It seems like we’re going to be doing a lot of hiking during our trip to Ireland, so yesterday Jan and I decided to get a short practice hike in before we leave. However, Jan also wanted to be back in time to watch the Champion’s League final in football, so we needed to pick somewhere fairly close. Being only about a 30 minute drive from Karlsruhe, Baden-Baden seemed like the perfect choice.
I’ve been to Baden-Baden a few times before, sometimes for events (I saw the musical Evita there), occasionally passing through to catch a flight (Karlsruhe-Baden Airpark is around 12 km west of Baden-Baden) and once, while I was a language assistant, all the teachers went on a daytrip to Baden-Baden, taking in the old castle ruins (pictured above) and an exhibition of Marc Chagall’s work at the Frieder Burda Museum.
For our hike, we decided to do part of the Panoramaweg (Panorama Route) – a hiking trail that goes all the way around the town of Baden-Baden and down into the Geroldauer Tal (valley). It was “Trail of the Year” in 2004 and is considered to be one of the finest footpaths in Germany. The entire route is 42 km, but for those who don’t have 10-12 hours to spare (or just aren’t fit enough… the latter would be me!!), it’s subdivided into 5 different stretches. You can see the entire route here: http://www.naturparkscout.de/mapbender/frames/index.php?PHPSESSID=26c33f0978997e0137d85ee9839fe707&gui_id=npscout_schwarzwald_public
The individual sub-rotes are:
1. Bernharduskirche – valley station of the Merkurbergbahn funicular railway, 6 Kilometer
2. Merkurbergbahn valley station – Forellenhof / Fischkultur, 8 Kilometer
3. Forellenhof / Fischkultur – Waldparkplatz (forest car park) Malschbach, 10 Kilometer
4. Waldparkplatz Malschbach – Tiergarten, 13 Kilometer
5. Tiergarten – Bernharduskirche, 5 Kilometer
We did roughly the last 3 stretches, although we didn’t actually start at the Forellenhof.
From Karlsruhe, we took the train to Baden-Baden – it was an IRE (Interregio Express), so Baden-Baden was the second stop. From there, we took a bus to Lichtental (see the map I linked to above). It should have been Oberbeueren, but for some reason the bus we took ended at Lichtental so we began our hike there, walking through Lichtental (a district of Baden-Baden) until we found the first sign directing us on to the Panoramaweg.
As you can see, the sun was shining, for the first time all week! I was expecting to have to hike in the rain (which admittedly may have been good practice for Ireland!) but we got lucky. About two hours before we finished our hike, it started raining a little, but it stopped after around 20 minutes. Despite the sunshine, it wasn’t the warmest of days (highs of around 12°C), but to be honest I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any warmer! All that exercise generates enough heat of its own…
Most of the route takes you through the woods, occasionally guiding you through a field or a small village.
The first leg of our hike took us in a circle around Oberbeuern and down into the Geroldsauer Valley, with its gorge, stream and waterfall.
The waterfall is 9 metres high and looked very pretty with the sun shining on the top of it.
After viewing the waterfall, the route took us through part of Geroldsau, up the hill and back into the woods. A short time later, we reached the Malschbach carpark – part one of the hike done!
Back in the woods, we sptted this pretty looking bird. Anyone know what it is? We didn’t! (Click on the photo for a bigger version if you can’t see the bird among the leaves)
The next point of interest was the Louisfelsenhütte – a hut on the Louisfelse, a Felse being a crag and Louis presumably the person said crag was named after.
I love the slightly overgrown stone steps leading up the the hut! From the top, we had a really nice view of Baden-Baden. This was about 5 minutes before the rain started, so the sky is rather more grey than in previous photos…
Three hours later, we were finally back to civilisation!
From there, it wasn’t far to our final destination, the Bernharduskirche.
From there, it was just a short bus ride back to the train station, with aching legs but a real sense of achievement!
All in all, we walked 27 km (roughly 17 miles) and were on the trail for 7 and a half hours. If Jan’s GPS tracker is to be trusted, 4 of those hours we spent actually on the move, while the rest was stopping to take photos, look at butterflies and eat muesli bars.
The entire route is excellently sign posted, making it almost impossible to get lost. Just look out for the green circles:
Where there’s a fork in the road, the sign also has a little black arrow in the bottom corner telling you where you need to go. And if it’s really confusing, a few metres further along, another green circle lets you know that you did take the right path.
All the start and end points of the individual sub-trails can easily be reached by public transport (if it had been raining heavily, we could have stopped after the first 11 km and taken a bus back to town from the Malschbach carpark). Facilities are hard to come by along the route (although there would have been a small restaurant close to the waterfall), so if you’re squeamish about peeing in the woods, make sure you go before you leave! Decent, waterproof shoes are a must – especially if it’s rained recently (some parts of the trail were very muddy!) And remember, no matter how much your muscles are aching, unless you’ve actually injured yourself, you can keep on walking if you have to! Personally, I would have liked to stop at least an hour before we actually did, but with no choice but to continue, I kept placing one foot in front of the other and surprised myself by making it all the way back to the church. Today, I’m aching all over and walking like an old woman, but it was definitely worth it! Gap of Dunloe, here we come!