Lake Walchensee is only 30 kilometres away from Grainau and the Hotel am Badersee. The lake offers tremendous leisure opportunities in any season: swimming or paddling on the turquoise blue water, sunbathing on the lake shore, or trekking around the Walchensee with a magnificent view of the lake topped with a panorama of the famous Herzogstand. And, of course, you can make a cozy stop at the 'Waldschänke Niedernach' or at a pub in the village of Walchensee.
Difficulty level: moderate
Tour length: about 65 km (round trip)
Ascent: 600 m
Descent: 600 m
Traveling to Lake Walchensee is a great experience as well, especially in summer. Today we would make a round trip to the Walchensee with our mountain bikes. The route takes us over Eschenlohe and the Eschenlaine gorge to the lake, and then back to Grainau via Wallgau and Klais. The tour has a total distance of around 70 km and some 600 vertical meters. Alternatively, you can ride an e-bike instead of a mountain bike - then the ride will be a pure pleasure.
10:00 am: Glorious mornings in May, like this one in Grainau, are just created for an enjoyable late breakfast on the sun terrace, so we make a relaxed start. Our mountain bikes are already waiting in front of the hotel entrance. Our backpacks are really minimalistic: 2 liters of water, a couple of light snacks for a picnic out in the nature, and headgear - that's all you need in warm spring weather. As we reach the village square in Grainau, we turn right in the direction of 'Obergrainau', past the Zugspitzbahn train station, and continue on the Zugspitzstraße until we reach the turnoff to the Hammersbach Trail ('Hammersbacher Fußweg'). Here we go slightly uphill to Hammersbach and then on the main street down to the pasture. The Hammersbach Trail goes slightly downhill, until you reach the Kreuzeckbahnstraße. Before the railroad crossing, you just go straight on in the direction of Hausberg.
10:30 am: Now we are ready for a bike excursion through Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Shortly before Hausberg, directly after the waterfall ('Rießer Wasserfall'), take the railroad crossing for pedestrians (watch out for the trains!). From here you would reach the main station on any of the lovely streets in Garmisch residential area (e.g. via Riffelstraße or Eibseestraße, later Lußstraße). At the railway station you can cross the tracks safely by taking the tunnel for bicycles, which is located on the right of the pedestrian tunnel. From this point we are officially in Partenkirchen. On the other side, stay on the main street ('Bahnhofstraße') until you reach the Rathausplatz Square, then at the traffic lights continue straight ahead towards the center of Partenkirchen. Depending on your schedule, you can make a brief detour into the Partenkirchen pedestrian zone and have a cup of coffee in the 'Historische Ludwigsstraße'. The further route takes you past the Sebastianskirche chapel through the Münchner Straße, until you reach Dr.-Gazert-Straße. Turn right and then left, you would find yourself in the quiet and lovely Hölzlweg, that would take you along the foot of Mount Wank back to the main road. However, here you do not have to ride in the middle of the traffic, as the sidewalk can be used by bicycles as well.
10:45 am: We now leave Partenkirchen and approach Farchant. After the two bridges (the highway bridge and the Loisach bridge), we turn right (don't miss the small turn directly after the river bridge!) and ride for about 3 km along the picturesque Loisach riverbank, with blooming meadows and grazing cows. Soon we reach the residential area and turn right to cross the Loisach over the bridge. After the bridge we immediately turn left, continue along Frickenstraße, past the sports facilities, then at the end turn right towards Oberau. The road is in perfect condition, it has new asphalt and the directions to the trails in the neighbourhood are all signposted. Shortly after Farchant we reach a turnoff to the Kuhfluchtklamm gorge, here you are welcome to take a short break and look at the lower waterfall.
11:00 am: As you reach Oberau, you can decide if you continue on the left or the right bank. We go right, so we don't cross the bridge. Instead, we turn right before the bridge and then immediately turn left - now we are on the way to Eschenlohe. The route goes through the Loisach riverbank, here you can enjoy blooming moorland with countless orchids at this time of year and a fresh breeze when it's hot.
11:30 am: In Eschenlohe we first arrive at the Loisach bridge, which is the starting point for all excursions. From here you can reach all the alpine destinations in the area, e.g. Mount Osterfeuerkopf, Mount Heimgarten or the Asamklamm Gorge. Next, we struggle through the first vertical meters on the Walchensee road, which first brings us to the large parking lot for hikers ('Parkplatz Osterfeuerkopf'). In nice weather like today, the parking lot is full. This is the start point of our parcours through the picturesque Eschenlaine gorge: along 400 vertical meters, sweaty ascents alternate with rapid descents, now and then we have to push our bikes, so after a short time we are completely exhausted. We look for a sunny spot and take a break next to the rushing turquoise blue stream at the bottom of the Eschenlaine.
12:30 pm: The rest of the forest route is just as varied. Finally, after the numerous uphill and downhill sections we get to the final descent to Lake Walchensee. Only a few minutes later we stand on the forest road before Einsiedl, a small settlement on the Walchensee lakeshore. The plan was to cycle to the village of Walchensee, take a lunch break there and go back to Eschenlohe. But now we feel so exhausted that we can hardly imagine a return trip through the Eschenlaine gorge again. Good that we have a plan B: back to Grainau via Wallgau.
