It can be said that the Westweg trail is the origin of all German long-distance hiking trails, becoming the first designated path of its kind back in 1900. Since then, the trail has grown to cover a distance of 177 miles (285 kilometers) — starting in Pforzheim in the north and ending in Basel in the south.
In contrast to the Mittelweg and the Ostweg, the Westweg takes you mostly through the west of the mountains. And as you go, you will witness the natural diversity of the largest German low mountain range: the dense fir and spruce forests that give the mountain range its name, the treeless expanses in the northern Black Forest, quiet mountain lakes, panoramic rock crests, glacial valleys and mountains in the southern Black Forest. In between, you'll climb the highest peaks again and again. You hike over the plateau of the Hornisgrinde, visit the Belchen and the Hochblauen, enjoy the view on the Schliffkopf and roam the high moor around the Hohloh. A true high point of your hike, of course, will be the ascent of the Feldberg, the highest mountain in the Black Forest.
We have divided the Westweg into 12 stages for you. On the 177-mile (285-kilometer) long route, there are almost 27,000 feet (8,000 meters) to climb - quite a respectable amount for a hike outside the Alps. Due to the difference in altitude to be overcome and the long stages, the Westweg is not an ideal hike for beginners. Experienced hikers, on the other hand, will love the seclusion of the forests and mountains, because the Westweg also leads through quiet ban forests and over lonely plateaus away from the most popular tourist destinations. We have planned all our hikes in such a way that you can easily find a hotel or guesthouse at the individual stage destinations. A reservation is nevertheless worthwhile because only few rooms are normally available on-site.
If you have not yet undertaken a long-distance hike of this size, but are fond of the Westweg, we suggest a few practice weekends. Plan a few hikes with a distance of more than 12 miles (20 kilometers) and hike on both weekend days. Use the time to bring your hiking boots and get used to your luggage in your backpack. If you feel fit enough, nothing stands in the way of your hike on the Westweg.
The first stage of the Westweg leads you from Pforzheim on the northern edge of the Black Forest steadily up to the climatic health resort Dobel. The north of the Black Forest is still relatively densely populated - so today the Westweg leads you not only through quiet, dense forests, but also through Neubürg and past Schwann.The starting point of your hike is the Golden Gate in Pforzheim. It stands at the confluence of Würm and Nagold and marks the first stage of the Ostwegs and the Westweg. From here, the western trail, marked with a red rhombus, leads you past a wooded, gentle ridge to the ruins of Hoheneck.After crossing the Nagold, the trail winds for a while through the city and then into the Pforzheim Arboretum. More than 40 different tree species from all over the world grow here - among others Californian sequoia trees.Shortly thereafter, you are standing on the banks of the Enz, a tributary of the Nagold. The Westweg runs directly along the wooded shore and follows the river valley to the Neuenbürger castle. The castle stands on a mountain spur on the edge of Neuenbürg, which is surrounded on three sides by the Enz.From the castle, the path gently descends and over the Enz. On the other bank, the trail climbs and leads you through the streets of Neuenbürg. After only a few minutes you leave the city behind you and you continue on forest roads. At Schwann it goes close to the edge of the forest and you can enjoy the view over the wide meadows and fields up to the Rhine plain at the observation tower Schwanner waiting.From this point you follow the Westweg through dense forest steadily uphill to the stage destination Dobel. Here you can find different hotels, pensions and apartments where you can spend the night.
The second stage of the day follows an elongated ridge and leads you up to the Hohloh. On the 988 meter high mountain is a lookout tower, which offers you a fabulous view of the northern Black Forest. But already on the way there are always terrific panoramas.Full of energy, you start your tour in the health resort Dobel. From here it goes gently uphill on comfortable forest roads. The first panoramic view awaits you at the Schweizerkopf hut, which is located slightly below the actual summit. From the small hiking hut you have a great view of the Gasibach and the Albtal.The trail meanders over the wooded ridge. On the way you will pass several hiking huts and rest areas, which often have a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape for you.Around the Hohloh, the highest point of today's stage, you wander on boardwalks through a vast, untouched moor. The summit itself is densely forested, but thanks to the stone and almost 30 meters high lookout tower, you can still enjoy a fantastic panorama.From Hohloh you hike downhill steadily until you reach the intermediate goal Forbach.On today's stage, there are no rest stops, so you should provide yourself with plenty of provisions and water before starting the hike.
