Trip Number: 13500A
Staff: Kath Giel
- Hike verdant alpine mountain trails during the height of wildflower
- Visit famous Bavarian castles and historic churches, and take a guided
walking tour of Munich and Salzburg
- Enjoy an elegant Mozart dinner concert in Salzburg and local folk music
- Delicious Bavarian meals, comfortable lodging, and private luxury coach
- All activity and entrance fees, including castles and chair lifts
- Relaxing electric boat cruise on serene Lake Koenigssee
Photo: Kathleen Giel
Please note that the trip dates have changed from what was originally published. If you
have questions, please
The German Alps are a scenic region of pristine lakes and rivers, high mountains,
green pastures, and thundering river gorges. The hilly countryside, dotted with
quaint villages and small farms, is home to the most famous castles in Germany.
The locals are fun-loving people who take pride in their laid-back lifestyle,
capacity for enjoyment, and efforts to preserve their environment. If you enjoy
both hiking and visiting interesting places, this is the trip for you.
Based in comfortable, family-owned hotels, we'll set out each day to explore
this breathtakingly beautiful part of the world. Our hikes will range from relaxing
strolls on groomed country paths to awe-inspiring and exhilarating hikes in
mountainous terrain. Some hikes will begin with a boat or cable car ride. We'll
visit King Ludwig II's fantasy castles, cruise on fjord-like Lake Konigssee,
and take walking tours of local historical and cultural sites, including the
cities Salzburg and Munich. Expect congenial leaders who look forward to sharing
this adventure with you.
Please note that the itinerary is subject to change should weather or participant
safety issues arise.
Day 1: We'll meet at a centrally located hotel in Munich at
8:30 a.m., then travel in our comfortable, air-conditioned bus to beautiful
Berchtesgaden, located under the impressive Mt. Watzmann. After arriving at
our hotel, we'll have lunch, the first meal of the trip. Afterward, we'll take
a guided walking tour of the town center, including the castle square, medieval
marketplace, and the Berchtesgaden National Park information center. Overnight:
Photo: Cathy Dezendorf
Today will begin at Lake Koenigssee in Berchtesgaden
National Park. Our electric boat will glide silently past sheer mountain walls
and emerald green forests before stopping on a small peninsula at the foot of
Watzmann Mountain's impressive east face. We'll hike for an hour or two in the
forest behind photogenic St. Bartholomew's Church, and then hear a talk about
the history and management of this remarkable park. Then we'll re-board the
boat for Salet, at the far end of the lake. A short trail leads to Lake Obersee,
one of the most beautiful places on earth. We'll continue hiking along its shore
to an idyllic mountain pasture and hut, where we'll stop to rest and enjoy a
cold beverage. Choices here include freshly made buttermilk, thanks to the cows
grazing nearby, or Radler, a popular drink made from beer and lemon lime soda.
Day 3: Following breakfast at our hotel, we will depart for
a walking tour of historic Salzburg. Our guided tour includes some information
on the filming of The Sound of Music. There will be free time for visiting the
Mozart Museum, the Mirabell Gardens and palace, or the old city fortress. Chocolate
lovers may prefer to stop by the Sacher Hotel to sample the famous Austrian
torte. After returning to Berchtesgaden, the afternoon will be free for participants
to relax or explore on their own. Optional activities include a soak at the
Watzmanntherme fresh and saltwater pools, a visit to the local heritage museum
or the nearby salt mines, or a tour of the Eagle's Nest. (The cost of these
optional activities is not included in the trip price.) Tonight we'll enjoy
a special dinner with folk music at one of Berchtesgaden's finest restaurants.
Day 4: We'll begin today's hike at Maria Gern Pilgrimage Church,
reputed to be the loveliest church in Berchtesgadener Land. Our trail leads
up to the Ettenberg plateau where we'll enjoy panoramic views of the region
before continuing down through the Almbachklamm, a deeply cut chasm, with rock
overhangs, thunderous waterfalls, and clear pools. The hike concludes at the
Kugelmuehle, Germany's last remaining marble grinding mill. In the evening we
will take a short bus ride into Austria to attend a dinner concert at Salzburg's
806 CE. Peterskeller, where Charlemagne is said to have dined. Selections of
Mozart's works will be performed in an elegant Baroque dining room. Overnight:
Photo: Kathleen Giel
Day 5: This morning we leave Berchtesgaden and stop to take
a walk through Mittenwald, a typically pretty southern Bavarian town, where
the shops, homes, and churches are ornately hand-painted. This traffic-free
village is famous for its violin museum and handmade, finely crafted musical
instruments. Today our hike will begin with a ride on the Kranzbergbahn chairlift
up the slopes of the Hoher Kranzberg to St. Anton Haus. We will hike to the
Kranzberg summit for far-reaching views over Mittenwald and the Karwendel. We
travel on a short distance, crossing the Austrian border into the province of
Tyrol, to the town of Seefeld for our dinner and cozy hotel. Overnight: Seefeld.
