Hiking in the German Alps!
The Alps span much of Europe and hold some of the best hikes I’ve ever done in my life. Having a length of 1,200 kilometers, the Alps connect France and Slovenia, with all other countries in between. With so many different mountains to conquer in so many different countries, it can be overwhelming to find a place to start.
Thankfully, not all the Alps is filled with difficult hikes at insane altitudes. Many countries have beginner hikes as well, with more difficult treks for veterans to easy going outdoors trails. A perfect place to get a mix of all of them is Germany!
Getting to the German Alps
Getting to the Alps in Germany will depend on where you’re coming from and how you choose to get there. If you live in Austria, it’s safe to say you’re aware of Eurail or will just drive. So, I’m going to focus on the people that are flying into Germany and traveling internationally.
If you’re doing a tour of Europe and want to get there from another country, I recommend taking a train like Eurail or other service into Munich. If you’re flying straight into Germany, I also recommend flying to Munich. Basically, no matter where you’re coming from, a good entrance into the country is through Munich. The city is positioned just north of the German Alps, has a major airport so prices tend to be cheaper, and has multiple trainlines that connect into the city.
After reaching Munich, you may be able to find a cheap train ride to your destination depending on the hike you are aiming for. Otherwise, renting a car may be the best option for getting around in Germany. Having lived in Germany for three years, I can attest it’s one of the safest places to drive and having that kind of freedom is something you’ll want when you’re there.
Preparing for hiking in Germany
Getting ready for a hike in Germany depends a lot on the difficulty of the hike you want to do. So, let’s take a look at some equipment you may need depending on the hike difficulty. Before we look at each difficulty, some basics for all hikes are appropriate attire for the weather you plan on hiking in, and boots that have been worn in for hiking.
Easy – An easy hike will require any form of hiking backpack for carry the following essentials; reusable water bottle(s), hiking sticks, trail snacks, any portable electronics you deem necessary, and that’s pretty much it. The easier hikes aren’t difficult, but can be exhausting, so it helps to have something to eat and drink along the way.
Moderate – A slightly harder hike will call for the same equipment as before, but with more goods to eat/drink. Some hikes will be classified as moderate because of length, while others because of difficulty/steepness. Regardless, both types of hikes are tiring, and you should be physically in shape to handle them and have the supplies to get through them.
Difficult+ – If you’re a veteran hiker/mountaineer, you probably already know what to bring. I don’t recommend going on the difficult trails unless you’ve done numerous hikes that are moderate or below. But, in addition to the earlier mentioned equipment (excluding camping equipment as we’re only focused on trekking), you may need a harness and via ferrata if the trail has difficult terrain that requires hooking into a guide cable.
Some of the Best Hikes in Germany
Located just outside of Garmisch, Partnach Gorge is a somewhat easy hike that takes you through a cut in the mountain with water rushing through and scattered waterfalls. While this hike is relatively easy and will only take half an hour, you should still be cautious as there will be slippery spots! This is also the perfect addon to visiting Garmisch if you already plan on being in the area.
Kranzhorn Erl sits on the border of Germany and Austria, giving you a rewarding view from the peak of both countries. The shortest trail on the mountain will take roughly 3 ½ hours to hike and is fairly easy going. There is also the option to stay the night in a hut near the summit if you want to catch the morning sunrise on a peak in the Alps.
The “relative” of the Partnach Gorge, Hollentalklamm is also located near Garmisch. However, this gorge has a number of hikes ranging in difficulty and length. I recommend checking out Grainau to see some of their trails and find one that works for you!
There is a gondola that takes you to the top of this peak, but that’s not why you’re here! Thankfully, you get to skip the crowds of people lining up for the easy way and instead get to enjoy the numerous views on the hike up. Expect a two to three-hour hike to ascend this mountain and be prepared to be met with an amazing view!
This is an easy hike and very scenic! There are a few trails to take, but the loop trail allows you to bypass a lake and have a nice place to relax during your hike. It can be lengthy though, so be prepared for a decent amount of time to hike.
This was one of my favorite places to see and is the highest peak in Germany! Like the Kranzhorn Erl, Zugspitze lies on the border of Germany and Austria. This hike has some difficult parts though and should be planned for well in advance. There are also a few moments where the heights can be overwhelming, so this might not be a good hike if you have a fear of high places.
Safety in the Alps
I love hiking and being outdoors! The Alps is the perfect place to experience those outdoor adventures and have fun! But the priority when hiking or doing any activity with a risk of danger should be safety. Always ensure you’re ready for the most common problems that may occur. Have a form of communication ready in case of problems and numbers to contact in an emergency. Also make sure you have a map of the area and any equipment you need for the weather you’ll be in!
Enjoy the Alps!
Every hike and excursion I’ve taken through the Alps has been a memorable and fun experience. I’m always happy to share any hiking experience I’ve had in Germany in hopes it convinces others to try them. Because, after having so many positive memories come from hiking, I can only hope other outdoor enthusiasts get the chance to enjoy them and make their own memories!
Guest post: Casey LaClair is a 27-year-old travel enthusiast. Having a career in Satellite Communications and pursuing a degree in Computer Science, most of his time is spent hunkered over a keyboard. This love of technology, mixed with a desire to travel, led him to create Viraflare to spread his joy of travel and help others find their way on the road.