For a while now, Black Forest has been my go-to destination to enjoy the gorgeous winter scenery. Last year, I already published an article on some of the most astonishing spots in northern Schwarzwald. But obviously, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. So this time, let’s follow it up with a guide to some beautiful winter places in the southern Black Forest.
- Winter in the Black Forest
- Where to Enjoy Winter in Southern Black Forest
- Preparing for the Visit
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 Northern Black Forest
- Black Forest in Winter: All Saints’ Abbey and Waterfalls
- Black Forest in Winter: Karlsruher Grat
Winter in the Black Forest
The Black Forest (or Schwarzwald in German) is an immensely beautiful region in the southwestern part of Germany. Here, majestic ancient woods and dreamy hills span dozens of kilometers with breathtaking views anywhere you look.
The Black Forest is fabulous throughout the year. But to me, hands-down the best season to visit it is in winter. When the temperatures drop and snow covers the landscape with a dazzling soft blanket, the area is transformed into an enchanted white fairy tale.
That probably sounds like a cliche, but it’s true. Crispy cold air, trees engulfed in snow, frozen waterfalls – the Black Forest is indeed magical in colder months. To me, it is winter the way it is meant to be experienced – harsh yet undeniably captivating.
For an outdoor lover, it is a treasure trove of opportunities. From skiing to sledding and snowshoe hiking, there are endless sports activities to engage in. For those who prefer a more relaxed outing, there are hiking and walking paths. And photographers will find plenty of endearing compositions to capture.
No matter who you are, if you adore nature, you will love Schwarzwald. But don’t take my word for it. Instead, let me now take you to some of my favorite places to enjoy winter in the Black Forest.
Where to Enjoy Winter in Southern Black Forest
The Black Forest is so vast that it will probably take a lifetime to uncover all of its secrets. So for this guide, I have selected a handful of locations in the southern Schwarzwald that I consider the most interesting and worth exploring.
These are shown on the map below. I tried to pick the spots that are relatively close to each other, so you could visit several of them in one go. If you would like to also view the parking lots for each location, click on the map and enable the corresponding layer.
Still, each one is amazing and unique, and winter days are short. So don’t try to hit everything all at once. Instead, choose a few that caught your attention and focus on those. You can always come back for more later.
Feldberg is the very heart of southern Schwarzwald. Not only is it the highest mountain in the entire Black Forest (or, in fact, Germany if you exclude the Alps), but also a renowned ski resort and a popular hiking area.
Feldberg ski resort may not be the largest, highest, or grandest in Germany, but is certainly one of the oldest. It is here where the country’s first ski club was founded back in 1892. Today, with over 30 kilometers of trails and 38 lifts, it offers a wide range of options for every skill level.
Snowsports enthusiasts flock here every winter to slide down its blue, red, and occasional black slopes. And if you’re a total beginner and haven’t ever skied before, Feldberg is a perfect choice to start.
There are also cross-country pistes, a sledding slope, freeride runs, and even snowshoe trails. In other words, there is a suitable winter activity for just about everybody on Feldberg.
For those not much into sports, there are winter walking trails. On the clear afternoons, entire families come here to have a leisurely stroll through the winter wonderland. An obvious recommendation is the Feldberg Panoramaweg. It’s an easy 9-kilometer marked path through the forest and onto the summit with incredible views along the way.
I’ve been to Feldberg on several occasions and in various weather conditions, both to ski and to simply walk. It was a great pleasure each and every time, and I cannot wait to return there again this year.
Slightly north of Feldberg and a short 25-minute drive away, the Ravenna Gorge (Ravennaschlucht) is well worth a stop. Reminiscent of the Gaishöll Waterfalls in the northern Black Forest, this narrow gully is full of lovely cascades and waterfalls.
The path through Ravenna Gorge starts behind the Hotel Hofgut Sternen and follows the stream uphill for a little over a kilometer. There are occasional stairs and bridges to help the ascent, but otherwise, it is not too complicated.
The two main highlights are the Great Ravenna Waterfall (Großer Ravenna-Wasserfall) and the Small Ravenna Waterfall (Kleiner Ravenna-Wasserfall) shortly after. You will need around an hour to see them both and come back.
