A Perfect Holiday In Grainau: Biking To Lake Plansee In Tyrol

 // by Sonja Wilms
A Perfect Holiday In Grainau: Biking To Lake Plansee In Tyrol
Tuesday, 08 February 2022

Lake Plansee is a picturesque lake in the Ammergau Alps, and it is also perfect for swimming on hot summer days. With its surface area of 3 km², the Plansee is the second largest natural lake in Tyrol. The lake is easily accessible from the Hotel am Badersee by mountain bike or e-bike.

A 'royal blue' sky and bright sunshine are there to announce a wonderful summer day. It's time to get out and enjoy nature outdoors. Since my boss is spending his free weekend in Grainau this time, I invite him to join me on a bike tour. I know that he prefers e-bikes, so I suggest that we borrow e-bikes at the hotel and make a day tour from Grainau to the Plansee. I myself have never tried an e-bike. The Plansee trip would be a good chance to give it a try, since I don't know whether the route has many steep sections.

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10:45 am: The bikes are ready, the saddle has been adjusted once again, and there we go. First, it goes downhill through Grainau and the E-mode remains "off". Along the Eibseestrasse and the Loisachstrasse we reach the junction next to the Untergrainau railway station, here we turn left on the road that brings us to the B23 highway. From this point we follow the cycle trail in the direction of Griesen / Austria.

While my boss has already switched to the "tour" mode, I continue to use my own muscle power - after all, this is a nice "flat" ride, so at this point I do not feel any need for additional driving power. We cycle on with a distance to each other and enjoy the natural landscape along the way. However, I must confess that the way to Griesen feels like a long ride to me. By car you reach the Austrian border in no time, while by bike you come to notice how far the distance actually is. Strictly speaking, this section is 10.8 km long ride, and about 30 minutes later we reach the small locality of Griesen. We cross the main street to reach the parking lot. This is the start point of the route that will take us to Lake Plansee along the small river Neidernach. Now in summer numerous cows graze on the meadows, so we open the pasture gate - and now we are on the route.

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11:30 am: The first part of the trail looks familiar to me, as I had been here on hiking tours several times, so I know that it is level. Therefore, my e-bike function doesn't get used yet. After a few kilometers we reach the terrain I had never visited before, and what an impressive one! Here and there the river dives into a deep gorge, then widens again, so it's no wonder that I have to stop now and again and reach for my camera, while my boss drives ahead and later asks what's taking me so long. As a marketing and sales manager, I am always willing to present the most picturesque tours in the area to our guests. A great photo is worth a thousand words.

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For a long time the trail went moderately uphill. However, this changes after the bridge that we have to cross in order to stay on the Plansee trail. From here, we are officially in Austria. However, you don't notice the border, as there is no border control. Now I decide to make use of the e-bike function and I switch my bike to the 'tour' mode. This should be enough to feel your legs work and not to completely rely on the e-drive during the ascent.

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Up on the mountain saddle, we are rewarded with a beautiful view back in the direction of Griesen. Now we are not far from Plansee, and the remaining section goes downhill, so you can almost let your bike roll all the time. And it finally appears in front of us: the Plansee! With a surface area of just under 3 km², the Plansee is the second largest natural lake in Tyrol. It is supposed to be a remnant of a huge ice-age meltwater reservoir that once covered the entire area as far as the so-called 'Ehrwalder Becken' valley.

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12:30 pm: I would love to plunge into the turquoise blue water and treat myself to a refreshment, but today we are on the road only for cycling. For now, our tour ends at the campground. The lawns on the lakeshore are pretty full with holiday makers - quite typical in this sunny warm weather. The Plansee is extremely popular with tourists as well as with locals from the Austrian-German alpine area. The lake is a mecca for water sports fans: surfing, standup paddleboarding, sailing, or even diving that you can learn at a local school here in Plansee. In addition, a shipping line offers round trips on the lake during the summer season. Due to the lake altitude, this is one of the 'highest' commercial shipping lines in Austria.

We head over to the local inn to enjoy our lunch on the sunny terrace. We briefly consider a return trip via Linderhof Castle and then along the Spitzenwanderweg Trail Section 9. However, I'm not sure if there is a bike trail between the locality of Plansee and the Linderhof Castle, so we ask at the inn. Unfortunately there is none: to get to the Linderhof Castle, we would have to take the normal road. Not really a nice thing, considering the numerous motorbikers, cars and even racing bikes on the road that are crashing up and down the curves. Another alternative would be to drive to Reutte or Heiterwang and take the road via Ehrwald back to Germany, but that's quite a long trip and not really an option for us today. So we'll take the same way back, which was really a very nice one.

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The return trip is a pure pleasure. Except for the brief ascent back to the saddle, the road then goes steadily downhill. In no time we are back in Griesen and driving along the B23 back to Grainau. One last time, however, we use the power of the e-bike for a shortcut over the 'Höhenrain-Panoramaweg' trail and the 'Kriegergedächtniskapelle' chapel that takes us back to Grainau, where we add a sweet note to our tour by concluding it with an ice cream.

It was certainly not the last time that I was on this amazing bike route, but the next time will be definitely in summer - with swimwear in my backpack!

Tips & Infos:

  • Total distance: 43 km (return trip)
  • The track is mostly flat, slightly ascending from Griesen up to the bridge, then a few loops uphill. For experienced bikers, the route is certainly doable with a normal mountain bike.
  • Mountain bikes and e-bikes can be rented at the Hotel am Badersee.
  • Refreshment stops: small kiosk in Griesen, several restaurants available in Plansee.
  • Alternative return: Over Reutte, Heiterwang, Bichlbach, Lähn, Lermoos and Ehrwald back to Grainau - approx. 49 km from Plansee
  • Other return options: Plansee circular route and many others

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