The small towm of Gengenbach makes for a great base to explore the rest of the Black Forest region. The multi-colored buildlings and shops of the old city are beautiful. Take a walk down some side streets to find some unexpected treasures. Resturaunts and ornate houses can surpirse you!!
We were just driving through the Forest and "found" this castle - interestingly we saw it from behind up in the forest and it didn't look like much. The scenery/view was much more interesting. But after descending we saw the castle again and it looked much more impressive!!
We wanted to do a little hiking tour and chose the path to the Allerheiligen waterfalls. It was great. The first part was in a small valley along the cute little river, and the last 1000m unfortunately were crowded, because there is a parking nearby.
Whilst driving through the Forest we came accross this frozen lake. As it was March it was cracking & starting to melt, but a nice site to see. I would imagin in the depths of the winter there were skaters on here
On the picture (taken from the Schauinsland mine) you can see Zastler Valley and Feldberg (with 1.493 m Black Forest's highest mountain).
It shows a very interesting geological development. During the last Ice Age one of the three Feldberg glaciers was spreading westwards. By doing so it created a u-formed valley. Since that time the small stream flowing there created a more v-formed valley in the area, as you can see it now.
Zastler Valley is special, because it's not very touched by human settlement - as many other Black Forest valleys - only a few farms are there.
My hiking tip:
Take the bus No 7215 (labelled Todtnau) from Kirchzarten station (just 10 km's east of Freiburg, where you can park). Ask the driver to tell you when you arrive at the mouth of Zastler Valley. Hike through the Valley and to the Top of Feldberg. From there you have many options. The nicest one: take the "rocky path" to Feldsee and from there to station Bärental and the train back to Kirchzarten.
This tour is only for people in form and takes six hours.
Another small Black Forest town I'd like to present here. I'm not sure if St. Märgen should be labelled since it has 2.000 inhabitants and is "independant" it might be correct to call it so.
Still life is not very busy and hectic in St. Märgen. Whenever I came there it looked like a place where people live, spend their holidays or work with agriculture. There are no mayor roads passing through the town and no industries to pollute the air. That's why St. Märgen was labelled as place "with good air" by the state government.
St. Märgen exists due to an Augustine abbey which was founded in 1118 (therefore St.). This abbey was very important to settle more remote areas of Black Forest. In other words the monks of the middle ages where the pioneers of Black Forest. The church of the abbey (early 18th century) is the biggest sight of the town, and easily visible from all directions when you approach the town.
Besides agriculture and tourism are very important in St. Märgen. Especially the breeding of horses is one of the pillars of St. Märgen's farming. Every third year the "day of Black Forest horse" attracts thousands of spectators.
St. Märgen is a nice place in all seasons. It's located at 900m (the town, surounding mountains up 1.100m) and therefore you can expect (usually) good snow conditions in winter. The hill landscape is a paradise for cross country skiing in winter, and for hiking and mountain biking in summer.
You reach St. Märgen in 30 mins from Freiburg. It's well connected by bus from Kirchzarten (Freiburg), St. Peter or Hinterzarten.
Simonswäldertal is one of the bigger Black Forest valleys where people settled quite early for Black Forest dimensions (in 2003 the village Simonswald celebrates its 825th birthday). So the bottom of the valley is usually occupied with buildings or farms. Yet the valley is far from overcrowded like some valleys in Southern and Northern Black Forest.
Its the contrast of nice restaurants, traditional farms and modern residences on the one hand and almost untouched Black Forest landscape on the other hand that makes this valley special. In the lower part of the valley agriculture focusses on grain and vegetables, while in the central part dairy products and forestry become more important. You will realize these changes when you drive through the valley by car, buss, bike or motorcycle.
If you have just one or two days and want to explore Black Forest by car, I definetely recommend to include this valley in your trip. It's also a perfect starting (ending) point for hiking (see for example Zweribach Waterfalls or Kandel).
The bus line 7272 which links Furtwangen and Waldkirch (Bleibach) crosses Simonswäldertal, and by this means you can enjoy the landscape without driving on your own. If you like good, traditional food you won't have problems to find it here for a reasonable price.
These waterfalls are rather small in comparison, but the big advantage of them that are complely "untouched" by people. So you can't drive there and there are no ice or hot dog sellers (like on Triberg waterfalls).
Zweribach Waterfalls are a perfect place to include in a hike in the Simonswälder Tal, St. Märgen (see other pages) or Kandel area. For example a half day trip I took was from line 7272 (Waldkirch - Furtwangen) stop Simonswald Engel (cross the bridge a little below the bus stop then follow the signs to Zweribach/St. Märgen) through upper Simonwälder Tal to Haldenhof. Then head right, uphill along the Zweribach. The path is good but quite steep for about an hour. You will pass another farm and a hut where you can take a rest (nice view!). After 15 mins you will arrive at the waterfalls (there are two paths, so keep your eyes open!). Don't expect too much. But if you like untouched nature, you will like it. Now you can either continue to the Kandel mountain (head right) or directly to the village of St. Märgen, where you can take a bus to St. Peter, Kirchzarten or Hinterzarten (trains to Freiburg).
Simonswald Engel - Haldenhof - Zweribach Waterfalls - St. Märgen: 14 km's, around 550 m climb, 3 hours. Good shoes needed for the middle part.
Map recommended, even if the path is well marked! For example Schwarzwaldverein Wanderkarte 1:50000 Blatt 6 Kaiserstuhl, Freiburg, Feldberg
You want to spend some days in Black Forest? You look for a good point to stay? Without paying too much?
Well, I'd recommend L?ffingen. The town is located on the Eastern edge of Black Forest, which means that all mayor attractions of Southern and Central Schwarzwald, as well as Freiburg, Rhine Fall, Lake of Constance and Switzerland are less than an hour away. You are close, but pay considerably less than in tourist centres like Titisee, Hinterzarten or Neustadt.
L?ffingen is also a quite nice town, and nature is lovely as well. Ok, that's my opinion. You can also shop whatever you need, don't worry about finding a safe place (without paying) for your car, and traffic jams are also unknown.
The town is also good when you want to explore the "Grand Canon of Europe" - Wutachschlucht, which seperates the country from Bonndort which is located south of the canon.
It also offers a nice amusement park, where you can easily spend a day or two with your kids as compensation for long hiking or car trips. The public swimming pool is located directly on the edge of Black Forest and is a heaven on hot summer days. It's reputation is good, and the water is heated by solar energy btw.
I made an own page on L?ffingen with more details, if you want to take a look:
When you have a chance take a walk down some side streets and back alleys in a small town. You'll find some great scenery.
Bernau is a typical Black Forest village. Make sure to leave the main road and take the street through the village. There are lots of beautiful houses.