The Herzogstand isn’t an ordinary mountain summit, but has royal roots
It has long been favored by royalty including the infamous King Ludwig II. Even its name is royal, “Herzog” is German for “Duke” and is named after Herzog Duke Wilhelm IV who hunted in the area in the 16th century. I was intrigued – if it was good enough for royalty, it was worth a day of exploring.
The Herzogstand is perched above the Walchensee, the deepest alpine lake in Germany and a popular spot for water sports. Our hike started as a lazy man’s hike, at the Herzogstandbahn, the cable car that whisked us up over 700m in a matter of minutes, instead of a 2 1/2 hour hike up. As we waited nearly an hour in line, I began questioning our decision, and became apprehensive about all the other people who had the same summit in mind. So much for getting away from it all. Travel tip: If it’s solitude you’re seeking, don’t go to a mountain, loved by royalty, with a cable car on a warm sunny weekend. As we reached the top, my apprehension faded. The views of the Walchensee were spectacular! (see top photo)
The trail to Herzogstand. All those small ant like looking critters on the trail are other hikers.
We soon passed a hut and the zigzagged path was obvious. We headed up and reached Herzogstand about 20 minutes later. Not surprisingly, we didn’t have Herzogstand to ourselves, but when we saw the view of the Walchensee which was even better than the view we had from the top of the cable car, we weren’t complaining.
View of the Walchensee from Herzogstand that we shared with about 20 other hikers.
After soaking in the view for a few minutes we started heading down and onto the ridge part of the hike towards Heimgarten Summit. Ridge walks are my favorite type of hike since you get to enjoy the views for longer, and the narrow ridge walk from Herzogstand to Heimgarten was exceptionally fun and my favorite part of the hike.
The ridge between Herzogstand and Heimgarten (the big mountain on the far left)
It was part scramble in places (where you have to use your hands on the rock) and very narrow, less than a meter wide in some places and straight down on both sides. Although there was a chain on the scramble and narrow parts to hang onto, I wouldn’t recommend the ridge portion of the hike for anyone afraid of heights. Fortunately I’m not afraid of heights and couldn’t stop smiling.
The ridge walk between Herzogstand and Heimgarten is beautiful, but narrow, so skip the ridge walk if you’re afraid of heights.
Eventually we reached the Heimgarten Summit which was also obvious, just one path up and a giant cross at the summit. Right below the Heimgarten is a hut, and by this time we had worked up an appetite and wanted to soak in the views of the Walchensee for just a little bit longer before heading down.
It’s hard to miss the Heimgarten Summit with the large cross at the top. J.P. was impressed with his “Two-Summit” Day – even if we cheated by taking the cable car up.
Looking back in the direction of the Herzogstand from the Heimgarten Summit.
The trail down from the Heimgarten was mostly forested, but did have several views along the way. It wasn’t quite as busy on the way down as it was early evening, but we were still far from being alone.
A little over four hours after we started, we were back at our car in complete agreement that Herzogstand gave us the royal treatment – even if we weren’t royalty.
The hike down from Heimgarten is mostly forested, but there are a few views along the way.
Getting to Herzogstand and the Heimgarten: The easiest way to get to the Walchensee/starting point for the Herzogstand is to drive. It’s ~85km south of Munich. Alternatively, you can also take the train to the nearby town of Kochel and then catch a local bus. Note if you drive, the Walchensee is a very popular destination, so expect delays. It took us over 2 hours to get there from Munich and over 2 1/2 on the way home due to traffic jams near the Walchensee in both diretions, so allow for extra time, or plan to travel very early or later in the day.
Travel Tip: The Herzogstand is a very popular destination so don’t come here if you’re seeking solitude. Having said that I loved it (and I don’t like hiking with crowds) so would recommend getting an early start to beat some of the crowds and hiking off season during the week if possible. For more info on the Herzogstand and Heimgarten see the Walchensee Tourist Information.