Kuhflucht waterfalls and Hoher Fricken

If you want to see an impressive waterfall, you just found your next hike. The „Kuhflucht“ waterfalls are amongst the highest falls in Germany and especially in spring when it has been raining heavily they are spectacular. The tour is rather easy to walk up to the falls but afterwards the path is getting pretty steep on it’s way up the mountain. During the hike you will have great views of Kloster Ettal, the Kramer and the Wetterstein mountains. I had planned to cross the Hoher Fricken and coninue to the Esterberg but due to bad weather conditions I had to turn around at some 1000 ft below the summit.

001-farchant-blick auf zugspitze

Early in the morning I take the train from Munich to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The forecast says that there will be some isolated thunderstorms, especially in the mountains, but I do hope that I will be spared and they will go down over other valleys and mountains.

Farchant is a small town just a few miles north of Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the neighbouring town of Oberau where my last tour ended. Other than in Oberau I find myself in a nice small town when I get off the train. In the far the Wetterstein with the Zugspitze is greeting. This will be another perfect day.

First I have to cross the river Loisach. It’s the monday after Whitsunday and therefore a public holiday in Germany. There are a few more hikers with me, but apart from that the village lies calm and peaceful in the sun. While I am crossing the bridge I am asking myself how often the house on this island is being flooded.

Following Mühldörflstraße and Kuhfluchtweg I reach a parking lot designated to hikers. I prefer to come to the alps by train because the roads that lead from Munich to the mountains and back home are always jammed. And one of the worst is the road from Garmisch to Munich. At the end of the parking lot I have to pass a gate from where a nature trail leads to the falls. The signs along the trail do give some interesting information about the plants that grow here.

It still is a bit cool but the weather looks promising and this will be a beautiful, sunny spring day. This year we did get already lots of sun and mild temperatures in April and May. Let’s hope that it will stay like this for the summer. After a short time I reach the Kuhflucht creek. There’s a sign telling me that the name is a malapropism of the the latin word confluctum (meaning confluence) since it is flowing into the Loisach not far from here.

At the creek it get’s a bit busier. I am not the only one wanting to go see the falls. Along the creek the nature trail continues and there is a installation where you can check by long jumping if you are more like a rabbit, a roe or a deer. There are a few more spots like this where you can refresh your knowledge of nature.

A few minutes later I come acros this sign telling me that I am now walking on a path where the Bavarian King Max II. has been walking from Lindau to Berchtesgaden. I wonder if he was carrying his own provisions.

Slowly the path becomes steeper and the creek is now engraved in a canyon. More and more often the water builds rapids and plunge pools and soon I am standing in front of the first fall. The path leads through the shade covered by trees and it’s nicely cool. It still is pretty quiet here but it is till early in the morning.

There are a few lookouts over the canyon and so I do get nice views of the creek meandering noisily through the valley. The noise from the water is very soothing. I enjoy mother nature and the crisp, fresh air. Slowly the trail rises through dense forest. Up til now it is a rather comfortable walk.

Along the path I can see lillies of the valley but the main attraction are the rapids and the creek that is running noisily towards the valley floor. So great this fresh air and the silence, apart from the water of course. I can hear a cuckoo in the distance. Something you won’t hear in the big city.

Finally I do reach the first of the falls. Very impressive. I have to admire this spectacle for a while. Either I’ve been walking pretty fast or some of the hikers I met at the entrance to the canyon did turn around. There are only few people here. Well, this gives me the possibility to take some great shots.

A small bridge is leading over the creek. To continue I will have to cross it. Just behind that bridge the path is rising steeply and soon I am sweating heavily despite walking in the shade and the rather mild temperatures today. The waterfall does make quite some noise. After all those thunderstorms over the last days it carries a lot of water. Which makes it all the more impressive.

Like on most of my hikes there are nice flowers blooming along the path. Today I see a lot of lillies of the valley and solomon’s seal. When looking at these flowers I always remember my father who took me on long walks when I was a child. And he told me the names of all those flowers again and again until I could keep them and recognize the flowers myself.

The path is running uphill in serpentines. Allthough I can’t see the falls anymore, I can still hear the water thundering through the canyon. As always the panorama is getting more spectacular with every foot I gain in height. And then there it is again: this view of the Zugspitze. The trail is leading through light forest that gives enough well appreciated shade.

And so I do reach the upper falls that most of the visitors won’t see ince it means climbing a steep path for quite some while. Once you have passed the middle falls and that bridge it’s becoming very quiet real fast. What a beautiful day.

Whenever I do reach a place that allows me to get a glimpse of the scenery I do realize that there are forming white clouds over the surrounding summits. I sure do hope they will stay just as harmless. The path now leads very steeply straight uphill. There still is quite a strenous tour ahead of me.

As always when I feel a bit weary during one of my hikes I motivate myself with the perspective of even more spectacular views once I have reached the summit. I have to admit, though, that it is bit harder to do so today. This morning I woke up with light cramps in my stomach but I went for this tour anyway. To be moving does help but the ascent is more strenous than I did imagine.

When I reach the next clearing I get the first glimpse of the summit. Still pretty far away. In the middle of the rock wall to my right I can see a fountain of water coming out of the rock. This must be the spring of the Kuhflucht creek. As if the sorcerer’s apprentice had thrown it’s broom stick there and can’t stop the water flowing anymore.

And while the sky over the Loisach valley is being decorated with some harmless looking white clouds a rather big and dark cloud is forming above my head that doesn’t look so harmless after all. But I still have the hope that I can at least reach the cabin Esterberg which is not too far from the summit on the other side of the mountain. That’s where I plan to have my lunch break.

Can’t be that far anymore. I guess I have still some 1000 ft. to climb. So I keep dragging myself up the mountain. The clouds above me do look like rain, but not like a thunderstorm. That would be darker. From a lookout I can see the Ettal Monastery in the distance which is covered by clouds now as well. The Laber and Ettaler Mandl I did cross just a few weeks ago.

Meanwhile the clouds are towering over the Loisach valley all the way up to the Zugspitze and becoming more and more of a thread. I am wondering how long it will stay dry. Todays ascent is getting the best of me. Long and steep, it is asking for a good condition. Despite the path being easy to walk. And while I keep fighting with myself it starts to rain a bit. Will I be able to reach the cabin without getting completely soaked? And while I keep asking myself whether I will continue or not there comes this man running downhill and telling me that a few feet higher he came across hail and he’ll break up now. What can I say? This was the excuse I was looking for and so I decide to follow this man. Reaching the treeless summit in a thunderstorm is a bit too risky for my taste. At least I made almost 3000 ft out of the 4000 I had planned to climb today. That’s not that bad, is it?

So I walked the same trail back to the valley and did reach the train station already at 2 p.m. to ride home a bit earlier than planned.

When I did reach the valley’s floor the clouds on top of the „Hoher Fricken“ were gone but now the rest of the valley was covered with dark and threatening clouds.

I still had a great day, despite not having completed my tour. I can come back another day and give it a second try.


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