Friday, August 19, 2016

Hiking near Schönwald im Schwarzwald, Black Forest

Left: View of the hike route in Google Earth. Right: View of Schönwald im Schwarzwald
View of the hike route in Google EarthView of Schönwald im Schwarzwald

Hike Notes

Length: 22.2 km (13.8 miles) round-trip
Duration: 7.5 hours inclusive of a 2-hour lunch and many stops to look at scenery
Elevation: 690 m (2,264 feet) total elevation gain, min elevation 953 m (3,127 feet), max elevation 1151 m (3,776 feet)
Location: Germany, Baden-Württemberg (state), Freiburg (region), Schwarzwald-Baar-Kreis (district)


This hike in the Black Forest (central part) was as described in the Cicerone Guide: Hiking and Biking in the Black Forest by Kat Morgenstern, Walk 10: To the source of the Danube. As part of the purchase of the book, I logged on to the Cicerone site and downloaded the GPX route files. We followed the GPX route for this walk (more or less) because it was easier than trying to follow the written cues in the hike description. Even then, we seemed to veer off path every now and then. However, it was hard to get lost on this hike.

Aside on mapping applications
Thank you for just working. And, a black eye for my Google Maps application (iPhone), which proved just about worthless in spotty connectivity, which was most of this hike. In fact, I've been moving more toward using applications like with good offline capabilities in difficult, complicated navigation situations. 
In general, I find that Google Maps throws up lots of information that is confusing. Case in point: driving down the road, Google Maps suggested (alternate route) we get off the main road we were on, drive down a side road for about 1 km, turn around and come back and resume traveling on the main road. In other words: a useless suggestion. In other situations, it picks routes (at least in Germany and Italy in our experiences) that may save a few seconds under optimal conditions but are clearly poor choices in general. Some of our recent experiences have reiterated the need for me (as navigator usually) to be diligent about checking routes and overriding suggested ones from an application using common sense. Duh, right? For example, when driving into an historical center, it is generally better to follow the routing suggested by the street signs ("centro") and not some crazy-side-side-street option that may look good at first glance in a mapping application but will get you in trouble in the end. (As happened to us in Sulmona a few months ago.)
A positive point for Google Maps is that we find its voice instructions to be the best we've used. At key decision points on the route, it lets you know what to do in language that is very clear.
It’s useful to know before you go a little about the way trails are marked in the very comprehensive trail system of the Black Forest. (The Cicerone guide gives a good overview.) The basic thing you need to know is that a yellow rhombus (or diamond) designates a local path, a blue rhombus a longer, trans-regional route, and a red rhombus a main trail. During this hike (Walk 10), you pop on and off all three types of trails.

Before the hike we had an expectation of the Black Forest as you might find as the setting of a dark fairy tale: deep and impenetrable. This hike was not at all like that. It was more of a walk out of town, through some managed forest lands, skirting fields and farms, and ambling along some country lanes kind of walk. That’s not bad at all, and we enjoyed the walk thoroughly, but you should adjust expectations accordingly. There are likely wilder and more remote hikes you could do in the Black Forest – in particular, in the southern part – but this wasn’t one of them. That said, the hike is a a great introduction to the area.

A good example of the scenery is the view from Brendturm (tower), where you look over forest and farms. Note the number of wind turbines. The turbines and neat-as-a-pin barns with solar panels on top make it seem like we were walking through a bit of utopia. And, well, maybe we were.

Some of the main sights on this hike:
  • Blindensee – A rain fed moor.
  • Start of the River Breg, the primary headstream of the Danube River (next to Kolmenhof).
  • Günterfelsen – Gunter rock formation are large boulders released from the soil by prehistoric glaciers; the formation is part of what you see in Walk 10.
There are a number of places to eat located around Martinskapelle and Brend, which the guide lists. We ate at Höhengasthaus Kolmenhof an der Donauquelle und St. Martinskapelle. We had pan-fried trout that was scooped out of the holding tank on the patio, and a cutting board sampler of Black Forest meats. The meat sampler came with a shot glass of Schnapps: the waitress said that after so much meat, you need the Schnapps. We finished with – you guessed it – a Black Forest cake.

