Alpine feelings rarely arise in the Black Forest. The tranquil low mountain range generally impresses with its gentle meadows, forests and hills. But there are also places where good shoes, surefootedness and a head for heights are required.
One of the most beautiful areas of this kind is the Karlsruher Grat near Ottenhöfen, which can definitely compete with high-altitude via ferrata routes and gains additional appeal as an excursion destination through the connection with the wildly romantic Edelfrauengrab waterfalls of the nearby Gottschlägtal.
Things to know about the "Karlsruher Grat"
From a geological point of view, the Karlsruhe Ridge - whose trade name is "Eichhaldenfirst" - is a quartz porphyry ridge that was formed in the Palaeozoic era about 270 million years ago, when magma penetrated a four-kilometer-long and about 750-meter-deep fissure in the rock and cooled. Erosion of the surrounding rock formed the more resistant, harder porphyry as a prominent ridge. In some places, the flow marks on the ridge can still be discovered today.
Of course, one hardly thinks of this once one is at the top: For here, it is above all the view of the deep Gottschlägtal and the Black Forest heights between Hornisgrinde and Schliffkopf that overwhelms. And then the terrain also offers certain challenges. However, one should always take into account that the Karlsruher Grat together with the Gottschlägtal has formed a 154 ha nature reserve since 1975, which reaches from an altitude of about 400 m to 850 m above sea level. Especially the forest-free rocky areas and the dry scree slopes represent valuable biotopes that provide a habitat for many endangered plants. The name "Karlsruher Grat" probably goes back to the fact that the Eichhaldenfirst was a popular excursion destination for hiking clubs from Karlsruhe, the capital of Baden at the time, about 100 years ago.
In the area of the Karlsruhe ridge and the Gottschlägtal, spruces, firs, Douglas firs and deciduous trees grow due to the good mineral supply of the soil and the cool and humid climate. In the area of the Edelfrauengrab waterfalls ferns and mosses. On the ridge there is little in the way of vegetation, many of the rocks are colonized by lichens. On the steep slopes, the sparse vegetation is dominated by beech, oak and chestnut trees. From an altitude of about 800 m, broom, moor grass and heather.
From the spring, the Karlsruhe ridge is bathed in yellow color from the rare heath broom and broom bushes. Likewise from the white blossoms of the rock pear, mountain ash and hackberry. Splashes of color are provided well into the summer by: knapweed, yarrow, bluebells, summerwort, and at spring sites, marsh marigolds, grove loosestrife, and marsh violets. A variety of insects seek out the sunny southern slopes of this unique nature reserve: tumbleweeds and especially butterflies. With a bit of luck, peregrine falcons and ravens can be observed above the Gottschlägtal or the steep cliffs.