Hiking Tour - Schöttelkarspitze a Bavarian Highlight
Updated: Jan 13
During my last two blogs, I talked about two different hikes, both removed from my hometown in the alps by significant travel. However, I am of the firm belief that you should aim to adventure locally as much as possible, to reduce your ecological footprint. Just so we are clear: Neither do I want to prohibit you from seeing the world, nor myself quit international travel. Rather I am looking to reduce the frequency, at which I travel internationally. And more importantly, I would like to reach this goal without reducing the number of stunning adventures and amazing accomplishments. Therefore, I now have a hiking tour, based close to my hometown, that despite not necessitating long-distance travel, I need not think itself lesser than the hikes we previously discussed.
Four Reasons to do this Tour:
You will have excellent views of the Zugspitze and Karwendel Mountain Ranges and over two famous Bavarian lakes, the Walchensee and Sylvensteinstausee. You will also be able to see the Inn Valley and Ötz Mountain range in the distance.
Despite having all these excellent views, you are on probably the least frequented mountain in the entire area, since there are others (Herzogstand, Zugspitze) with a far more significant draw.
You have a tour that includes many alpine elements, like hiking over a summit ridge and a “Steig” (which means a steep, narrow hiking trail, with an exposed side and minuscule climbing elements, however, is not difficult enough to be considered as a Via Ferrata). However, all these elements appear in their probably most accessible and most manageable form, allowing this hike to be a perfect introduction for people not familiar with the alpine environment.
You have a tour that, while not exceedingly difficult, is rather long, allowing you to challenge your endurance and strength.
Starting in the village of Krün, you can park at the hikers parking lot, directly at the river. From here on out, you can already see the cross at the peak of the Signalkopf, which is just a few hundred meters to the right of our first mountain peak: The Seinskopf is where you are aiming towards. You get there by following the excellent signage put up by the German Alpine Club, specifically the trail marked with the number 357. A few others would lead us to the top, but this one is the most direct and quite beautiful.
After crossing the Isar, you turn right on a forest road, then immediately turn left on a small trail. This left turn is well hidden by high grass and shrubbery so you should pay a little attention here. If you are at a loss, directly at the bridge crossing the river, there is a great hiking map of the area. After your left turn you will walk up a narrow, but well-maintained trail. It includes some small steps, but never really gets to steep for comfortable hiking. After the trail turns right, you will cross a hiking path, as well as a forest road, both straight and in line with your direction of travel.
From here it is only a little while until the sound of water to your right should signal the presence of the Hüttelbachklamm, announcing an end to our relaxed walk and the start of the steeper section. You climb up your trail until you reach the first mini peak, the Schwarzkopf (1110 m). To call this little thing, a mountain is probably an affront to all the other peaks around it, and the view is, as is its height, far lesser than what is to come. Directly at the sing pointing out to you that you are actually standing on the Schwarzkopf, you now turn to the right and really can no longer go astray for quite a long time. The path gets progressively steeper and steeper until it culminates in a section where you have to hike up through the forest in a field of rubble. After this section, the grade eases off a little bit, the trees grow progressively smaller and smaller, and you should now take the chance to turn around ever so often and enjoy the views in the direction of the Zugspitze. After crossing a small rivulet, the trail intersects head-on with the Herzogensteig.
You turn right at this intersection, have to climb up a few narrow turns in the path and should shortly reach the first genuinely spectacular viewpoint of your hike (1690 m). Arriving on a broad ridge, you will be able to look over a steep and narrow basin and see beyond already the final goal of your tour: The Schöttelkarspitze. From here on out the trail, changes to a more alpine nature, including big step-ups over bare rocks and loose gravel in between. Obviously, this trail is heavily frequented, as some of the boulders are worn flat by many shoes. Therefore, I would expect this way to become quite slippery in rainy conditions and to include the warning: The rest of the track is equally unsuited for wet weather, so check your forecasts, and choose a sunny day to attempt this hike. Upon crossing the treeline, the path gets even steeper, but now you are only a few minutes away from the Seinskopf (1961 m). Upon reaching the saddle, I recommend turning right and away from the actual peak and going a few meters uphill until you reach a break spot with excellent views. You can now admire the Walchensee and the Zugspitze and the Karwendel mountain range all around you.
After a break, you can walk back the few meters towards the saddle, and now have a choice between two different paths. If you want to hike the next section over the peak of the Seinskopf, you should be aware that there are two short and steep sections on this trail, that require actual downwards climbing to scale. While both these sections are barely the height of a person, they can pose a significant challenge to inexperienced hikers. So If you do not feel this path, you can choose a different trail at the saddle, that runs parallel to the right of the first one, often only a few meters below, but is in nature much more manageable and friendlier. After both these paths reunite at the Schafkehre (1871 m), there is only a short climb left until you reach the Feldernkreuz (2048 m) and the first point of your hike over 2000 m of elevation. To go up to the top requires a little uphill climbing, and upon reaching the actual top signifies the start of the ridge hiking portion of the trail. The connection over to the Schöttelkarspitze (2050 m) first, as you can probably guess from the elevations, descends quite a bit, before rising again up to the highest peak of your tour. The path on the ridge is, while comparatively wide to other alpine ridges still a ridge. With a drop of multiple hundred meters on both sides, it is definitely not for you, if you fear heights.
If you decide to brave the ridge, you will be rewarded atop the mountain, not only with a view over the Zugspitze and Walchensee but also at a distance the Sylvensteinstausee. If you are lucky with the weather, even the Inn valley in the south will be visible. From here on out it is only really downhill, though only in matters of elevation. The path to the Soiernhaus (1576 m) is well maintained and in excellent condition, offering stunning views of the Soiernlakes (1556 m). If you decide to descend to the lake shores to dip your feet in the cold water, just keep in mind that you will have to manage the extra short ascent back to the Soiernhaus because it is here keeping on the path passing the house close to its south wall, that you enter onto the Lakeinsteig. The Lakeinsteig follows along the mountain, as a narrow path with a steep ridge always to the right-hand side. It is definitely not the way to go if you are afraid of heights. Luckily, there is a more comfortable option, as you can just use a forest road, originating at the lakes to return to Krün, but the Steig is definitely the more exciting option. It offers stunning views, is relatively easy to hike (if you are not afraid of heights) and actually has less elevation gain than the forest road option.
The Lakeinsteig reconnects with the forest road at the Fischbachalm (1405 m) and from here on out it is only really one long descent over the gravel road back down to the parking lot left. Definitely, not a part of hiking I like, but the tour more than makes up for this part with all its other highlights.