MTB Tour - Around the Hochkopf
Updated: Jan 12
Last week, my buddy Clemens and I decided to start training for a Transalp Mountainbike Tour we are currently planning for the summer. We went ahead and designed a training ride, with around 2000 meters of ascent, and about sixty kilometres distance, which is about the average daily load we plan for the Transalp. Well If you have already looked at the GPS track available, or came here from the Tour on Komoot, you'll probably have noticed that the Tour I shared with you is far smaller, then what we planned.
This came to pass because we planned the journey in two different loops and, sadly, only the first loop is shareable. The second one… well, let me say you would not want to end up following in our footsteps. While our second loop's story is also worth telling, I have decided to move it to a separate post. But now, without further delay, let me tell you about the part that actually worked out as planned.
After arriving by car to the entrance of the toll road to Jachenau, you can park directly opposite to the toll house. From here on out you first started parallel to the lakeshore, passing plenty of good viewpoints over the Walchensee. For sure you should stop at one of those to take a few pictures. I recommend arriving at the Walchensee as early as possible, especially on weekends as the region can get quite crowded. If you went out really first thing in the morning, there are benches and picnic tables in different locations along the shores, to enjoy a breakfast with an absolutely stunning view.
After the small settlement of Altach, you turn right on a forest road and start climbing. The first meters are brutally steep, but the gradient eases off just after a few turns. Through the trees, you will have a lovely view of the Walchensee, so there are enough reasons to take a short rest, while you climb upwards. After around 2.5 kilometres of climbing, there is a forest road coming in from the right. I marked the spot with a waypoint on my GPS Track for you to identify it quickly. This forest road constitutes a significant shortcut and will safe you around 6 kilometres, as well as about 200 meters of ascent.
We, of course, wanted to collect some more elevation gain, so we continued straight. Only about 600 meters after passing the shortcut you can start the first descent of the Tour. It is only a gravel road, so nothing a mountain biker would consider a highlight. However, the views you get at the lowest point of your descent are quite lovely. From here you can look over the east most shores of the Walchensee, where an accumulation of glacial sands turns the water's colour to a gorgeous turquoise. Sadly, all nice things have to come with a price, and directly after the viewpoint, you have to start the second part of the climb towards the Hochkopfhütte. The ascent is still friendly and comfortable, over a stable forest road. Nevertheless, you are now wholly removed from the Walchensee by the Altachberg and instead have a nicer view in the Isar valley's direction. After climbing some time you arrive at the Hochkopfhütte, you should take a short break there to marvel at the absolutely stunning view of the Karwendel Mountain Range you can get from the terrace.
Just right to the Hochkopfhütte, you can start your descent, the trail just being right to the terrace. At first, you have a relatively wide single trail, surfaced with gravel. Probably to stabilise the path, there are logs buried in the rock at pretty regular intervals. Only the tops of these logs are sticking out over the surface, and some of them can be used for small jumps. Others, however, stick out so far that they shot your back wheel up quite steep and unless you can control a front-wheel first landing very well you should take these a little bit slower. Or just use them as a bunny-hop training ground. Some of those logs also lead to stairs or are placed on rather steep sections of the trail so you should approach them with caution, and if in doubt just roll over slowly. The way turns steeper and includes more rocky jank after you crossed the first forest road, however, now there are no more logs. The whole time you are going through a thick forest, so even in summer it should not get too hot here in the shade of the trees. The trail gets steeper and joins the next forest road with a technical left turn. On this road, you have to climb for about 500 meters of distance, after which the next single trail starts to the right. At first, you'll find yourself in an incredibly fun flow-section, leading you down into the Zachengraben. This first part really can tempt you to go at high speed, but be careful.
At around 1000 meters of elevation over sea level, the flow-section comes to an abrupt end. After a sudden left turn, the difficulty changes to a more technical one. For once the trail gets significantly narrower, you will always have a super steep drop off directly to your right for the rest of the path. So crashing becomes a non-option. Tree roots create rather significant step-downs, and the trail itself changes its face. There are now knee-deep groves washed out of the trail, often leaving parts barely the width of a wheel ridable. At some places, you will need to change over those groves, without falling into them.
But still, you can comfortably walk down all the sections of way, so weaker riders can also attempt this section. But always approach it with caution, a fall to the right will at the least result in serious injury. After you pushed your bike uphill over two wooden footbridges, you have reached the most challenging part of the way: In a tight zigzag, and over stairs the trail descends to a small crossing over a rivulet. After this, the trail eases off, and you will have some time to enjoy the beautiful landscape around you. The river on your right tumbles down over small rock-slides, with nice pools in between (You could probably take a bath here). After a short section away from the river, you arrive at a small waterfall, where your trail will come uncomfortably close to the ledge. However, the waterfall is the very least challenging part of the trail. Just a few turns below, you will end up on another forest road, that will bring you back to the Walchensee.
Here is the proper place to enjoy a bath in the cold water, and wash of the sweat, before you return to the car