I see looooooads of hiking in our family’s future. Exploring nature – hopping over streams, listening to rushing rivers, searching for perfect walking sticks – is something every one of us enjoys.. well, except Big Foot.
He’s generally grumpy because he has to be bolted into a backpack whenever we wander about. But I have hope that he’ll come ’round when his legs are strong enough to carry him and his will is soft enough to decide that listening and following directions really wouldn’t be so. incredibly. awful.
We’re rather fortunate to find ourselves within an easy drive of the Black Forest in Germany which just so happens to be chock full of trails and adventures suitable for little ones. My friend Nancy (hi, Nancy!) lent me an ADAC book on hiking in the Schwarzwald with kids (this one, if you’re interested) and insisted we take on the Ravennaschlucht.
The Ravennaschlucht is a wild and romantic gorge with a stream and several waterfalls chasing through it. As if that wasn’t enough of a draw, the ADAC itinerary tacks on other attractions including several saw mills and a glass blowing studio… all in less than 8km.Fancy a go at the gorge yourself? Well, grab your trusty boots, and come along!
We followed the route set forth in the guide, starting out at Hinterzarten. I balked at paying for parking at the train station, so we drove a bit further along Alpersbacher Str. where we discovered a free parking lot.
As you walk along Löffeltalweg, you won’t be able to ignore the swelling sound of rushing water. The Rotbach stream was used to power several saw mills located along the footpath. My boys were in awe of the gigantic blades and completely confused as to how prickly, uneven logs turned into perfectly flat boards despite Doc Sci’s best efforts to explain.Leaving the mills, you’ll be treated to a series of waterfalls, several close enough to touch.
Soon you’ll have to make a choice – continue on or face the B31. I wasn’t sure how we’d cross three lanes of whizzing traffic on the “Hell’s Valley” highway. Fortunately, my worries were needless – a tunnel for hikers and bikers had been constructed underneath the road.
Next stop – the Hofgut Sternen, a small village composed of a hotel, restaurant, a large glockenspiel, and a glass blowing studio (with a gift shop, of course). Scarf down a snack or two here, because the path through the gorge doesn’t offer many places for pit stops.After everyone is fully hydrated, have a look at the artist fashioning everything from vases to earrings to wine glasses to Christmas ornaments from the blazing hot and stringy glass. I should mention that only well-behaved or independently wealthy children should enter the shop… Everything is within reach of the curious and clumsy.Make your way to the Ravennaviadukt, an imposing railway bridge that marks the entrance to the gorge.
As we hiked higher and higher, I couldn’t help but wonder when the gorge was going to end. I don’t like being lost, and the ADAC guide only mentioned that the path would end. Not when or how or where.
When the trail finally did terminate, I was even more surprised at the lack of information. You’ll know you’re at the end of the gorge when a lovely biergarten with a playground appears. I guess this is so German that the writer didn’t think to include it!
Carrying on, we made our way back to the ferocious B31 and, again, crossed underneath it. We found ourselves in the company of some lovely cows on the grounds of the Birklehof boarding school. Once you see the onion dome, take a quick detour around the back of the building. There you’ll find a fantastic playground and fire pit.
We ended the day with cookies in the car as a reward for excellent little boy behavior. Hooray!
If you’d like to hike Ravennaschlucht yourself, I’d like to suggest a few variations from the ADAC itinerary:
- If you have a car, park at the Hofgut Sternen and start your hike from there. You won’t have to pay for parking near the Hinterzarten train station, and more lunch options will be available in town.
- If you only want to hike the gorge, I’d again recommend parking at the Hofgut Sternen. Keep in mind that you will have to double back. This would be a good option for the littlest of legs.
- However, if public transportation is how you’ll be traveling, then the only option is to begin and end at the train station.
- Consider hiking the reverse of the order I’ve mentioned here. You’ll be walking downhill instead of uphill through the steepest part of the gorge. The slope near the saw mills is rather gentle in comparison.