We have made it a tradition to visit the Black Forest at least once a year since we first moved to Germany and we continue this tradition even though we now call Switzerland home. We love hiking and enjoying the amazing vistas the Black Forest offers a person willing to explore. At times we have also traveled some of the forest by rail. This trip, we were able to combine the two by taking the Black Forest Railway hiking trail.

The Black Forest railway was built between 1863 and 1873, passing directly across the Black Forest. The route is 150 km long, ascends 650 metres from lowest to highest elevation, and passes through 39 tunnels, over two viaducts, and too many bridges to count. It was an engineering marvel of its time and in many way still is in being the only true mountain railway in Germany to be built with two tracks. It is certainly the most important line in the Black Forest, and brought industrialization and tourism to the previously remote and inaccessible forest. Today it continues to be a vital connection for the region and is still in regular (and very frequent) use.

The trail starts at the train station in Triberg, deep in the Black Forest, and follows the line through the Gutach river valley offering amazing views of the valley and also vantage points of the railway line along with history and information about its construction and usage. Elise was good enough to humor my boyish love of railways as I smiled like an amused child when the trains passed or inspected an informational display for far too long.

The trains where a lot of fun to watch, but the emergence of spring really stole the show with budding fruit trees at the edge of pastures, wild blueberries starting to take color, and mountain meadows covered with flowers. I think a little bit of spring exuberance might be back.

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