I'm just putting the hikes I did in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland in one section. I wasn't thrilled with the hiking that I did in Europe - it wasn't terrible, but definitely not a top 10 hiking trip (but it was also a tourist trip, so I did have a very nice time). Something about getting to the halfway/turnaround point and there being a restaurant there doesn't seem like getting away from it all and back to nature to me. For areas with lots of lifts, take the splurge and buy a pass (they're expensive) so you can be flexible and easily change your plans if you get to the top and the weather or something isn't right - it's usually cheaper to buy a pass instead of individual tickets if you're going to be there for 2 days or more. I didn't have any distance or elevation listings for the hikes - signs for the trails give how long the hike would take (which doesn't tell me much as people hike at different paces). You can read my trip report from my Alps trip at http://www.eskimo.com/~pbender/alps.html - I also did lots of castle siteseeing while there.
Europe Pictures (16 pictures - 8 hiking related)
hike above Neuschwanstein Castle - Germany Directions: From the castles area, walk the road (not the one from/to Fussen) aways. [I took the back route: I turned right onto the road just passed the school (gymnasium) and followed the signs to Tegelberg and eventually found my way there, after going on some dirt roads and next to a cow pasture (and wondering if I was headed in the right direction).] If you go far enough on the main road, there should be a paved road to the right (outside of town) that goes to Tegelberg. It is a little bit of a walk from the castle area to the tram. Restaurant with bathrooms at the top of the tram. 9 euro for tram up to top Trails: Take the tram up to the top. Don't panic, that _steep_ trail you see from the tram is not the way you are going. The fun part is trying to figure out which way to go once you get to the top. Follow the blue dots and signs for Marienbrucke or Hohenschwangau (none say "Neuschwanstein") and loop down in front of the restaurant. After going down the step-trail, take a left at the junction. The trail is a dirt, one-person width path with some loose rocks and roots through the woods. The trail is not pure going down - there is a long level section and some small ups. The first view of Neuschwanstein doesn't come for about 45 minutes - and then you have to take a short trip up a dirt mound to get the view, which you have to look straight down to see (and if you miss it, the next viewing isn't for over 20 minutes). Once you jump/climb down the rocks just below the ridge, the trail switchbacks down the rest of the way [if you come up from Mary's Bridge, you should turn around before those rocks]. That's the bad news. The good news is that the good views of Neuschwanstein are just ahead. Stop and enjoy the views. After you lose the views of Neuschwanstein, you will soon come to Mary's Bridge (where everyone gets views of Neuschwanstein) and the end of the trail. It was about a 2 hour hike for me. Area: Mountains and trees and some views of Neuschwanstein from above. Picture When I did the hike: Wednesday, September 17, 2003 Recommendation: It is a nice hike, but if you are expecting lots of views of Neuschwanstein, you'll be very disappointed. For pure views of Neuschwanstein, from the castle area, go to Mary's Bridge (Marienbrucke) and hike up the trail for a while - when you get close to the ridge (or earlier if you get tired), stop and head back (you'll also save the 9 euro from not using the tram doing it this way).
Ehrenberg ruins - Austria (near Neuschwanstein) Directions: Head south on the highway towards Reutte (I think A7). Shortly after passing the South Reutte exit is the turnoff on the right for the ruins (no sign). Parking is right near the road. Free. Trails: There are 4 ruins in the area. At the parking area is the "toll plaza" castle that is being rebuilt and eventually will be a museum. Note that all signs in the ruin areas have German on one side and English on the other side. There are 2 ways up to the lower castle. The steeper, true trail way up is some where at the head of the parking area (I didn't find it). The way most people go is the narrow dirt road that has a barrier in front of it. Go up the hill for about 20 minutes in the trees to reach the ruins and then explore. The trail way up to the upper ruins starts at the left corner of the ruin area as you face the castle (before getting to the castle itself). It's a steep trail that will have you huffing and took me 30 minutes to get to the top. It's a larger ruin area at the top of the small mountain. Explore some more. The way down (unless you want to take the true trail back down) is through the ruin tunnels and then taking the narrow dirt road down - it's longer than the steep trail and eventually connects with the road that goes up to the lower ruins. The 4th ruin is on the mountain on the other side of the road and I don't know where the trail for that starts (you can slightly see that ruin from the top of the upper castle ruins). Area: Mountain and forests and castle ruins. Picture When I did the hike: Tuesday, September 16, 2003 Recommendation: Very much so. The ruins are very neat and the true trails are nice (the dirt roads aren't, but oh well).