Day 6: After breakfast, we will depart for a pleasant daylong
loop hike with our local mountain guide. We have a quick tour of the quaint
town and then head to the trails. Our first stop will be Wildmoosalm, a beautiful
meadow surrounded by forest and peaks. Along the way we will identify wildflowers
and maybe even see some chickadees. We continue on our gentle path to Lottenssee
Hutte, a beautiful alpine hutte located on the shores of a seasonal lake. After
a swim in the lake, we enjoy lunch at the hutte accompanied by accordion music
and song. We continue in the forest, taking a short uphill trail to a serene
lake, and then back to town. We will pass some of the ski jumps used in the
winter Olympics and see a number of Austrians training on their roller skis.
Back in town we have time to enjoy a sauna and relax before the sun sets. Overnight:
Day 7: Today we have a daylong hike, covering varied terrain
and culminating in a glorious mountain summit. Seefeld sits on a sunny plateau
that's cooled by mountain breezes and rimmed by rocky crests. The Tyrolean Wetterstein
and Karwendel mountain ranges form dramatic backdrops to the north and east.
We’ll begin with a ride on a funicular train up to the Rosshutte where
we’ll board a cable car and ride to the top station. Next we’ll
hike uphill for approximately an hour to reach the summit of the Reither Spitze
for spectacular views of the region. Finally, we’ll wind our way down
to Nordlinger Hutte for lunch and some yodel practice and then head down the
mountain back to our hotel. Those who wish to shorten the hike by several hours
may re-board the cable car at the Rosshutte for a quicker return to Seefeld.
Tonight we enjoy a stroll and a special dinner at a historic restaurant in nearby
Innsbruck. Overnight: Seefeld.
Day 8: Following breakfast we will depart for Fussen, a center
of Bavarian folklore and part of the famous Romantic Road. Along the way we'll
stop to tour King Ludwig II's beautiful Linderhof Castle and to walk in the
elegant gardens. We'll also tour the Venus Grotto, constructed by King Ludwig
II as a private theater where he could listen as his friend Richard Wagner conducted
his operas. The main chamber contains an artificial lake, complete with a shell-shaped,
gilded boat. After a stop to visit the stunning rococo-style Wieskirche or "Church
in the Meadow," a UNESCO World Heritage site, we'll have dinner and stay
the night at an interesting, antique-filled hotel near the River Lech. Overnight:
Photo: Cathy Dezendorf
This will be our two-castle day. After breakfast, we'll
hike from the old city center, across the River Lech, then up and down Mt. Kalvarienberg
to the Schwansee (Swan Lake), where some may enjoy a refreshing swim. Next we'll
visit Schloss Hohenschwangau, the boyhood home of King Ludwig II. After a short
castle tour, we'll next ascend the steep Pollat Gorge path to Marienbruecke
(Mary's Bridge) that spans the ravine above Neuschwanstein for spectacular castle
and countryside views. Horse-drawn carriages or a small bus are available for
those who prefer not to take the steep walk back. Overnight: Fussen.
Day 10: We'll board our bus for the two-hour trip to Munich,
leave our bags at the hotel, and then begin our guided walking tour of the city
in Marienplatz square, famous for its mechanical carillon. We may choose to
buy a picnic at the Viktualienmarkt (bustling outdoor food market) to enjoy
on the lawns at the Englischer Garden or decide join the locals for a typical
beer garden lunch. There will be free time for last-minute shopping before we
return to our hotel to check in and have a short rest. Tonight's festive farewell
dinner will be at one of Munich's oldest restaurants. Overnight: Munich.
Day 11: The trip will end at our hotel following breakfast.
Our bus will make an early morning trip to the airport for participants with
flights leaving today.
Our trip begins and concludes in Munich. If you are arriving in advance of
the trip, you will be met at a central Munich hotel at 8:30 a.m. on June 25th.
The leader will provide this information to you prior to the trip.
Accommodations and Food
Our accommodations are in small and charming Bavarian hotels. Rooms are double-occupancy,
with a roommate assigned for solo travelers. Participants who prefer to have
a single room and are willing to pay the extra cost should contact the leader
well in advance of the trip.
Buffet breakfasts are served in our hotels. Typical spreads include coffee,
tea, juices, muesli, and a variety of homemade breads, German-style sausages,
cheese, and eggs. On hiking days we will either picnic along the trail or purchase
lunch at a mountain hut. For dinner in the hotels expect hearty local cuisine
with many braised or roasted meat dishes. Desserts are plentiful and especially
delicious. Vegetarian options are always available. For added variety we'll
have several dinners in local restaurants.
