Following in the footsteps of King Ludwig II, our hike today brings you from the idyllic resort of Grainau to the Bavarian king's favourite castle. The picturesque forest route goes past the Loisach River and takes the hiker around Mount Kramer. On the way you would enjoy magnificent mountain views along with streaming water of any kind. And at the end of the tour Linderhof Castle invites you for a visit. Don't miss the opportunity for a guided tour through the small but impressive castle.
Difficulty level: moderate
Tour length: approx. 26 km
Ascent: 600 m
Descent: 460 m
Map data © www.ich-geh-wandern.de
Spitzenwanderweg Long Distance Trail – Experience the natural landscape in the Zugspitze region across 200 kilometers
The 'Spitzenwanderweg' was introduced just a few years ago. This long distance trail leads you in 12 sections across 200 kilometers through the picturesque manifold landscape of the Zugspitze region. With a total elevation of 6,800 vertical meters, this route is quite sporty. But it's worth the effort. The route goes through a number of alpine landscape varieties and lets you visit numerous culture monuments. The trail starts and ends in the picturesque town of Murnau. On the way you would have to spend two nights at the alpine chalets: the 'Soiernhaus' and the 'Schachenhaus'. Across 200 kilometers hikers enjoy tremendous views of the Alps, blooming alpine and moor meadows, deep blue alpine lakes, whirling torrents, the spectacular Partnachklamm and Hell Valley gorges, pre-alpine hills with panoramic views, cultural monuments like Schachen and Linderhof royal castles, as well as the typical Bavarian localities like Murnau, Krün, Mittenwald, Grainau or Oberammergau. There is a lot to discover on and aside the path.
Anticipation is the best joy, so we would hike one section after another, as the route will be a special experience for us locals as well. Sonja will walk the trail alone or sometimes with her colleague Polly. Follow us on the route!
Image © spitzenwanderweg.de
Section 9: From Grainau to Linderhof Castle
„You win over the landscape with the soles of your shoes, not with car tires.“
Georges Duhamel, French writer, 1884 – 1966
Today I start the 9th Section of the Spitzenwanderweg at the picturesque church of St. John the Baptist with its idyllic cemetery and the tremendous surrounding alpine scenery. This time I am alone on tour. Through the town center of Grainau, the trail leads me first to the small chapel and then to Baderseeweg, where I first see the Spitzenwanderweg hiking sign.
Passing by a few traditional farmhouses, the route takes you behind the Hotel Waxenstein to the well-known Höhenrainweg Trail and the memorial chapel ('Kriegerkapelle') that I reach a short time later. The beautifully located memorial chapel decorated with traditional wall paintings was built in 1957, it commemorates the numerous inhabitants of Grainau who found death during the World War 2. Here you can enjoy the view of the Zugspitze range on one of many benches.
The route continues over the small ridge that separates Grainau from the B23 highway. From above you can already hear the cars passing by, as I go down I reach the road that goes to the Austrian border. I follow the path to the left in the direction of Griesen. You have to walk along the B23 till you reach the footpath to Linderhof - this section of the trail is not very nice. The Loisach flows on the left, it's a pity that there is no path on the other side of the river where there's no cars. The riverbed that first runs deep below soon gets level with the trail. Here you can easily take a cool bath or at least hold your feet in the water. You can often see kayakers on this stretch.
I reach the point where I have to cross the B23 to get on the hiking / biking trail that leads to Linderhof Castle. The crossing is next to the 'Ochsenhütte' parking lot. Here the route dives back into the natural landscape and the noise of the highway is soon left behind. Instead, I am accompanied by the bells ringing: in summer numerous cows are grazing here in the meadows.
My path goes parallel to a larger trail below. From this point it goes uphill. Both ways merge together at the end to take me further to the saddle. That would be the highest point on the route, so from there I would only have to go downhill. However, the saddle is still far away, so to prepare myself for the long ascent I decide to take a break, get a snack and something to drink.
With the new strength I am ready for the steep hill that lies before me. The lovely alpine forest affords a pleasant shade in this hot weather, which is great because during ascent it feels warmer than it actually is. Here and there I can enjoy amazing views of the surrounding mountains. Now and again I get overtaken by bikers who are riding mountain bikes or e-bikes. Mountain bikers have to pedal hard as they go uphill, it should be at least as challenging as mountaineering. Fortunately, every climb has an end, and I have to admit that this one was not as bad as I thought. It took me only 30 minutes to reach the saddle.
Here on the top I approach a large junction where you can choose from many hiking routes or bike trails to go. My route goes straight ahead. According to the hiking sign, I would still need 2 hours 45 minutes before I reach Linderhof Castle. But it goes downhill from now on, so the most strenuous part of the hike is behind me and the rest would probably be quite comfortable.