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The third tour on the Westweg runs over a long chain of peaks and leads you up to the pass Unterstmatt. It is located on the famous Schwarzwaldhochstraße, the oldest holiday road in Germany. On the way there you walk through dense forests and past idyllic lakes.From the starting point in Forbach it goes straight uphill. In some hairpin bends and serpentine sections, you ascend the slopes of the Murg Valley until you are standing on the banks of the Schwarzenbach reservoir. This offers a sublime view, especially in winter and spring, when the water is high and the trees are reflected in it.After a short breather we continue straight away: You leave the reservoir and wander on a rocky trail along the narrow Seebach along. It is fed partly from the Herrenwieser See, whose shore you pass during the ascent to the Seekopf.Arrived at the Seekopf, you can expect no view, but a historic monument: On a large rock a commemorative plaque for Philipp Bussemer is attached, which is considered the "father of the Westweg".At the Seekopf you have already covered almost the entire ascent of today's stage and from here you continue without any major differences in altitude. Next stop is the Friedrichsturm on the Badener Höhe. On the observation deck of the tower, you are located clearly above the treetops and are spoiled accordingly with a great view.From the tower it is only a few minutes' walk to the Naturfreundehaus Badener Höhe, which is perfect for a relaxing break and a delicious meal. Strengthened, you then wander through the forest to the finish line Unterstmatt. Here you will find two different hotels where you can stay overnight.
The fourth stage holds a very special highlight for you - in the truest sense of the word. With a height of 1,163 meters, the Hornisgrinde is the highest peak in the northern Black Forest. From the summit, you then hike along rough forest roads to the Passhöhe refuge, your current destination, roughly parallel to the Schwarzwaldhochstraße.From Unterstmatt you hike right up to the Hornisgrinde - but since the starting point is already quite high, you have only 200 vertical meters ahead of you. On top of the extensive summit plateau of the Hornisgrinde a barren meadow and moorland awaits you. The already beautiful views can be enjoyed even better on the towers Bismarck and Hornisgrindenturm.From the summit you hike in a wide bend down to the picturesque Mummelsee. However, it is right on the Black Forest High Road and so it can be quite crowded here on weekends. If you are too busy at the lake, just continue your hike directly.The trail now leads parallel, but a few meters away from the Black Forest High Road through the forest. You hike here on comfortable forest trails to Seibelseckle, where you can take a break at the small rest house.On natural trails you continue your tour. The Westweg follows the natural course of a mountain range and between the coniferous trees you can enjoy the view of the Black Forest in different places.If you have not yet needed a break at the Seibelseckle, you can also stop off in the Darmstädter Hütte or in the Ruhesteinschänke. From the Ruhesteinschänke it then goes uphill again to the Schliffkopf, at the top of which you can enjoy a great panorama.Afterwards you will hike gently downhill to the stage destination refuge. The only accommodation on site is the Natur- und Sporthotel Zuflucht, where you can comfortably spend the night.
On the fifth stage, you will hike from the Naturhotel Zuflucht to the Vesperhof Hark, which lies amidst alpine meadows. You walk most of the time at a consistent height over densely wooded ridges and finally evenly downhill to the waypoint. Altogether, more meters in descent are on the program than in ascent - a welcome change after the mountain stages of the last two days.At the beginning of today's stage, you again walk parallel to the Black Forest High Road to the pass Alexanderschanze. Here used to be an important fortification, after which the pass is still named today. There is also an old mountain hotel, which has been abandoned for several years.At the Alexanderschanze forks the Schwarzwaldhochstraße and for a while the Westweg runs parallel to one of the two roads. Luckily, dense forest separates you from the road, so you hardly get any of the passing cars. After about three kilometers, the road then bends towards the valley and you can fully enjoy nature again for you alone. From a small clearing on a hillside you can see the road as it meanders through the valley to Griesbach.Then you hike on a rustic trail through a magical spell forest. Here, the forest has not been managed by man for many years and slowly the landscape is transformed back into a jungle. Dead trees lie along the wayside and provide an excellent habitat for insects, reptiles and plants.The path winds its way through sometimes dense and sometimes young forests, over small mountain meadows and along the enchanted Glaswaldsee. On your way you can stop at numerous uncultivated huts and admire the secluded countryside.Finally, just before your destination, the forest finally opens completely and gives you the view of the Vesperhof Hark, the cozy, but also the only accommodation in Hark.For today's stage, you should provide you in advance with food and water, as there is no rest stop between the nature hotel and the Vesperhof. Ask in the morning in the hotel after a packed lunch.
