Walking Barefoot in Germany // Photos
Barefoot walking paths can be found all over in Europe but are particularly popular in Germany. These paths run for several kilometers, are completely shoe-free, and offer a variety of barefoot adventures. I had to experience one for myself and figured it would make a perfect pit stop for one of our driving days through Germany.
Bad Sobernheim is a park in Germany that claims to have the original barefoot path. The park is full of many other amusements, making it a perfect stop. We arrived mid-day to find a full parking lot and people streaming towards the barefoot path. I had no idea walking barefoot would be so popular. We were quite clearly the first barefoot walking virgins and the only non-Europeans.
It’s a bit of a walk from the parking lot to the start of the barefoot walk. We paid our admission (€4 at the time of our visit) in the hut at the start of the walk. Then we stored our shoes in the provided cubby. There are also €1 lockers available. Jeff wore the backpack with some supplies in it (water, a small towel, Band Aids and an umbrella) and I wore the Little Little, as the path was far too challenging for him.
I was a little bit nervous. The kids can be finicky about the way things feel, particularly our Big Little. We reminded everyone that they could skip any obstacles they wanted by taking the side path.
The path starts in a mud pit so you can very quickly get over the feeling of getting dirty. The Big Little basically ran through it. The mud at the bottom squished in our toes as we walked the trail. There were sticks and little stones. It was quite overwhelming and satisfying at the same time.
The Middle Little had barely started down the ramp when we realized the mud would be over his shorts. Jeff placed him up on the side path and he walked next to us out of the mud. His feet coated in thick, brown mud socks.
When I popped out, I too was sporting mud socks.
The obstacles are not stacked up on each other as I had expected. You walk some distance between activities. Sometimes the path is grass. Other times it’s wood chips. A few times the path was so worn that the recent rain had turned it into mud again. We loved feeling the different textures on our feet.
The paths have climbing and balancing activities thrown in as well. It is an opportunity to watch your toes go to work, uninhibited by socks and shoes.
A clear, spring fed, ‘cold as ice water’ walk was my personal favorite. It felt just like putting your feet in a small stream after hiking.
We could barely keep up with the boys as they soaked up every obstacle on the path. Where the beginning had been crowded, the path now opened up and we found plenty of space for our family.
The boys wanted to try some of the obstacles over and over because they loved how the rounded wood felt on their feet.
Sand pits were the sorbet of the path. They gave our feet a break from the otherwise intense sensory experience.
We passed over rocks of all shapes and sizes. We all agreed that the brick was the most pleasant to walk on!
Lots of balance practice. It was fun to see the boys having so much fun. Our Middle Little found the balancing obstacles quite difficult, but had the most fun doing them.
The barefoot path typically crosses the river, but due to current strength, that bit was closed. Instead there was a little area where you could walk down to the river beach and dip your feet in. There were a few rocks to step on a bit farther out. We took advantage of the cold river water to wash off our legs.
At the end of the path there is a barefoot playground. We took a seat in the grass, let the Little Little out and set the boys free to play.
While there was some traditional playground equipment the boys all chose to run around in the barefoot labyrinth. This small wooden labyrinth was weirdly a big hit. They ran and giggled through the maze over and over.
The last step is to cross back over the river. The Middle Little chose to go with Jeff on the self-powered ferry boat. The Big Little and I, however took on the rope bridge.
The rope bridge is long and sways a bit. We had a few laughs crossing over the bridge. I was actually glad I was barefoot as I wasn’t as worried about slipping!
The path ends back at the shoe storage cubby. Covered feet washing stations are provide. You rinse off your feet and then take a seat on the nearby benches to dry your feet and put your shoes back on. We forgot our towel!
Bad Sobernheim also has a beer garden at the end of the barefoot path. This is a great place to grab a bite to eat before or after the trail. There is plenty of shaded seating. There are several pavilions, each serving a particular type of food. Jeff visited each to pick up some bratwurst and pretzels for the kids to enjoy.
After our barefoot walking experience I can highly recommend you give one a shot. It is a completely unique experience. There were plenty of German adults out doing this without kids. It seems like the thing to do on a beautiful summer day in Germany.