Top 3 Types of Winter Hiking in the German Alps

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I love winter hiking.  And I think you might too.  Yes,  I know that you might have your concerns:   Isn’t it cold?  Aren’t you worried about getting lost?  What about avalanches?

winter hiking german alps

But I hope to convince you that there is a winter hike suitable for everyone and that you might actually enjoy it.

Types of Winter Hiking 

Guided Winter Hikes 

Guided winter hikes are a good introduction to winter hiking and are virtually worry-free.  By choosing a winter hike organized by a local tourism board or other reputable company, a knowledgeable guide will lead your hike so you won’t have to worry about getting lost or about avalanches since the last thing a tourist board wants is people getting caught in an avalanche.   Just dress warm, layer your clothing, bring water and some snacks, and you’re all set. 

Winter Hiking Tip:  Garmisch-Partenkirchen Tourist Board offers free guided winter hikes from January – March.

winter hiking german alps view
Snow covered landscapes are one of the highlights.  View of the Tegernsee

Winter Hiking on Maintained Trails 

This is a step up from a guided winter hike since you will be on your own, without a guide, but there will be a path and signs.  Besides choosing a hiking trail that looks interesting, you will also want to choose one suited to your ability, so note the distance, elevation gain, time and difficulty level listed for each hike.  The added bonus is that you’re on your own time schedule so you can go as fast or as slow as you would like, stopping for as many photo opps to your heart’s content. I’m a big fan of these.

Winter Hiking Tip:  You can check with the local tourist office or refer to the interactive maps available for Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Der Tegernsee or Der Bayerische Wald (Bavarian Forest – not in the German Alps, but still a fantastic place for winter hiking).

Easy Winter Hikes

For easy hikes, suitable for the entire family I recommend:

Steep Winter Hikes

For steeper, but still easy to follow hikes:

  • the Waldberg near the Tegernsee, in which you can make a descent by Tobogganing on Germany’s Longest Toboggan Run,
  • Lenngrieser Hütte (where you can spend the night) and continue on up to the Seekarkreuz (mountain peak),
  • or theJochberg (accessible all year long), which offers great views over the Walchensee, one of the deepest lakes in Bavaria.
  • or head to Wilder Kaiser. Although it’s in Austria and not in Germany, it’s just over 100 km from Munich so still reasonably close.
winter hiking german alps own path
We made our own path snowshoeing on the Schreckenkopf near Bayrischzell and had the entire mountain to ourselves

Winter Hiking on Unmaintained Trails 

This is the most adventurous of the hiking options.  The only trail will be the one created by you.  As a result, this is usually the best workout since hiking in the knee or even sometimes thigh-deep snow is hard, slow going.  I usually choose unmaintained trails that have signs, but often signs can be hard to spot in winter:

winter hiking german alps
Piled up snow can often make signs difficult to see when hiking.

And huts are often closed:

winter hiking german alps buried hut
This alpine hut near the Tegernsee is closed in winter and almost buried under the snow.

So if you’re looking for a winter trail with a hut, check to see if it’s open before you go.   A good map is also necessary and a compass and knowing how to use it.  If it’s your first time hiking on an unmaintained trail, it’s a good option to start with a shorter trail or one in which you can see your destination, such as hiking to the top of a small mountain.  

The good thing about hiking on unmaintained trails is that you decide how steep you want the trail to be.  Straight up, or lots of zig-zags, the choice is up to you, so no complaining about how hard it is!  Your sleek, toned legs will thank you later – once they stop burning. Note: I’ve done a lot of these but haven’t had the chance to write about them.  Check back for updates!

Winter Hiking Tip:  Always check with the local tourist office on conditions before heading out on an unmaintained trail, since avalanches may be a concern.

So what do you think?  Have I convinced you to give winter hiking a try?  Which type is more your style?

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4 thoughts on “Top 3 Types of Winter Hiking in the German Alps”

  1. Are you hiking just in hiking boots? I am thinking snowshoes would be great- reminded me of how much I loved snowshoeing in the forest when I lived in NB. Added bonus- bears hibernate!

    Reply
  2. @Mette – I think you would love Partnachklamm in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, it’s incredibly beautiful and is mark of a walk than a hike, so you don’t have to be outside for too long if you don’t want to be.

    @Lisa – It is fun! I’m out, most weekends either winter hiking or snowshoeing.

    @Sue – Yes. I’m also a big fan of snowshoeing and use my regular hiking boots for that as well. I do miss seeing bears though.

    Reply

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