STUTTGART – Tens of millions of years ago, ice and water formed the natural landscapes in Southwest Germany. The results today are lovely valleys in which babbling streams, deep gorges with thundering waterfalls, extensive caves and underwater canals through which water flows into the springs and rivers. The often protected, unspoiled landscapes can be explored on adventurous hikes or bike tours.
Surprisingly Alpine: Margarethen Gorge Trail in Odenwald Forest
A steep path leads through the Margarethen gorge in the Odenwald Forest with unique views of waterfalls, caves and rock falls. You repeatedly cross the Flurs stream on the Margarethen gorge path, jump from stone to stone or overcome high cascades and rocks with the help of ropes. The stream gushes 110 metres down the gorge, making it one of Germany's highest waterfalls. The tour is a bit adventurous and has an Alpine character. But with good shoes and a little concentration, it offers an eventful trip for the whole family.
Indomitably Wild: Exploration Tour of the Rivers Kocher and Jagst
The Jagst cuts deep into the limestone between Crailsheim and Kirchberg. The river there is completely untamed, natural, and not straightened. Impressive views deep into the steep gorge can be seen on the higher hiking trails, such as the Baierlesstein trail. Biking fans can explore the area on the “Kocher-Jagst cycle path.” The two-river circular tour with the “Lovely Taubertal (Tauber Valley)” cycle path can be combined into a three-river tour.
Unfathomably Deep: On Foot and by Bike to Aach- and Blautopf
The legendary, turquoise Blautopf pool, should definitely be planned as a stop on a bike tour along the “Ice Age Valley Cycle Path.” The constant overflow on the side of the pool reveals that this is a spring. The water rushes briefly towards the town of Blaubeuren and then makes its way to Ulm as the River Blau. The Aachtopf is less famous, although it is Germany's largest spring. The premium hiking trail, “Aacher Geißbock,” starts here and offers views over the Hegau, the Alps, and Lake Constance.
Refreshingly Different: the Urach and Neidlinger Waterfalls
Millions of years ago, the fracturing of the Upper Rhine rift caused the Swabian Alb to tip over. This means that most of the region's waterfalls are located on the Albtrauf. The water falls over 120 feet at the Urach waterfall and then flows further into the valley. A little further afield is the Güterstein waterfall, whose water splashes romantically in small cascades into an enclosed pool. You can combine the disparate water spectacles with a circular hike on the “Wasserfallsteig.” Further north, the Neidlinger waterfall roars amidst the greenery. If you want to visit it, just follow the enchanted forest path by ear.
Really Worth Knowing: Ice Age Trail “Albwasser Tour”
As a tributary of the Danube, the Schmiech winds its way through the Danube River valley from Schelklingen to Ehingen. On the ice age path “Albwassertour,” you can follow the trail of the first “Albwasser supply” along its course. From the end of the 19th century, water was pumped from the pumping station in Teuringshofen up to the Alb plateau, which was a technical masterpiece. Today, the monument houses a museum. From there, the tour continues uphill to the historic water tank and then back over the old path on which ox carts loaded with heavy water barrels once made the arduous climb.
Notably Unspoiled: The Monbachtal Gorge
Not far from the spa town of Bad Liebenzell, the glittering Monbach gurgles wildly and romantically through dense forests and over huge boulders. It once formed the border between the areas of Baden and Württemberg. Today, there is a hiking trail through the nature reserve where, with a bit of luck, you can even spot the rare kingfisher. The tour leads under fallen trees, past mossy rock faces and repeatedly through the stream bed. Bikers and active enthusiasts can extend their route to include the Würm and Nagold valleys and treat themselves to the full river program.
Dizzyingly High: “Force of Nature” Tour with a View from the Lake Ellbachsee
Lake Ellbachsee is located in the middle of the Black Forest National Park. A karst lake from the Ice Age, with coniferous trees reflected in its smooth surface. You can reach it on the “Force of Nature” Tour. The circular hiking trail offers cooling-off with numerous streams, springs, fountains and the Rosshimmel waterfall. The tremendous power of storms and floods is also illustrated along the way. The “Ellbachseeblick” viewing point offers a wide view over the treetops and the Ellbachsee Lake which is 150 metres below, and the outlook is wheel-chair accessible.
Outstandingly Steep: The Gorge Paradise of the Black Forest Highlands
The wild water of the Ravenna Gorge roars down and has been digging a narrow valley for thousands of years. It can be explored via wooden walkways and rock galleries on the “Heimatpfad Hochschwarzwald,” or “Native Path of the Black Forest Highlands.” With small cascades of water, the large Ravenna Falls and the impressive Ravenna Viaduct make the tour an experience. The nearby “sister gorges” of Wutach and Gauchachschlucht are among the oldest nature reserves in Baden-Württemberg. The varied “Three Gorges Tour” is connected with an adventurous narrow gorge.
Exhilarating Water Experiences along the Wasserweltensteig Trail in the Southern Black Forest
In order to complete the “Wasserweltensteig” long-distance hiking trail in one go, you need a certain level of fitness. Anyone who takes part in the adventure will be rewarded with fantastic views and many refreshment options. The trail starts at Germany's highest waterfalls in Triberg and leads along the watershed between the Rhine and the Danube to Europe's largest waterfall, the Rhine Falls in Schaffhausen. Water is also omnipresent in between: babbling cheerfully as a lively stream, as a quiet moor lake, or a rushing river.
Extremely Rugged: Schussen Ravine in Upper Swabia
The small river Schussen comes up from the ground near the health resort of Bad Schussenried and passes Ravensburg, Weingarten and Tettnang on its journey to Lake Constance. In the upper area of the valley, the river remains close to nature and runs through pristine forests. The Schussen ravine was created by a glacier during the last ice age and left behind a rugged valley that can be discovered on a hike or by bike. At the end of the route, the valley widens into the Schussen Basin.
Naturally Phenomenal: Premium Hiking Trail “Donauwelle Donauversinkung”
One path, two water phenomena: The premium hiking trail “Donauwelle Donauversinkung” (Danube Sinking) connects the Danube seepage near Immendingen with the northernmost Hegau volcano, Höwenegg. Years of mining the volcanic rock left a deep pit in which a small shimmering deep green lake formed after the quarry was closed. The area has been protected since 1983 and is both a bird sanctuary and a geotope. It gained fame through significant mineral and fossil discoveries, such as the three-toed ancient horse, “Hipparion,” which is now in the State Museum of Natural History Karlsruhe.