another Heimgarten Tour
Our friends’ new year’s resolution was to go to the mountains at least once a month in 2015. They’ve hit it off since the get-go. On January 1st we joined them for a splendid but icy cold day at the Neujahrsspringen in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and, once the ski jumping competition had ended, took the most magical walk to the Partnach Klamm through a picture perfect winter wonderland lit only by the stars and a waning moon.
Naturally, our most recent outing together was far less romantic. But breathtaking non the less.
We decided to (almost) redo a tried and tested hike that I’ve been to a few times last year: Heimgarten and Herzogstand. Only this time, we skipped the somewhat grueling climb (if you spent the previous week getting wed and drinking as we had last time…) and opted for the Herzogstandbahn to ferry us up in a mere minute.
There’re a bunch of reasons Herzogstand is considered one of München’s Hausberge – a favourite weekend destination for Munich’s mountain-liking but not hardcore mountain lovers. The Regio train takes you out to Kochel am See in under an hour and the bus zips up the serpentines to Walchensee right from the train station. From there, all you need to do is pay for the gondola to take you up to breathtaking views across Walchensee and the Karwendel mountains – together with bus loads of locals and tourists alike. But fear not: there’s an easy escape, at least partially.
A handful of extremely ambitious hikers will get lured in by the irresistible draw of a refreshing Radler beer and hearty meal at Herzogstandhaus. For those who decide to tackle the peak the first bit of trail up looks daunting as the path zig-zags across the side of Herzogstand before once again opening up to even more spectacular views, this time also looking north where the Alpenvorland stretches out to your feet. One good days you may even see as far as downtown München.
This is where you may strap on your hiking boots, tighten that day-pack, and say good-bye to about 60% of fellow weekenders: The traverse begins.This is by far the most spectacular part of the hike, rated one of the most beautiful ridge trails in the Northern Alps. You definitely want to be wearing good hiking shoes with proper grip and not be overly afraid of heights as the flanks of the mountains drop quite steeply at times right beside the rocky path. The trail meanders vertically – up and down – sporting fantastic views all around.
After 1 ½ to 2 hours you’ll reach the Heimgarten Gifelkreuz – the cross atop the peak. From there it’s only a Katzensprung to Heimgartenhütte. Skip their Erbsensuppe and head straight for the Kaiserschmarrn. Order inside as soon as you’ve found a table: it usually takes 30-50 minutes until it’s served. But then heavenly eggy goodness with Preiselbeeren awaits you!
The descent back to the trail head atHerzogstandbahn is relatively easy but can be a bit harsh on your knees. The trail starts at the front of the Heimgarten hut towards Walchensee. You could go the other direction towards Ohlstadt as well – it’ll take you along a ruggedly beautiful creek tumbling down towards the valley, only the walk from the bottom of the hill to Ohlstadt Bahnhof is a bit of a drag.
Requires good hiking shoes (with or without ankle support). You must not be overly afraid of heights, some sections require a bit of climbing and are rope supported.
You should be somewhat athletic and in shape for a 3 ½ to 4 ½ hour long hike, 2h of which is continuously downhill.
How to get there
Take the Regio (regional train) from Hauptbahnhof to Kochel am See. Trains leave from the so-called Starnberger Flügelbahnhof, tracks 27-36, at the northern, set-back section of tracks.
Rather than buying the classic Bayern-Ticket, opt for the Werdenfels-Ticket instead. It has a smaller region that it’s valid in, but is also a few Euro cheaper (note: I had trouble finding the ticket on the vending machines’ display, might be worth to buy it at a counter if you’re unsure).
Once in Kochel, switch to the bus 9608 to Walchensee Herzogstandbahn. The bus leaves to the right of the station (there’s only one direction to leave the platform in). You’ll have to show you ticket to the driver, but the Werdenfels-Ticket is valid here, too. The bus will drop you off right at the parking lot for the Herzogstandbahn gondola.