Lake Seebensee is an alpine lake located near Ehrwald in Tyrol at 1,657 m altitude in the Mieminger Mountains below the Coburger Hut amid the idyllic high alpine terrain. The lake can be reached from Ehrwald or Biberwier on several hiking routes, on a climbing tour or from Ehrwald by mountain bike. The tour is also possible with cablecar support.
Difficulty level: moderate
Tour length: approx. 25 km (round trip)
Ascent: 850 m
Descent: 850 m
10:00 am: The inviting warm sun is shining through the larches as we drive to Ehrwald. The picturesque Tyrolean village is only 30 minutes from Grainau and just some 10 minutes from the state border. At the end of the highway, we turn left to Ehrwald and then turn left again from the main road as we notice the sign to the Ehrwalder Almbahn cablecar. After a brief drive up the narrow steep mountain road we park our car at the base station (1,111 m).
10:15 am: From this point only two wheels are allowed: some 400 vertical meters along a forest road separate us from the upper station. In fact, the Ehrwalder Almbahn offers an option to take your bike with you, which is sometimes nice for a relaxed trip, but today we are looking forward to a workout. The forest road is well shaded and paved, but the surrounding forest leaves no mountain views to enjoy. Right from the base station the road starts in a steep ascent and I have to push my bike. I have almost no experience with mountain biking. In the meanwhile, my boyfriend is doing well on his e-bike. Dozens of other e-bikers are easily overtaking me on these steep curves. Well, never mind - at the end of the day I will be better trained!
11:15 am: The road slowly becomes level again. After the last curve we pass through the pasture gate. The cablacar station (1,505 m) is located amid the alpine meadow, where hundreds of cows graze during the summer season. The animals give us bikers curious looks. Up here at the Ehrwalder Alm there are numerous chalets where you can stop for refreshment: beside the extensive Tirolerhaus facility next to the cablecar, there are also the old Ehrwalder Alm and the Alpenglühn-Sportalm (currently under reconstruction). On weekends, you can stop to listen to folk music and try Tyrolean gastronomic specialities. From the Ehrwalder Alm you can also reach many other chalets - for example the Hochfeldernalm or the numerous hiking destinations in the Gaistal Valley (Tyrol), such as the Feldernalm, the Tillfussalm, the Rotmoosalm and the Hämmermoosalm. This is also the starting point for numerous hikes in the Mieminger Ridge, through the Gaistal Valley / Leutasch as well as up to Mount Zugspitze across the so-called 'Gatterl'. We pass the cablecar station and the Sportalm and finally reach the starting point of our tour - the mountain road to Lake Seebensee.
11:30 am: The Seebensee with its nearby chalets - the Seebenalm and the Coburger Hütte - are extremely popular as a biking and hiking destination in summer. On the one hand, it is a relatively easy hike, especially if you take advantage of the cablecar, and on the other hand, the lake is exceptionally beautiful - doubtlessly one of the must-sees in Zugspitze area. The 6 km long gravel road from the cablecar station to the Seebenalm goes through the sunlit forest at an altitude of 1,600 m at the foot of the Mieminger Ridge. There and again the route affords amazing views into the valley. There are lots of hikers on the route, so you have to drive slowly and pay close attention to the pedestrian traffic.
12:00 pm: Starting from the Seebenalm, bikes are no longer allowed, so we park them next to the chalet. The sun is high, and the tables and benches in the small 'Biergarten' are drying from yesterday's rain. The kitchen at this chalet is not a special highlight, so for lunch we order a simple pasta Bolognese for two, while we are already looking forward to some apples we have in our backpacks. Next, it takes us around 20 minutes to reach the Seebensee along the wide path.
1:00 pm: The trail is extremely picturesque, surrounded by the rocks, mountain pines, rhododendrons and heather - a typical landscape you would normally discover at this altitude. These plants and rocks just make you happy again and again as you see them, and they are already the reason why you should go mountaineering. From the lake shore we can already see the Coburger Hütte (1,917 m) in the distance. The narrow path leading to the chalet starts from the lake, however, today we are rather looking to relax. The plan is just to walk around the lake and take small breaks for sunbathing. So we look for a sunny spot here on the shore. The unique panorama of the Seebensee with Mount Zugspitze provides an amazing background for our little picnic. When the sun is shining, the water shows that unbelievable intense shade of turquoise, and surrounded by the mountain pines and green meadows, the whole place looks like a picture from a travel catalogue. Bathing is still possible in the beginning of September, for those who don't mind the water with barely 17 degrees. In fact, at an altitude of almost 1,700 m, night temperatures hardly exceed 0 degrees even in midsummer.
2:00 pm: We enjoy the sun and the view as long as we want. After that we continue along the shore clockwise, with the magnificent panorama of the Zugspitze before us. Along the idyllic narrow path we close the circle around the lake and reach the trail down to the Seebenalm Chalet again. The main trail is still full with hikers. At the chalet we find our mountain bikes again and ride into the valley. As we reach the Ehrwalder Alm, we use the opportunity to stop for a cup of coffee at the Tirolerhaus, before we start the rapid descent into the valley. The sunny terrace at the 'Café-Lounge' invites us to enjoy our hot chocolate and latte macchiato. Then it's time for the final ride. The forest road is extremely steep, but luckily not so popular with the pedestrians - the footpath below the cablecar is a more pleasant option for hikers. So we reach our car in just 20 minutes and can go on packing our bikes, discussing a possible tour through the Gaistal.
Tips & Infos:
- Opening hours, parking & tickets: Ehrwalder Almbahn
- Bike transport & Mountain bike tours from the Ehrwalder Alm
- Arrival: Especially with e-bikes, you can start your tour to Ehrwald directly from Grainau. You can go by train and save 250 vertical meters. Regional trains between Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Reutte run every hour.
- The Seebenalm Chalet is normally open from June to October in fine weather. More infos & opening hours here. No overnight stay possible.
- The Coburger Hut is open from June to October as well. Overnight stay possible.
- Winter Hiking: The high alpine area next to the Tiroler Sonnenspitz offers excellent opportunities for ski touring and winter hiking. See our blog on this (in German).
- Ehrwalder Alm is the starting point for numerous biking and hiking tours in the Gaistal Valley (Tyrol). A possible day tour would be Ehrwald - Ehrwalder Alm (by bike or cablecar) - Gaistal - Leutasch - Mittenwald - Elmau - Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Grainau. Alternatively, you can take the more level bike route from Mittenwald via Klais and Gerold.
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