Adventures with Toddlers in the Black Forest

Moving with the military as often as we do means that we have the wonderful blessing of going all kinds of adventures. We never, ever thought we would call Texas home but came to love our sweet home down the street from this wonderful brewery just north of Austin and then while the pandemic forced us to be wise as serpents about the fellowship we found we got to kick up a whole lot of dirt in the deserts surrounding El Paso. Now, we live in Germany.

That still doesn’t feel real but it means our exploring goes to the next level as we try to map out all of the things we want to see and do while the Army grants us this gift of living in Europe.

And while you might be an avid reader of my pandemic prayers, I hope that these wanderings satisfy your wanderlust in these strange pandemic days. I look forward to sharing lots of our trips and I’ll start with our very first trip back in July when we finally broke free of the hotel that we called home for two months and went to the Black Forest.

We were thrilled to have a little more space in the AirBnB that we called home. We search for places that have outside play areas and this one had a swing set. You should have seen the glee when our two girls saw that. There was also a castle view and we discovered it wasn’t such a bad place to have lunch.

path of happiness in Murg Valley

This was our first adventure in the Black Forest. And though it was near impossible trail and it rained on us as we tried to race back to the car without getting wet, it was still a delight. Nonetheless, we followed these directions: The starting point of the Glücksweg in Murgtal is in the center of Bermersbach. When you leave the center of the village, a short ascent leads to a magical meadow valley. Various animal species, such as salamanders, small mice and magpies, accompany you on the wonderful journey of the Glückweg. All I can say is, good luck. This took some effort to find and then it was confusing where to park.

The Germans love these adventure trails. New discoveries and experiences can always be taken with you on the way, they suggest. This one instructs how to be happy with little forest creatures with high opinions about how you should choose to live. I’m going to assume that some of this was lost in translation though there was an English brochure at the trailhead which was awesome and admittedly rare.

We had hoped to do the loop hike which would have been 3.7 kilometers with total ascent of 140 meters. It may have been a little much for our two littles though one of them was in the carrier for a good chunk of this hike but the loop trail back to the beginning was closed. We are not sure why but rumor has it we missed out on a great panoramic view.

waterfalls and cuckoo clocks in triberg

It was raining again the next day because it’s Germany. Of course, it was raining but we still made our way to the Triberg Waterfall. It’s one of the highest in Germany, descends 163 meters in seven tiers. We did not see all the tiers and barely got to enjoy the view because of some toddler tantrums.

We pushed through and hiked a tiny bit as there was promise of a playground and my children will do anything for a playground. (That’s not entirely true.) Thankfully, it was a shorter walk through the woods than we thought it would be and it was super easy to loop back into town and find a warm place for lunch and our first slice of Black Forest cake. Everything I read says to go to Café Schafer but it has since closed. We stumbled upon this place and it was delicious German fare.

barefoot walks

This was perhaps our favorite part of this whole trip. It didn’t start great as we couldn’t fathom why it was a good idea to trod upon broken glass at the very beginning of this walk through the woods. We figured out how to circumnavigate that section and the rest was wonderful.

This was also our first barefoot hike but we know there are lots of others all throughout Germany — and we look forward to dipping our toes into each spot. Our first experience as at Barfußpark Hallwangen. It was a long route for our little toes but there was lots to keep the kids engaged with all kinds of sensory experiences including structures to climb along the way. If it were not a pandemic, the kiosk at the entrance might have been a good option afterward because we were hungry and only had snacks on us.

We opted for a longer route back because we wanted to get to the forest playground. There were grills there and it would have been fun if we had thought to plan ahead and pack a picnic.

treetop walks

On the way back home, we stopped to take a walk on a tree-top path at Baumwipfelbad Schwarzwald. We thought it sounded fun to walk above the trees and had no idea how gigantic the playground would be at the trail’s end.

We spent a long, long time there. Still, it was beautiful and slightly terrifying to watch our children climb through these structures. Luckily, there is a beer garden.

THINGS For the next trip to the Black Forest

The Black Forest isn’t far from our home here in Germany but just far enough that it makes a long day trip. We know this isn’t our first trip and have it in our minds that if lockdown becomes a thing, we might be looking at more trips here perhaps with other AirBnB stays if that is possible with the rules that emerge for that stage in the pandemic.

I found a lot of wonderful things I still want to do. Some of these things are not so toddler friendly and I am deluding myself with another year that might make some of these things a little easier. (My girls are currently two and four.) Here are some things I have bookmarked.

Hike to one of the huts featuring Michelin-star chefs. There are two options including Forellenhof (Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or Blockhuette (Tuesday to Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.). Confirm opening times and hiking route on website. Coordinates are offered but there is an elaborate trail system of the Nine Heavenly Trails here where we might choose our own kid-friendly adventure. 

Have a kid-friendly spa experience at Europabad. This will have to wait until the pandemic is over though but I hope and pray that day will come before the Army sends us back home.

The Kunstweg am Reichenbach sounds so interesting and it was right near where we were staying in Gernsbach. I was however deterred by the fact that it is a uphill hiking trail. I wasn’t sure our littles could swing that. So for next time, there is this Art Trail on the Reichenbach with its typical hay huts and hidden water channels runs along the Reichenbach, parallel to the Gernsbach – Kaltenbronn road. The path is lined with works by well-known artists from Baden-Württemberg and other European countries. The art objects consist of the materials wood, stone, paper, metal, concrete, plastic and water. They show the current artistic creation in its diversity and stand, hang and lie clearly visible along the path, a few also hidden in the water and in some hay huts. Every year the art trail is supplemented by new works that blend in harmoniously or in contrast with the cultural landscape. All works of art are on loan from the artists and therefore remain on the path with varying lengths of time. Directions are here.

The Allerheiligen Waterfall is one of the most popular attractions in the area but further away from where we are staying. The waterfall has a drop of 83 meters over 7 steps.  The walk from the parking lot is easy. The step and bridges in the area are easy to conquer too.  You can extend your hike by walking to the All Saints’ Abbey.

yummy things to eat

We aren’t eating out much in the pandemic unless there is outdoor seating. Plus, we have little kids so we eat in a lot more. We try to always find a farmer’s market near where we are staying to enjoy during our stay. Here are a couple of things we enjoyed while we were staying there. I do love food, after all.

In case you’re wondering, my kids ate boxed macaroni and cheese while we enjoyed that salad. I look forward to sharing more Recipes for Adventure with you while we are trying to squeeze every bit of wonder out of living in Germany.

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