hike down from Hallstatt Saltmine - Austria Directions: From where ever you park in Hallstatt (hotel or parking areas), wander your way towards the tram. 4.50 euro for tram up (one-way, 7.75 euro round trip), plus 14.50 euro for salt mine tour (worth doing) Trails: The trail starts to the left of the building at the top of the tram and heads down the whole way. At first it is wooden steps through the trees and then a narrow rocky trail along the stream. After crossing the bridge, the trail has a cement floor and continues going down. Shortly after passing the wooden shack, hook a right and head down towards Hallstatt (and back on a dirt trail). The trail comes out in the Catholic cemetery (and somewhere near by is the Bone House). About an hour hike. Area: Mountains and forests and some views of Hallstatt lake. When I did the hike: Saturday, September 20, 2003 Recommendation: Kind of pretty, but not that exciting. The kitschish tour is fun.
Lake Gosau - Austria Directions: From Hallstatt, drive away from town towards Bad Goisern. Take a left at the fork in the road a short ways from town and head to Gosau. At Gosau, take a left at the road with the sign saying Lake Gosau that way. Drive to the end and park in one of the parking areas [note: the lots were full when I arrived and I had to wait a bit to park]. Free. Trails: There is a wide, dirt/gravel road that loops around the large Lake Gosau. It's a level hike around the lake. It is pretty, though with granite peaks visible above the lake. At the back end of Lake Gosau, another dirt road heads up to Back Lake Gosau. The sign at the trail junction says it's an hour hike to the upper lake (reality is a little less). It is a slight grade up most of the way, but does get steeper (no switchbacks) as you get closer to the lake. While you're huffing up the trail, curse the sign that says 10 minutes to go (again, actually less). The upper lake is very pretty and I enjoyed the views of the lake, mountains, and glaciers. The granite peaks are right above the lake and I had pretty fall colors. I stopped near the top of the lake (it was getting late), but the trail continues around the lake and I believe there is a trail into the mountains. There is a small farm at the far side of the lake and some cows. I didn't note how long I took to do this hike, but I'm guessing 3 hours. Area: Large lake in a valley, smaller (but still good sized) upper lake with granite peaks above, forests Picture When I did the hike: Saturday, September 20, 2003 Recommendation: If you are in the area, the upper lake is very pretty. Hiking on dirt roads is not my ideal type of hiking, though.
Jungfraujoch - Switzerland Directions: Go to one of the train stations and take the train to the top. 165 francs for 5-day pass plus 51 francs (50% off - Kline Scheidegg- Jungfraujoch) or 150 francs for Jungfraujoch from Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald Note: it will take some time to get from where ever you start to the top (and back down) http://www.jungfraubhan.ch - website for the area Trails: There are a lot of neat things to look at the top, but be sure to go outside and "hike" the cleared path on the glacier to Monchsjochhutte - a restaurant. It's about a 40 minute hike across the snow with a slight grade up. You'll want your sunglasses and a hiking stick will make the going a little bit easier (though not needed). Area: Top of a large mountain, lots of snow/glaciers Picture When I did the hike: Monday, September 22, 2003 Recommendation: Definitely. It's very expensive, but worth doing once. Don't go if the top is completely clouded over though (there are video monitors where you buy the tickets).
