Mention Germany to a traveler and their mind often goes straight to popular itineraries like visiting fairytale castles, touring historic sites in Berlin, experiencing the quintessential Christmas markets or sampling the country’s many beers. But for outdoor enthusiasts, Germany also tops many lists as a hiking paradise, one offering great destinations like the Black Forest, where hiking is abundant; the scenery is breathtaking; and there is plenty to see, do and taste along the way.
Located in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg in Southern Germany, the Black Forest is a vast and hilly region packed with dense forest dotted with picturesque German towns and villages. There are many fantastic places to visit within the Black Forest offering great hiking, like Freiburg, Freudenstadt and the lovely Baroque town of Donaueschingen. But a particularly fun place to use as base camp is the town of Oberkirch.
Oberkirch has all the charms of a small German town with traditional architecture, beautiful parks and a bustling farmers market scene that lets you meet locals, sample regional products and get a feel for life in small-town Germany. It also happens to be the capital of schnapps, a liqueur which, in addition to delicious flavors from locally grown fruits, carries a long history of tradition. With nearly 800 registered distilleries in town surrounded by the lush landscape of the Black Forest, it is no surprise Oberkirch is a popular destination for hikers and connoisseurs of all things distilled, and it just may be the perfect match of the two.
In and around Oberkirch you’ll find plenty of modest hiking trails taking you through forest, vineyards and farmland. The Oberkircher Brennersteig, one of the most popular hiking trails in the area, letting you experience both the beauty of the Black Forest and flavors of Oberkirch’s infamous schnapps as you hike past several local distilleries. Stop at one for a visit or simply grab a self-serve sample at one of the watering holes with bottles of schnapps simply waiting to be tasted along the trail.
The best time of year for hiking in the Black Forest is anytime between May and September when the weather is best, but if you visit during spring, experience all the beauty of the local fruit trees during flowering season.
Getting there is easy as most major U.S. cities offer direct flights to Frankfurt, the most convenient point of entry for accessing the Black Forest. From there, grab a train to Freiburg, where you can begin your explorations of the region, or take an additional train or bus to reach other areas within the Black Forest.
Train tickets can be booked in advance with Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s national railway company. The ride to Freiburg takes a little more than two hours and promises great views of the countryside, not to mention doing away with the hassle of renting a car.
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