The Kinzig and Gutach valleys are quintessential Black Forest landscapes; they’re also the birthplace of many of its most eccentric folk costumes, and cuckoo clocks are sold here by the tonne. From Baden-Baden the region is most attractively accessed along the twisty and scenic Schwarzwaldhochstrasse, which leads to the northeastern end of the steep-sided and densely forested Kinzig Valley, the horseshoe-shaped hub of the Black Forest’s largest valley system, dotted with a series of picturesque small towns. Particularly appealing are the monastery and brewery town of Alpirsbach, and the quaint gathering of half-timbered houses at Schiltach. For generations this remote valley made its money logging and farming, and its modest and fairly sleepy communities celebrate this heritage with various evocative museums, including the open-air Schwarzwälder Freilichtmuseum, one of the region’s premier sights, just up the feeder valley of the River Gutach. This small stream is responsible for the broad 25km-long Gutach Valley, famous for its Bollenhut, a black hat with red pompoms worn as a traditional folk costume by women and reproduced in tourist literature throughout the region. Close to the head of the valley lies Triberg, the Black Forest’s most touristy town, packed with cuckoo-clock shops and coach parties and probably worth avoiding unless you’re after a chirping time-piece – in which case you’ll certainly want to visit the good, nearby clock museum at Furtwangen too.
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