Just a word of caution – the hike can be quite slippery in winter. I strongly recommend a set of shoe spikes or at least some sturdy boots you can rely on.
After venturing into Ravenna Gorge, set aside some time to explore the souvenir shops near the entrance. There are some very cool things there that you won’t find anywhere outside the Black Forest. I was most impressed by the hand-made cuckoo-clocks that you can buy in one of the shops.
From late November to the end of December Ravennaschlucht is also home to what I consider one of the most wonderful Christmas markets in Germany and perhaps even Europe. Ravennaschlucht Christmas market is truly an experience like no other. If you are there when it happens, don’t miss the opportunity to witness it.
Keep in mind, however, that parking near Ravenna gorge would be next to impossible when the Christmas market is open. Unless you spend the night in the hotel, you will have to secure it in advance or use the shuttle. You can choose one of these options when booking the Christmas market ticket (yup, you need one).
Located west of Feldberg, Todtnau Waterfall (Todtnauer Wasserfall) is one of the highest and most spectacular in the Black Forest. It’s a must-see location throughout the year but especially so in winter.
Just try and wait until it’s cold enough. It’s in those low subzero temperatures that Todtnau Waterfall really shines. The water freezes and turns into massive icicles that frame the path down. The whole area becomes a bedazzling kingdom of ice and snow that is great fun to walk through.
And if you’re a photographer, consider coming here on your own first. Otherwise, your companions will surely lose patience waiting for you to capture a plethora of stunning compositions around.
There are two paths to the Todtnau Waterfall: from below or from above. Parking is available at either trailhead, but the latter is a little easier, so that’s what I would suggest. Once again, the slopes can be treacherous going down, so a pair of spikes will come in very handy.
Depending on how many photos you take and how meticulous you are about them, expect to spend anywhere between 40 minutes to an hour and a half at Todtnau Waterfall. Note that it’s a popular spot, so managing a shot without other people in it might take a little while.
Fahler Waterfall and Hike
Another waterfall on the list, Fahler (Fahler Wasserfall) is located just a three-minute drive west of Feldberg. Not as striking as Todtnau, Fahler is nonetheless a cute little waterfall that looks particularly fabulous covered in snow.
What I love most about it, is that you can either do a quick stop here en route to other places or make an entire half-day trip out of it if you want.
For a quicker option, there is a parking lot just north of the Fahler waterfall. From there, it is a 10-15 minute descent to the viewpoint.
However, should you wish to extend the adventure and experience more of what winter in the Black Forest is like, park in Brandenberg instead. From there, follow a relatively easy 2.5 kilometer (one direction) route towards the Fahler waterfall.
The journey should take you a couple of hours to complete. Along the way, you’ll be treated to some remarkable views of Feldberg and snow-covered meadows and forests around. It’s a nice option for those who want to enjoy the winter in the Black Forest in a more relaxed manner.
As with Todtnau, the best time to be here is when it’s properly cold outside. That’s when the waterfall freezes into a bizarre formation of oversized icicles that’s so cool to watch. Be prepared for some slippery terrain, however.
The Black Forest is packed with waterfalls of various sizes, shapes, and forms. Listing them all would take forever. Still, at the risk of repeating myself, I’ll mention one more that I think deserves a shoutout.
Menzenschwander Waterfall is situated just a quarter-hour south of Feldberg and makes for a fantastic quick side-trip. From the parking lot, it’s literally a five-minute stroll to the waterfall, which it’s a pretty cool one.
Sandwiched between the two cliffs, the stream here goes down a series of quick rapids. It’s immensely picturesque, so hang around, do a few photos, then retreat to the car. Or keep on hiking – there are several trails nearby leading to viewpoints such as Schesslong dü Boah.
Winter Hikes in the Black Forest
Everything I talked about so far is just scratching the surface of what the Black Forest can offer. There are countless hidden gems to discover and explore, and those who look for them will be rewarded handsomely.
