That's real hospitality: With the overnight stay, the Black Forest tourist also receives a free ticket for all public transportation. And there are some spectacular railroad lines here that no visitor should miss.
Location: Baden-Wuerttemberg, between Karlsruhe and Calw in the north and Basel (Badischer Bahnhof) and Waldshut-Tiengen in the south.
Length: About 800 km of railroad line
Highest points: Sommerau near Sankt Georgen (Black Forest Railway), 825 m Feldberg-Bärental (Höllental Railway), 967 m
Starting points: (recommended): Places on the Black Forest Railway such as Hausach, Triberg, Hornberg, St. Georgen or places on the Murgtal Railway such as Baiersbronn or Freudenstadt as well as the region around Titisee
In 2006, those responsible for tourism in the Black Forest region came up with an ingenious idea: Overnight guests in hotels, inns and vacation apartments are offered free rides on all local public transportation with the guest card ("KONUS card"), including the regional express trains of Deutsche Bahn. From the former Residence city Karlsruhe in the north to the Swiss border in the south, from the Rhine plain in the west to the transition to the Swabian Alb in the east, the guest can travel the entire region for free, hike, change to the next bus, hike again, take a train and return to his quarters in the evening - brilliant! The most important routes:
The Black Forest Railway connects Offenburg with Donaueschingen (100 km). Up to Hausach the railroad follows the Kinzig, at Gengenbach partly even directly on its banks. At Haslach, the track passes the dammed side arm of the Kinzig for a few hundred meters, a popular photo motif on windless days due to the reflections. In Hausach, the route changes to the Gutach valley as far as Hornberg. Slowly the valley becomes narrower, Black Forest houses accompany the traveler. The town of Hornberg itself is crossed on an impressive viaduct. Afterwards, the train passes several hairpin bends with numerous tunnels until it reaches Sankt Georgen, overcoming several hundred meters in altitude. In the steepest and also most worth seeing part of the ascent, the valleys are repeatedly extended. The "Dreibahnenblick" near Triberg offers a good overview of the route. A few kilometers after Sankt Georgen the Danube source river Brigach is reached, which the route follows for the next few kilometers. Behind Villingen, the line leaves the Black Forest and crosses the Baar plain. In Donaueschingen, the Black Forest Railway meets the Höllental Railway, from Freiburg the second most important railroad line in the Black Forest after the Black Forest Railway. On its way from north to south, the line crosses the European watershed (Rhine/Danube) twice in a tunnel: in the 1,697 m long Sommerau Tunnel (between Triberg and St. Georgen) and in the 900 m long Hattingen Tunnel (between Immendingen and Engen).
The Höllentalbahn or three-lake railroad from Freiburg to Titisee and Seebrugg/ Schluchsee (51 km) is almost continuously single-tracked. Between Freiburg and Neustadt, a total of nine tunnels are traversed. After about 15 km, the valley becomes narrower and narrower and lives up to its name. Looking out of the window, you think you can touch the rock walls ... The highlight is the passage at the so-called Hirschsprung, where, according to legend, a stag escaped its hunters by jumping the few meters across the narrow valley. A few kilometers further on, the route crosses the Ravenna Gorge on a 40-meter-high viaduct. In Hinterzarten there is a crest of the line at 893 meters. In the direction of Titisee, where the line branches off to Neustadt and then, no longer electrified, on to Donaueschingen, it now goes slightly downhill. The further line with the name "Dreiseenbahn " makes an elegant curve to pass now the opposite side of the Titisee. The plateau repeatedly opens up views of the lakes or the highest mountain in the Black Forest, the Feldberg. The next station, Feldberg-Bärental, is Germany's highest standard gauge station at 967 meters. The route then descends, past the Windgfällweiher pond, to Schluchsee, Germany's largest reservoir.
The Murgtalbahn runs from Rastatt to Freudenstadt through the Murg Valley (58 km). The Albtal-Verkehrs-Gesellschaft (AVG) integrated the Murg Valley Railway into its network in 2000. The railroad runs through a partly deeply incised Black Forest valley, which leaves hardly any space for the line between the Murg river and rock faces. From Kuppenheim station, the railroad leaves the Rhine plain and now enters the Murg valley. After the Weisenbach stop, the most scenic and technically challenging part begins. Up to Schönmünzach, the Murg Valley narrows into a gorge. Nine tunnels and five viaducts were required in this section alone. When Forbach station is reached, the railroad has overcome a difference in altitude of 123.5 meters from Weisenbach to here, which means an average gradient of 20 per mille. After Forbach, a ten-kilometer section follows to Schönmünzach station. Again, the Murg is crossed twice, once on a steel bridge directly behind Forbach and once on another stone viaduct near Raumünzach. Both times, tunnels follow directly behind the bridge. The rest of the route is similar as far as Baiersbronn. From here, the railroad leaves the narrow valley and reaches a plateau, which, however, continues to rise until Freudenstadt. Within the town area, the route drops steeply, covering 73 meters in altitude in just under three kilometers. This part was originally designed as a cogwheel route. Another stone viaduct, the Christophstal Bridge, is located here. Freudenstadt invites visitors to linger with its arcades and the largest market square in Germany.
Because of the free rides, it is a good idea to visit the larger cities located in the region. Karlsruhe and Freiburg are completely free of charge, including local transport in the city area, but in the metropolises on the other side of the border, such as Strasbourg and Basel, tickets for local transport in the respective city area must be purchased from the border station. Those who prefer nature should plan an excursion to Lake Titisee, Lake Schluchsee or the High Feldberg. A bus ride over the Black Forest High Road is also included in the price.
You can find even more information here: Trekking in the Black Forest
Cover photo: The railroad line through the Black Forest is a scenic experience © www.julian.pictures / Shutterstock
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