With only 16 kilometers of track, only 300 meters in ascent and against almost 800 meters in descent, the sixth stage is one of the pleasure tours of the Westweg. Over a long ridge, the trail meanders gently downhill to Hausach. Your stage destination is located in the broad Kinzigtal, which is considered the border from the northern to the southern Black Forest.Your starting point is the Vesperhof Hark, which lies on a sprawling mountain meadow below the Regeleskopf. Without significant height differences, the trail meanders through the dense forest. Slowly the path descends into the valley and you literally float there.At this stage, the Black Forest lives up to its name: most of the time you walk on comfortable forest trails and on quiet forest roads through dense fir and spruce forest. Especially on warm summer days, the shady forest is a real treat.After just under ten kilometers you have two restaurants to choose from: The Hohenlochhütte is located on a hill in the dense forest and the Käppelehof is located on a picturesque alpine meadow. Since the stage is not too long today, you can take your time on your break.Then it goes in a wide loop down to Hausach in Kinzigtal. On your way there, the forest slowly becomes lighter and you can always enjoy beautiful, wide views.
The seventh stage takes you up to the southern Black Forest, where the highest elevations of the entire Black Forest are located. You'll notice that on today's tour as well, because on your way to the stage destination Wilhelmshöhe there is a total of over 1,100 meters uphill. As a reward for this challenge, you will be pampered with magnificent views of glacier-shaped mountains and valleys.At the beginning of your tour the Westweg leads you up to the castle Husen. From the defensive wall you can still take a look at Hausach and already it goes uphill. The first "highlight" of the day is the Farrenkopf. Here a small hiker's hut invites you to take a break, where you can admire the picturesque view of the wooded mountains of the Black Forest.The Westweg winds its way from here through the dense forest and leads you past open, lush mountain meadows. Especially spectacular panoramas await you on the Hubertfelsen and on the Karlstein. From the bare granite cliffs, your gaze wanders down into deep valleys and over the densely wooded mountain slopes.Finally, at the Karlstein, you have managed almost the entire ascent of today's stage. From here, the trail runs almost flat to the stage destination Wilhelmshöhe. The only accommodation at the finish is the Gasthof Wilhelmshöhe.This stage leads almost all the time through secluded forests - accordingly, you will find no rest stops along the way. After almost 18 kilometers you can take a break at Gasthaus Reschbe. If you are hungry before, it is worth packing food in your backpack in the morning.
On the eighth stage, the Westweg winds its way up and down the mountains of the southern Black Forest. The highest point of today's stage is 1.150 meters, the bare summit of the Brends. From up here you have a fantastic view of the highest peaks of the Black Forest: To the south, Feldberg, Belchen, Hochfirst and Kandel line up.Starting point of the eighth stage is the Gasthof Wilhelmshöhe. Here you will walk through one of the many ornate gates that have been set up on the Westweg for the hikers. For a while, the trail leads you along meadows, through sparse forests and along forest edges. Around the tiny blind lake you can expect a enchanted moorland, which you can explore on boardwalks.Continue past alpine meadows and past grand, venerable Black Forest farms. Again and again you enjoy beautiful views over the peaceful landscape. Before the ascent to Brend you can have a nice rest at the Hofcafe Näbbe Duss. Strengthened you literally dash up the trail to the summit. If you want to take a break here, you can either visit the Naturfreundehaus or the Berggasthof Brend.From the Brend the Westweg leads most of the time over wide mountain meadows downhill. Soon after you realize that the landscape is a little more populated here. Around the Bregtal there are many villages and farms, which are well connected by a high road. The last part of today's stage follows roughly the course of this high road to the stage destination Kaltenherberg. As on other previous stages, you will find only one hotel: the inn Kalte hostel.
