Bad Wildbad has more to offer than public nude bathing

A 1,200-foot-long cable bridge stretches over a valley at Bad Wildbad, making it one of the Black Forest town's biggest attractions.


By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 9, 2020

The Black Forest town of Bad Wildbad is well known as a wellness getaway, and it’s where I experienced firsthand the German tradition of getting naked with strangers.

My first trip there (in pre-coronavirus times) was to visit one of their indoor baths, the Palais Thermal.

There were the fat and the skinny. The well-endowed and the lacking. And everyone in between, who sauntered in and out of the various pools and saunas, undaunted by the parade of flesh.

For more prudish Americans, such experiences can bring discomfort. I found it horrifying and swore off Bad Wildbad for the longest time.

But one recent weekend, we decided it was safe to return, albeit steering clear of the nudist getaway, which I suspect has stumbled on hard times thanks to the pandemic.

Luckily, Bad Wildbad has a lot more to offer than public baths. Walking trails abound in the Sommerberg section of town and feature attractions for young and old alike.

On our visit, traffic was backed up as people headed to a hilltop, where trails lead to a high suspension walking bridge that runs over a valley. Also at the site is a treetop trail that offers a panoramic view of the Black Forest. Along the way there is information about local fossils and the environment, balconies and a 180-foot tunnel slide.

It was one of the first weekends when Germany started to loosen up after the coronavirus lockdown, and people were heading out in droves. We were eager to give the treetop walk a try, but the line was daunting, so we headed first for the 1,200-foot-long cable bridge that’s 200 feet above ground.

The walk across was a thrill. The bridge swayed with the wind, but my trust in German engineering kept any anxiety about a sudden plummet in check. The view of the sprawling landscape added a sense of calm. We went back and forth a couple times before heading out on a trail walk.

Along the way, we kept an eye out for mountain bikers racing by on trails. The area is a hot spot for riders doing high-speed descents down the hillside.

Eventually, we made our way back to where we started — the treetop walk. Unfortunately, the line had grown and the social distancing wasn’t so distant.

Putting safety first, we headed for the car, satisfied with what we saw and planning a return in the future — minus the nude bathers.

Twitter: @john_vandiver

TIMES: 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. daily

COSTS: Entrance to the bridge and treetop line is 9 euros for adults and 7 euros for children between 6 and 14.

FOOD: There are snack bars near the sites and a wide range of restaurants downtown.

INFORMATION: There is a paid parking lot near the bridge and treetop walk at the Sommerberg section of Bad Wildbad. Call 07081-10280; Email: touristik@bad-wildbad.de

The cable bridge in Bad Wildbad shakes in the breeze, but it is nonetheless safe for passage and a highlight during walks through the town's nature trails.