europe quick trips
Path in Black Forest town offers sky-high vistas
By GREGORY BROOME | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 9, 2017
Treetops have hovered majestically and arrogantly over our heads for far too long. It’s time we got even. Literally.
In the forest of southwestern Germany, humankind has fashioned a structure that has finally quelled the hubris of these brash treetops, reducing them to the humble level of the limbs we nudge aside and the roots we overstep. If the conquest of the tree wasn’t already accomplished by clear-cutting them to build our cities, stacking their corpses on the shelves of our hardware stores and slicing them thin for our printed information and entertainment, the Baumwipfelpfad, or treetop path, has completed our task. A trip to and atop the Baumwipfelpfad in Bad Wildbad, an attractive Black Forest town, is experienced in three phases.
The first is a short hike from the parking lot to the entrance of the treetop walkway. This provides a helpful surface-level look at the trees to be transcended.
The second is the stroll through the treetops along an elevated wooden path, offering precarious views of the ground below and the seemingly endless forest all around. The walkway, even when it forks into playground-style chain and rope detours, feels reliably sturdy underfoot. But it’s prone to occasional shifts and sways, as if to remind its occupants of their precarious situation.
Any visitor already unsettled at this point would do well to avoid the third phase of the Baumwipfelpfad.
At the end of the walkway rises an observation tower that looks as if it was neatly fashioned out of the wooden and metal debris typically thrown around by a tornado. The tower’s spiral path expands ever farther outward even as it climbs higher. The top offers undisturbed, but potentially disturbing, views in all directions, most notably down.
After descending the tower — there’s a metal slide down the middle, but it’s closed from November through March — the relatively tame fourth phase of the Baumwipfelpfad experience begins. With feet on solid earth, visitors hike at ground level back to the parking lot, regarding the forest from a more familiar vantage point and casting satisfied upward glances at the conquered treetops overhead.
Baumwipfelpfad Schwarzwald is located at Peter-Liebig-Weg 16, Bad Wildbad, Germany.
Open at 9:30 a.m. daily; closes at 4 p.m. from November through March, at 6 p.m. in April and October and at 7 p.m. from May through September.
Entry to the walkway and observation tower is 9.50 euros (about $11) for adults, 7.50 euros for children under age 15 and free for children under 6. A family ticket is available for 19.50 euros. The tower slide, when open, costs 2 euros per ride and is unavailable for children under 6.
There are a few restaurants located around the entrance and observation tower. Plenty more options await in downtown Bad Wildbad.
Comprehensive information is available in English at www.baumwipfelpfad-schwarzwald.de.