Puzzled over which path to follow, I quickly realized all we had to do was listen for the sound of water.
On the outskirts of Bad Urach, a picturesque medieval town in the Swabian Alb, the way toward the waterfall was confusing at first. But then, amid the quiet, I heard water flowing in the distance. Turning my head in that direction, I noticed an obscure sign post for Wasserfall.
Now, the direction clear, my travel companion and I headed down the trail in search of the Bad Urach waterfall and all the tranquility we guessed it would offer.
About 30 miles south of Stuttgart, Bad Urach offers a quick escape from the bustle of city life. And one of the chief attractions is the waterfall. From the small parking area, it takes about 15 minutes of hiking to reach it. The path runs alongside the Brühlbach stream, which gently courses through the Maisen valley.
It’s a pretty easy walk, set against a peaceful backdrop of wooded calm. A series of steep steps leads hikers to the waterfall.
On the way up, benches are conveniently placed in front of the fall, offering resting points and places to take in the view. At the top, visitors can feel the mist from the 130-foot stream of falling water. Surrounded by forest, chirping birds and the soothing static sound of the waterfall, it’s a perfect place to forget about the daily grind.
“It’s like an escape. It’s a chance to enjoy the beauty of nature at its best … despite the fact there are man-made steps and benches,” said my travel companion.
While the waterfall was the main purpose of our recent day trip, it is not the only attraction. Bad Urach itself also is worth a visit. With a long history dating back nearly a thousand years to when the local castle was constructed, the homes in the old town are well-preserved and the town square is one of the prettiest in the region. Cafes, restaurants and bars are plentiful, making for a convenient place to refuel after a hike in the woods.
The area also boasts other attractions, including the ruins of Hohenurach castle, which was built in the 11th century. The ruins, just like the waterfall, are just outside the city and can be accessed from the same parking area as the waterfall.
Worn out from our wanderings through the woods, the hike to the castle, perched high atop a steep hill, was too much for this trip. But all the more reason for a return visit to Bad Urach.
ON THE QT
Directions: From Stuttgart, take the B27 highway south for about 13 miles. Take the exit for the B28/B312/B313 and continue on the B28 south for about 10 miles. From there, follow the signs for the Wasserfall and the town of Bad Urach.
Times and costs: The best thing about the waterfall is you can go anytime for free, but it’s best to visit during daylight hours.
Food: There is a small cafe near the waterfall, but for more choices, head into the old town of Bad Urach, which is less than a five-minute drive from the waterfall parking lot. Restaurants, bars and cafes abound.
Information: Visit the town website, which has an English-language option, for details about Bad Urach and its various attractions visit the town's website.
— John Vandiver