Hiking the Black Forest Gateway in Oppenau

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"Amalia Kalinca hiking in Blackforest Germany"This is a guest contribution from Amalia, a young Romanian girl who discovered a “liking for hiking” in Germany while studying in the city of Freiburg. This is the story of a trip where she got more hiking than she actually bargained for.

A guest Post by Amalia Kalinca

The Black Forest Gateway in Oppenau

If you are a beginner or not yet keen on hiking, this short trip into the Black Forest might be just what you need to whet your appetite for such excursions into nature. The trail from Oppenau to the All Saints Waterfalls is a one-day hike which may challenge the physical condition of the untrained urbanite but allows plenty of time to rest, take photos or enjoy the scenery.

"Oppenau River the Black Forest Gateway in Germany"

The easiest way to travel to Oppenau is by train. Trains from Offenburg, called “the gateway to the Black Forest”, to Oppenau leave every two hours. There are also buses, but the journey is roughly twice as long (1 hour rather than 30 minutes).

If you have – as I have – spent some time in Germany, you may be surprised to find Oppenau train station rather unwelcoming – a somewhat forlorn and abandoned place.

Do not let that get you down, simply leave the station and go in search of one of the many signboards that show you the way to your final destination: the “Allerheiligen-Wasserfall” or All Saints Waterfalls.

"Waterfall in Allerheiligen Oppenau the Black Forest gateway in Germany"The hike from Oppenau to the waterfalls is about 10 km long and runs along the river Lierbach, which makes it an extremely pleasant walk, even on a hot summer day.

The difference in altitude is only 620 m, so there is only very little climbing involved. This enables you to complete the trail in 2 to 4 hours (for the more leisurely hikers).

Most of the trail takes you through the forest, at points out into open fields, sometimes overlooking vineyards or orchards.

When you reach the waterfall, be prepared for a long walk “upstairs”.

The Lierbach, after all, loses an altitude of nearly one hundred meters, and it takes much more time for one to get to the top than for the water to reach the ground. But there will be plenty of places to rest and take a break as you will find a bench in every corner.

If the benches happen to be all occupied, the stones can serve as your bench, too. You will be surprised how comfortable they are when you are tired and there is nothing else to sit on!

After climbing the seemingly infinite steps, you arrive at the ruins of the All Saints Abbey. Around it, as at any tourist attraction, small businesses have developed, so that you can get all the souvenirs you want. Likewise, if the eager traveler goes hungry, a restaurant can be found near-by ready to serve authentic German fare.

"Allerheiligen ruins of an Abbey in the Black Forest Gateway of Oppenau"The Abbey ruins themselves offer an impressive view, especially as they have withstood the passage of time in excellent form.

Built between 1191 and 1196, the monastery belonged to the order of the Premonstratensians.

Despite having been damaged by fires many times, the monastery remained a site of pilgrimage until 1804, when lightning destroyed most of the church.

From the Abbey, you have several options as to your route back, There is a bus that can take you back to Oppenau or further up to the Mummelsee (Lake Mummel).

Please note, however, that this service is only provided on week-ends.

We were blissfully unaware of this and eventually had to walk another half dozen kilometres to the nearest train station.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are looking for the nearest train station, I recommend taking the path to Ottenhöfen. Not only does the road go downhill, it is also about 4 km shorter than the way back to Oppenau.

As before, you will find road signs at every turn, only make sure you take the path they indicate and not any other. (This happened to us, too.)

When in doubt, as a rule of thumb always follow the path downhill – if you find yourselves climbing, you are probably going the wrong way.

From Ottenhöfen, trains leave regularly for Offenburg (roughly once per hour).

Bear in mind, however, that the last train departs just after 20h00.

Hoping that the pictures and this short write up have stirred your interest in hiking, particularly in hiking in the Black Forest, I’ll leave you planning your next trip.

Amalia Kalinca is currently writing her Master’s thesis on postmodernism and theme parks at Freiburg University  in Germany. She loves to travel, experience new cultures and places and meet interesting people. She likes contemporary literature and hiking.

Here are some more travel tips if going to the Black Forest. Did you enjoy the read? Why not subscribe by email to get our free updates or follow us on Facebook?

8 comments to Hiking the Black Forest Gateway in Oppenau

  • Glad you had a great hike, David. And thanks so much for all the tips!

  • David

    Hey! Just wanted to say thanks for posting this! Me and two friends did this one today after finding this article and loved the hike! A few pointers:

    Took us about 3 hours to the abbey, we’re 20 something’s, pretty adept at hiking. The actual trail doesn’t seem to really start until the town on Leirbach, until then you’re best off following the road from the train station, there will be a big sign and map in Leirbach where the trail seems to really start. Once on the trail it’s mainly a wooded path following the river but dipping into small towns and at times feeling like you’re in people’s yards. The trail to Ottenhofen from the Abbey can seem tricky, you go uphill a short ways from the abbey, but afterwards it’s all downhill. Literally as long as you’re going downhill you’re in the right direction! Enjoy the hike, it’s a good one!

  • You are quite lucky, Laurel, to have the Black Forest I suppose just at your front door.

  • I haven’t done this particular hike, which looks amazing, but I do hike in the Black Forest usually once a month and it is great hiking with beautiful scenery and half timber farm houses. The elevations are usually low-moderate so perfect for those just starting hiking.

  • My point exactly: hiking in Europe is a far more civilized experience than hiking in America – which is great on its own terms, no doubt, but fails to offer the same blend of nature, culture and creature comforts. Thanks, Ted.

  • Amalia doesn’t blog. She just happened by our site and got to liking hiking from what she’s read here. Jeremy, it would really be great if you did take up hiking and do at least one hike in Germany. Then, I would know I am slowly but surely realising the aim of this blog. And thanks for the comment!

  • The awesome aspect of an easy hike in Europe is not only the scenery, but the incredible rich history. Nowhere in America can you take a hike and then visit a monastery built in the 1100s and then hike to a waterfall. We have waterfalls here, but no buildings before the 17th century.

  • What a beautiful hike! After reading about all of the hikes, it really makes me want to hike in Germany. I vowed I would never take a themed vacation but exploring some of the hikes like this with waterfalls, abbeys, and just the beautiful outdoor scenery in Germany would be fun to do!

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