The Albsteig – our four day hike in the Black Forest: From St. Blasien to the Feldberg

Beginning of October 2018, we are on the Albsteig hike that follows the creek “Alb” from its mouth up to its source. This is day #3.

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Day #3: From St. Blasien to the Feldberg

After an excellent breakfast at the Domhotel we start our third day walking.Today we will follow the creek Alb up to the sawmill “Glashof” and then continue along the Menzenschwander Alb up to the Feldberg.  It is another day with deep blue sky. The red berries of this sorbus tree above Menzenschwand contrast with the sky.

In Menzenschwand we find another wooden chapel. It is a few minutes after 12 o’clock.

An elderly lady opens the door, takes a red rope from a hook on the wall and devotedly rings the bell – for the midday (or shortly thereafter). I watch the scene standing in the doorway. The situation is to solemn to take a photo. “Yes, I do that every day at about midday”, she tells me in a friendly voice.

Menzenschwand is a romantic village with houses that are typical of the Black Forest.

I could imagine spending a few days here.

I have a long chat with a lady – also retired – that has decided to settle in Menzenschwand with her husband. They own a large house built in the local style of the Black Forest. She is working in her perfectly kept garden, while her three months old dog with still huge paws does not really trust me.

Radon has been found around Menzenschwand and the Radon Revitalbad promises to revitalise your body.

We walk to the end of the trough valley of Menzenschwand and see the Caritas House in  front of us in the saddle – it looks small from here – and we look forward to the waterfall of Menzenschwand and to then climbing uphill in the shady forest to the Feldberg.

At the foot of the Feldberg there is the Menzenschwander Wasserfall. It can be accessed by car and is well visited. “Oh, look, a rainbow”, the tourists say, climbing up the steps along the canyon.

This rainbow reminds me of another waterfall that I have seen with Ernst almost 18 years ago. It was at the Iguazúfalls in Argentina, where we had this long discussion whether it is a small bucket of gold or just a treasure that you find where the rainbow hits the ground… I neither verified that this time.

From the bridge along the waterfall, I look back to the canyon, where the Menzenschwander Alb jumps from one pond to the next. The roof behind the canyon is a restaurant – but now it was too early for us for the great German tradition of coffee and cake or Kaffee und Kuchen.

Yes, the sun is shining and it is very, very warm. We see the slopes of the Feldberg and now really look forward to climbing uphill in the shade of the trees ahead of us. But, no, the Albsteig has a surprise for us. From the waterfall we have to turn right to the “gate of happiness” with a beautiful view back to Menzenschwand. The path then continues along the slopes and takes us almost back to Menzenschwand (on a higher level). Here the path turns sharply to take us uphill on a meadow with many goats and a billy goat in love (you could smell that). In front of us, we again see the Caritashouse in the saddle of the Feldberg. We get impatient, we want to go uphill now – but no, now the blue squiggle marking points down and back to the waterfall. At the end we have done a loop of almost 360 degrees at the foot of the Feldberg in the burning sun, just adding kilometers that were no fun. We have to overcome a second smaller loop back in the direction of the waterfall, until the Albstein squiggle finally leads us uphill towards the source of the Menzenschwander Alb. In the shady forest our mood brightens up again.

From this small waterfall, a zigzag path leads up to the source aera of the Alb. There are many small puddles in the ground… may be, one day, the architects of the Albsteig path will add an explanatory table about the source of the Alb which actually was the target of the Albsteig hike.

We reach the Feldberg area near the Menzenschwander Hütte (hut) and take the bus to the Hotel Lawine, where we find our luggage waiting for us. The hotel garden is still in the sun. We have German cake with a refreshing beer and a refreshing “Neuer Süsser” (new wine that has just started to ferment). Our evening meal is fresh trout from the Black Forest stuffed with mint herbs for the two of us – excellent. The restaurant is occupied up to the last table, with locals and tourists. Grand-ma (Oma) of the hotel Lawine goes from table to table using her walking frame to have a chat here an there, with her kind eyes. The boss is serving as well, together with a very agile servant from Croatia. Yes, the atmosphere is welcoming and very familial.

After our third long day, we again slept well in our cosy rooms.

