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.
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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.
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.
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.
The twelfth and last stage leads you through the last foothills of the southern Black Forest. In many places you have fantastic views of the Rhine valley, to France and of course to Switzerland. This is where your milestone lies: at the end of your tour you cross the German-Swiss border and end your hike in Basel.In Kandern you start your farewell tour through the Black Forest. You follow the course of the Kander to the south. Above the river there is an elongated rock formation known as the Wolfsschlucht. The path leads you right through and you can enjoy a unique landscape.The valley soon opens and the Westweg leads you over the Kander. On the other bank, the hiking trail runs just below the forested mountain slopes and so you hike across vast meadows and pass through small villages and towns.