Baiersbronn accommodates Nordic Walkers
If you ever want confirmation that Germany is geared up for Nordic Walking, head to the Black Forest and especially to Baiersbronn,the largest town in the region that in itself consists of nine villages. It promotes itself as “Wanderhimmel,” which means hiking heaven. I think it is also Nordic Walking Nirvana. It is the jumping-off point for some 160 kilometers of signed Nordic Walking trails promoted as a Nordic Fitness Park. That’s more or less 100 miles.
A group of us — some using poles, others not — arrived at the railroad station to meet Patrick Schreib, the tourist office director, who led us from the trailhead along a stream called Schankenbach to Kniebis, the top of a short chairlift and a wonderful mountain hut. This fall walk on a wide, smooth trail offered views of foliage, late-blooming wildflowers, distant deer in a wildlife preserve, mushrooms and lovely scenery. Alas, there is nothing like this in the US, so if you want a Nordic Walking vacation, you’ll have to travel. I’m glad I did.
IMHO, another reason to take a Black Forest walking vacation is that you don’t need a car. You can get there amazingly quickly by train from Frankfurt or Munich, and it you are overnighting, your local guest card provides free us of trains and buses. That means you can start at one trailhead, pull off at another and get back to your starting point. You just pay a nominal €1.80 tax for unlimited transportaion throughout the Black Forest region. Hard to beat, isn’t it?
If you have to wait for the next train or bus, there’s usually a little café or hütteto hang out until it comes — enjoying a coffee, a local sausage, a piece of pastray, wine or beer while you wait. Not a bad way to end a Nordic Walk.
Spring and fall are the best Nordic Walking months. Summer can be steamy, and in winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are the alternatives. If you don’t want to ferry your snowshoes across the Altantic, Baiersbronn’s hiking center even rents them.