Hiking the Herzogstand to Heimgarten with Views of the Walchensee

View of the Walchensee from the Herzogstand in Bavaria, #Germany

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)

trail to Herzogstand, a mountain favored by Bavarian royalty.

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, the deepest lake in Bavaria, #Germany.

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.

#Hiking the ridge between Herzogstand and Heimgarten was a great day in the Bavarian #Alps.

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.

Narrow trail (less than 1 meter wide in places)between the Herzogstand and Heimgarten, not a #hike if you are afraid of heights

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.

Celebrating at the top of Heimgarten Summit, a popular #mountain in the Bavarian #Alps.

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.


A look back at the Herzogstand, a #mountain famous with Bavarian royalty.

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 the Heimgarten summit in Bavaria, Germany.

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.

See more places to visit in Germany.

See our recommendations for a day hiking packing list

Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains, an adventure travel blog and company that helps people plan their active holidays in a sustainable way. Although Canadian, she lives in Germany. You can find her in the mountains on most weekends.


  1. fotoeins October 12, 2011 at 9:22 pm - Reply

    I’ve always found it amazing that the ‘lower’ Alps are so accessible and so beautiful. Your photos capture that beauty so well! Thanks for your post!

  2. Laurel October 12, 2011 at 9:54 pm - Reply

    @fotoeins – Me too and I’m thankful that they’re so close to Munich. Thanks for your kind words.

  3. Mette Christensen October 13, 2011 at 6:52 am - Reply

    Breathtaking landscape – looks like the kind of place where you can sit meditating for days.

  4. Laurel October 13, 2011 at 5:32 pm - Reply

    @Mette – I definitely felt a combination of relaxed and exhilarated while there and loved the landscape as well. It’s easy to see why it’s so popular.

  5. Eastgale October 14, 2011 at 9:47 am - Reply

    Those are some gorgeous shots! It is really lovely! Makes me want to go back again. /wistful sigh

  6. amandapoverseas October 18, 2011 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    I saw this the other day and apparently forgot to comment so I’m glad you reposted lol. Those views are beautiful. Nice as solitude is, that’s cool to share with other people as well (although I understand wanting to be on your own; I used to go the more deserted section of Cocoa Beach in FL down by the air force base just because I liked to sit by myself and not with a bunch of other people).

  7. Laurel October 21, 2011 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    @Eastgale – Thanks, hope you’re able to go home soon 🙂

    @Amanda – With views this good, I don’t mind sharing them 🙂

  8. Andrea July 30, 2012 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Those are some amazing views! I’m dying to do some hiking in Germany – we came too late in the year to experience the good weather for it.

  9. Tonya September 30, 2012 at 9:51 am - Reply

    Thanks for this really detailed post! The hubby and I are planning on a trip in the next week to do a hike here because the fall is gorgeous around Wachensee and this sounds like a good plan! Cheers 🙂

    • Laurel October 6, 2012 at 4:32 pm - Reply

      @Tonya – Glad it was useful. Hope you have a great hike, let me know how you liked it.

  10. Jeremy Branham April 2, 2013 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    Beautiful photos. I love hiking. That first photo reminds me of Lake Tahoe here in California.

    • Laurel April 7, 2013 at 7:22 pm - Reply

      @Jeremy – Thanks. I think you would like it here. If you ever make it back to Bavaria, I’m happy to be your hiking tour guide 🙂

  11. Dennis October 29, 2016 at 8:04 pm - Reply

    How do you get from Kochel to Walchensee? I heard that H5 trail at Walchensee is the easiest.

    • Laurel October 31, 2016 at 10:30 am - Reply

      @Dennis – I know there’s a public bus, and I’m sure there’s a hiking trail, but I’ve always drove directly to the Walchensee.

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