- Location: Freiberg to Sankt Peter, Germany
- Distance: ~13 miles
- Difficulty: Moderate (due to distance)
I knew I wanted at least one long hike while I was traveling Europe, and Freiburg, Germany seemed like the perfect place to do so. It’s a medium-sized city right off the Black Forest, and according to Google Maps, criss-crossed with hiking trails.
I googled around for some trail suggestions, but of course — most of the results were in German. So I decided to wing it, and decided on Saint Peter as my destination (and my super ambitious plan was to originally walk there and back.)
Of course, after discovering Saint Peter is Sankt Peter in German, I found two blog posts that reassured me that this hike could actually be done, but were very light on details. As far as I could tell at the time, there wasn’t a set trail between the two towns (there actually is, more on that later.)
I didn’t have a sim card and therefore no data on my iPhone, but I did have GPS. I preloaded the maps on my iPhone so I could use GPS to make sure I was always generally making it in the direction of Saint Peter. Side note, did you know you can do that? Show the map area and then search for “ok maps”, which’ll preload the screen that you have. Crazy hidden awesome feature for Google Maps on the iPhone.
I also took these really silly screenshots of the trail to refer to:
The hike itself started out great (I never did quite figure out why there were sawdust arrows, but they reassured me I was going the right way):
…and almost immediately, the path I was following from my iPhone GPS and map screenshots failed me. It took me to the tiniest maybe-not-even-a-path through the brush up a really steep and muddy hill and I started to seriously doubt my ability to get to my destination.
It wasn’t all bad, as I managed to find this awesome fungus that looked like the beginning of an alien invasion (Archer’s Stinkhorn):
After emerging from the not-a-path and discovering my map directions wanted me to go along another even-more-not-a-path, I decided that I should just use my GPS and try to make sure I was constantly going East.
And at this point I’d expect a native German to jump in and tell me about their awesome signs. What signs?, I would have said.
I ran into my first set of these and waffled whether I should follow the sign or follow my Google Maps directions — I was afraid of getting lost by using the native signs and straying from my original directions.
It took me at least a couple miles before I spied these tiny things on trees:
I had no idea these existed before I got on the trail (hey, I’m spontaneous, not much time for planning.) Note in the sign with directions, places, and distances — there are also symbols, with the Saint Peter symbol showing up on the tree above. Every time on the trail where there was a split, all you needed to do is look for the tiny symbol sign which will tell you where you path is. Amazing. I very quickly abandoned my horrible Google Maps GPS + map screenshots.
Back to the trail. The other great part about using the tiny signs is that they generally took you away from the roads and onto actual trails (whereas my Google Maps leans towards dirt roads.) The trails were rather magnificent.
The only downside to the designated trail is that this is a huge mountain biking area. I had to keep my ears peeled (especially on tiny trails that were much smaller than the above) for the sound of a mountain bike whipping down the trail about to run me over. Thankfully disaster was averted in most cases when I would throw myself to the side, and the bike would go past with a friendly, “danke schön!”
Check out the views. You’re walking on the ridge of the mountains, so you get to see both South and North of the trail.
(Tiny village nestled in those hills, I want to visit you!)
About three-fourths of the way through the trek, the trail suddenly turned from forested, quiet trails to roads winding through the hillsides dotted with farms.
The weather was so amazing — I think I walked through the Microsoft default desktop image for a bit.
Unfiltered. It was so amazingly beautiful.
I was even more excited that my trek was coming to an end because I (being away from home away from my typical hiking supplies) was carrying a very annoying shoulder bag with a giant water bottle which I could never quite get comfortable, so my lower back and butt were aching after the 13 or so miles that I walked.
I finally glimpsed Saint Peter and its iconic church…
…and practically ran down the hill to a cafe with chairs, food, and beer.
(Side note: Is it just me or are German bees/hornets extremely aggressive? I adore sitting outside at cafes, but at this meal when my apfel strudel was brought out, I had at least five bees all trying to land in my whipped cream and gorge drunkenly in the sugar. Being kinda phobic of beers — due to a severely allergic mother, even though I am not — I practically inhaled the strudel to get them to leave me alone and barely tasted it myself. Sad.)
At this point, my original plan of hiking back sounded both painful (“another 13 mile trek?”) and boring (“but I’ve already seen everything!”) and thankfully the German bus system is well connected and easy to use. Simple matter of paying on the bus for a ride to a train station in another town, and taking the train back into Freiburg.
I’m so happy I was able to get in a long hike while I was traveling abroad, and definitely look forward to more in the future!