europe quick trips

A hike along the Eibsee is one of Bavaria’s most scenic

A person walks across the frozen Eibsee in Grainau, Germany on March 6, 2021. The lake nearby the Zugspitze, Germany's tallest mountain, has a gentle hiking trail surrounding it.


By IMMANUEL JOHNSON | Stars and Stripes | Published: April 28, 2021

There are plenty of great hiking trails in southern Bavaria, but few compare to the trekking not far from the Alpine resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Germany’s highest peak — the Zugspitze.

At the base of the great mountain lies the Eibsee, a stunning lake that provides a starting point for all types of hikes.

The 9,000-foot mountain towers over the nearby villages, where some of the houses are adorned with traditional Bavarian painted scenes. On a clear day you can see peaks in Austria, Switzerland, Italy and much of southern Germany.

The Zugspitze itself is closed to sightseers, with the skiing season canceled this year due to the coronavirus restrictions.

Fortunately, the hiking trails are open. They range from simple and peaceful walks to the sort of adventure that requires spiked shoes and ropes. I was up for the former this time around.

It had snowed a couple days beforehand, as it frequently does in spring, on the weekend I embarked on my journey.

The trail I chose went around the Eibsee, south of Garmisch in the village of Grainau. There is parking either at the mountain or nearby the Eibsee Hotel, where the roughly 4-mile trail begins.

The lake was frozen and the panoramic views of the surrounding hills and meadows were breathtaking.

The trek could plausibly be called a hike when it gains some elevation. but it’s mostly a gentle stroll on a level path. It does meander into the surrounding forest a few times, where it provides some great vantage points for photos of the lake, which shimmers in turquoise and aqua hues on sunny, warm days.

If you decide to stay at the Eibsee Hotel, which may be closed subject to coronavirus restrictions, they’ll give you some hiking poles and even pack you a lunch for a fee.

While the snow and ice are beautiful, I recommend paying this place a visit in warmer weather when life returns to normal, when you can take a paddleboat on the lake and relax at a restaurant along the shore. If you’re part polar bear, you can even jump in for a swim when the rules allow it.

I also recommend packing a backpack with snacks, plenty of water and a camera to make some memories.

Twitter: Manny_Stripes

Directions: The Eibsee bus leaves from several points in Garmisch and takes about 40 minutes from the main train station stop. A cogwheel train also runs to the nearby Zugspitze. It’s a little over three hours away by car from Grafenwoehr or Stuttgart.

Food: Unavailable at the lake, but there are several takeout options in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Time: Open 24 hours to hike

Cost: Free to walk around; parking is extra.

Information: Online at grainau.de/en/mountaineering-walking

The Zugspitze welcome center on March 6, 2021 in Grainau, Germany. The Zugspitze is currently closed, but visitors can park nearby and hike the surrounding trails.