Hiking up to Lake Schrecksee in southern Germany
(Last Updated On: 12. September 2020)
Lake Schrecksee [ʃrɛkse:] is the highest alpine lake, and it is located in southern Germany close to the Austrian border. The small islet in it makes it to a “trademark” of this place and the name Schrecksee means “fright lake” or “shock lake”. Where this place got its name from is not clear but in reality, Schrecksee is anything else but frightening. Thus, a hike to this lake was one of the greatest I can remember and I got a chance to make stunning photos there, folks. In this article, I’d like to give you some information how to get to the Schrecksee and hope, you’ll get the same wanderlust like me. So read on, folks.
Before we go on, please note this important information:
Schrecksee and everything surrounding it, is located in a nature conservation area. Thus, camping is strongly prohibited. But some unrespectful morons were ignoring this and were camping there, nevertheless. In some cases, even some fence posts of alpine farmers were stolen to make fire. This is not the way to treat that place!
So this is my appeal to you, folks: don’t camp there! Respect nature and respect this place to keep it wonderful!
This also means: no kites and no drones, please!
Before we check the trail itself, I’d like to show you some photos of the Schrecksee and the vicinity:
Hiking trail data
Type: Mountain trail, there-and-back-hike
Length (there and back): about 16 km (appr. 10 miles)
Level of difficulty: advanced
Duration (there and back): 6 -7 hours, depending on your hiking pace
Requirements: hiking boots, hiking sticks advisable
Best time: April to October. During the rainy time walking sticks are strongly recommended due to the slippery rocks
Further information: As Schrecksee is located in a nature conservation area, there is no mountain pasture where you can buy some food or beverages. Thus, especially during the sommer time, I recommend you to take enough to drink and to eat. In case you don’t have enough to drink: along the way there would be a water source called “The three norns”, where you can fill up your bottles with spring water.
How to get to the starting point of the hike, where to park and where to stay over
The starting point of the hike is located in the small village called “Hinterstein”. If you go to that place, e.g. from Munich, you would need to drive about 160 km (appr. 100 miles). Check out the map below, folks. By the way: if you are looking for a possibility where to storage your luggage in Munich, instead dragging it with you to Hinterstein, please check my article about short term luggage storage in Munich.
Parking in Hinterstein
In case you take a (rental) car*, you can park at the end of Hinterstein; there are parking lots for tourists (fee-based).
To get to the parking place, enter in your GPS “Hotel Grüner Hut, 87541 Hinterstein” (Hinterstein is part of a town called Bad Hindelang).
Costs of parking: 10,- EUR for the day.
Please note: You should arrive at the parking place quite early as the parking lots are limited. We arrived there at about 10 a.m. and there were only two parking lots available. So I recommend you to arrive between 8 and 9 a.m., folks.
If you take the train:
First you need to go by train to the town called “Sonthofen”. Check out the map, folks. In Sonthofen, you need to take a bus to Hinterstein via Bad Hindelang.
Hence, you ask me, taking a car is more comfortable. For in rural areas, the public transport in Germany is not as efficient as in metropolitan regions. If taking a rental car is not an option for you and you never traveled by train in Germany, you should read my article about this, folks.
If you need to stay in Hinterstein over night, the most comfortable solution should be to book a room at the hotel “Grüner Hut” (which means “green hat” in German). Check the prices on Tripadvisor* or go to the website of Booking.com* to book a hotel room there, folks. If it’s not the right place for you, you can choose between other hotels in Hinterstein (Tripadvisor* / Booking.com*) or Bad Hindelang (Tripadvisor* / Booking.com*).
The trail to Schrecksee itself
Your hike will begin at the parking lot in Hinterstein but the actual ascent starts about 40 minutes away from the starting point. So first, you’ll head from the parking space along a tarred way which looks a bit like a gravel path, and after that it will turn into a real gravel path.
For a better orientation, take a look from the beginning at the signs with the inscription “Konstanzer Jägerhaus”, which is a traditional inn in the forest.
Alternative way: if you don’t want to walk 40 minutes before the ascent, you could take a bus not far away from the parking lots which would bring you to the point of the ascent. I saw a lot of people doing this. But I preferred to hike from the parking place.
After a while, you will leave the gravel path and follow another tarred way which leads into the forest.
At a certain point (somewhere behind the inn) you will reach the water source “Three norns” where you can drink some water before you go on further.
Then just keep walking until you see a white building which is the water power plant.
Just on the right side of the power plant the actual ascent will begin. For this, go through the “fence door” and follow the sign “Schrecksee”
First, you will hike up through a forest for about 40 minutes. After that you will find yourself in a beautiful valley with a mountain at the end. When you reach the valley, you would have been walked about 40% of the trail.
At the end of the valley, you will hike up the mountain (follow the signs). After 1,5 to 2 hours (depending on your hike pace), you will face the Schrecksee.
As this is a there-and-back-hike, you will walk the same way back. That’s when the hiking sticks would bring the most advantage. If you have enough time, you could have a break at the earlier mentioned inn “Konstanzer Jägerhaus”. But in this case, you need to be back there at about 5 p.m., for this place closes pretty early.
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