pushchairs. However, you can reach the lowest and largest cascade of the waterfall relatively easily from the main entrance.
The area around the entrance to the waterfalls is reminiscent of Disneyland; here and in the town centre, a large number of shops offer the even larger number of tourists cuckoo clocks, woodcarvings, souvenirs as well as Black Forest ham and kirsch. These are high quality craft products for the most part, although there is no shortage of plastic cuckoo clocks 'made in Taiwan'. The Black Forest Museum, which is well worth seeing, can also be found directly by the lower entrance to the waterfalls.
Anyone who wants to escape from the hustle and bustle can easily do so - the countryside around Triberg is fantastic, and after a few hundred metres you will see and hear nothing more of the crowds.
More about the Triberg Waterfalls
A very special attraction are the Triberg Waterfalls in wintertime, when the spray caused by the splashing water freezes to thick ice crusts around the cascades (see photo, shot in January 2009).