German Alps,  Mountenearing

Zugspitze without climbing: Easy and doable trail from Garmisch

Zugspitze without climbing: This route, starting in Garmisch, is the easiest way to get up to the top. But unfortunately it’s also the longest. Before you actually start getting up, you have to walk approx. 17km. 

Overall, the route is about 23 km long, and you may need approx. 10h. 

The Path can get crowded during the day. Especially at Knorrhütte / Knorr Hut, where several other paths are connected, we experienced a huge amount of other hikers. But, since this is a difficult hike, it’s mostly quiet throughout the way. You can find the route ready to follow on our Komoot account.

1.) Zugspitze without climbing: Getting started

You start at the parking area of the Olympia Stadium in Garmisch. Cross the stadium towards West and you will find yourself next to a little river, called the Partnach. 

2.) Follow the river Partnach

The first part is really easy. There is no elevation, you walk on a well-prepared but not busy street and just have to follow the river.

3.) Zugspitze without climbing: Partnachklamm

If you follow the river, you will finally end up at the entry of the Partnachklamm. Attention: The Klamm has opening hours (it usually opens at 8.00 am). If you start as early as we did, you will most certainly not be able to enter. If you are not sure about the operating hours of the Klamm you can find helpful information here.

4.) Walk around Partnachklamm

This could probably be the first downer. Just turn left…and yeah you are right. It sucks. But it’s the only way to walk around the Klamm without losing too much time. The street you have to take has a huge elevation already at this point (approx 100 meters within 500 meter). But once this is done, you just walk through the little village. Soon you will find guided sings at a little crossing. Do not take the left one. We made this mistake and had to go back. Just simply follow the street. Soon you can start getting back down to the river.

5.) Still following the Partnach

Once you got down you can see the exit of the Partnachklamm. Move along the river. You’ll notice that the river splits. Use the little bridge to cross sides and keep on following the river Partnach. Also guiding sings saying Reinthalangerhütte or Bockhütte will show you the right way. Follow the track for around 6.5 kilometers. 

6.) You have reached the Blockhütte 

If you want you can take a little break here and take some fresh water from the water station, which is located near the path on your right.

7.) Walking through the Reintal

If you haven’t already felt like you would be rather in Alaska or Canada than in Germany, you might feel that now. The track through the Reintal is moderate with little elevations. The underground is rather stony. The environment is rough, wild and absolutely stunning. And there is another plus to starting early: The earlier you have started, the more silent it will be within the Reintal. So enjoy some peace and quiet in this untouched nature and breath in some really fresh air.

Zugspitze without climbing: Walking through the Reintal
Zugspitze without climbing: Walking through the Reintal
Zugspitze without climbing: The Reintal Jacuzzi
Zugspitze without climbing: The Reintal Jacuzzi

8.) The Reintal Jacuzzi 

We don’t know if this is the real name, but it kind of looks like a jacuzzi. The best thing about it: From there you have a stunning view over the Reintal.

9.) Zugspitze without climbing: Reintalangerhütte

After approx. 16km you will reach the Reintalangerhütte. Then cross the river on the little bridge close to Reintalangerhütte. 

10.) The spring of the Partnach

After 200 meters you will get to a little crossing. Here, it doesn’t matter which one you will take, left or right. But we took the right one, which turned out to be a bit shorter but also a little wilder and rougher. If you choose this track, you are going to follow the river Partnach until you will get rewarded with the view of the head of the river.

11.) Start to defeat the mountain

As you have probably seen earlier already: the Reintal seemed to end at some point. At the very end of the Reintal is the starting point for mountaineering. From now on it only goes up. You start to put feet on the mountain after approx. 17km. 

Zugspitze without climbing: The origin of the river Partnach
Zugspitze without climbing: The origin of the river Partnach
Zugspitze without climbing: Starting to defeat the mountain
Zugspitze without climbing: Starting to defeat the mountain

12.) Zugspitze without climbing: Getting to Knorrhütte

You will reach this milestone after less than 3 km and an elevation of 600 meters. Because we were packed liked donkeys, we needed 3h for this part. If you are packed lighter, you are probably a bit faster. You might have noticed, that there is less vegetation around you. At Knorrhütte you can take fresh mountain water for free. We recommend taking a break here and really try the water. When it’s hot, the water is a perfect way to cool down a bit. And you also have a stunning view over the Reintal. In case you are not able to enjoy that anymore – that is totally understandable. We didn’t care much at this point either. We just saw what was still ahead of us. If you are in this mood as well, we assure you that all of that will be forgotten once you are on top. 

13.) Walking along the Zugspitzplateau

This is almost the last part. From Knorrhütte till the Zugspitplatt it’s only 2.4 kilometers. But this part has an elevation of again approx 600 meters. We needed less than 2h for this part. But it was the hardest one of all. 

14.) Getting to Zugspitzplatt

Continue to walk along the Plateau until you reach the Zugspitzplatt. From there you can either take the last section to the top or take a cable car.

15.) Getting to the top:

Due to the fact, that we had those huge backpacks we were more than exhausted. We got clumsy on our feet and the one carrying the biggest backpack always had trouble to walk even or standing in a balanced level. So we decided, taking the last part, where we had to climb, would be more than stupid. At the Zugspitzplatt you have the possibility to take a cable car for the last, but most difficult section. We highly recommend doing so, in case you feel tired or not secure on your feet anymore. Be aware, that your mistakes on that section could be dangerous for you and for others. 

Keep in mind that the cable cars have operating hours and that there is a last one of the day. On that day in September, the last one left at 4.25 pm. From July till August, the last one leaves at 5.25 pm. If you don’t make in it time, you might have a problem. Here you can find information about operation hours at the Zugspitzplatt (look for Glacier cable car). Please double-check before the trip.

Here you can find a full article about how we prepared ourselves, what we have packed and some other helpful information.

Caro is working as a freelancer for content creation and copywriting. She doesn’t like offices and prefers to work somewhere in peace. If she’s not in front of the screen, she’s probably eating nachos, cleaning up or talking on the phone with her friend forever. Photography has only recently entered her life and has quickly become an important part of it. Fortunately, she has Marc, who is very helpful with many technical questions. In 2018 she gave herself a jerk and traveled through Croatia alone – hostel, bus and toast hello. Since then she wants to see all the beautiful places in the world and also wants to visit many travel destinations of her grandpa, who unfortunately recently passed away.