In the French Alps, there are many refuges which are free to use: you can turn up in most places with no reservation and stay the night.

I can't seem to find any mention of these free refuges in Germany (specifically the Black Forest). Do they exist in the Black Forest and, if so, are they available to use in the same way?

To go into more detail about what I mean by a refuge, the Refuges des Aubarets is a good example. I understand that they are primarily used to offer shelter to people in tough conditions, but are commonly used by hikers to spend the night. They are also known as cabane non gardée (unguarded/not looked after cabin).

  • 31
    I read refugees and thought of Calais.
    – simbabque
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 13:31
  • 9
    That's what google thinks too, which makes it more difficult to find information on this
    – Preston
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 14:03
  • 4
    It's literally called a refuge, or a cabane non gardée. Taking one at random it would could look something like this: refuges.info/point/2829/cabane-non-gardee/… Their purpose is to offer shelter to people in winter, in case of emergency, but they are commonly (and legally) used to stay the night by hikers
    – Preston
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 14:13
  • 5
    In the UK we would call this a bothy. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bothy Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 17:04
  • 2
    @tompreston You can use a minus sign before a word to tell Google to prefer pages that do not include that word. For instance you might search for black forest refuge -refugee. However if you do, your question is the first result.
    – Calchas
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 13:27

3 Answers 3


What's called a refuge in French is a Hütte in German. In both cases, it can be staffed (gardé, bewirtschaftet) and possibly offer some basic catering or be unstaffed (refuge non gardé, Selbstversorgerhütte) or a mere shelter (cabane or abri de secours, Notlager or Biwakschachtel).

The German and Austrian alpine clubs run many of them and also maintain search engines to locate them: DE and AT (not only their own but also those managed by other organisations). There aren't many results for the Black Forest but I could find a few:

None of these are completely open like high-altitude shelters, you will need to obtain the keys in advance and in all but one be a member of one of the alpine clubs or pay a small fee (but that's the case in most French refuge too).

  • 3
    I know from personal experience that there are plenty more "undocumented" shelters in the Black Forest. Some are maintained by local clubs and have plaques like "if you would like to sleep here, call this number a week ago". Some could be found on our hiking map and we also stumbled on some by chance which weren't on it. Most did not have doors.
    – Philipp
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 10:29
  • @Philipp Sumyrda posted a comment about this yesterday, but I don't have anything to add to it.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 10:50

Probably not

This is a rather vague half-answer, but it's more than a comment.

Through the commercial tourism association http://www.schwarzwald-tourismus.info/ I found the different organisations that take care of the national parks/reserves there. They are all listed in the footer of that page.

I called the one for the north and asked. They said their part of Schwarzwald does not have any of these shelters. The lady said I should contact the tourism association directly, though I believe that would only yield commercial things like areas where tents are allowed, if those exist.

There are a few more different organizations in other parts of the region, and you could email them to ask. I would go with shelter rather than refuge if you want to do it in English. In German it would probably be something like Hütte, Holzhütte or something where you can find shelter (the verbfor that is unterschlupf suchen).

  • 1
    Thanks for calling- that's really above and beyond, I appreciate it! They're not obvious if you don't know what you're looking for in french, so I thought the German language barrier might be my problem. Your answer clears it up though, thank you again.
    – Preston
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 14:35
  • 5
    Have you tried googling "Schutzhütte"? According to outdooractive.com there are 595 in the black forest region. Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 20:04
  • Those might just be simple shelters against rain, see picture on felias-fogg.de.
    – user24582
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 11:13
  • @user24582 that should be an answer on its own. You can translate part of the page, and provide an explanation of the downloads available there, and maybe the explain what the different kinds of things they list are.
    – simbabque
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 11:18

felias-fogg.de provides a list of Schutzhütten, which is just about any structure where a hiker might find shelter in case of rain storms.

A simple shelter in the Black Forest

They provide a map of shelters (grey) and inns (yellow), in addition to GPX and POI files. Coordinates might deviate by 100-200m. Shelters marked "UNSICHER" might no longer exist. Last updated in 2010.


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