Lakes and summits with view of the Zugspitze
This tour is amongst my top ten. Enchanted alpine lakes in which the surrounding moutains are being mirrored, spectacular views and not too strenous. A dream hike that doesn’t ask for too much condition but offers a lot of variety. Sensational too is the situation of the Coburger Hütte above the Drachensee (lake). And most of the time you have a great view of the Zugspitze. When you see the pictures I am sure you want to get going right away. So what are you waiting for?
Ehrwald in Tirol
This seemingly never ending summer brings us still more bright days in September and so I decide to go on another hike. The school holidays haven’t ended yet and since I am fearing the heavy traffic around Garmisch-Partenkirchen I am taking the train once more and ride to Ehrwald in Tirol just across the German border.
The small town sits on the southern side of the Zugspitze on approx. 3300 ft. in an ancient swamp. Leermoos and Biberwier are situated in the same valley bottom. From the town there are two gondolas bringing you up into the mountains. One of them to the Zugspitze and the other to the Ehrwalder Alm. From the train station busses are running around the valley. When you arrive you will reach the gondola in about 10 minutes but when you return you will have to do the complete valley tour includng Leermoos and Biberwier or you get off the bus at „Ehrwalder Kirchplatz“ and walk the 10-15 minutes to the Ehrwald train station. I did the longer trip through the valley on my return. The timetable of the bus is coordinated with the train departure. If the bus gets stuck in a traffic jam on its way this can become a challenge.
Against my usual habit I am taking the gondola uphill today. Otherwise this would mean another 1600 ft. in the ascent and descent meaning that it could get tight at the end with the train departure. While I am floating up the mountain I already can see the summits of the „Hoher Lehner“ and „Tajaköpfe“. This is the region where I will be hiking today. I am lucky once more and the weather is just perfect.
To the Seebener See
After arriving at the alp I start my tour right ayway. A well kept forest road leads me further up the valley at the bottom of the Zugspitze. On the pastures are grazing Scottish Highland cattle. The scenery is impressive. Especially the massif of the Wetterstein mountains with the Zugspitze looks great from the southern side. Just behind the restaurant „Alpenglühen“ (Alpenglow) the road takes a long loop and rises slowly uphill. I am now surrounded by dense forest and it is pleasantly cool. There are quite a few people around plus of course mountain bikers. But the road leaves space for everybody.
After a while the trail descends a bit to the crossing with the trail leading to the „Igelsee“. I won’t see this lake today but there will be three other lakes with a great location. The surrounding summits are showing above the tree tops from time to time. I won’t be climbing an actual summit during my tour. The „Tajaköpfe“ would be on my tour but again I fear that this wouldn’t fit into my time table. On top you will actually have to do some rock climbing to the „Tajakopf“.
Soon the forest gets less dense and to my left I can see the Seebenwände. A huge rock wall that looks inviting if you are into rock climbing. To the right I get views of the Zugspitze every now and then. Back at the alp I saw a sign that said that you can walk to the summit in „only“ 6 hours. Will be placed on my bucket list. To descend you can take the gondola. The trail rises slowly and so this feels more like a promenade than a hike. Since I will have to climb 2900 ft. in total there will be stretches that are steeper. In the forest I come across grazing sheep. Since I haven’t seen any fences I am wondering how the farmers will bring them back into the valley in the fall.
The scenery can only be described as breath taking. Light forest alternates with green pastures. At a crossing I am leaving the forest road and continue on a soft path. You can stay on the road. This will bring you to the „Seebener alp“ as well. I prefer the small path running through the woods.
Soon after I do reach the „Seebener Alp“. When you did start from the valley you will reach the continuing trail here. I could take a break at the cabin but it still is in the shade and rather fresh. So I keep walking. It is too early for a break after just one hour of hiking. And always those great views of the Zugspitze on the opposite side of the valley. But you can also see the valley and a mountain called „Daniel“ in the far.
Right behind the cabin I reach the first real ascent. Between the starting point and now I have only made about 230 ft. So it has to get steeper at one point. The forest road ist sometimes steep but mostly it runs in serpentines alongside the mountain. About 20 minutes later I am standing in front of the first lake. In front of me the summits of the „Tajaköpfe“, „Drachenkopf“ and „Hoher Lehner“ are towering above the lake and I can see them mirrored in the water. Awesome. Such beauty more or less in front of my home.
While I am walking along the shore I am again and again fascinated by those reflections. Don’t you think they are marvellous? I haven’t seen such a thing before. Blue sky, blue water and in between green forest and impressive summits. They should have built the cabin here and not farther down the moutain.
Just before I reach the end of the lake I see the Zugspitze being reflected in the water. A majestic sight. This I have to enjoy for a few moments.
From the lake the path leads over a pasture towards the end of the valley. There follows the next ascent that will be a bit steeper. The path winds itself uphill in serpentines. It is getting warmer now in the sun. But at the end of this stretch there will be a reward in form of the „Coburger Hütte“. It’s astonishing how many fellow hikers are around. On the other hand the trail was rather easy to walk up to now so it can be done even when you are not in perfect shape.