Bachalpsee - Switzerland Directions: Make your way to Grindelwald and then walk to the lift for First (about 5 minute walk from train station). 165 francs for 5-day pass or ?? francs just for lift Note: it's over 1/2 hour ride on the lifts (and keep in mind that the last lift down is at 5 pm) http://www.jungfraubhan.ch - website for the area Trails: The "trail" is a gravel road (no cars) from the lift area to Bachalpsee, a double lake. The road has a small grade up for a while and then heads down near the lake. It is about an hour hike, one-way. It was cloudy (very limited visibility - I was up in the clouds) and raining/drizzling when I went. Without any views and poor weather, it was a miserable hike. Elevation: 97 m from First (2168 m) to Bachalpsee (2265 m) Area: Brown upper mountain with 2 lakes and the granite and snow peaks in the distance. And cows. When I did the hike: Tuesday, September 23, 2003 Recommendation: Waste of time if it is cloudy, but if it is clear, the views are supposedly (from pictures) spectacular
Stieregg - Switzerland Directions: Make your way to Grindelwald and then walk to the tram for Pfingstegg (about 8 minute walk from train station). 165 francs for 5-day pass or 15 francs (round trip) just for tram (or free if you walk up) http://www.jungfraubhan.ch - website for the area Trails: A one-person width true trail that goes from the tram station to a restaurant with a view of a glacier. The trail starts behind the tram station and you go through a gate. The trail goes along the mountain side into a valley, going up some - there are some steep drop offs next to the trail, so be careful. It's about an hour hike, one-way. Area: Along a mountain to a view of a glacier, some trees, some open areas When I did the hike: Wednesday, September 24, 2003 Picture Recommendation: Yup, this is a nice one. If you don't have a lift pass, you can skip paying extra for the lift and hike up - it's not too far.
Murren to Lauterbrunnen - Switzerland Directions: Make your way to Lauterbrunnen - the tram is across the street from the train station - and take the tram up and train over to Murren. 165 francs for 5-day pass or ?? francs just for tram + train (or free if you walk up) http://www.jungfraubhan.ch - website for the area Trails: Go to Murren and instead of taking the train back, walk the road that goes along side the tracks. A little bit before Winteregg, hook a right across the tracks (at the only place to do so) to the trail that heads down to Lauterbrunnen. The trail starts as an old road, but turns into a narrow, rocky trail after passing a structure. The trail goes through the forest and over a number of streams and small waterfalls (including Staubbach Waterfall before it heads over the edge). It is a steep trail at points and not for those with bad knees. The trail comes out in a house area above Lauterbrunnen and you'll need to walk the roads and wander your way back to where you need to go. It took me about 1 1/2 hours to hike down. Elevation: 849 m from Murren (1645 m) to Lauterbrunnen (796 m) Area: Heading down a mountain through trees and crossing a number of streams and small waterfalls When I did the hike: Wednesday, September 24, 2003 Picture Recommendation: It's a really nice hike, especially on a cloudy day where the weather doesn't spoil the views on this hike (while it can on other hikes in the area).
