I still laugh when people say, “Cross country skiing is so easy.” I’m not quite middle age and I think cross-country skiing is pretty tough. A few weeks ago, I tried it again after many years of reprieve with a group of adventurous travelers. We had a blast and I can’t wait to go again. Bonus, my muscles weren’t even sore the next day. The weather in Germany can be unpredictable as was the case with our first attempt to ski this year. There was not quite enough snow in January but we were reassured by many residents of the region that mid to late February and early March would be a snowy winter-land for snow shoeing and cross-country skiing.
Trails and Information
Finding trails are not that hard, there are plenty of websites to visit, but my favorites are Black Forest travel site and Tracks and trails. We found a great trail close to Stuttgart where we are stationed about an hour away in the little town of Freudenstadt. The trail we tried was the Kneibis loop. The cost was €2 for the trails and it had a nice size parking lot close by and a little snack shop for warm soup, cake, and hot drinks. Our first trail was just under 3km, which if you’re starting “new” again, I recommend. Be careful of the signs, like downhill, black is the hardest and hilliest. Traveling at a high rate of speed, even down the little slopes can be dangerous if you haven’t done this in awhile. The red trails are “advanced” and the blue trails are for beginners. We were passed by what seemed to be several speed skaters or skiers, but I didn’t recognize Eric Heiden’s so we kept to the red trails and enjoyed all the white covered scenery. Also, most of the loop had a trail already blazed, so we kept our skis in the path and seemed to stay upright more often. The trail took us about an hour to complete and then a few of us tried the “kiddie loop”, it was .4 km so we knew we could handle it. The trail was fairly level with a few hills. It’s important not to cross your cross-country skis while skiing. This is very key, you will fall to the ground in the most ungraceful way.
After skiing we headed into the snack bar for a hot tea or Glühwein (heated spiced red wine). Overall, it was the best snow-falling, cross-country skiing day yet this winter. If you are very hungry, nearby is a great restaurant which we visited, the Kneibis-hutte. Before our next run, we filled up on Gülasch and Kürbis (pumpkin) soup and salads making it an affordable day too. A special note in Germany, if you have more than four in your party, make reservations. You’ll be glad you did. This is where you can also try the famous Black Forest cake or Badisches Schäufele, which is a regional delicacy of lamb with horseradish and potato salad. Our table had a view of the hills and the snowfall, I couldn’t have ordered a better day. Well, maybe a little bit more sun.
A bonus of living close by to these great destination spots is that you can visit stores during the off-season. Last fall I had the pleasure of visiting a few of the ski-rental/outdoor rec shops in Baiersbronn. Baiersbronn is a little town not far from Freudenstadt that is quaint and worth seeing all in its own right. We rented our ski equipment from SPORTKLUMPP right on the main street of Baiersbronn. I made a reservation since originally we had ten in our group and they were ready for us when we arrived. Our boots, poles and skis were €17/day and if you have a Schwarzwald Plus card there is a discount. You can get these bonus “vacation” cards for the weekend, for the day, for a season. If you think you’ll be visiting the area more than once, I’d get one for your family. Many businesses accept them and they are quite the deal. Every place asked us about it. We did have to transport our own ski’s and equipment. Make sure your transport vehicle has room for long, skinny skis. Luckily, my hooptie Volvo had a ski-pop down center. Those Swedes, of course they would have something like that and I was so thankful.
On that cold February day when headed into the Black Forest snow was not in the forecast for Stuttgart. However, when we arrived, flurries were coming down quite a bit. Being stationed in Germany, snow tires are required. You can have all-weather, however, my friend Heather had troubles coming down the mountain with her tires being all-season. If you ski or are in the mountains (Alps) especially, snow tires are worth the investment. We only had one incident where sweet Germans had to push us out of a skid. As a matter of fact, we were stopped on the road at one point to allow the plows to go ahead and clear the roads while we waited. It wasn’t a long wait, but we are in Germany so you never know. Luckily, it was just a short delay. Also, make sure you have a scraper and brush in the car because we accumulated quite a bit of snow on the car while we were skiing and waiting.
What a wonderful day we had in the Black Forest on our ski adventure. We were able to gather intel to bring back to share with family and friends. Can’t wait for our next trip! If you want to know more about cross-country skiing in the Black Forest or have your own experience to share please leave a comment below!