Other Chapters in the Black Forest
Germany's has a number of named roads that follow the country's best-known scenery. But the Black Forest High Road that extend between the cities of Baden-Baden and Freudenstaft ranks among the best known. This road makes for a very nice Sunday drive, as it is only about forty kilometers long, and you are taken to some of the southwest's prettiest forests and valleys. Meanwhile, you can take in plenty of other activities, as the High Street has attractions that bring people there all year round.
The High Street is definitely a place that requires a car with plenty of horsepower under the hood, as it is indeed a "High Street". Starting at Baden-Baden, you will climb at about 10 degrees for a good chunk of time before reaching the first resort.
That's what the High Street is -- a string of mountain top resorts, some related to skiing in the winter, others geared for outdoorsmen and volksmarchers in the summer. As I am not an avid skiier, I recommend going there in the summer. My first two trips were during the early and middle spring, and while it was still ski season, it was also fog season, and it was impossible to appreciate the beautiful scenery. In the summer, however, there is less chance of getting fogged in, and scenes like in the first photo await you.
The sequence of photos was taken starting at the Freudenstadt end. That's because the day's trip began at Triberg, followed with a drive up north through Freudenstadt. Although technically the High Street begins there, it really doesn't begin until you reach the entrance of route B500 about ten kilometers away.
The nice thing about the High Street is that there are dozens of parking areas along the way where you can pull your car off and take in the views. This is good because the High Street itself is a windy, high-speed highway that is also frequented by bicyclists, and you are far better served paying attention to the road than trying to spot the scenery. Most of the parking areas have walking trails with them as well.
The second photo is one of the ski resorts, called Ruhestein. But there is more than skiing here. Ruhestein hosts a small nature museum and sits at the confluence of several lengthy hiking trails. It has a restaurant, a guest house, and plenty of parking. Like the other ski resorts along the High Street (Unterstmatt, for example), Ruhestein is a small operation (i.e. this is not Vail), which perhaps gives it a nice homey feeling. That is not to say it doesn't get crowded -- when I passed by in April, it is packed to overflowing with skiiers.
The lumber industry is quite active along the High Street, and you will occasionally pass by sections of the forest that have been cleared or piles of logs being cured for shipment to the sawmills. The valleys (like the one in the third photo) are home to several tiny towns of perhaps a dozen or so houses (and occasionally a church) -- probably people who either work in lumber or forestry, and/or the tourist industry.
The next major resort is the Mummelsee, which is clearly a summer-oriented place. Shown in the fourth photo, Mummelsee is a beautiful mountain pond near the highest point in the High Street. Along with the 'usual' amenities like a guesthouse and souvenir shops, the Mummelsee offers paddleboating and hiking trails the encircle the pond. The souvenir shops are particularly noteworthy -- the parking area has a very long line of them with the widest selection of Black Forest gifts you'll find anywhere (save for the cuckoo clocks in Triberg). Also, you can get regional foods like Black Forest cured ham and fresh Black Forest baked breads straight from the Mummelsee oven, shown in the fifth photo. Cheese and wine are also plentiful.
The other resort of note is at the edge of the High Street, just before the grand descent towards Baden-Baden. It is named Bühlerhöhe, and is an upper-class resort. And I do mean upper-class. Unlike the other resorts, it is set well off the road and is housed in an old manor house -- surrounded by tennis courts, convention centers, sophisticated shopping, and dozens of top-of-the-line Mercedes Benz's. Not a place for ordinary folk.
If you are going to take on the challenge of driving the High Street, I strongly recommend caution. It can be a dangerous road, particularly during the winter months. When I visited it the first time in an early April, I encountered some sudden snowstorms (meanwhile it was in the 50s down in Baden-Baden at the same time) and found myself helping out two other drivers who slid off the road (and thankfully not off the side of a cliff, which is a possibility here)! But don't let that dissuade you, it isn't dangerous if you are careful, and the beauty of the High Street is absolutely worth your time.
A split-out of this page to summer and winter pages, plus a new page on the terminal city of Freudenstadt are coming. The below map shows how this page will be organized...
Trip taken 2 August 2002 -- Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2002 Tom Galvin
Other Chapters in the Black Forest