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Trek through Germany's Black Forest - a Cicerone guidebook

Cover of The Westweg
7 Nov 2016
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.3cm
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The Westweg

Through Germany's Black Forest

by Kat Morgenstern
Book published by Cicerone Press

Guidebook to the Westweg (Westway), a 285km walk across Germany's Black Forest from Pforzheim to Basel. This classic route, which includes Feldberg, Black Forest's highest peak, takes 13 to 14 days, each day stage ranging from 15 to 28km. Two variants are described, both well way-marked and suitable for those new to long distance walking.

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This guidebook is all you need to discover The Westweg, a 285km walk along the length Germany's Black Forest from Pforzheim to Basel. This classic long-distance trail takes around two weeks to walk, in stages of 15-28km. The route is well way-marked and suitable for experienced hikers and those new to long distance walking, though some sections are steep. The Westweg incorporates many of the region's highlights, such the Schwarzwald National Park, the source of the Danube and Lake Titisee. At Titisee there is a choice to make: the western route taking in the Black Forest's highest peak Feldberg and the vineyards of the Markgräflerland, or the quieter eastern route via the Herzogenhorn peak and on to Basel, with all its cultural attractions and old-world charm.

With well-maintained and waymarked trails, an efficient public transport system and conveniently placed huts and farmhouse inns, the Black Forest is one of Germany's best-loved walking destinations. Soft-contoured, forest-clad hills, interspersed with pastures and picturesque villages combine on with far-ranging vistas right across the Alpine chain.

Detailed descriptions and 1:100,000 maps accompany each stage of the route and the book describes options for shortening stages using public transport. There is also information on when to go, where to stay and a German-English glossary - all of which will earn this useful guide a place in your rucksack.

  • Seasons
    The Westweg is a Höhenweg, or 'high route', so it is best to walk this trail during the main hiking season between April and the end of October.
  • Centres
    The Westweg starts in Pforzheim or in Basel, but it is possible to do half the route and start in Hausach
  • Difficulty
    A medium-sized mountain range, the Black Forest's highest peaks are just under 1500m. The terrain is easy, although some of the ascents are steep. Anyone with a good level of endurance and some hill walking experience would be able to enjoy this long distance trail.
  • Must See
    Feldberg - highest mountain in the Black Forest; Belchen - sacred mountain of the Celts; the source of the Danube; Lake Titisee; Herrenwieser See; Burg Rötteln castle; Sausenburg; Wolsfsschlucht gorge;the vineyards and orchards of the Markgräflerland; Kaltenbronn nature reserve; Mummelsee; Murgtal; Black Forest National Park; Ruhestein; Dachsberg; Herzogenhorn; Hochblauen


Oct 2017

Map P 53: location of Eberhard-Essich-Hütte, should be marked just after crossing Größelbach below Sagkopf.


P.80: The alternative route mentioned in route notes is now in place , nevertheless, in bad weather conditions the original route would be more comfortable / preferable .




Information for backpackers January 2016


If you want to walk the route carrying all supplies, it is possible, but there are sections where you don’t actually come across villages or shops and have to go out of your way to find them. There will always be little guesthouses and restaurants, which will be open unless you hit them on one of their days of rest.

It is usually possible to camp out in the shelter huts encountered along the route. There are no toilets or showers and there may not be access to water, but they provide a roof and sometimes even a little stove.

The Westweg is a long-distance walk for those who like to rest in comfort at night, rather than a hard-core wilderness trek. In spite of that, although it is not far from civilisation, the route avoids actual contact with towns and villages for quite a lot of the way. So finding supplies is not that easy. The key consideration is to make sure you take enough water and beware of ticks.

The following information may be useful.

Stage 1 Pforzheim-Dobel:  shops along the way, and in Dobel, at the end of the stage. Best camping option is near Dobel at the hut pictured on page 30, which is at Dreimarkstein.

Stage 2 Dobel-Forbach: no shops en route, only the huts mentioned in the route description, which may be serviced on weekends, and a restaurant (higher end) at Kaltenbronn. At end of stage in Forbach all services are available. Best camping hut is the one after Prinzenhütte (it doesn’t have a name) below Draberg (pictured on page 66).

Stage 3 Forbach-Unterstmatt: no villages or shops en route, although there are guesthouses and hikers hostels (mentioned in the appendix), the stage ends at Unterstmatt, where there are a couple of little guesthouses but practically no services or shops. There are no shelter huts nearby. Hochkopf, just above Unterstmatt is a nature reserve, so no camping allowed. But just a bit further along  past Unterstmatt there is Ochsenstall Walker’s Hostel (Naturfreundehaus).

Stage 4 Unterstmatt-Alexanderschanze:
shops (tourist trap) at Mummelsee and huts along the route, but otherwise no shops. Guesthouses/services at Ruhestein. No good shelter huts along the way, but reasonably cheap accommodation at Zuflucht. The village of Kniebis is off the trail, past Alexanderschanze (about 3km) - shops and services available.

Stage 5 Alexanderschanze-Hark: no shops or services, not even guesthouses along the way until one gets to the end of the stage. There is a shelter hut at Littwegerhöhe, pictured on page 90 - but this would make the stage pretty short. You could also continue on past Hark to the Schwarzwaldverein Hut at Brandenkopf or camp at a little picnic/shelter hut just before that, at Spitzbrunnen.

Stage 6 Hark-Hausach: Hohenlochenhütte is only serviced at weekends and bank holidays and the ground around it is quite uneven, so not the best place to camp, although the views are beautiful. Spitzfelsenhut above Hausach would be better although exposed (the hut may not always be open). No shops en route, but there is a farm/restaurant at Kappelhof, past Hohenlochenhütte.

Stage 7 Hausach-Wilhelmshöhe: no shops or villages. There is a hotel/guesthouse just below Karlsfelsen and a bed and breakfast just before the end of the stage. The stage ends at Wilhelmshöhe, which is a simple guesthouse, but to get to the nearest shops you have to go 2-3km out of your way, to Schonach. There are no good camping huts along the way, just picnic tables.

Stage 8 Wilhelmshöhe-Kalte Herberge: plenty of guesthouses/restaurants, but no shops or villages on the trail. No real good shelter huts either. Furtwangen – off the trail – offers the best chances of finding a shop.

Stage 9 Kalte Herberge-Titisee: several guesthouses/restaurants along the way. There is a shelter hut at Weißtannenhöhe and a walkers hostel just before you get to Titisee (Berghäusle). Titisee has all services, shops and restaurants. There is also a campsite halfway around the lake (East route), but is is more for RV campers.

Stage 10 (Western route) Titisee-Feldberg-Notschrei: plenty of guesthouses/cafes and such around Feldberg, even a shop at Feldbergerhof (out of your way if you are walking the western route), and there is a simple little guesthouse just before Notschrei. No real good camping huts.

Stage 10 (Eastern route) Titisee- Feldberg: shop in Bärental, also at Feldberg. There is a hut before you get to Caritas house, but I don’t think it is open. Simple accommodations around Feldberg Ort.

Stage 11 (Western route) Notschrei-Haldenhof: hotels along the way (Notschrei/Wiedener Eck), snacks at Belchenhaus. There is a shelter hut at Richtstatt, just before Haldenhof. No actual shops. Haldenhof is a guesthouse.

Stage  11 (Eastern route) Feldberg-Weißenbachsattel: no shops or villages along the route. There is a shelter hut on Hochkopf (rather, a tower, which offers shelter, but don’t shelter there during a thunderstorm). End of the stage is Weißenbachsattel - there is a slightly more pricey guesthouse there. Cheaper accommodation at Todtmoos-Weg, 2km further along. Weg is a little village but no shops. Todtmoos is the next nearest safe bet for supplies.

Stage 12 (Western route) Haldenhof-Kandern: no shops or villages directly on the trail. Up on the Blauen is a cafe (which may soon offer accommodation too)and there are some shelter huts on the way to Kandern. Lange-Ebene Hütte is closest, but may not be open. Hexenplatzhütte is. Vogelmatt has a restaurant but not much in the way of shops (just farm shops -like little stalls selling apples or whatever is in season). Kandern has all services, even a supermarket.

Stage 12 (Eastern route) Weißenbachsattel-Hasel: the trail touches a few little villages but there are few shops, although they have little restaurants (e.g. Schweighof). You can camp out at Hohe Möhr (tower) although there is no real hut. Hasel does have some basic services and shops.

Stage 13 (Western route) Kandern-Basel: the trail passes little villages, cafes and restaurants along the way, but few shops - even on the approach to Basel.

Stage 13 (Eastern route) Hasel-Degerfelden: the trail passes closer to civilisation, but villages are very small and almost no services are available, except cafes/guesthouses/restaurants. It does pass through Oberminseln, but again nothing much there - you have to go to Mittel-Minseln (just off the trail) to find shops. No hotels in Degerfelden and no decent camping huts nearby either. (Nearest accommodation is in Rheinfelden).

Stage 14 (Eastern route) Degerfelden to Basel: the trail does pass the edge of some villages. To find shops you have to go into the villages themselves. Restaurant and limited services at Rührberg.

Keep in mind that restaurants often close one or two days a week and that shops are likely to be closed at lunchtime.

Another tip:  upload the GPX data and check it out on Google maps - you’ll see exactly where the trail runs and how far away nearby villages are, and  cafes, restaurant and hotels/guesthouses are often marked, and sometimes shops. You can even look at it in aerial view and get a better idea of the terrain.


The Westweg
Plants and wildlife
Walking the Westweg
Getting there
Getting around
Walking without luggage
Where to stay
First and last nights
Food and drink
Dangers and annoyances
When to go
Maps, navigation and GPS
Trail etiquette
Health and insurance
Money matters
Tourist information
Using this guide
Pforzheim to Hausach
Stage 1 Pforzheim to Dobel
Stage 2 Dobel to Forbach
Stage 3 Forbach to Unterstmatt
Stage 4 Unterstmatt to Alexanderschanze
Stage 5 Alexanderschanze to Hark
Stage 6 Hark to Hausach
Hausach to Titisee
Stage 7 Hausach to Wilhelmshöhe
Stage 8 Wilhelmshöhe to Kalte Herberge
Stage 9 Kalte Herberge to Titisee
Western route: Titisee to Basel
Stage 10A Titisee to Notschrei
Stage 11A Notschrei to Haldenhof
Stage 12A Haldenhof to Kandern
Stage 13A Kandern to Basel
Eastern route: Titisee to Basel
Stage 10B Titisee to Feldbergpass
Stage 11B Feldbergpass to Weißenbachsattel
Stage 12B Weißenbachsattel to Hasel
Stage 13B Hasel to Degerfelden
Stage 14B Degerfelden to Basel
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B Accommodation
Appendix C Further information
Appendix D German–English glossary
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