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October 2006

Mountain Hiking in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Though Bavaria is gorgeous all year round, the cool air that turns the landscape spiralling into a kaleidoscope of foliage and dries sweaty brows makes October the best time to explore it. Bikers will enjoy the Altmühltal Valley (see our feature below), but nature fans on foot can do no better than a hike in Werdenfelserland. This area in southern Bavaria is home to Germany’s most breathtaking mountain hikes and its tallest peak, the Zugspitze (2692 m. elevation). Whether by foot, gondola, cogwheel train or a combination of the three, you’ll be treated to postcard-worthy panoramas.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, also known as Garmisch, is an ideal starting point for explorations of the region. The trip from Munich takes about 90 minutes on an hourly train from the Hauptbahnhof. Round-trip tickets normally cost around € 31.00, but on weekends, the Deutsche Bahn’s “Schönes Wochenende” pass will cover a day of unlimited Bavarian travel for five at a price of € 30. Upon arrival, take a minute to enjoy the impact of the mountain air, and then walk through the passageway underneath the train rails to the Zugspitzbahn. This small cogwheel train covers a route with stops at several gondola stations and trail starting points along the base of the mountains: Hausberg; Kreuzeck-/Alpspitzbahn (gondola to Osterfelderkopf and Kreuzeck); Hammersbach; Grainau; Eibsee (gondola to the Zugspitze); Riffelriss (winter only) and Zugspitzplatt (to Zugspitze). Tickets cost around € 1.50 depending on your destination. From each stop, hikers can take a gondola part of the way up (around € 12) or start off on foot. Maps are available at each train station and signs are posted at every juncture. Those lacking the energy for the climb and the gumption for the flight can stay on the train to the top of the Zugspitze. The Zugspitzbahn website — — has further information necessary for planning an enjoyable day. Make sure to check schedules, as many gondolas have limited service times.

Hikers in this region can craft excursions of almost any difficulty level: Whether your plan includes a stop for a few hours and a few beers at the idyllic mountain lodge (Berghütte) at Höllentalklamm, or a 6-hour loop from Hammersbach to the Alpspitze and back down to Kreuzeck, an October day in the mountains will remind you why you’re happy to be in Bavaria.

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