500 – 1,150 meters
Home to dense, stunning forests that stretch out as far as the eye can see, gentle bubbling brooks and 1,000-metre-high peaks from which you can comfortably take it all in, the Black Forest National Park is a truly magical place.
A 10,000 hectare protected area inside Germany’s largest nature reserve, the Black Forest National Park is a stunning natural oasis in the middle of the larger ‘Schwarzwald’. Home to thousands of miles of well-maintained trails, you can explore the stunning ridges and dense valleys hidden within the ‘impenetrable forest’, and — whether by bike or on foot — discover the mystical waterfalls, towering summits and ancient ruins that inspired the world’s favourite fairy tales.
Black Forest National Park
Situated in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, perpendicular to the French border, the Black Forest is a place of wonder and intrigue. The place inspired countless fairy tales, including the likes of Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty. It still inspires today, leading to its official founding as a national park in 2014. Between the cities of Pforzheim in the north and Freiburg in the south, you can find 10,062 hectares of protected evergreen forest, rolling hills, rivers and valleys in the centre of the larger Black Forest,
In the Black Forest National Park, mile after mile of hiking paths, trails and singletracks wind their way through the woods. Catering to hikers and mountain bikers alike, you’ll find routes suited to all levels of fitness and experience, from simple circular hikers, longer though hikes and designated trails for mountain bikers. One of the most popular routes is the Black Forest Panoramic Route, a 70 km trek over multiple days that brings you to some of the prettiest attractions in and around the park.
Situated between the larger cities of Karlsruhe, Freiburg and Stuttgart, the Black Forest National Park is exceptionally well-connected. If you’re coming by train, you can connect to any of these cities before changing to a smaller line towards Baden-Baden. A quaint, romantic town with a population of a little over 50,000, the settlement has been dated back to Roman times. Records date the construction of its church even back to the 7th century. From here, you can purchase a national park ticket to take public transport in and around the Black Forest National Park.
If you’re coming by car, the drive from the larger outlying cities of Nuremberg, Frankfurt or Munich will take you around 3 hours. From Berlin, the drive will take you across Germany in 8 hours time.
Where to stay
The relatively large number of small towns and villages in and around the national park offer numerous hotels, bed and breakfasts or guesthouses. Due to the sensitive plant life in the park, wild camping is strictly prohibited. Luckily, however, the park has prepared the next best thing. Numerous unmanned campsites deep in the park allow you to set up your tent and camp legally. Costing around €10 per night, it’s possible to book these in advance. Since they are only accessible by foot, you need to bring all of your provisions with you. For more information and the location of the 6 regulated ‘trekking camps’ in the park, click here.
Wildlife and plants
Being a national park within Germany’s largest protected nature reserve, the Black Forest National Park is home to a huge array of wildlife. Spruce and beech trees dominate here, comprising the woodlands that give the park its name. Amongst the undergrowth, mosses and ferns thrive, including the particularly rare Polystichum braunii. This fern is only found in 14 other locations throughout Europe. On the surface of the many lakes within the park, look out for the floating water lillies.
When it comes to animal life in the park, there’s a lot more to discover than just the cuckoo clock the region is famous for. Here, numerous species of deer graze freely, as well as pine martens, dormice and wild boar. The park also serves as Europe’s most important nesting ground for the wood grouse, the symbolic bird of the Black Forest. In the skies and amongst the treetops, woodpeckers, pygmy owls, and ravens are common sights. Interestingly, several species of adder are also fairly common throughout the park. Bites are an incredibly rare occurrence and almost never fatal, though a bit painful .
The Black Forest lies in a high-risk area for ticks carrying meningitis/FSME and Borreliosis/Lyme disease. Even though the vast majority of ticks are not infected, you should carefully inspect your body and your pets after going for a hike. Avoid trekking through tall grass to reduce your risk, take a tick repellant, and remove any ticks as quickly as possible using tweezers.
Activities in the park
Do I need to stick to trails?
Yes. The national park service asks you to stick to the trails in order to not disturb the wildlife. Please keep your distance if you see any animals crossing the trails.
Can I go wild camping?
Wild camping is prohibited in the Black Forest National Park. Numerous ‘trekking camps’ are available, however. More information about these regulated spots for wild camping can be found here.
Can I bring my dog?
Dogs are allowed in the park provided they’re kept on a leash.
Is the park wheelchair accessible?
The park service are working on building wheelchair accessible paths inside the park. Contact them directly to get an update on how much of the park would be accessible to you.
Where do I park?
There is a large car park opposite to the national park center. Follow the signs to parking lot 1. The parking lot at the ski jump (parking lot 2) can also be used.
Is the use of drones permitted?
No, drones and other flying or driving objects are forbidden in the national park.
National parks in Germany
There are sixteen national parks in Germany, offering a diverse range of landscapes and breathtaking experiences: Bavarian Forest, Berchtesgaden, Black Forest, Hamburg Wadden Sea, Harz, Hunsrück-Hochwald, Kellerwald-Edersee, Lower Oder Valley, Lower Saxony Wadden Sea, Müritz, Saxon Switzerland, Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea and Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft. Together, they cover an area of over one million hectares, or 2,7% of the territory of Germany.