The wide forest road goes through the alpine forest. From time to time bikers and hikers on the route ask me for directions. While most bikers are asking about the bike route to Griesen or the big junction back on the saddle, one hiker is looking for a summit trail, so I cannot help much. I saw a sign to Mount Frieder, but that wasn't the one he was looking for. I hope he finds the right trail. Anyway, I am now looking for a landing spot for my second break: my stomach reminds me that it's already lunchtime, so the next snack would be a good thing. On this route no one thought about the benches along the way. That wood pile is not really an option: too many cows have left their legacy here. So I use a hunter's stand. Beside the nice elevated position with view, it also offers a comfortable seat.
With the great view working as an appetizer, my snack was just delicious. Ready for the last run, I climb down from my throne. The road goes down straight ahead in the direction of Linderhof. Small creeks are babbling along the way, butterflies and bees are searching for nectar on the last flowers still in bloom, and birds twittering in the trees provide musical entertainment. Alpine summits arise above the treetops, inviting mountaineers and climbers to pursue their passion.
As I enter the valley, I get deeper into the forest. Some creeks carry no water in summer but get full when the snow melts in winter or after heavy rains. Now I have reached another road junction with multiple hiking signs to choose from. Two trails lead to Linderhof Castle, one with 1 hour 15 minutes, and the other with only an hour to go. Fortunately, the Spitzenwanderweg sign points to the one with 1 hour. So I turn left.
The trail crosses a dry riverbed, I'm quite lucky, as otherwise the crossing would be quite tricky. On the other side the route dives into the forest again and later becomes a wide forest road. Meanwhile, I can hear the cars on the road that leads to Linderhof Castle. My trail leads me parallel to the road, but still in the green. I had already been worrying that I would have to go along the road traffic again, as before at the B23. Now I must be close to the castle. After a short time I already have to cross the road. Just a few more meters, and I have reached my destination.
Da ich das Schloss bereits von Innen bestaunt habe, reicht es für einen Rundgang durch die Parkanlage, bis mein Bus kommt und mich zurück nach Grainau bringen wird. Zunächst kaufe ich mir am Kiosk ein Eis, das ich mir nach 20,5 km Strecke nun wirklich verdient habe. Auch heute sind wieder viele Besucher hier, um sich das märchenhafte Schloss anzuschauen. Schloss Linderhof ist zwar das kleinste Schloss von König Ludwig II, aber es war auch sein Lieblingsschloss. Die Gartenanlage, in der das zwischen 1870 und 1886 im Neorokoko-Stil errichtete Lustschloss liegt, ist riesig dagegen und man könnte hier sehr lange Spaziergänge genießen. Viele der in der Parkanlage stehenden königlichen Gebäude sind zudem frei zugängig und über eine Sprechanlage erhält der Besucher in mehreren Sprachen Information zur Entstehung und Bedeutung.
After a small tour of the garden, I enjoyed a few minutes' break in the sun next to the cascade in front of the castle. Next, I must hurry: the bus is coming in a few minutes. The return trip to Grainau is very long due to changeovers and waiting times, but in the meanwhile my feet can recover after the long march.
Tips & Infos:
- Declared section length: 20.5 km, actual length: 26 km
- Walking time without breaks: around 5 hours 10 minutes
- Vertical meters: 594 m uphill, 467 m downhill
- Difficult hike (the official website says 'difficult', however, I would rather describe it as easy to moderate. Apart from its length, the trail promises no real difficulties. The paths are wide, no surefootedness or head for heights are required). Comfortable walking shoes or running shoes are recommended for this route, which mostly includes forest roads, paved and dirt roads.
- The Tourist Office unfortunately provides no overview map of the Spitzenwanderweg route. The official Spitzenwanderweg website offers no digital map either. Therefore, the best navigation is here.
- From the Hotel am Badersee you do not necessarily have to walk through the village of Grainau - take the route that starts in front of Hotel Waxenstein.
- Public transport from Linderhof Castle: There is a bus from Linderhof to Ettal or Oberammergau. There you can change to the bus to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and then take the Eibsee Bus back to the Hotel am Badersee. Travel time is between 1 hour 50 minutes and 2 hours 50 minutes, due to the waiting times at the transfers. The last bus leaves at 18:56 on week days (you would reach the hotel at 21:47), on weekends at 17:55 (arrival at the hotel 20:47). Check bahn.de for timetables.
- This section is great as an e-bike or MTB tour. E-bike charging station is available at the hotel next to Linderhof Castle when it is open. Check this before you go.
- Refreshment stops: only at Linderhof Castle. Therefore, take enough food and drinks with you.
- Hiking signs available, the Spitzenwanderweg is sometimes depicted small on the normal yellow hiking signs. Therefore, check the yellow hiking signs for directions.
- Visiting Linderhof Castle: only guided tours possible, advance ticket reservation online is required. The cash desk may have a few remaining tickets, especially in low season. However, to be on the safe side, take care to reserve your tickets online at least 7 days in advance. The castle park is free of charge, it can be accessed by everyone. Infos & tickets: www.schlosslinderhof.de
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