The Freund is very typical German in many ways and very atypical in others. For instance, he swears by house shoes (typical) but does is never on time (atypical). When it comes to hiking and the outdoors, he rings 100 percent true to Germans’ love of hiking as well as their love for outdoor gear and clothing. He often ventures off on 48 kilometer trekking expeditions on weekends, while I stay back enjoying my favorite weekend activities: wine and cleaning up every thing while he’s away. For his birthday this past Saturday and my last weekend in Karlsruhe for awhile, I agreed to join for a more reasonable 20 kilometer (12.5 mile) hike from the Black Forest town of Forbach to Bad Wildbad. Forbach is just over an hour’s direct S-Bahn ride from Karlsruhe and costs only €10 round-trip (if you’re a group, look to the Baden-Württemberg ticket as an alternative). Bad Wildbad takes about an hour and a half with a switch in Pforzheim coming home.
The hike begins with the hard part, the uphill. The Freund was clearly concerned about my endurance from his polite request for “no tears today” to the reminders to slow down my pace as not to tire. By the end of the day, I can proudly say I colored him impressed and was proud of myself too. Feeling my sore body three days post-hike, I think the endurance was merely an outcome of excitement to be invited on one of J’s walks and wear my new hiking shoes (similar here), but nevertheless I completed the hike without a fuss. We hiked up around 750m, which took just under two hours. The views the entire way up are simply perfection and the uphill turned out to be our favorite part. This particular part of the trail was more off-the-beaten-path than the rest of the day and we only saw about 7 other people in the two hours. Along the way were two or three designated look out points, 9 small, numbered crosses counting up to a final large one, and plenty of moss covered nature. We ate our little breakfast sandwiches at a gazebo look out point for our first break about 1.5 hours into the journey. If I had it my way, I could have called it a day there but I am so glad I pushed myself forward.
At the top of the mountain, we found a marshy area with wooden paths across it and views of the mountain top Hohlohsee. From there, we continued onward to find the Hohlohturm (altitude 948 meters). The tower was built in 1856 and you can climb straight to the top of the 28.6 meter tower for views of the entire region. On a clear day, you can even see France! At the Hohlohturm, you encounter the rest of the hikers as many trails across the area merge here, along with a parking lot just a kilometer away for the young families and elderly to enjoy the area as well.
From here, I started getting pretty antsy for lunch at the much anticipated Grünhütte. The Freund went there during some Nordic skiing and raved about it ever since, so I was eager to see this mountain eatery (not to mention the massive appetite I’d worked up at this point). He ordered one the Grünhütte’s infamous pancakes covered in blueberries picked fresh nearby, while I was craving something savory and went for my favorite German dish: Maultaschen mit Kartoffelsalat. It was insanely good and the place was packed. Insider tip: on a nice day, go inside to order as 75 percent of guests are lined up outside.
From the Grünhütte, the trails were packed with all sorts of people enjoying the incredible fall weather. Although the large number of people was frustrating, we can’t blame everyone for wanting to enjoy the fantastic Saturday weather too. From our late lunch around 2 p.m., only 6 kilometers of the hike remained as we descended into Bad Wildbad. We opted for the Bergbahn down the hill to save our knees and time.
Overall, it was a wonderful day and I’m eager to go on another expedition of similar difficulty. The Black Forest is a wonderful place to discover Germany and the people making it what it is today. If you are looking for a “non-touristy” experience in Germany, I think you’ve found it.
Does this hike look like something you could dig your shoes into?