The Black Forest is a forested mountain range in Baden-Württemberg state in Germany. It spans the districts of Enz, Rastatt, Calw, Freudenstadt, Ortenaukreis, Rottweil, Emmendingen, Schwarzwald-Baar, Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald, Lörrach, and Waldshut. This 120-mile long and 37-mile wide mountainous area covers approximately 4,600 square miles of the country. The area is preserved by the volunteers of Schwarzwaldverein (Black Forest Society), the oldest existing German hiking and mountaineering club.
This mountainous range is made up of gneiss rock, covered with a layer of sandstone. Some of the tallest mountains in this area include the Feldberg, Herzogenhorn, Belchen, Spieshorn, Schauinsland, and Kandel. The Black Forest was an important mining region of the European continent in medieval times. Rivers such as the Danube, Neckar, Wiese, and the Murg cut through the mountainous range, thus providing this region ample water to preserve its rich ecology. The tarn lakes present in this area, validate the fact that the Black Forest was covered by glaciers during the last glacial period, the Würm glaciation.
This forested region is particularly made up of pine and fir trees. Though excessive lumbering has led to the depletion of forest cover in this area, efforts are being made to replenish it. The region is home to rare species like horses known as the 'Black Forest Foxes' and Hinterwalderberg cows. The giant earthworm (Lumbricus badensis) is endemic to this part of the world.
Tourism and Other Industries
The Black Forest is one of the booming tourist destinations in Germany. Tourists flock to the valleys in the vicinity of mountains like the Feldberg and Belchen. Lakes like the Titisee and Schluchsee also contribute to the beauty of this region. The Triberg waterfall on river Gutach is one of the famous waterfalls in this region. The 14,000-mile network of backpacking trails in this area is suitable for activities such as cycling, trekking, or cross-country running. For tourists who seek something other than nature, there are some museums like the Vogtsbauernhöfe―an open air museum showcasing the life of farmers of the region in 17th and 18th century, and the German Clock Museum in Furtwangen, which speaks volumes about the history of clock manufacturing industry. Even mines that date back to medieval times, have been re-opened and developed as tourist attractions.
Lumbering is another prominent activity of people residing in this region. Wood carving has flourished as a cottage industry over the centuries. Cuckoo clocks and carved ornaments are items of fancy for tourists visiting this area. Farming, cattle rearing, and other dairy-related activities are practiced at a substantial level.
Legends and Traditions
Besides nature, this place is also famous for legends and unique traditions that are practiced here even today. The fables rife about the area, make the Black Forest even more exciting. According to one of the fables, water nymphs reside in the dark depths of the Mummel Lake in Baden. Yet another fable talks about a king living in the deep waters of the lake, who drags women to his underwater kingdom. Then there are age-old traditions, like the practice of bringing the last grape harvest home on a bullock-cart. It is believed that if they don't follow this tradition, the whole crop turns sour.
The Black Forest in Germany is truly a marvelous place that mother nature has bestowed upon humanity. It's truly a wonderful experience that everyone should immerse themselves into ... at least, once in their lifetime.