On this trip, we were based in Tübingen and drove to Schönwald (hike start). Tübingen isn’t the greatest base for hikes in the Black Forest because of the distance you need to drive to get to hikes, at least ones in the Cicerone guide we used. If we were to focus only on hiking in the Black Forest, we would pick one of the areas (north, central, south) and base ourselves there. As it was, we had more than enough to do in Tübingen, and the day trip to the Black Forest was to get an idea of the area for a future visit.


The plants we saw on this hike reminded me a lot of the what I saw on the Wainwright Coast to Coast walk (part1 and part2). It really was the invasive Himalayan Balsam that was the first plant that I recognized, followed by Meadowsweet, Loosestrife, and Eyebright.

Here's a list of some plants we saw. Images are below.

[Asteraceae] Achillea ptarmica – Sneezewort
[Asteraceae] Cirsium arvense – Creeping Thistle
[Asteraceae] Hieracium aurantiacum – Orange Hawkweed, Devil’s Paintbrush.
[Balsaminaceae] Impatiens glandulifera – Indian Balsam
[Balsaminaceae] Impatiens noli-tangere – Touch-me-not Balsam
[Caryophyllaceae] Dianthus armeria  – Grass Pink
[Caprifoliaceae] Succisa  – Scabious
[Lamiaceae] Prunella vulgaris – Common Self-heal
[Onagraceae] Epilobium
[Orchidaceae] Epipactis helleborineBroad-leaved helleborine
[Orobanchaceae] Euphrasia officinalis – Eyebright
[Plantaginaceae] Digitalis
[Primulaceae] Lysimachia vulgaris – Common Loosestrife
[Rosaceae] Filipendula ulmaria - Meadowsweet
[Rosaceae] Rubus - Raspberry

Eating at Höhengasthaus Kolmenhof: Black Forest cake, a cutting board of local cured meats and cheeses, fresh trout, and coffee.

Left: view of the route. Right: Information about the Blindensee view of the routeInformation about the Blindensee Moor

Left: Green insect on Succisa – scabious. Center: Prunella vulgaris – Common Self-heal. Right: Epipactis helleborine – Broad-leaved helleborine
Green insect on Succisa – scabiousPrunella vulgaris – Common Self-healEpipactis helleborine – Broad-leaved helleborine

Pilosella aurantiacum – Orange Hawkweed, Devil’s Paintbrush
Hieracium aurantiacum – Orange Hawkweed, Devil’s PaintbrushHieracium aurantiacum – Orange Hawkweed, Devil’s Paintbrush

Left and center: Lysimachia vulgaris – Common Loosestrife. Right: Managed forest near Schönwald.
Lysimachia vulgaris – Common LoosestrifeLysimachia vulgaris – Common LoosestrifeExample of Black Forest trees near Schonwald

Impatiens noli-tangere. Flowers and leaf with worm.

Left: Filipendula ulmaria - Meadowsweet. Center and right: Euphrasia officinalis – Eyebright.
Filipendula ulmaria - MeadowsweetEuphrasia officinalis – EyebrightEuphrasia officinalis – Eyebright

Cirsium arvense and Impatiens glandulifera.
Cirsium arvense and Impatiens glandulifera.Cirsium arvenseImpatiens glandulifera

Left: Dianthus armeria - Grass Pink. Right: Digitalis - Foxglove
Dianthus armeria - Grass PinkDigitalis - Foxglove

Left: Achillea ptarmica – Sneezewort. Right: Rubus - Raspberry.
Achillea ptarmica – SneezewortRubus - Raspberry

Left: View coming into Schönwald im Schwarzwald. Right: Typical forest road you walk over.

Left: Skirting a field. Right: View of hills and farmland.

Left and center: Günterfelsen - Gunter Rock formation. Right: Hunting hide that is common sight at forest edge.
Günterfelsen - Gunter Rock formationGünterfelsen - Gunter Rock formationHunting hide that is common sight at forest edge

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