Winter is a lovely season in the Black Forest region of southern Germany. Whether you are a photographer or simply love nature, you will have no shortage of beautiful locations to explore. So in today’s article, I’d like to share with you some of my favorite places to enjoy winter in the Northern Black Forest.
This post is a part of my series on the winter in the Black Forest. If you like the content and would like to experience even more amazing locations in Schwarzwald, be sure to check out the other entries as well:
- Beautiful Places to Enjoy Winter in the Southern Black Forest
- Black Forest in Winter: All Saints’ Abbey and Waterfalls
- Black Forest in Winter: Karlsruher Grat
The All Saints Abbey
If you’re like me and into all things medieval, you’ll definitely want to stop at the All Saints Abbey (Kloster Allerheiligen). End even if history doesn’t interest you, it’s still a cool area well worth exploring.
The All Saints Abbey is an impressive ruin of an early-gothic monastery founded in the late 12th century. The abbey has withstood the test of ages and even though much of it is gone, what remains is pretty awe-inspiring.
The ancient walls dominate the surrounding landscape and look especially enthralling when covered in snow. The ruins are open to everyone so you can come in and examine the ancient walls and towers from up close. It’s pretty fascinating.
And if that wasn’t enough, a short 800-meter hike takes you from the abbey and into a marvelous gorge. There, you will find a ton of cascades and rapids that create some excellent photo opportunities.
I was so inspired by this location that wrote a separate article about it. I dive deep into the history of this place as well as my thoughts on what makes it so unique and captivating.
On the map, Aussichtsplattform Steinmäuerle (the viewing platform Steinmäuerle) may seem like a random viewpoint among many others. But it’s so much more than that.
Indeed, if you head down there, you will discover a small wooden platform offering a lovely view towards the hills and valleys of the central Black Forest to the south. But while it’s an impressive sight (on a clear day), it’s not the only reason I decided to mention it.
If you follow the path past the observation deck, you will soon find yourself amid the woods. In winter, snow transforms the surroundings into a bedazzling white wonderland.
It’s as beautiful as it gets in the Black Forest. What I personally love about this secluded little trail is how diverse it is. There are trees, but there are also large open areas where you can observe the winter winds do their magic.
It’s an easy and charming walk and a fantastic place to enjoy winter in the Northern Black Forest. And hey, if you are in a mood for a somewhat longer stroll, you can even reach the All Saints’ Abbey from here. It’s only 5 kilometers away, mostly downhill.
For photographers, there is a whole range of options around. From the panoramic vistas to bizarre shapes and patterns in the snow to a rustic cabin in the woods – just take your pick.
Keep in mind, your mileage may vary with the grand openings. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, chances are you will only see fog and clouds.
Unfortunately, that’s what happened on the day of my visit. However, I found so many other compelling compositions along the way that I was hardly bothered by having missed out on the big spectacle.
Those looking for a challenge and a true hiking adventure should consider Karlsruher Grat. It is a mountain ridge near the town of Ottenhöfen and the only via ferrata in the northern Black Forest.
That said, Karlsruher Grat is nothing like an alpine via ferrata you will typically encounter in Italy or elsewhere. Yes, it can still be dangerous if you aren’t paying attention, but you won’t have to use ropes or any other special equipment.
Personally, I like to think of Karlsruher Grat as a slightly more challenging hike. Decent shoes, sure-footedness and some concentration is all you need to handle it.
And as an award for this increased difficulty you will get some truly breathtaking views along the way. And because it’s in the Black Forest, there are waterfalls and all sorts of lovely winter landscapes for good measure.
Karlsruher Grat is the place to go if you want a well-rounded thrilling full-day experience in the Black Forest. And if that sounds interesting, be sure to read this article of mine where I discuss Karlsruher Grat in more detail.
Lake Mummelsee is only 12 minutes away by car from the viewing platform Steinmäuerle. It is definitely one of the better-known destinations in the Northern Black Forest, so parking could be an issue.
Even in winter, many people come here, and for a good reason. Apart from being home to a charming little lake, this area offers some of the best views in the entire region.