Also on the ninth day you will be spoiled with comfortable hiking trails on almost endless mountain pastures. While you stroll along here, you will be accompanied by a fantastic view of the mountains of the southern Black Forest.The Gasthof Kalte Hostel, starting point of today's stage, is located directly on the southern section of the Black Forest High Road. The Westweg runs for a few kilometers near the road.After about seven kilometers, the trail bends and quickly returns to rest. Here, the Westweg winds along the edge of wide meadows and leads you only for short sections through small forest. Accordingly, you enjoy beautiful views of the vast landscape with every step.It is only around the summit of Weißtannenhöhe that we return to the typical coniferous forest of the Black Forest. You wander in a gently rising loop past tall firs to the summit mark. The highest point is densely forested, but on a narrow forest path, there is a view of the surrounding mountains.Via alpine meadows, you then hike downhill to the picturesque Titisee and the eponymous village on its shores. Here you have several refreshments to choose from and in good weather, of course, is worth a dip in the lake.After a well-deserved break, we continue over a last ridge to the destination Hinterzarten.
On the tenth stage, it goes quite high, because today you climb the highest mountain in the Black Forest. The famous Feldberg with its 1,493 meters is not only the king of the Black Forest, but also the highest German mountain outside the Alps. After your summit storm, the Westweg leads you through dense forests and beautiful viewpoints over to the stage destination Wiedener Eck.From Hinterzarten you hike uphill on the slopes of the peaceful Zartenbachtal at the beginning of the tour. Soon you enter a clearing and you can take a first look at the Feldberg massif. Further and further the Westweg leads you uphill - first through forests and soon over open, wide mountain meadows.The Feldberg plateau consists of the Feldberg and the only slightly lower Seebuck. There are hardly any trees growing up here and therefore you can enjoy a fantastic view, which in good weather reaches as far as the Alps. On the Feldberg, a visit to the St. Wilhelmer Hütte, the highest alpine hut in the Black Forest, is also worthwhile.After a rest in the alpine hut, the Westweg leads for a while over mountain meadows and finally into quiet forests. Leisurely hike downhill to the finish line Wiedener Eck.
The eleventh stage takes you over a long 33 kilometers and over 1,500 vertical meters in descent from the highest peaks of the southern Black Forest. Before you visit but still the Belchen, with an altitude of 1,414 meters, after all, the fourth highest mountain in the Black Forest. Take enough time for today's stage and treat yourself to regular breaks, then you'll be fine.From Wiedener Eck you walk in a wide loop on forest roads uphill to Belchen. In addition to the fantastic views, the Gasthof Belchenhaus awaits you here, which is suitable for a first break.Now begins the long but steady descent. The Westweg follows the course of a ridge. You migrate through coniferous forests most of the time, but in different places the forest opens up and opens up the view to the Alps or the Vosges.If you have covered about 13 kilometers, you can reward yourself with a break in the Haldenhof. Rested and with fresh forces, it goes on. The next seven kilometers are without significant height differences and so you can protect your knees a bit.From the small refuge Egertenhütte begins the last, short climb of the day. Here you hike up to the viewpoint on the high blue. If you still have reserves, you should ascend to the observation deck, because the view over the southern Black Forest is great.Over a long ridge, the Westweg finally runs down the valley. Once at the bottom, your stage destination Kandern welcomes you.If the whole leg is too long for you, you can divide it into two days. The best place to spend the night is at the Haldenhof.
The twelfth and last stage takes you through the last foothills of the southern Black Forest. In many places, fantastic views open up to the Rhine plain, as far as France and, of course, Switzerland. That's where your milestone lies: at the end of your tour, you cross the German-Swiss border and finish your hike in Basel.In Kandern you start your farewell tour through the Black Forest. You follow the Kander River south. Above the river is an elongated rock formation known as the Wolf's Gulch. The path leads you through the middle and you will enjoy a unique landscape.Soon the valley opens and the Westweg leads you over the Kander. On the other shore, the trail runs just below the wooded mountainsides and so you wander across wide meadows and pass through small villages and towns.Behind Wollbach the Westweg meanders over a wooded ridge. At its southern end you will find on a hill the well-preserved castle ruins Rötteln. In the impressive ruin is also a café with beer garden - the perfect place for an extended rest.Afterwards, it goes downhill and under the A96 motorway. Here follows the last ridge of your long-distance hike. The Tüllinger Berg lies directly between Lörrach, Basel and Weil am Rhein and promises fantastic views of all three cities.From Tullinger Berg you hike down to the shore of the meadow, which leads you leisurely to your stage destination Basel. Satisfied, you can look back on your last twelve days: on your hike, you got to know and love all facets, landscapes and the unique nature of the Black Forest.