And a great place to start is the Premium hiking trails (Premium-Winterwanderwege). These regularly cleaned and well-maintained routes allow you to enjoy Schwarzwald without having to plow waist-deep through the snow.
The list of such trails along with their maps and brief descriptions is available on the Schwarzwald official website. The page is in German, but with a bit of effort (and the help of Google Translate almighty), you should be able to figure it out.
So if you just cannot get enough of winter Black Forest goodness, select a hike that you like, wait until there’s enough snow, and give it go. I’m sure you will love it.
Preparing for the Visit
Planning a trip to the Black Forest can be intimidating, especially if you don’t live nearby. When to come, how long to stay – these are all important questions that might be difficult to answer. So here is my take on what to keep in mind when traveling to Schwarzwald.
When to Go
As I said in the beginning, to me, winter is the best season to visit the Black Forest. Covered in a thick layer of snow, it is truly magical. Even without it, winter Schwarzwald has a special mysterious appeal to it that you won’t see in summer or spring.
The months with the most chance of snow are generally January and February though it does vary depending on where you’re heading. Feldberg, for instance, has snow during most of the winter because of its higher elevation. That’s not necessarily true for other areas.
Luckily, both the Schwarzwald tourism portal and Feldberg official website have pages showing the latest weather updates. If you are flexible, I suggest checking it out before you go. There are also web cameras on Feldberg that are invaluable for quickly assessing the situation.
If possible, try to pick a bright and sunny day. Though I must say, overcast gloomy conditions and even snowstorms in the Black Forest have their own unique appeal.
How Many Days to Spend in the Black Forest
Because I live close by, I normally go to the Black Forest for a day trip. It’s a perfect way to explore Schwarzwald while remaining flexible, but understandably, not everyone has that luxury.
So if you are traveling from afar, and the Black Forest is just a part of your itinerary, I would say two days is a good starting point. This will be enough to get a decent taste of it without jeopardizing the rest of your plans.
If you would like to cover both northern and southern Schwarzwald, I would probably recommend at least three days. The same is true if you generally prefer a more relaxed experience.
Obviously, if you love skiing or snowboarding and want to try it on Feldberg, you should extend your stay a bit.
But even if you only have a few hours at your disposal, you can still enjoy the Black Forest. Just plan carefully and make them count, as it gets dark very early in winter.
What to Pack
You don’t need any special equipment to venture into the Black Forest in winter. But, as I mentioned already, I strongly recommend the shoe spikes. You can make do without them, but they make life a whole lot easier.
Warm clothing is a must, especially if you are heading to Feldberg. It’s the highest mountain in Schwarzwald after all. It can be significantly colder there than in other areas nearby. And if the winds pick up, it gets absolutely freezing. Trust me on that.
Also, pay attention to the shoes. Ideally, you want insulated and waterproof boots that will keep your feet warm and dry. Gloves or mittens are equally important.
And if you bring a camera, have some spare batteries just in case. They tend to last shorter when it’s cold. For more advice on how to take care of your camera gear in such conditions, check out this article of mine.
Where to Stay
When it comes to spending a night in Schwarzwald, I think that the Feldberg area is hard to beat. All the activities and points of interest are close by, so you can be flexible and adjust the plan as you go.
Just keep in mind that accommodation is going to be expensive because of the skiing season. If possible, try to book in advance.
Personally, I had a fantasic stay in Hotel Hofgut Sternen near Ravennaschlucht. It’s a nice cozy hotel and an awesome base for exploring Schwarzwald.
Winter is a lovely season in the Black Forest. All covered in snow, its woods and hills are incredibly charming and picturesque. From sports activities to hiking and photography, there is something to do for everyone here.
I have outlined some of my suggestions above but the Black Forest is a lot more than that. So I encourage you to do your own research and craft your own adventure. And wherever that takes you, I am certain you will have a blast.
I hope you got something useful out of this guide. If so, I would appreciate you sharing it with your friends or on social media and helping 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 the other destinations. So feel free to roam around the blog to your heart’s content. Here are some of my suggestions:
- Black Forest in Winter: All Saints’ Abbey and Waterfalls
- 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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