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Mittelweg: Hiking the Black Forest in Germany

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The 100-year-old Mittelweg Trail takes its visitors through one of the most spectacular natural scenes in Germany, the Black Forest. The 230 km hiking trail in Germany goes through thick dark-green woodlands of the forest, past age-old farmlands and iridescent lakes. Along the path, you will also be able to see intriguing man-made sights, including rustic chapels, medieval castle ruins and gorgeous half-timbered villages. 

Highlights

  • Soak up the magical atmosphere of Schwarzwaldian woodlands
  • Enjoy spectacular views that stretch all the way to the Alps
  • Relax in Bad Wildbad, one of Germany’s most famous spa towns
  • Explore the ruins of old medieval castles dotted along the trail
  • Learn about the age-old tradition of jewelry and watchmaking in Pforzheim and St. Georgen

Lowlights

  • Mittelweg includes several steep ascents, so beginner hikers should evaluate their fitness before deciding to embark on this trail.
  • It takes nine days to complete the hike, not suited for visitors looking for shorter, less time-consuming treks. In that case, the Rennsteig would be a great option as it takes only 8 days.  
  • Even though visiting Mittelweg during the winter has its charms, the temperatures and snowy paths might be too straining. 

Mittelweg hike facts

Hike difficulty: Moderate
Hike duration: 9 days
Best season: The Black Forest, crown jewel of the Mittelweg, is at its best during late summer and early fall (early September throughout October)
Remoteness: Not very remote. The path goes through several decently populated towns and villages.
Maximum altitude: 1190 m at Hochfirst
Accommodation: Youth hostels, boutique hotels and rustic guesthouses
Start / end location: Pforzheim / Waldshut
Physical fitness: The trail has several steep ascents and requires a basic level of fitness
Permits required: None 
Mittelweg hiking trails is best visited during spring
The Black Forest comes alive with greenery during spring

Mittelweg day-to-day itinerary

Day 1: Pforzheim – Bad Wildbad, 23 km

The trail begins in the town of Pforzheim, known as the “Golden City”, a jewelry and watchmaking hub. From Kupferhammer, you will walk past a jewelry museum, then continue towards Büchenbronn, where you can visit the observation tower. The trail continues past Engelsbrand and Langenbrand, then descends to Calmbach and finishes in Bad Wildbad.

Tip: If you need to unwind after a day of hiking, make sure to visit the Palais Thermal, one of the town’s most famous spas.

Day 2: Bad Wildbad – Besenfeld, 31 km

From Bad Wildbad, the trail ascends for about 300 m before reaching Sommerberg, then moves along the well-maintained footpath to Wildsee and the surrounding moorland. The trail continues into Kaltenbronn, an old parish nestled between the Murg and Enz valleys. Here, you can find out many interesting facts about the region from the information center. The trek ascends again to Hohlohsee and the Hohlohturm watchtower. This section of the trail ends in Besenfeld.

Day 3: Besenfeld – Zwieselberg, 26 km

The path departs from Besenfeld past the ruins of Königswart, an early 13th-century construction, where you can enjoy the beautiful views of the Murg Valley. Next, the trail continues into the Freudenstatd and its vast town square. After passing the Kinzing Valley, the path ends in Zwieselberg.

Tip: While in Freudenstadt, make sure to grab a cup of coffee at the town’s market place – the largest one Germany.

Day 4: Zwieselberg – Schiltach, 25 km

The trail moves through thick pine forests and goes past the Sulzerköpfle and Bocksecke mountaintops. It continues through forests and meadows before reaching Kuhberg, then turns left. This section of the trail ends in the high-altitude village of Schiltach, where you can take a moment to admire the picturesque half-timbered houses.

Day 5: Schiltach – St. Georgen, 30.5 km

The path continues towards the woodlands, then climbs up a hill where you can enjoy the view of the village you just visited. It goes around the 887 m high Moosenkopf mountain, one of the tallest summits of the Black Forest. It goes past the village of Fohrenbühl, then ends in the beautiful town of St. Georgen.

