Our feet spend a lot of time crammed into shoes. It is much healthier to explore nature barefoot. This is possible without danger on barefoot paths. We present the highest in the region and explain why they are not only good for the feet but also for the whole body.
Feeling the grass under your feet, playing with your toes in the mud, consciously paying attention to where you put your feet – walking barefoot gives you a much better understanding of your surroundings than the thick sole of a shoe.
At the same time, the health of the whole body has improved, says Walter Lechner: “Walking barefoot promotes circulation, blood pressure and blood flow, strengthens the body’s defenses and is good for muscles and joints.” The 68-year-old is one of three group leaders at Hallwangen Barefoot Park near Dornstetten. “Our feet are no longer used to walking barefoot. The different surfaces of the park make you realize how sensitive the soles of your feet have become.”
Destinations without movement are more attractive
Adults have more trouble walking without shoes than children, says Peter Reichle. He runs the park with all senses in Gutach with his wife. “Children walk on all surfaces without batting an eye. Adults, on the other hand, are often not used to it anymore, and overweight people in particular have a hard time.”
Reichle doesn’t see a boom in barefoot walking: “Most kids and their parents still prefer excursion destinations like amusement parks or toboggan runs where you don’t have to move.”
Running without shoes is not only good for the body. Reichle sometimes asks his visitors what they were thinking as they walked barefoot. The answer: nothing. “You automatically ignore any earthly problems and stresses and focus entirely on the path and where you are walking.”
Tips for beginners
However, beginners should start slower, advises Walter Lechner. “It takes time for the feet to harden.” Initially you can walk barefoot on the lawn in the garden or by the pool, or dare to take a barefoot path, which however must not be too long to start. The ideal climate to try is sunny with temperatures around 20 degrees. “Of course you can go barefoot at ten degrees if you want,” Lechner says.
Shoes aren’t usually allowed on a barefoot trail, but as a beginner you should wear them, advises Lechner. This is especially advisable for children if they suddenly no longer feel like walking barefoot or if their feet hurt. If you can’t make it all the way, you can give your feet a break on a strip of grass or lawn near the path.
Although, according to Peter Reichle, there is no boom, the trend is towards “offers of near-natural adventures, including a visit to the park barefoot,” says Jutta Ulrich of Schwarzwald Tourismus. “Because feeling nature under your feet is a much more intense sensory experience than walking in the forest in shoes.”
A visit to a barefoot trail would be particularly suitable for families, so that children can experience nature intensely and authentically from an early age. Barefoot paths therefore certainly play a role in tourism. “It is a product that counts among the constantly growing offers of sustainable tourism,” says Ulrich.
This can only be seen from the fact that more and more barefoot trails emerge between the Black Forest and the Swabian Jura. We therefore present the four longest in the Black Forest region.
Barefoot Park Dornstetten-Hallwangen
The BarfussPark Hallwangen near Dornstetten in the Freudenstadt district is surrounded by nature. “You can therefore feel the Black Forest barefoot, surrounded by woods, meadows and a stream,” says Hanna Schneider of the Dornstetten Tourist Office.
What sometimes disturbs the idyll is the garbage. Employees like Walter Lechner collect it every day and empty the waste bins. “Since the start of the pandemic, masks have been around more often,” says the 68-year-old. “But wet wipes are particularly annoying. Parents use them to clean their children’s hands after the clay pool and then throw them into the forest.”
Since the onset of the corona pandemic, “the barefoot park has felt more and more important,” says Schneider. “We are seeing the trend that more vacationers are staying in their own country instead of traveling to Italy or Spain and also want to spend a holiday in nature.”
opening time: from 1 May to 15 October, every day from 9:00 to 20:00
journey length: Total distance 2.4 kilometers, can be reduced to 1.4 kilometers
registration: free, but for a fee. Donations are required.
special: Various guided tours, motivational training, playground, beach volleyball court, Kneipp pool
treatment: Kiosk on site (except in case of rain), picnic area and barbecue area
Park with all your senses Gutach
The park with all the senses in Gutach in the Ortenau district is the second longest barefoot trail in the region. Although it can hardly be described as a path with its paths about three meters wide. It is also not compulsory to walk barefoot, you can also walk the paths with shoes. “However, 95 percent of our visitors go barefoot,” says operator Peter Reichle.
The park isn’t just for your feet. Along the routes, various stations have been set up that stimulate all the senses, from the fragrance pavilion to a sensory station to the dark house. “We don’t want to educate our visitors with information panels, we want them to feel comfortable,” explains the 61-year-old. The flower tunnel in the park will also be planted from May.
opening time: April: 11:00 to 18:00, May to 13 September: 10:00 to 19:00, 14 to 30 September: 10:00 to 18:00, October: 11:00 at 17:30
journey length– 2.1 kilometers
registration: Children up to 2 years free, children from 3 to 15 years 4.50 euros, adults 6.50 euros, dogs 1 euro
special: Several stations to stimulate the senses, flower tunnels, walking barefoot is not a must, umbrellas can be borrowed for free, the cycle path connects the park with other hiking sites.
treatment: newsstand, picnic area
The experience trail in Hechingen in the Zollernalb district runs through the middle of the city and is still surrounded by nature. “It passes over a small stream and is in the orchard area,” says Thomas Jauch, spokesman for the city of Hechingen.
Also read: Hechinger’s barefoot trail in the test – with bare soles on fragments
There is also a circle of vitality along the way. The exercises against tension are described on several cards. These were developed by a doctor. At the start of the pandemic, the city also opened an oscillating path that runs parallel to the barefoot path. “You can combine both routes in one trip,” Jauch explains.
The municipal depot regularly cleans both paths and keeps them clean. “We have had cases of vandalism on the spot or broken bottles along the way,” said the spokesperson. “This year someone removed and stole the pebbles from the path of experience. Unfortunately, this happens.”
opening time: Every day from 8:00 to 21:30, foot washer accessible from May to October
journey length: About one kilometer
special: Runs parallel to “Häppy – the swing path”, playground equipment, vitality circuit
treatment: A few steps from the city center
Tieringen barefoot trail
The barefoot trail in Tieringen near Meßstetten in the district of Zollernalb is immersed in the nature of the Swabian Jura. At some point it also passes through the Schlichem River. “A large watering hole in the forest is always the highlight for children,” reports Diana Haerter, spokesperson for the city of Meßstetten. “With a little luck you may even find a few toads there.”
There are several sights in the immediate vicinity of the trail, such as the Ziegelsee lake or the Schlichemquelle. “From there you have a great view over the valley,” says Härter. In addition, the trail partly runs parallel to the Tieringer Hörnle Hoch-Alb trail.
The barefoot trail is run by the Kohlraisle local history club, whose clubhouse is located at the starting point of the circular trail. There is also a foot washing facility there.
opening time: Open all the year
journey length: About one kilometer
special: Runs parallel to the premium hiking trail Tieringer Hörnle, Schlichemquelle and Ziegelsee lake nearby, playground
treatment: Barbecue area in the parking lot