During the ascent to the cabin I keep looking back into the valley and to the Zugspitze. Right behind the cabin a rock wall is mounting towards the blue sky. To my side the path is flanked by the „Tajaköpfe“. Every now and then I have to stop to admire this beauty. And here in the alpine pine woods I come across about more sheep. Would be easier to find fodder on the valley floor.
Finally I have made it. I am standing in front of the Coburger Hütte (only in German). And a breath taking view in my back. A perfect place for a lunch break. The menu features typical tirolian food but also Spaghetti Bolognese. That’s something I can have at home. Up here I am going for the cheese dumplings with salad. Yummy. I could stay here forever. This must be a dream.
Right behind the cabin the next highlight follows. In a deep dell lies the small „Drachensee“ lake. Again this turquoise water refleceting the surrounding summits. Isn’t that just beautiful? You see, I was really overwhelmed by such beauty. I don’t think I have used the words great, awesome, beautiful and so on as often as in this description of my tour. So stop thinking about doing it and get going. And afterwards I want to have the attributes you gave this tour.
After my break I have to descend a bit almost to the level of the lake. This is when I see two people actually swimming in this lake. I admit that the water would be too cold for me. Once you have passed the lake the path rises steeply into another dell where there are grazing sheep. Surprise! And a few hikers before me did apparently decide to become artists and created small pieces of art with the sones they found up here. Looks funny.
After that slide show with the „Drachensee“ and its great reflections here a few more pics from my ascent to the „Tajatörl“.
After crossing this dell it gets real rocky and you have to be sure footed. Over rocks and rubble the path rises steeply uphill. As close to those rock walls they become even more impressive then from afar. Meanwhile a few harmless white clouds are showing up on the sky. They are welcome since they add a bit more colour to the secenery. The last bit up to the „Tajatörl“ is the most strenous part of this tour. But not bad enough to make you lose your breath.
After a while I reach the highest point of this tour the „Tajatörl“ on 7400 ft. To the summit of the „Tajaköpfe“ it would only be another 500 – 600 ft. The walking time on the sign showing the way up there ist shown as approx. 30 minutes per way. But today I am not in the mood to climb any higher. Amidst the rubble up here there are two women waiting for their husbands that didn’t want to leave the moutain without having been on the summit. All these rocks give you the impression of being in the middle of a desert. But the view is magnificent.
To the west I can see the „Drachenkopf“ and the path I’ve been walking up from the „Coburger Hütte“. To the east I have a view of a field of seemlingly endless rubble which I will be crossing in a moment. At the horizon I do see the mountains of the „Mieminger“ massif and the „Igelskopf“. The region that lies below my feet is called Brendlkar and is apparently famous amongst ski hikers. Too bad that I don’t have snow to glide over. Today I will have to harry over and through the rubble.
At some points there is a path visible between the rubble and I am making good progress. But at other parts there is no path. The rubble is constantly moving so it wouldn’t make sense to built a real path. My tip: Thrust your heels strongly into the rubble. This will give a you more solid stand and you don’t slip that much. This way you will get a bit easier through this impassable area.
The hike through this rubble gets a bit long. But it looks worse than it actually is. It is rather easy to cross. And while you walk downwards slowly you will still have some time to admire the beautiful scenery. Apparently I am the only one taking this trail. It seems that the other hikers did walk back to the „Coburger Hütte“ taking the same route as they did in the ascent.
Finally I have made it throught this rubble and am back on grassy grounds. After I haven’t seen the Zugspitze for a while it comes up on the horizon when I take another turn. Unhurriedly I continue towards the valley.
Soon I do reach the third lake of today. This one is pretty small so the reflections don’t work as well here as on the other two lakes. Next to the path I can see alpine roses with leaves that have taken on their fall colours. Looks almost as pretty as if they were in bloom. The path now leads straight towards the Zugspitze.
Then the trail takes a turn to the left and leads directly towards a rock wall. Here follows another short stretch of rubble which is a bit nasty. So I thrust my heels into it and glide more than I walk through it. Goes pretty fast. Behind that stretch follows a smooth path leading through the woods.
While crossing this forest I come again across some sheep and am asking myself again how the farmers will find them again. The views of the Zugspitze are now being crowned by white clouds. The forest is sometimes dense and sometimes not that much and it is comfortably warm in the afternoon sun. I enjoy the silence which is history when I reach the road I’ve been walking this morning when I was hiking to the „Seebenalp“.
Just a short walk and I am back at the „Ehrwalder Alm“ where I do see a few more „exotic“ cows. The two calves don’t let them be disturbed by us humans. Aren’t they just cute lying there all rolled up on the pasture?
Before I am taking the gondola back to the valley I am having another snack on the terrace of one of the restaraunts here on the alp and enjoy the great views for a last time. What a perfect day. Reaching the bus station in the valley I realise that the bus takes the big turn around the valley floor before reaching the train station. Checking the time I find out that the time should be sufficient to go on this „sightseeing“ tour.
I hope this post did awake your appetite. Let me know how you liked it, especially after you walked it yourself.