The Albsteig – our four day hike in the Black Forest: From Albbruck to Immeneich

“Would you feel like joining me to do the Albsteig”, Richard asks me and he adds: “The Albsteig hike follows the creek “Alb” from its mouth up to its source”. The Alb? Yes, I know an Albtal or Alb valley that is close to Karlsruhe in the Northern Black Forest. My grand-ma used to collect mushrooms there – and as a child, I often joined her. “No, no”, Richard says, “there might be two “Alb” valleys in the Black Forest, the one of your grand’ma in the north, but THIS “Alb” valley originates on the Feldberg and ends in Albbruck (near Waldshut) where the Alb joins the Rhine river. The Albsteig has been opened last year and there was an article about it in the newspaper of Basel”. Oh, yes, good idea, I do feel like joining Richard.

On very short notice, Richard contacts “Original Reisen” in the beginning of October 2018. They book three hotels for three nights for us and send the Albsteig material to the Hotel Bahnhöfli in Albbruck. I buy 1:25’000 maps from Kompass that show all the relevant hiking markings of the area (I love to have the overview over a larger area, when hiking).

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Day #1: From Albbruck to Immeneich

On a slightly grey Wednesday, we take the slow train from Basel to Albbruck. Mr. Berisha of the Hotel Bahnhöfli hands out the Albsteig material to us. Faleminderit. We stick the labels indicating our hotels to our small suitcases and leave them in the gangway. Over a cup of coffee we study our material. Detailed maps were included in the package. This overview map shows what we were up to: Albbruck – Immeneich – St. Blasien, then along the Menzenschwander Alb to the Feldberg and back along the Bernauer Alb to St. Blasien. All in all about 90km and 2700m uphill in four days.

Source: Material of Original Landreisen handed out to us for the Albsteig

“Look, we have to get used to the blue squiggle”, Richard says. This is the marking for the Albsteig.

We say good-bye and mirupafshim to Mr Berisha and the Bahnhöfli and start to walk following the blue squiggle. We are now at 324m above sea level.

The path leads us gently uphill, on green meadows, well marked with the blue Albsteig squiggles. The first small village we encounter is Schachen. There is an alemannic style church in the background, as you find them everywhere around Basel.


In the background we can see the Alps under grey clouds.

From Schachen, we walk steeply down to the Alb. There are pieces of gold on the narrow bridge – or it looks like it, as the leaves shine in the sun.

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Underneath the bridge, the water is very clear and decorated with more pieces of gold.

We walk uphill again and find rocks that the glaciers have left here about 10’000 to 20’000 years ago.

We come across the granite quarry of Tiefenstein which is a less romantic sight, but belongs to the Black Forest as well. Geologically spoken the Black Forest is a basement rock (covered with sandstone). The information table explains to us that retrieving granite here is a hundred year old tradition and the granite is used for building water barriers, stonewalls or streets.

Going up again, we reach the area around Görwihl. We come across another Albsteig hiker, who plans to sleep in a hotel at Göhrwil. It is the first hiker that we meet today. He has parked his car in St. Blasien, a good idea. For us it would be far too early to stay overnight here – it is only one o’clock.

We enjoy this small waterfall belonging to a system of creeks called Wühre.

The path takes us down to the Alb again. Here I shoot this mysterious photo that a few days later I will use as a condolence card.

The trail climbs up again into the romantic Höllbach valley.

While Richard takes out his tripod to capture the Höllbach waterfall in his professional way, I study my 25’000 Kompass map. I discover that now it is almost 3 p.m. Since 9:30 a.m. we have done about half of our hike from Albbruck to Immeneich, where the hotel “zur Schmiede” is waiting for us. There has just been too much to see and too much worth taking photos of. As we want to reach our hotel before night, we decide to walk faster, just quickly stopping at the Teufelsküche with its swirls. A narrow trail climbs up again from the Teufelsküche and then follows the eastern slope of the Alb valley, always more or less on the same level.

Shortly before six, we see Immeneich in front of us. A lady with her dog asks: “Are you doing the Albsteig?”. At the entrance of Immeneich, an old man asks as well: “Are you doing the Albsteig?” The local people are proud of their Albsteig. They are very hospitable and we have a long chat with them.

In the hotel “zur Schmiede” we are welcomed by Mr Meili. Our suitcases are waiting for us. We change – it is great to dress up for the cosy restaurant. We enjoy dinner (deer and Spätzli for me, porcini for Richard, all with a  local wine from Auggen). Mr. Meili’s accent reveals that he is definitely not from the Black Forest. “I am from Zurich, I love to do hunting and I love the Black Forest”, he says. He does everything in his hotel – receptionist, cook and waitor – and we feel good here. We meet two couples from China that have booked this remote and quiet hotel over booking.com. Very clever choice! But sorry, no, we do not speak Chinese.

During the night we sleep well – it is quiet here.