Tegernsee is a paradise for hikers and bikers, swimmers and SUPers. It’s just an hour south of Munich, situated in the Bavarian Pre-Alps, where almost all the summits are under about 2000 meters (drive further south to reach the higher elevations and limestone extremes).
Take your swimming suit and SUP for a refreshing swim and paddle at the lake after the hike. You can also enjoy a lunch or dinner at the iconic Bräustüberl, a beautiful yellow building right on the lake, with two clock towers and a flower-filled garden terrace.
This hike starts out easy on wide roads that lead to Riederstein (1207m), and then follows the ridge from Riederstein to the highest point Baumgartenschneid (1449m), which offers beautiful views of the Tegernsee valley.
Ascent: You can take the BOB train from Munich to the town of Tegernsee or drive and park near the Bahnhof (train station). From there walk up the paved Schützenstraße (Straße = street), and then follow the signposts for Riederstein, Rohrkopf, and Baumgartenschneid. This part of the hike is in a forest and therefore shaded, which is nice for a hotter day.
You can stop for a beer and Brezen (pretzel) at the Rieder Steinhaus am Galaun. Shorty thereafter, get a pic of yourself on the log stretching out over the valley. At Riederstein there is a sweet little chapel perched precariously on a small peak. Be sure to walk the narrow deck around the chapel to see spectacular views of the lake, as well as the Karwendel mountain range.
You’ll spend another 30 minutes or so in the forest, which opens up to a view of the Baumgartenschneid summit.
Descent: From the summit, take the steep and technical (rocky) singletrack trail to Baumgartenalm.
12 km | 4.5 hrs | 670 hm | Summer & Winter
Walchensee is one of the deepest and biggest alpine lakes in Germany. It is situated in the middle of the Bavarian Alps and is a popular spot for hikers and cyclists, as well as sailboats and windsurfers (popular means it will be crowded on weekends and holidays—on the Autobahn, on the train, and on the trails).
I always choose this hike for visitors because it offers stunning views of the clear blue-green waters of the Walchensee, as well as one of those picture perfect panoramas of never-ending mountain peaks you’ll find only in the Alps.
Follow the signs from the Herzogstandbahn parking lot to Heimgarten (1790m) on a mostly shaded forest path. You will reach the summit in about 2.5 hours. Then walk the rocky and narrow ridgeline to Herzogstand (1731m) where you’ll get 360* views including Walchensee and Kochelsee.
NOTE: You’re hiking the same distance as the Tegernsee hike but gaining twice the elevation. This hike is steep and strenuous.
Ascent: Start from the Herzogstandbahn parking lot, across the street from the lake. (You could take a couple of hours off the hike by riding the Herzogstandbahn, a gondola open from Spring to Fall, up to Fahrenberg, and start the hike down from there. Alternatively, you could hike up and take the gondola down.)
The Gasthof Herzogstand (1575m) can be uncomfortably crowded, but you can eat your lunch on the grassy knoll near the cross.
The ridgeline from Heimgarten to Herzogstand is technical (with rocks and roots) and narrow with steep sides—it’s not for those with a fear of heights.
Descent: It’s a steep descent from > 1700m at Herzogstand to the Walchensee at 800m.
14 km | 6 hrs | 1330 hm | Summer & Winter
In the fall, big beautiful brown-and-white dairy cows are driven down from the lush alpine pastures back to their valley homes in the small villages. This lovely tradition is kept alive in Sachrang, located in the Cheimgau region of upper Bavaria.
Early in the morning on cattle drive day, a Saturday near the end of September, the cows are adorned with ribbons and flowers as a symbol of thanks for a successful summer on the mountain. Herdsmen, who have lived on the mountain all summer, drive their cattle past the alms and huts into the valley. Celebrating crowds and live folk music welcome them into the village, where small market stalls offer fresh milk, cheese, and bread with butter.
This hike is technically fairly easy but long. Forest roads and paths lead you through the woods to the Priener Hütte (1411 m, open year round) at the foot of Mount Geigelstein (1808 m). The lower elevation part of the hike up and down is forest roads, but it’s worth it when you get to the summit with panoramic views of rocky mountain ranges and rolling meadows. I’d never seen meadows like this. Be sure to stop and be still for a while to take it in. Being here gives you a singular feeling, a spiritual experience that opens your mind and heart as wide as the meadow itself.
Ascent: There is a big parking lot just before Sachrang (740 m). Follow the signs and forest road to Geigelstein/ Jägersteig Schreckalm. After going up for about an hour, you’ll see a waterfall, then in another 30 minutes you’ll see a small cabin. In 20 meters, you have the choice to follow the forest road, or a rugged singletrack to Jägersteig. The latter is much more interesting. This singletrack crosses the forest road a few times.
Eventually you come to a meadow and the trail opens to an amazing view of the Kaiser mountain range. From the Schreckalm turn left to follow the signs to Geigelstein via the mountain saddle—a great word to describe the route between two peaks. There is a cross and small chapel at the Geigelstein summit.
Descent: Follow the signs and walk 400 vertical meters down to the Priener Hütte. There are many mountain bike tours and ski tours around this Hütte, which also offers a food, drinks, and an overnight stay. Follow the forest paths back down to Sachrang.
8 km | 5 hrs | 1200 hm | Summer & Winter