The Black Forest is relatively low-lying and you cannot guarantee good snow throughout the season, but it is still relatively reliable for the peak season. It is convenient for much of northern Switzerland, including Basel, and is much cheaper than the Alpine resorts for a winter holiday.
We organised a family holiday this month to Todtnauberg, a high valley not far from Feldberg, the highest point in the Black Forest (and in the whole of Germany, outside the Alps). Despite the good snow in December the temperatures had risen unseasonably high and even at 1150m, the village had patchy snow. Nonethless, the nursery area near the centre of the village and the larger, connected section across the valley were open.
In total Todtnauberg boasts 6 surface lifts, 12 red runs and 4 trails. There is an excellent high cross-country circuit. Should the snow not be too good on the lower slopes, the runs above Liftstüble can still offer good conditions and whatever the snow conditions, there are some lovely winter walks in the area. Todtnauberg is also situated at the top of what claims to be the highest waterfall in Germany, the Todtnau Waterfall, and there are a number of pleasant walking trails that take you down along the length of the falls.
The setting is spectacular and from various points around the village and the surrounding hills you can see the Alps in the distance. We stayed at the family-run Pension Enzian, conveniently located next to the Kapellenlift. It is a lovely little establishment, very simple but with good food and wonderful hosts and certainly one I would recommend. In our case the party included skiers, non-skiers, pensioners, infants and children and we felt we were all catered for well.
Driving to Todtnauberg is relatively straightforward, with the village being served by a dedicated road running off the main Todtnau to Freiburg road. There is also reasonably good public transport with a direct bus to Freiburg (which is well worth a visit if you have not been there before) and a bus to Todtnau which connects to the service to Basel (either direct, or via the train from Zell im Wiesental). I’ve known people come from Basel to ski here for the day, although most people opt for Feldberg.
The skiing in Todtnauberg lies between 1021m amd 1388m and probably provides around 20km of ski runs and trails in total. The runs are all graded red but are generally easy enough for people more comfortable on blue runs. There are no particular gotchas for boarders other than that all of the lifts are surface lifts, and mainly t-bars at that. There is a ski school in the village.
Felderg is very close to Totdnauberg as the crow flies, but around 15km away by road. You can get to Feldberg by bus, changing in Todtnau.
I’ve posted details on Feldberg at the companion site here. It is easily the most comprehensive winter sports area in the Black Forest, and Todtnauberg is probably the second largest. There are others, though. Muggenbrun (970-1243) and Brandenberg-Fahl (850-1380) have a handful of lifts. Herrenschwand (Todtmoos), Widen, and Aitern-Multen also have more than one lift. Additionally a number of other villages have basic facilities, perhaps one lift and a couple of runs back into the village.
For Cross-country, Feldberg, Todtnauberg, Muggenbrun, Widen and Aitern-Multen have both prepared trails and Langlauf ski schools. They also have prepared winter trails, often the same ones as used by cross-country skiers but not exclusively so. Which of course, gives you also the opportunity to whistle along to that old sixties classic “A Walk in the Black Forest”. There is also plenty of scope for snowshoe walkers, especially using the extensive summer trails that are not prepared in winter.
All in all the Black Forest is a good choice for winter sports enthusiasts. It represents excellent value for money compared with Alpine resorts and, in general, better caters for tourists than the Jura. The cuisine is delicious and you really should savour a proper, freshly-made Black Forest Gateau and some of the outstanding local wines. There is also plenty to see and do, with marvellous spas dotted around – we particularly like Bad Bellingen and Badenweiler, but Titisee has the most impressive. In addition there are rustic villages steeped in history, quaint little museums, lots of waterfalls, the ubiquitous souvenir shops (for your cuckoo clock) and the wonderful old towns of Freiburg, Colmar and Basel not too far away.
If you book well in advance, you may be disappointed if you have set your heart on perfect snow conditions, but generally Feldberg, at least, is reliable from Christmas through the end of February or later. For a last minute getaway, though, you could do a lot worse.