January 1st 2014 marked not only the beginning of the year but also the scheduled start of the Black Forest National Park – the first, and only one of its kind, in the state of Baden-Württemberg. Serving as a gateway to the park, due to its excellent scenic setting, is the international spa and culture-rich town of Baden-Baden, providing, as a result, a perfect starting point for excursions and tours for those seeking a unique experience with nature.
Reaching the stunning natural surrounds only takes a matter of minutes by car via the world-famous Black Forest Scenic Route (Schwarzwaldhochstrasse). It starts in Baden-Baden and boasts wonderful views across the Rhine valley to the Vosges mountain range. Parking is available at the Plättig car park; bus number 245 to the Mummelsee lake also stops here.
What is a national park?
A national park is a large, protected area in which nature is predominantly left to develop without human influence offering an extensive habitat for many types of plants and wildlife. A further objective is to enable people to experience this wild, natural environment and to preserve and encourage the wide variety of species found there.
The Black Forest National Park consists of state-owned and municipal woodland located around the Hoher Ochsenkopf and Ruhestein/Schliffkopf peaks. 420 hectares of forestry land belonging to the municipality of Baden-Baden has been provided as part of the national park’s inception. It is here that the narrow paths of the Luchspfad and Wildnispfad hiking trails weave their way through what will become a natural forest.
Human intervention shall only take place when there is a risk to visitors, for instance when a tree is in danger of falling on a path. Otherwise, nature is left to take its own course. Management zones, however, are in place where commercial forests belonging to other landowners border the national park. Here, all trees within 500 metres of the border shall be regularly checked for bark beetles to ensure there is no spread to neighbouring forests. With its new offers for holidaymakers and residents, the Black Forest National Park represents a major gain for the region. From theme-related guided walks and adventure tours to numerous informative events, a wide range of all-year-round offers are now available to interest people of all ages.
More than three quarters of the woodland area belonging to Baden-Baden can be left immediately to develop into natural forest, meeting as a result the international criteria for national parks from the very outset. The reason for this is that Baden-Baden’s Forestry Office has for many decades followed a nature-oriented development programme for this area of woodland: beech and fir trees have been allowed to grow naturally or were planted in areas where spruce trees were felled. Even today with its mature trees and wild, rocky outcrops, the woodland is already in a highly natural state. The Badener Höhe peak with its observation tower also lies within the protected area.