A Perfect Holiday in Grainau: Hiking the Philosophers' Trail from Farchant to Garmisch-Partenkirchen

 // by Sonja Wilms
A Perfect Holiday in Grainau: Hiking the Philosophers' Trail from Farchant to Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Monday, 26 July 2021

The so-called Philosophers' Trail ('Philosophenweg') connects Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Farchant. On this easy, cosy hike you can enjoy the picturesque surroundings and great views all year round.

In addition, the route is maintained in winter, it is wheelchair and stroller friendly, so it is no wonder that the locals love to use the trail for strolling, jogging and Nordic Walking. Numerous benches on the wayside invite you to a break. These benches bear quotations of famous philosophers, like Plato, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer to name a few, - the reason why the trail got its name. Take your time to stop at some benches and read the quotations.

10 am: After a demanding alpine hike yesterday, today I definitely prefer something relaxing. In spring I always have a feeling that my leg muscles need time to adjust themselves to the altitude hikes with their long ascent phases after the long winter break. However, the weather is too nice to stay indoors, so I decide to take a long walk to enjoy the sun and the awakening nature. As I am planning a small shopping tour in Garmisch-Partenkirchen afterwards, the 'Philosophenweg' is a perfect option to combine with other activities. So in the morning I take a bus to Farchant.

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11 am: In Farchant I take the bridge to cross the Loisach River and follow the signs in the direction of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. After the power plant ('Kraftwerk Farchant') a small path leads me to the river bank. I follow the river till I reach the swimming pool ('Farchanter Warmfreibad'). Here at the parking lot 'Freibad / Skilift am Ried' there is a small trail that briefly takes me uphill through the woods to the 'Philosophenweg'. The trees cover the view at first, but after a couple of minutes I already enjoy the beautiful landscape crowned with a panorama of the local mountains.

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11.30 am: The winter is not completely over, still showing its white robe on the mountain peaks and in alpine areas. Early in May you can expect some snow on your alpine tours. Even if you see no snow at first glance from below, this can be deceiving. This is exactly what happened to me yesterday, as I suddenly had to get through a snowy spot on my trail having only light trekking shoes on, which were not really suitable for the snow, as a result my feet were wet. However, on the Philosophers' Trail there's no risk of snow. The spring is here in full bloom. I have left Farchant behind me, its roofs and church tower look out of the green valley. The trail now goes through the spacious meadows and pastures above the Farchant Tunnel, which takes holiday makers on the B2 highway through the beautiful area between Oberau and Garmisch-Partenkirchen. However, here on the trail you can hardly think of the highway, it is very quiet and the green landscape looks so inviting.

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12 pm: At the crossing I take the way to the left, as the right one would take me back to Farchant. From here the trail goes slightly uphill. Cows are grazing on the lush meadows after the winter break, and they sometimes use the trail to get to the next spot with fresh grass. Here it may even come to light conflicts, as they are reluctant to give the way to hikers.

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12.20 pm: As I approach Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the first roofs and the prominent Mary's Church ('Marienkirche') come slowly into view. Shortly before that, the route offers a great view of the Werdenfels Ruin, whose walls crown the green hills on the opposite side of the valley. One can reach the ruin on the Kramer Plateau Trail ('Kramerplateauweg') that lies at the foot of Mount Kramer and connects Garmisch to Grainau.

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12.45 pm: I follow the Philosophers' Trail till I reach the 'Schützenhaus' Restaurant. This famous pub is located next to the road that takes you uphill to the Wankbahn parking lot. Here you can take a break, order a coffee or have a meal. As for me, I cross the road and go further to Partenkirchen. The last section of my little hike goes through the forest till I reach St. Anton Church, then I go down to the center of Partenkirchen. It's pretty busy here. The nice pedestrian area offers a great opportunity to take a break and enjoy my lunch. After the time spent in the silence of nature, my ears must get used to the city noise again. After lunch I'm ready for my shopping tour through the Garmisch pedestrian area, before the Eibsee Bus takes me back to Grainau where I can relax for the rest of the day.

Infos & Tips:

Timing: about 1 hour 45 minutes in one direction
Length: around 4.6 km
Ascent: 130 m
Descent: 165 m
Getting there from Hotel am Badersee: Take the Eibsee Bus to the Marienplatz in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and change to Bus 4 to Farchant. Alternatively, take the Eibsee Bus or the Zugspitzbahn to the railway station in Garmisch and then go by train to Farchant. Depending on where you leave the trail, you can use public transport to get back: from the Wank (1x change), from Partenkirchen town center (direct connection with Eibsee Bus from the 'Sebastianskirche') or from Garmisch (direct connection with the Eibsee Bus or Zugspitzbahn). If you arrive by car, the best parking options are at the swimming pool in Farchant or next to the railway station in Farchant.

Fancy a Longer Tour?

This route offers numerous possibilities to combine it with other tours.

  • Kuhfluchtklamm: The Kuhflucht Waterfalls (Kuhfluchtwasserfälle) in Farchant are some of the highest waterfalls in Germany, they are worth a visit in any season.
  • Spitzenwanderweg: The Philosophers' Trail is part of the famous 'Spitzenwanderweg' long-distance hiking trail. Section 2 goes from Eschenlohe to Garmisch-Partenkirchen (16 km).
  • Kramerplateauweg: If you are in the mood for long trails, you can walk from Farchant to Grainau. One of the options would be a combination of the Philosophers' Trail with the Kramer Plateau Trail (additional 15 kilometers). At the end of the Philosophers' Trail follow the directions to Garmisch town center and from there to the 'Bayernhalle', where you can ascend to the Kramer Plateau Trail.
  • Tannenhütte / Gschwandtnerbauer: Directly from the St. Anton Church multiple trails lead through the forest up to the famous Tannenhütte Chalet or through the valley to the lovely Alpine Guesthouse of Gschwandtnerbauer. This traditional chalet is only a 1.5 hours' walk from Partenkirchen. Depending on your tempo and how much time you have, you can find a tour that matches your needs - e.g. the so-called 'Steinbichl' Trail.
  • Wank: Crown your hike with a combination of the Philosophers' Trail with a visit to the Wank summit. From the 'Schützenhaus' Pub take the road to the left. In a few minutes you would reach the Wankbahn cablecar that would take you to the summit. Up there you would discover a great panoramic trail and enjoy the tremendous view over a coffee or a meal at one of the two restaurants, the 'Sonnenalm' or the 'Wankhaus'.