This Scenic 9-mile Hike in Germany's Black Forest Is Lined With Self-serve Schnapps Fountains

Now that's one way to encourage people to get outdoors.

Hikers enjoying schnapps trails in Germany

Courtesy of Renchtal Tourismus

Plain old water might be your go-to beverage of choice on a hike, but not in Germany's Black Forest. On some special trails, you'll never go thirsty, thanks to the bottles of locally made schnapps hiding around every turn.

You won’t find the good stuff on every trail in Germany, but you can find it nestled along the Oberkircher Brennersteig, a nearly nine-mile loop through the Black Forest. The trail takes travelers past several family-run distilleries, which put out a few well-placed bottles of schnapps in cool water basins for any passerby to try. It all works on an honor system, as shown by TikToker Christiana, @damoldmillennial.

“You’ll stumble upon this, and think, ‘oh, what is this,’” Christiana shares while hiking the trail. “It’s schnapps, hidden inside the water and kept nice and chilly,” she exclaims as she hoists out a bottle. She pops a few bucks in the honesty box, takes out a glass, and pours herself a little shot before continuing on her way. The basins typically come with a tray for clean glasses and another for dirty ones to make it easy for travelers to keep things sanitary. 

But why are there schnapps stands placed along this trail? According to Masters of Malt, schnapps has long been a preferred drink in Germany, distilled from fruits like pears, cherries, apples, and plums, with no added sugars. The website explains that even the term “schnapps” comes from the Low German word snappen, which translates to “swallow.” And the Black Forest is where all that delicious fruit is grown, harvested, and distilled down to the tasty drink. 

Related: Germany Has Some of the Most Beautiful Forests in the World — How to Plan a Road Trip to Visit Them All

Schnapps trails in Germany

Courtesy of Renchtal Tourismus

The trail, Hiking and Drinking explains, takes travelers through gorgeous rolling hills, vineyards, orchards, farms, and lush woodlands, and past, at minimum, six distilleries (known locally as brennereis) offering a taste of their products. The distilleries are often found in small, half-timbered homes, making the entire experience feel like a European fairytale. All of the distillery and winery shops, including Sesterhof and Busseck-Hof, can be found on this trail map. Though if you can only visit one, make it Halter, Edelbrände & Liköre, which offers more than 30 varieties of schnapps, tastings, and even a private schnapps hike through its property.

The Washington Post suggests travelers start the trail in the quaint town of Oberkirch, home to fewer than 20,000 people. It’s a place that has certainly perfected the craft of schnapps-making, so it’s worth a day of exploration, too. As The Washington Post reported, there are 14,000 distillery licenses spread out across the Black Forest region, and nearly 800 of them are right here in Oberkirch.

According to All Trails, the hike takes about four hours on average to complete, but we’d suggest adding in plenty of extra time for a few slow sips. See more about the trail, and exactly how to get there, on the Black Forest tourism website.

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