Located at the altitude of 1036m, Mummelsee is the highest ice age lake in the Black Forest. And while we’re on the topic of heights, the peak Hornisgrinde towering above its northern shore is the tallest in the Northern Black Forest (1164m).
As you can imagine, the views from here are nothing short of spectacular. From the ridges of the southern Schwarzwald to the Rhine Valley and the Vosges in France there are mountains and valleys for as far as an eye can see.
It is by far the best place to chase the cloud inversion in the Black Forest. If you’re lucky to catch one, it’s truly a mesmerizing sight well worth getting out in the cold for.
There are plenty of hikes nearby, the simplest being the circle trail around lake Mummelsee itself. While relatively undemanding, it features some smashing photo opportunities, and I highly recommend it.
One can go even further, to the top of Hornisgrinde and beyond, but honestly, there is no need to sweat it. There are stunning vistas everywhere, so choose the route depending on how cold it is and the time you have.
Even a quick hour-long tour would be enough to capture some remarkable images. But I urge you to stay and explore. And after you’re done, stop by the onsite restaurant for some delicious Black Forest specialties. Yummy!
Gaishöll Waterfalls (Gaishöll Wasserfälle) is a recent discovery of mine and one that has really surprised me. I knew there are plenty of waterfalls in this part of Germany but honestly didn’t expect to encounter something just so fabulous.
For me, this somewhat hidden location is by far one of the best places to visit in the Northern Black Forest in winter.
Located just 10 kilometers away from Mummelsee, Gaishöll Waterfalls are so inconspicuous that you will likely drive by and never realize they’re there.
And that would be a real shame. Gaishöll Waterfalls is something you should absolutely witness with your own eyes. Especially if you are passionate about landscape photography – you’re in for a treat!
Gaishöll Waterfalls is a short 800m long forest path along the banks of river Brandbach. Because of uneven terrain and altitude differences, the trail is full of waterfalls. There are probably dozens of them here, of all imaginable sizes and shapes.
Lush vegetation and numerous stairs and bridges installed to make the hike easier help create an atmosphere of an enchanted fairy-tale forest eternally lost in time and space.
I don’t think I know enough adjectives to describe how stunning this location is. I spent at least two hours going from one waterfall to another with my camera ready, so absorbed in photography that I completely lost the sense of time.
A word of caution – if landscape photography is your thing, you might want to come here on your own first. No matter how patient and understanding your spouse or friend may be, they will inevitably get bored watching you shoot every little cascade or crevice. You’ve been warned!
Winter in the Black Forest
What I described above is just the tip of the iceberg. The Black Forest is full of tiny hidden gems like that. One could go there every week and never run out of exciting sites to explore.
What I have talked about so far is just the northern part of Schwarzwald. But the southern Black Forest is no less entertaining! I have recently published an entire article about it. Be sure to check it out for even more Black Forest goodness!
But there are countless other locations, more secluded yet equally amazing, corners that are well worth a visit. And those who seek them out will be rewarded handsomely.
But of course, finding them is part of the fun, so I’ll let you have your own adventure. Whatever you uncover, I am sure you will love it.
Or you can simply try the spots I talk about above. They might not sound like much, but believe me – if you intend to cover all three in one go, be ready for a long day.
Each one is so unique and adorable that you might find yourself captivated and not wanting to leave. And that’s great too! Let yourself appreciate the beauty of the Northern Black Forest – it truly is spectacular in winter. You can always come back for more later.
I’ll leave you with that. The winter will be over before you know it, so get out there and have fun. And if you happen to read this during a different season, don’t worry – the Black Forest is gorgeous throughout the year.
If you liked this article and got anything useful out of it, feel free to share it with your friends or on social media and help spread the word. And if you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below.
Remember to check my other articles on Schwarzwald, and of course, I also write about other destinations. So you are welcome to roam around the blog to your heart’s content. Here are some of my suggestions:
- Beautiful Places to Enjoy Winter in the Southern Black Forest
- 7 Tips for Winter Landscape Photography
- One day itinerary for landscape photography in Southern Bavaria
- Basel Christmas Market Guide: the Best in Europe. Or is it?
- How to Photograph Burg Eltz – Best Locations, Tips, and Tricks
- Sunrise on Top of the World: Photography Guide to Mt. Pilatus
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