When the mountains and high valleys in the Black Forest are covered in snow, a winter break here is full of magical experiences. The largest low mountain range in Germany boasts more than 70 crests and mountains over 1,000 metres high. Winter hikers will find great conditions for enjoying their activity in the fresh air. Freeontour has put together a few exciting snowshoe trails in the Black Forest to help you find the right one for you:
Why do you need designated snowshoe trails anyway?
Snowshoe hikes are becoming more and more popular, and it's not only the more senior among us who are putting their alpine skis aside; snowshoe tours are also a thrilling and practically playful holiday adventure for families. It's so much easier to go through lovely untouched deep snow with snowshoes on your feet. The Black Forest, with quite a few gently rising forest paths, magnificent views and open hilltops, is perfect for winter hikers – and to top it all, you'll be rewarded with fantastic panoramic views of the Swiss Alps on your way. But precisely because winter snowshoeing has become so in vogue and is increasingly attracting winter holidaymakers, make sure you choose routes where you won't be able to startle the animals in their dens. This is why designated, well-marked snowshoe trails have been set up in the Black Forest, such as on the Black Forest High Road in the north, on Brandenkopf in the central Black Forest and on Feldberg in the south.
Snowshoe trails on Feldberg
Feldberg, the highest peak of the low mountain range bordering on France and Switzerland, has two trails away from the ski slopes that go through the nature reserve and are specifically waymarked for snowshoe hikers. We recommend the sunny Seebuck Trail stretching three kilometres – with an altitude difference of almost 160 metres – to get you in the mood. However, you'll have to be fitter for the nine-kilometre summit trail due to the altitude difference of 320 metres. The tour starts at the Haus der Natur Feldberg and first goes up to the Seebuck summit, then down to the Grüble saddle and then up again to Mittelbuck and finally to the main peak, which at 1,493 metres is the highest of the four Feldberg peaks. It takes about 3.5 hours to walk. But be very careful on Seebuck when it's foggy as the distance between each trail sign is slightly greater, so you have to be careful not to miss any of them.
If you prefer snowshoeing in a group, the Haus der Natur Feldberg offers a guided snowshoe tour, including equipment, at 12 p.m. every Sunday from the end of December to the end of March when the snow conditions are suitable. You can also rent snowshoes for individual tours here.
Snowshoe tours on Belchen
There are four snowshoe trails near the town of Schönau im Wiesental where you can savour both the landscape and the silence. The highest point that snowshoe hikers can reach is the Belchen (1,414 metres) summit, where the Celts performed their rituals many centuries ago. Depending on how far you want to snowshoe, you can either start at the Belchenbahn valley station at 1,100 metres above sea level or in the municipality of Aitern at 650 metres above sea level. The ascent to Belchen takes a good hour from the valley station. A one-hour gourmet tour through the southern Black Forest also begins here. Two other trails start in Fröhnd and Tunau. It's worth the effort as you'll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Belchen summit, Feldberg and quaint farming villages. You can find more information about the trails at Tourist-Info Belchenland.
Snowshoe trails in the central Black Forest
Located between the Rench and Kinzig valleys in the central Black Forest, Brandenkopf (945 metres) has three snowshoe trails between 2.4 and 8.4 kilometres of varying levels of difficulty. The ascents are not really that strenuous at 93 to 305 metres above sea level. They all begin at the Wanderheim Brandenkopf hiking hostel. You'll be able to enjoy breathtaking views from the highest peak in the central Black Forest and its observation tower over the Black Forest landscape, as far as the Vosges in the west and the Swiss Alps in the south.
There are also three designated snowshoe trails around Baiersbronn between 4.8 and 6.2 kilometres long, with ascents of between 285 and 418 metres making them appealing to sporty snowshoers as well. Two of the trails run along the Black Forest High Road between the Schliffkopf mountain and Mummelsee lake. The amazing views of the Rhine plain and snow-covered Black Forest valleys make the constant uphill and downhill hike extremely worthwhile. There's a bus service to Baiersbronn that you can make use of if you don't feel like snowshoeing back. The third trail starts and ends in Baiersbronn-Buhlbach.
The Kniebis mountain ridge (960 metres) has three tempting trails for snowshoe beginners that offer sweeping views of the Rhine plain. The short and moderate ascents are also suitable for hiking novices. The three trails are between 2.4 and 5.7 kilometres long, with ascents of 77 to 167 metres above sea level. The trails start and end at the DSV Nordic Aktiv Zentrum Kniebis/Freudenstadt on the Black Forest High Road. The visitor centre across the road also rents snowshoes, should you need any.
Snowshoeing in the southern Black Forest
An exhilarating snowshoe trail begins at Radschert mountain near Todtnauberg in the southern Black Forest. The eight-kilometre route goes across the rolled Holzschlagbach valley, offering sweeping views of the snow-covered mountains and the valleys, and will eventually take you back to the starting point. The second trail starts on Hornweg and goes up via the upper Hornweg to the Horn mountain near Todtnauberg, then on towards Radschert and back to the starting point.
A number of hiking trails also start in Wieden in the southern Black Forest. As it lies at the foot of Belchen, it is inevitably perfect for winter sports. Many trails wind their way across the high altitudes through the unique natural panorama. In winters with a lot of snow, there's a 4.5-kilometre mountain trail for snowshoers that offers impressive views of the third highest Black Forest mountain and the surrounding landscape. It goes from the Wiedener Eck pass via Steinen and Rüttner Höhenweg to Ungendwieden. Please note that this is not a circular route.
The Bernau high valley also offers amazing views of the open countryside to the south in winter. A snowshoe trail goes from Bernau-Hof, alternating between meadows, fields and forests. However, you'll have to overcome a demanding 370 metres in altitude on the 7.5-kilometre hike until you get to the destination, the Krunkelbach hut at 1,200 metres above sea level. An easy trail starts at the Loipenhaus, the cross-country skiing centre, in Bernau. The three-kilometre circular trail goes through an open wintry landscape to the summit of Herzogenhorn (1,415 metres).
Where can you rent snowshoes in the Black Forest?
You can now rent snowshoes in a number of winter sports resorts in the Black Forest and/or take part in guided hikes. The first point of contact is usually the local sports shops in the ski resorts and near the lifts, which also rent out other winter equipment. There are currently 15 waymarked snowshoe trails in the Black Forest – Schwarzwald Tourismus, the regional tourism organisation, has put together an overview, which you can see here.