Hiking guide: Bavarian lakes

Hike with bathing opportunities

A day by the lake or a trip through the mountains? For everyone who does not want to choose, there are solutions to this leisure problem: hiking and paddling – the perfect combination for the summer.


Cooling off for mountain lovers

If you would like to bring together a hike to the summit and a bathe in a mountain lake, you should not miss a trip to the Rotwand. The mountain on Lake Spitzingsee is a popular destination for excursions and is easily accessible by alpine pastures and a cable car.

Lake Soinsee (1458 m above sea level) is located in close proximity to it; the scenery could come from a picture book: blue water, grey rocks, green trees. The lake is relatively small with an area of just under five hectares and does not have any visible inflow – the Soingraben only appears out of the ground suddenly 780 metres further on, to then comfortably splash towards the valley.

Sometimes small rock pools form which also invite you to cool off. The water in Lake Soinsee is really cool, which is hardly a surprise: it is frozen for around five months a year.

How to get there: There are several routes up: from the west via the Taubenstein cable car (Spitzingstr. 12, 83727 Schliersee) and the Rotwandhaus, from the east via the Silberghaus (Tiroler Str. 70, 83735 Bayrischzell). Hiking gear is necessary, you should allow for at least half a day, depending on your route.

The secret lido

A lido that is small, easily accessible and also free of charge? Yes, there is one: the Kaltenbrunn lido by Lake Tegernsee is a real insider’s tip. This is because most visitors to Lake Tegernsee prefer to go for a walk somewhere else.

The Kaltenbrunn lido is actually located in an apparently unattractive location on the northern bank. There are few tourist attractions apart from Gut Kaltenbrunn; even the lakeside path soon leads away from the lake and through a dense wood.

So this is just the right place for anyone who wants to bathe in peace. The lido is particularly suitable for the final stop of a longer walk.

How to get there: There are a few parking spaces at the neighbouring marina (Kaltenbrunn 3, 83701 Gmund). Gmund station can be reached in 10 to 15 minutes on foot.

Caribbean feelings

Lake Walchensee is also referred to as the Bavarian Caribbean: because its water has such an incredible turquoise green colour. You can hardly resist jumping into it. The banks with their shingle beaches are largely unspoilt; as a result, there are lots of places for bathing.

The Zwergern peninsular, which offers an excellent view of mountains and villages, is particularly popular. Lake Walchensee is a good starting and end point for hikes up the Herzogstand. If you want to save yourself part of the ascent, you can take the Herzogstand cable car.

A circuit of Lake Walchensee covers 27 kilometres – it is beautiful, but more suited for cyclists.

How to get there: A95, Murnau/Kochel exit, then via Kochel am See. There are parking spaces at the Herzogstand cable car (Am Tanneneck 6, 82432 Walchensee).

In and out

Hiking, bathing, hiking, bathing, hiking, bathing: there is probably nowhere that this is as easy as at the group of lakes known as the “Osterseen”. This group of lakes near Iffeldorf consists of 20 individual lakes of varying sizes; there are also a couple of pools. The variety of bathing options is correspondingly high.

Connoisseurs swear by Lake Fohnsee. It is easily accessible and particularly picturesque. There are numerous hiking trails leading throughout the region, some of which go through biotopes. A number of endangered species of plants and animals live here, for example Alpine newts or the Siberian winter damselfly.

Therefore, bathing is prohibited in many places. Nature lovers stay at the campsite by Lake Fohnsee.

How to get there: Good starting points are Iffeldorf station or the nearby Waldhaus am Fohnsee (Fohnseeweg 30, 82393). It is easy to roam through the region from here; you can get from lake to lake in just a few minutes on foot.

Hike for a long time, freeze for a moment

The ice lakes (1827 m) in the Allgäu live up to their name. They are so cold that bathing is definitely only recommended for hardened visitors. Remnants of snow lie on their banks into the summer. The ice lakes appear strangely lost in the rugged mountain landscape – solitary dashes of blue.

However, the picturesque sight does require some effort: the lakes are located slightly off the beaten track. This is why only practised mountain enthusiasts should go on this all-day trip. As a bonus, the long journey can be combined with a visit to the little village of Gerstruben, one of the oldest settlements in the Oberstdorf area.

If you end your hike at Lake Christlessee, you can jump into the water there.

How to get there: Most trips start at Lake Christlessee (916 m above sea level) near Oberstdorf; it is also possible to start at Gerstruben (1155 m above sea level). Continue via the Dietersbachalpe (1325 m) and the Älpelesattel (1780 m).



Text: Nansen & Piccard; Photos: Frank Stolle


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