Tip: Visit the old lapidarium or learn more about the local watchmaking tradition at St. Georgen.

Day 6: St. Georgen – Kalte Herberge, 25.5 km

The path sets off from St. Georgen, then continues along the edge of the forest. It ventures into the woodlands, then ascends to Kesselberg. It moves through a valley before reaching the town of Furtwangen, where you can visit the German Clock Museum. The trek continues into the forest, then through wide meadows before reaching Kalte Herberge.

Day 7: Kalte Herberge – Neustadt, 25.5 km

The trail moves through lush forests and vast meadows, past the Margrutthäusle homestead and a small, enchanting chapel. The road returns into the forest, past the village of Schwärzenbach, and finally ends in the historic city of Neustadt. Here, you can relax on the shores of the gorgeous Lake Titisee.

Day 8: Neustadt – Häusern, 27.7 km

The path goes into the forest once again, ascending westwards. It continues to the Hochfirst Tower, where you can enjoy a spectacular panorama of the Titisee-Neustadt region. The path goes downhill through the Black Forest and stops in Lenzkirch, where you can admire the Alt-Urach, remains of a 13th-century castle. The path continues to Schluchsee, a lake and its adjoining community, which is also popular spa resort. Once again through forests and meadows, this section of the path ends in the village of Häusern.

Day 9: Häusern – Waldshut, 25.2 km

The last portion of the trail departs from Häusern and continues via the forest and meadow paths of the southern Black Forest before reaching Höchenschwand, where you can unwind in a lush spa park. The path continues through the Black Forest and past small farms, through the municipality of Heubach. The last stretch of the forest path leads straight into Waldshut.

Tip: Waldshut is home to many interesting sights, including the Liebfrauenkirche, the Schultheißsche Haus and the 17th Century Gottesackerkapelle. 

Black Forest in Germany is also recognised as a top skiing destination. If you are planning a winter ski holiday then check out the Black Forest Cross-Country Ski Tour.

Mittelweg is a beautiful trail for hiking in Germany
Spend some time alone with nature while hiking the Mittelweg
Mittelweg hiking trail starts in the town of Pforzheim
Pforzheim is famous for its watch-making and jewelry industries
Schluchtensteig Trail is a beautiful trail for hiking in Germany
Lake Schluchsee is the main highlight of day 8
Flammkuchen is a German dish that needs to tried while hiking Mittelweg
When you reach St. Georgen on day 5, make sure to try the scrumptious Flammkuchen – informally known as 'German pizza'

Alternate hiking route

In Lenzkirch, the path divides into two trails. This itinerary describes the Western branch, which goes via Neustadt and Häusern. Alternatively, you can follow the eastern branch of the trail, which will lead you to Waldshut via Grafenhausen.

How to get to the trailhead

You can reach Pforzheim via three airports in Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Baden-airpark. It takes around two hours to reach Central Station Pforzheim from these cities via train. From the Central Station, it’s a 25-minute walk southwards to get to Kupferhammer, the start of the trail. The Mittelweg trail sign is a red diamond with a white stripe.

Neustadt is a beautiful town that can be reached on day 8 on the Mittelweg
Boats lined up on the shore of Lake Titisee in Titisee-Neustadt

When it comes to soaking up the wonders of the Black Forest, the Mittelweg trail is where you want to go. Not only will you be rewarded with all the gems of the Schwarzwaldian landscape, including dense woodlands, verdant marshes and pleasant valleys, you will also get to see a number of intriguing historical beauties, such as medieval castles, rustic watchmaker shops and idyllic spa town. With this in mind, there is no surprise as to why the Mittelweg is one of the most alluring hiking routes in Germany.

If Germany has been on your mind then check out more tours in Germany to compare itineraries and prices. 

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