1:00 pm: So we cross the B11 highway and first take a long break on the lakeshore. From Einsiedl you have a nice perspective of the Walchensee, although the famous Mount Herzogstand remains on the side. The emerald water is peacefully smooth, however, it's still too cold for swimming at the end of May. Instead, we enjoy a rest on the deserted beach, which is normally full in the summer season. Here in the Einsiedl beach area you can also rent rowing boats and kayaks from the small hut, that also offers ice cream and drinks for sale. At the moment it is closed, and there are no other cafes or restaurants here. Now our plan B makes even more sense: in Wallgau we can stop for lunch at the 'Gasthof Post' inn - its kitchen is open all day long on weekends.
1:30 pm: After we have crossed the B11 and got back to the forest road, we follow the signs to Wallgau along the forest roads and paved bike trails parallel to the B11 highway. We have almost reached the village when we hear loud water rushing. On the side of the road, behind the trees, there is a huge waterfall! The Obernachkanal waterfall and the adjoining Lake Sachensee are certainly worth a brief photo break.
2:00 pm: The historic Gasthof Post inn in Wallgau is our favourite restaurant in the whole area that we love to visit anytime - and especially today, after we have made it to Wallgau without a car. The menu is excellent as always, so following the season trend we treat ourselves to a generous meal with creamy asparagus soup, asparagus as main course, and a dessert. After all the hardships back in the Eschenlaine gorge, we can definitely afford this. The shady outdoor terrace offers a view of the historic village center of Wallgau (these are just a few houses with traditional wall paintings, but still very nice). The inn has been visited by many politicians and celebrities, whose photos are displayed in the entrance hall. Local beer from Mittenwald tastes great and the service is commendable, as always.
3:00 pm: Good things end too fast, so we are back on our bikes again. From the inn, we follow directions to the Isar Valley Cycle Trail ('Isartal Radweg') in the direction of Klais. The field road takes us over flat pastures to the small locality of Barmsee, where the paved bike trail to Klais parallel to the B2 highway begins. By the way, from Barmsee you can explore the picturesque Lake Barmsee circular route and go swimming in Lake Grubsee. In Klais we use an underpass to cross the B2, then cross the railroad tracks and turn right next to the Klais train station, which is also Bavaria's highest train station. From here on we stay on the direct bike trail to Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
3:30 pm: The descent from Klais to Partenkirchen is like a roller coaster ride. From Gerold, these are 11 kilometers downhill parallel to the B2, with a speed at some points exceeding 50 km/h! I enjoy the wonderful feeling as the cool air blows in my face. The bike trail is newly paved and well secured from the road traffic, there are tunnels to cross the B2 in Gerold and Kaltenbrunn. After the rapid descent which was lots of fun, we have to brake hard as we arrive in Partenkirchen.
4:00 pm: Already at the first traffic light in Partenkirchen we have to turn left in the direction of the ski stadium and the ski jumping hill ('Skistadion / Skisprungschanze'). We cross the railroad tracks and turn right: from here begins the bike trail back to Grainau. We go along the railroad tracks and soon reach Hausberg. Then we just go straight ahead in the direction of Kreuzeck, till we turn right to the Hammersbach Trail. In some 15 minutes we have reached the Hotel am Badersee again.
It was a long trip, but a relaxed one (except for the Eschenlaine Gorge of course!) and with amazing surroundings to enjoy. You would need a certain level of endurance, but the route is also feasible for beginners, and you can push your bike if the slope is too steep to ride. On the other hand, the descent goes fast. However, if you are not sure, take an e-bike and then the whole trip is just a piece of cake!
Tips & Infos:
- Bike rental at the Hotel am Badersee. We are happy to provide mountain bikes or e-bikes if you don't have one - just order your bikes at the reception the day before.
- Swimming in the Walchensee. The swimming season in our area usually does not start until June, but even then the water in the alpine lakes is quite cool - definitely below 20 degrees Celsius. The Walchensee is classified as a 'natural bathing lake', therefore it has almost no designated bathing areas. There are no water slides, no playgrounds and (almost) no water guards, so if you need all that, just look for another lake to swim - for example, the Riegsee near Murnau or the Grubsee near Krün. (The water in these small lakes may be warmer as well.)
- Boat rental. In Einsiedl you can rent kayaks and boats directly at the beach. When paddling, please note that the Island of Sassau, the only island in the Walchensee, is a natural forest reserve and may not be entered.
Gastronomic Journey Through The Werdenfels Area
This tour offers outstanding opportunities to explore the local gastronomic landscape in the surrounding villages. Many excellent restaurants are directly on the way or require just a brief detour:
- Restaurant & Pizzeria 'Da Nico' in Farchant
- Greek Tavern 'Athen' in Eschenlohe
- 'Waldschänke Niedernach' – If you are prepared to enjoy more of Lake Walchensee, continue along the lakeshore from Einsiedl in the direction of Jachenau. The toll road runs directly along the water edge and is free for bicycles. The detour is rewarded with a stop at the small 'Waldschänke Niedernach', which on weekends offers coffee and excellent cakes with a very Bavarian atmosphere on the cozy sun terrace overlooking the lake. Check opening times before you go.
- The famous Gasthof Post in Wallgau
- Holzers‘ Alpenblick - excellent coffee house, pizza, confectionery, chocolaterie & ice cream production in Wallgau
- Kaffeehaus Kranzbach – noble historic confectionery in Krün
- Partenkirchen: Here, the pedestrian zone in the Ludwigsstraße offers numerous restaurants to any liking
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