Matterhorn - Switzerland Directions: 154 francs for 3-day pass (also have more-day passes) or 39 francs (round trip) for lifts up from Zurmatt to Schwarzsee Trails: One of the dumbest hikes I've done - a case of desire taking over from logic. After getting to the top of the lift, the trail starts above the little Schwarzsee lake and heads up the Matterhorn. It starts as a wider dirt and rock trail and gets narrower as it heads up (and all it does is head up). After the first big climb (near the start), the trail passes an inactive ski lift and then turns a corner and there is a small unpleasant rail and grating portion (includes steps) that is attached to the rock and mostly overhangs air. After switchbacking up, the trail goes over a ridge and continues on the backside of the ridge. After a bit, the trail will likely be muddy - if you are smart, this is a good turning around point. The trail then comes to an area that doesn't get sun and is snow/ice. I continued on the trail with thoughts of reaching the hiking hut (kick off point for mountain climbers). Not only is there ice/snow, but the trail is still continuing up with switchbacks and there is a nice steep dropoff. And don't forget that however far you go, you have to come back down. I nearly chickened out about 5 times to turn around (and after the 1st time, wished I had chickened out that 1st time) - including once sitting down and saying to myself this is stupid and I'm not going any further - but kept on going. Finally the trail went back over the ridge into the sun and the trail was clear (but steeper) the rest of the way to the hut, which wasn't too much farther ahead. The views of the Matterhorn from the hut were awesome, but not worth the risk involved with this hike. Going back down was as dangerous and nerve wracking as I feared it would be. Despite going slow and cautious, I slipped at least 5 times (just plopping on my rear, not down the slope) [and had a big bruise for over a week from one of the slips] and even got down on my rear and shuffled down a number of the corners. I said a prayer of thanks when I got pasted the ice part. The hike took about 2 1/4 hours to get to the hut and 1 3/4 hours to get back down. Note that the hut isn't always open, so don't count on getting lunch there. Elevation: 678 m from Schwarzsee (2582 m) to Berghaus Belvedere (3260 m) Area: Above the treeline on the Matterhorn. Picture When I did the hike: Friday, September 26, 2003 Recommendation: Don't be stupid and do what I did. The views are very impressive, but turn around when you hit ice/snow.
Gruensee - Switzerland Directions: 154 francs for 3-day pass (also have more-day passes) or 34 francs (one-way) for train up from Zurmatt to Gornergrat Trails: The trail starts heading down from Gornergrat to the left of the tracks as you head down. As short ways later, there is a small tunnel that goes under the tracks - take that dirt road. On the other side of the tracks, you are above a small lake. Using the road and trails, head down to the lake. The lake itself isn't that impressive, but you should have some nice views of the mountains across the valley, including the Matterhorn. On the far side of the lake, follow the signs to Gruensee as the trail heads across and down the barren land. There are a number of switchbacks along the way. After almost 2 hours, the trail gets below the treeline and there is some greenery (instead of the brown, barren land). Where the trail comes out on a dirt road with a house visible ahead, hook a right and then at the junction a tad ahead, hook another right and the Gruensee lake is a little ways ahead. It's really not that impressive, but it was peaceful. After having lunch there, I took the trail that headed towards and then along (but not crossing) the stream in the valley through the pretty forest and hit the Findelnbach train station - took about an hour to get from Gruensee to Findelnbach. You could hike down the rest of the way to Zermatt - not too far (but I was heading up to Riffelsee). Elevation: 2510 m from Gornergrat (3130 m) to Zermatt (1620 m) Area: Above tree line, mountain lakes (not that impressive), forests, and along a stream Picture When I did the hike: Saturday, September 27, 2003 Recommendation: It's a nice hike with variation.
Riffelsee - Switzerland Directions: 154 francs for 3-day pass (also have more-day passes) or 67 francs (round-trip) for train up from Zurmatt to Gornergrat or 50 francs (round-trip) for train up from Zurmatt to Riffelberg (the stop you want is Rotenboden, between Riffelberg and Gornergrat, but my price sheet doesn't list Riffelberg) Trails: It's just a short little hike from the train station down to 2 mountain lakes. Go to the far one for some spectacular reflection pictures of the Matterhorn on the lake. Sit for a bit near the lake and enjoy the views. Area: Above tree line, mountain lakes, lots of views When I did the hike: Saturday, September 27, 2003 Recommendation: A short visit and very pretty lake reflection views of the Matterhorn.
Furi to Zermatt - Switzerland Directions: 154 francs for 3-day pass (also have more-day passes) or 8 francs (one-way) for lift up from Zurmatt to Furi Trails: Took the lift up to Furi and then hike the wide road down. Elevation: 266 m from Furi (1886 m) to Zermatt (1620 m) Area: Open area, some houses, lots of animal smells When I did the hike: Saturday, September 27, 2003 Recommendation: Yuch.