Herzogstand to Heimgarten: Enjoy a Beautiful Hike in the Bavarian Alps

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The Herzogstand to Heimgarten isn’t an ordinary hike in the Bavarian Alps.

Besides being a great day hike, the trail from Herzogstand to Heimgarten has a royal history. The name “Herzog” means “duke” in German. The area was once favored by King Ludwig and Herzog Duke Wilhelm IV as a hunting area. Now it is a favourite with German locals and a great way to spend the day on a weekend. The first time I visited I was intrigued – if it was good enough for royalty, it was worth a day of exploring.

Where is Herzogstand/Heimgarten?

Perched above the Walchensee, the deepest alpine lake in Germany, Herzogstand to Heimgarten is one of the most scenic hikes in the area. The hike starts at the Herzogstandbahn, the cable car that whisked us up over 700m in a matter of minutes, instead of a 2 1/2 hour hike up.

As we waited nearly an hour in line, I began questioning our decision and became apprehensive about all the other people who had the same summit in mind.  So much for getting away from it all.

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Hiking To The Top

Travel tip: This is not a quiet hike. It is a popular hike and you are not likely to find solitude here. Especially on a warm sunny weekend. But I must admit, that although I am not much of a “busy trail” hiker, the views at the top of the Walchensee were definitely worth it.

The trail to Herzogstand. All those small ant-like looking critters on the trail are other hikers.

We soon passed a hut and the zigzagged path was obvious.  We headed up and reached Herzogstand about 20 minutes later.  Not surprisingly, we didn’t have Herzogstand to ourselves.

But when we saw the view of the Walchensee which was even better than the view we had from the top of the cable car, we weren’t complaining.

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View of the Walchensee from Herzogstand that we shared with about 20 other hikers.

The Heimgarten Summit

Getting up to the summit was easy enough and we spent a few minutes soaking up the much-needed sun. Especially after a long winter, I love having hikes that give me some good sun time. It was time to head down. This is the part where we got to hit the ridge part of the hike towards the Heimgarten Summit. I love ridge walks, they are my favourite types of hikes.

I love that you get to enjoy your hard work of climbing up the mountain while you make your way across the ridge. The narrow ridge walk from Herzogstand to Heimgarten was exceptionally fun. It was definitely my favorite part of the hike.

The ridge between Herzogstand and Heimgarten (the big mountain on the far left)

Expect to scramble in some places (where you have to use your hands on the rock) and very narrow.  In some places, it is less than a meter wide in some places and straight down on both sides.

Although there was a chain on the scramble and narrow parts to hang onto, I wouldn’t recommend the ridge portion of the hike for anyone afraid of heights.  Fortunately, I’m not afraid of heights and couldn’t stop smiling.

The ridge walk between Herzogstand and Heimgarten is beautiful but narrow, so skip the ridge walk if you’re afraid of heights.

We finally made it to the Heimgarten Summit. You won’t miss it as there is a giant cross at the summit, right below the Heimgarten is a hut.

By this time we had worked up an appetite and wanted to soak in the views of the Walchensee for just a little bit longer before heading down.

It’s hard to miss the Heimgarten Summit with the large cross at the top.  

Looking back in the direction of the Herzogstand from the Heimgarten Summit.

The trail down from the Heimgarten was mostly forested but did have several views along the way.  It wasn’t quite as busy on the way down as it was early evening, but we were still far from being alone.

A little over four hours after we started, we were back at our car.

There is so much to explore here so make sure to check out some of the other sites at the Kochelsee before you head back home.

The hike down from Heimgarten is mostly forested, but there are a few views along the way.

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Know Before You Hike Herzogstand to Heimgarten

Getting to Herzogstand and the Heimgarten:  The easiest way to get to the Walchensee/starting point for the Herzogstand is to drive.  It’s ~85km south of Munich.

Alternatively, you can also take the train to the nearby town of Kochel and then catch a local bus.  Note if you drive, the Walchensee is a very popular destination, so expect delays.

It took us over 2 hours to get there from Munich and over  2 1/2 on the way home due to traffic jams near the Walchensee in both directions, so allow for extra time, or plan to travel very early or later in the day.

Travel Tip:  The Herzogstand is a very popular destination so don’t come here if you’re seeking solitude.  Having said that I loved it (and I don’t like hiking with crowds) so I would recommend getting an early start to beat some of the crowds.

Also, consider hiking this trail offseason during the week if possible.  For more info on the Herzogstand and Heimgarten see the Walchensee Tourist Information.

Accommodation Near Herzogstand & Heimgarten

Top Pick: Hotel Alpenhof Postillion 

Hotel Alpenhof Postillion is located in Kochel. It is a 3-Star superior hotel that offers an indoor swimming pool and traditional Bavarian decor in its comfortable rooms. Some rooms are available with their own private balcony. On cold days coffee and cake are served by the fireplace.

Top Pick: Gästehaus Seehof

Gästehaus Seehof is located at the Walchensee. The guesthouse overlooks the beautiful Walchensee and offers a garden and terrace. There are rooms and apartments available. The apartments have fully equipped kitchenettes. Guests also have access to a barbecue area and a full breakfast buffet each morning.

Hiking from Herzogstand to Heimgarten was a great experience and is one of my favourite day hikes near Munich.