Please note that while all meals are included in the trip price, drinks (including
bottled waters and soft drinks) are not. Bavaria is renowned for world-class
beer, while the wines of both Austria and Germany are excellent and varied.
Photo: Cathy Dezendorf
This trip is suitable for adults of all ages who are in good health and used
to regular exercise. Participants need to be comfortable hiking up to nine miles
a day over varied terrain. As with all hiking trips, your enjoyment of the trip
will be greatly enhanced if you are fit and well prepared. While our days will
be filled with interesting hikes or other activities, you will also have the
option of simply relaxing in this alpine wonderland.
All hikes follow maintained trails, but some are quite steep and rocky. While
none of our hikes has elevation gains of much over 1,000 feet, we may descend
2,500 feet. Most of our hikes are quite moderate and average six to seven miles.
We will hike at a comfortable pace with plenty of stops to rest, take pictures,
and enjoy the views.
Though mountain weather conditions are often unpredictable, it's most common
to experience moderate to warm temperatures with frequent afternoon rain showers.
Cooler weather can be encountered so appropriate clothing is important.
Equipment and Clothing
A detailed equipment list will be sent to all participants well in advance
of the trip. Comfortable, quick-drying hiking clothes, well broken-in hiking
boots and a lightweight, and breathable rain jacket and pants are essential.
Hiking poles are strongly recommended.
- Frommer's Munich & the Bavarian Alps. 6th edition.
- Lonely Planet's Munich, Bavaria & the Black Forest. 3rd edition.
- Rick Steves' Germany 2009. Avalon Travel.
- Munich & the Bavarian Alps. DK Eyewitness Travel Guides.
- Michelin In Your Pocket Munich and The Royal Castles of Bavaria.
- McIntosh, Christopher, Ludwig II of Bavaria: The Swan King.
Participants will receive extensive pre-departure information on the
Berchtesgaden National Park and its conservation efforts. Walking maps will
be distributed to each participant in Germany. More detailed hiking maps can
be purchased there. The leader will also have alpine wildflower guides available
for group use.
Photo: Kathleen Giel
Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about the
conservation and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our
work is accomplished by volunteers and aided by a salaried staff, encouraging
grassroots involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward environmentally
understanding parallel concerns at home and abroad.
Bavarians have a long and committed history of protecting their natural environment.
Approximately 46 percent of Austria remains forested, and the German alpine
clubs serve as guardians of the mountain pathways, balancing the enjoyment of
nature with erosion prevention and watershed conservation. Recycling is well
established here, and leaded petroleum products are banned.
Berchtesgadeners are actively involved in preservation efforts. Since 1983,
the Berchtesgaden National Park has been involved with UNESCO in a scientific
project called "Man and the Biosphere." The UNESCO project's goals
are, first, to teach each generation to use nature in a sustainable way, and
second, to study the ways in which nature provides for its continued existence.
In 1990, the area bordering the park, which includes Berchtesgaden's villages
and hamlets, was included in the biosphere reserve. The zone is subject to strict
regulation in order to reduce pollution of every kind. Garbage has to be sorted
before being thrown away and there are separate containers for paper, glass,
aluminum, plastic, and compostable matter. No chemical or polluting industry
is permitted in the buffer zone and even visual pollution is avoided, thanks
to strict building rules and regulations. Farmers generally use natural fertilizers
and people are not allowed to use detergent when washing cars.
This trip requires a $200 per-person deposit. An additional payment of $300 per person is due six months prior to trip departure. International trip prices are subject to change and are based on double-occupancy or group accommodations as described above. Single rooms may not be available or may cost more than the listed price. If you have any questions regarding double occupancy, please contact the trip leader.
See the How to Apply for an Outing
section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the
trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing
up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing
approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical
Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on
the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to
the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and
notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
The Sierra Club accurately and fairly budgets and prices our trips. However, unforeseen costs such as devaluation of the dollar compared to other currencies and fuel surcharges assessed by our international providers may necessitate adjustment in trip price. We will make every effort to mitigate and absorb these fees. If a price increase is necessary, however, you will have 14 days after announcement to cancel without penalty.
Kath Giel has been leading trips for the Sierra Club since 2000. She is an avid outdoors woman who enjoys sharing natural history and travel with others. Kath particularly enjoys the beauty and flowers of the Bavarian Alps, and this will be her fifth trip to this area. When Kath is at home in northern California, she's often hiking the local trails, backpacking in the High Sierra, or planning another adventure.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips