G3VGR ALBSTEIG     Conclusion      

The Albsteig was a very enjoyable experience. I found the trail to be idyllic, both scenically interesting and quite varied. It has a little bit of everything that makes the Schwarzwald so charming: deep gorges, waterfalls, mixed forests, alpine meadows and traditional houses. The trail often went over narrow paths of natural terrain. Obviously, I walked along forest and gravel roads as well, but not to an extent that I found to be particularly negative or boring (except on the second and last stages) and only about 15% of the trail was on any asphalt. The ups and downs, from deep river valleys to the peaks of the low mountains added welcome variety to the trail and makes the trail quite challenging. It is definitely no gentle stroll in the woods.
There is an option to make the trail into a long loop by returning along the Wolfsteig and Mittelweg between Häusern and Waldshut The Albsteig would also make an excellent companion to the Schluchtensteig. One could walk the Schluchtenstein to Sankt Blasien then from the next stage towards Todmoos, divert to Urberg and join the Albsteig at the Bildsteinfelsen.

Hinterzarten, the self-named "Pearl of the Black Forest", proved to be a good base. It is a pleasant village which I enjoy, having stayed there on 4 previous occasions. Titisee would have been more convenient, had I been able to find suitable accommodation there, because all of my commutes to the Albsteig stages started with a train journey from Hinterzarten to Titisee, but Hinterzarten is a much nicer place to stay. On most stages there are no places to stop for refreshments and only two drinking fountains can be found on the entire trail. This is reminiscent of my Soonwaldsteig walk where rhere was nowhere to buy lunch each day. Fortunately, by staying in a Ferienwohnung, I was able to prepare a lunchtime snack each evening for the following day, so had no problem. The weather in the Black Forest can be extreme and changes very quickly. In summer, fast approaching and often very violent thunderstorms can be expected at any time in the Schwarzwald, so by choosing to walk in September instead, I avoided them. However, I didn't expect a heatwave during my stay which made walking in oppressive heat on the first three stages hard work. I did use the wetter.de app on my phone to check the local forecast each morning to decide if full waterproofs would be required or just an umbrella.

The Schwarzwald is classified as a high risk area for ticks, which can transmit Lyme's Disease/Borreliosis or Tick-borne Encephalitis (TBE), either of which are quite nasty, especially TBE. To avoid having ticks attaching themselves, I had doused my hiking clothing and shoes with Permethrin before my trip. I like to wear shorts when hiking, so each morning, I treated exposed skin with tick repellent spray prior to the day's walk. The spray I used contains Saltidin (Picaridin) which is apparently more effective against ticks than DEET and unlike DEET is not unpleasant to use and, more importantly, not destructive to plastics or other synthetic materials. Whilst walking, I made a conscious effort to avoid long grass and undergrowth, especially in damp, shady areas, and each evening after showering, I examined my body for any ticks. Fortunately, I experienced no problems whatsoever.
As well as walking the Albsteig, I made excursions to photograph waterfalls at Triberg and Gertelbach. I also visited Villingen and made a few trips to Freiburg. I had planned some other visits, but just like my 2019 stay in Hinterzarten, the very hot weather curtailed my ambitious schedule.

The Stages
On the first stage from the Feldbergpass to Bernau, I enjoyed the hike more than I had thought I would, mainly due to the clear weather allowing spectacular views from the heights of the Hochschwarzwald. On Day 2, the walk through the Windbergschlucht adequately compensated for the disappointment caused by the closed sections of the trail. However, I found the trek around Häusern and the Albstausee to be rather boring. Likewise the last stage was tedious at times, especially the walk along the main road through Tiefenstein. However, the ridge walk from Tiefenstein to Hohenfels was superb. Without doubt, my favourite part of the whole walk was the section between the Bildsteinfelsen and Wilfingen on the third day.


Being based in one location and making day hikes allowed me to carry a smaller daily load. For this trip, I bought a new Deuter Speedlite 25 backpack to replace my 12 year old Osprey Talon 22. The lightweight (710gm) backpack had ample room for my Paclite waterproofs, camera equipment, lunch, water and various other necessities. I found it to be extremely comfortable to wear. I didn't bother with carrying any midlayer clothing during the daytime. Instead, I used my Montane Lite-speed Jacket over a merino wool baselayer. This was more than sufficient for the chilly early morning starts. The weather was extremely hot and sunny on the first three stages. I only packed my waterproofs on the last day when much rain was forecast, but they only had 5 minutes use. On the other days, I just carried an umbrella, being quicker to deploy for short showers, but this saw no use.
Although much of the trail is rough, I wore trail running shoes instead of boots. Worn with Superfeet insoles and merino wool socks, my feet were very comfortable and the shoes performed quite well on most surfaces. However I would have preferred my boots for the roughest parts of the trail Rab scree gaiters were used to keep debris out of the low trail running shoes. I also like to use trekking poles which relieve stress on my knees and improve balance when going downhill, so brought along my Black Diamond Distance FL poles. They proved to be invaluable on the Schmugglerpfad.

Again, my Android smartphone proved indispensable. Much information was stored using both Microsoft OneNote and OneDrive. It was also used for navigation with the Hochschwarzwald App, which provides offline maps and GPS tracks. However, like all Premium Trails, the Albsteig is very well signposted and an erroneous downloaded GPS track caused me to lose my way on the second stage. Various photography apps are also installed. The excellent DB Navigator App was used extensively for my daily travel. Additionally, I carried an iPhone 6S, similarly configured (but with no SIM) in a weatherproof housing as a backup. A 10000mAH Powerbank ensured both phones could be charged whilst hiking.  Photos from my cameras (Panasonic DC-G90 & DMC-GX80) were backed up to both the phone and a SSD using a Kingston MobileLite

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