Story by Sebastian Price
Photos courtesy: Hochschwarzwald Tourismus GmbH,

Black Forest-Spriegelsbach valley near Titisee-Neustadt © Hochschwarzwald Tourismus GmbH

The Black Forest Hinterland.

Gentle green rolling meadows studded with a blaze of seasonal wild flowers,  embrace broad valleys, surrounded by a black thick forest broken by  fresh streams and hiking trails. Beyond the dark canopy, the distant  Swiss Alps majestically rise while nearby small and large lakes, a gift  of the last ice age are encountered within confines of the local  landscape. In this appealing environment, small citizen communities  continue with local traditions and folklore and celebrate with rustic  Swabian food and drink. The Black Forest region is a diverse landscape  attracting visitors wishing to connect with traditional communities  while exploring the varied natural surroundings and terrain. Visitors  come especially to participate in various summer festivals held in  villages and towns across the hinterland. While in the region, I  encountered many local sustainability initiatives that are making a  lasting contribution to maintaining the traditional cultural identify  and ensuring that the natural landscape is enjoyed by future  generations.

Black Forest-Lake Feldsee © Hochschwarzwald Tourismus GmbH

Many hotels in the resort town of Hinterzarten, including the luxury Park Hotel Adler; participate in a cooperative that actively supports local  farmers and growers of fresh produce. By doing so, the carbon footprint  is reduced as transport distance is kept to a minimum and small local  producers are incentivized to produce more. While the freshest of local  ingredients, are always available, and prominently used in the hotels  restaurants, I soon discovered that the two upscale restaurants at the  Park Hotel Adler, also include a good selection of regional wine, and  the leading chef regularly changes the menu to reflect variability of  seasonal produce. The menu selections are both international and  regionally inspired preparations. Well-known Black Forest specialties  appear on the restaurants’ menus and I enjoyed especially the renowned  black forest cake, and other internationally known local favorites.

The Park hotel Adler as well as other hotels in the Black Forest region is  committed to renewable energy and the lowering of conventional energy  usage. These eco-friendly measures as I experienced do not appear to  sacrifice the high standards of luxury and comfort that one would come  to expect at such a high level resort. As a concession to practicality,  the hotel will pick up and transport guests intending to stay for a set  number of nights from the international airport in Zürich using their  Rolls Royce. The airport is about an hour and forty five minutes away  from the hotel and the trip offers the opportunity to view the Alps in  the distance and the beautiful Southern Black Forest countryside.

Electric cars are increasingly being used for shorter trips in and around the  countryside of Hinterzarten. I enjoyed this mode of transport and felt  at ease as the noise of the engine harmonized with the stillness of the  passing scenery. As another practical effort to lower pollutant  omissions, the local tourist organization provides free transport on  buses and trains that is used to travel within the immediate vicinity of the Black Forest. This allows visitors to reach most of the attractive  nature reserves for outdoor activities and also to the small towns,  villages that add charm and vibrancy to the surroundings. Another  sustainability initiative is the availability and use of electric driven bicycles that can reach some of the highest elevations, including the  Feldberg (4,898 ft.) which is the highest mountain in the Black Forest.  This mode of transport has become quite popular as it generally requires minimal physical output or effort to reach even the highest vantage  points which afford sweeping views of this particular area of the Black  Forest panorama.

Black Forest-parade at music for brass instruments festival with Hansy Vogt

The Back Forest is quite extensive and included is the famous spa town of  Baden Baden which is about an hour and half by car from Hinterzarten.  Instead of the car, I traveled by train which took about two hours. The town of Baden Baden has many well-known and appealing attractions  during summer. The town has developed a strong international reputation  as well for its summer musical events featuring live classical music,  opera, ballet and other artistic inspired performances. Some of the best musicians, dancers and opera singers in the world have performed here including Anna Netrebko and the Berlin philharmonic orchestra. For those of us interested in such live music and stimulating entertainment, the  summer schedule held in Baden Baden has a definite strong appeal.

Since it is important to continually support and sustain local communities,  traditions, and annual events, numerous other smaller festivals are held during the summer season in towns and villages across the Black Forest  hinterland. I found that this is a wonderful and rewarding opportunity  to experience a closer more personal interaction with local people. This leads to supporting a small enduring culture as well as a more  meaningful experiential encounter with a distinct regional community.  Finding the location and times of these festivals is not difficult as  the various Black Forest tourist organizations will readily provide  details on the kind of festival taking place and provide some brief  background information with directions.

While local communities draw visitors, outdoor activities especially hiking,  is very popular in the Black Forest along designated paths in the Forest and across nearby idyllic green meadows and broad valleys. Both the  hiking trails in the higher elevations and lower terrain, as expected,  can be either very easy or much more difficult to complete. All trails,  irrespectively of degree of difficulty as I soon encountered are marked  with very clear signs to ensure that everyone stays on the hiking path.  Biodiversity is taken serious here as rare sub alpine plants and  wildlife are protected from hikers and visitors that may stray away from the designated paths. The beauty of the surrounding outdoor terrain is  maintained as well for both future visitors and locals to enjoy.

The Black Forest region is a diverse natural environment and has enduring  local customs and a traditional cultural identity that is being partly  sustained through responsible tourism as well as government and private  initiatives.

 

 

 

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