Feldberg (Black Forest)
Feldberg (summit at rear of treeless area, with towers) and the Seebuck (front, with tower and ski lifts)
|Elevation||1,493 m (4,898 ft)|
Feldberg is the highest mountain in the Black Forest and also of Germany outside the Alps; with an elevation of 1,493 metres (4,898 ft). The local municipality was named after the mountain. Freiburg im Breisgau is the closest city.
Feldberg is situated southeast of Freiburg im Breisgau, surrounded by the communities of Hinterzarten, Titisee, Menzenschwand, Bernau and Todtnau. From the main peak 1,493 metres (4,898 ft) there is a plateau leading 2 km in a southeast direction to the Seebuck peak (1,448 m). From this point, there is a deep valley towards the northeast which contains the Feldsee, a lake of glacial origin at about 1,000 m altitude. There are additional deep valleys around Feldberg, such as the northwestern Zastlertal and the southwestern Wiesental.
Feldberg can be reached by car via the B317 (federal highway) running from Titisee to Lörrach (Basel) across the Feldberg Pass. A train service reaches the station of Feldberg-Bärental, at 967 metres (3,173 ft), the highest DB station on standard gauge track. A bus service connects with the station. The Seebuck peak (1,448 metres (4,751 ft)), which is topped by a tower, can be reached from the valley station by a chairlift. From this point the peak of Feldberg is about 2 km away. The peak is publicly accessible to walkers.
The radio systems of Bundeswehr, the French and US Army from the Cold War period have been since taken down. Today Feldberg is discernible by the old and new television towers and the Bismarck memorial on Seebuck.
Altogether there are more than 28 ski lifts and slopes around Feldberg. The mountain's peak itself is situated outside of any skiing areas. Several loipes (ski trails) around the peak and the Herzogenhorn opposite are suitable for cross-country skiing. It is all a popular area for skiing tours with slopes of alpine character.
Most of the Feldberg area is part of a nature reserve due to its subalpine vegetation. This reserve is the oldest and biggest one in Baden-Württemberg and has been under the charge of a full-time ranger since 1989. Since 2001 it is the responsibility of the Conservation Centre Südschwarzwald to look after the reserve. Within the Haus der Natur ("House of Nature") there's a permanent exhibition of nature conservation. It offers an extensive program with events in the reserve. Since 2005 there is also a new nature trail.
Feldberg offers one of the most extensive panoramas of Germany – especially in winter at weather situations of inversion. In the west, on the other side of the Upper Rhine Graben you can see the entire Vosges Mountains from the Ballon d'Alsace up to Mont Donon and Mont Sainte-Odile. Beyond that you can also look up to the southern Palatinate Forest occasionally. In the north one can see the Hornisgrinde; in the northeast there's the entire range of the Swabian Alb including the Lemberg mountain, up to the left there's the Hegau volcano region.
In the south one can see the Alps from Alpspitze and Zugspitze in the east up to the Allgäu Alps, Verwall Alps, Silvretta, Säntis, Glarus Alps, Urner Alps, Bernese Alps and Mont Blanc in the west. Besides there are the Jura Mountains on the right next to the Alps.
The bedrock of gneiss is around one billion years old. The Feldberg region was lifted up three times and then washed away by erosion. What exists today can be called the "third Feldberg". The "first Feldberg" arose in the Precambrian and was washed away completely. The "second Feldberg" arose during the Devonian and Carboniferous, as part of the Variscan orogeny. It was washed away once again during the Mesozoic and Early Triassic; Muschelkalk, Keuper, Lias, Dogger and malm were deposited. Some of these sediments are maritime deposits from intercontinental oceans; the others are of continental source. The "third" and current Feldberg arose during the Alpine orogeny in the Tertiary. Since then these sediments have been steadily washed away, and today little but the bedrock remains.
Climate and vegetation
The annual mean temperature is around 3 °C. The mean annual rainfall is 2,114 mm. The climate is sub-Atlantic, temperature gradients are lower than in the valley. During winter the condensation point is quite high, due to the long sunshine. While on the mountain it is relatively mild, in the valleys around one can notice significant colder temperatures. The lowest temperature ever recorded occurred was −30.7 °C on 10 February 1956. The average rain/snowfall amount is 1909 mm per year. The only month to never have had snow recorded on the summit is August. On average there's a blanket of snow 157 days per year. Because of the exposed situation, wind speeds of up to 130 km/h are possible throughout the year.
Feldberg's peak is not wooded as the name suggests. However, the sharp transition to forest illustrates it is no natural border. Even the height of the mountain would not cause it to be woodless. In this region the tree line would occur only at about 1,650–1,700 m.
Many non-wooded places content the special qualities of the flora like moors, rock faces and snow fields. Below the peak there's a mixed forest consisting of beeches, European Rowans, spruces, silver firs and douglas-firs. Glades are due to human interventions. So one can see a big woodless area around every hamlet.
That is attributable to the intensive cattle farming in this region. The prevented further wood-growing. Today one comes across both pioneer species like European Rowans and different sorts of shrubs there. On many places there are primeval forests being left to its own resources. A characteristic of the vegetation represent the moors.
Today tourism is the main source of income in the Feldberg region.
The mountain is developed by several managed huts called Baldenweger Hütte, Rinkenhütte, Zastler Hütte, St.-Wilhelmer-Hütte and Todtnauer Hütte being connected by trails. Besides there are some asphalt drives to the inns and other local institutions around the peak. The number of visitors is quite high.
Feldberg is the biggest winter skiing resort in Germany outside of the Alps. The first ski lift ever was originally built in 1907 in the Feldberg area. Today, there are approximately 14 ski lifts (including five at the Seebuck, among them a six-seated chairlift) and over 50 km of alpine trails with up to a black level of difficulty. If there is sufficient snow, even a terrain park may be installed. At the valley station there are several garages for snow groomers and other equipment. Below the old TV tower the mountain rescue service is guarded.
There are also many Nordic ski trails around the peak; two of them are the highest ones of Baden-Württemberg. A part of the cross-country track Schonach-Belchen runs between Feldberg and Seebuck.
During the Cold War there were many antennas on a military tower at the peak, but these were removed some years ago. Today there is a big TV / radio antenna, used by the local public station of SWR (Southwest Broadcasting). As well, one can recognize the mountain by the Bismarck-Denkmal, an old monument in honour of the famous 19th-century chancellor of the German Empire.
At the top of the mountain (where the weather has been measured since 1915) is a weather observatory that has been in operation since 1937 and carried on by the German meteorological service (WMO code number: 10908). Next to the observatory there is a weather radar.
- (German) Feldberg:History and images
- Feldberg:Image Gallery
- Webcams: regiowebcam.de
- "Feldberg, Germany". Peakbagger.com.