Winter hike Berchtesgaden


"How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!" - John Muir

Quick Facts

What To Expect





General InfoS

   Distance ~14 km

     Total time needed ~5 hours

  Total elevation ~560 meters

How To Plan

Berchtesgaden - Winter hike to Halsalm

Have you ever explored Berchtesgaden? Well, you should! Magnificent landscapes, too many hiking routes to explore in a lifetime and world famous sceneries - well worth the fame. Summer might be pretty crowded here, but if instead you come for a little off-season adventure you will be rewarded with some lonesome hiking and views you might never forget. 

Pro tip: Bring a picnic to enjoy the views and sunshine at the top!

For the hike to Halsalm you can easily choose a route that starts a little away from lake Hintersee and will take you through the so-called magical forest. This route is also an easy going hike for a Sunday stroll with the whole family - leading past dreamy waterfalls and through beautiful and light forests. Even though only a few patches of snow and ice were left on the trail, our spikes were of great help. After about 30-40 minutes you will reach the lake and get the first views of the surrounding mountains including the Watzmann. 

After another 15 minutes you will reach the most famous spot on the lake with two tiny islands in front of the Watzmann. This view might be even more impressive when the lake isn’t frozen anymore - but still we just stood there for a while and took it all in. The sun was blinding us standing at its highest just around noon. Even though the frozen lake might imply something else, the temperatures were mild that day and so being out of the forest it was time to get rid of the first layer of clothing before continuing the way up to Halsalm. 

The hike up there is pretty moderate with only a few steep parts leading up 400 meters of elevation in about 2.5 kilometers. Every once in a while there are benches for a rest stop or to just enjoy some views on the way or snap a quick photograph in between. A few snow fields needed to be crossed - and we even saw a snow avalanche far in the distance. 

"How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!" - John Muir

"How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!" - John Muir

When we reached the top, the views were just breathtaking - the lake lay to our feet, Mt. Watzmann right next to us, and more beautiful mountains were perfecting the scenery further back. The sky was a light blue with almost no clouds and the sun was still burning down on us. We set up some blankets on the ground and stayed up at the top for at least an hour enjoying the silence, the fresh air and the pure magic of this place surrounding us. 

After a great picnic and some “Krapfen” a group of seniors had given us, since they had brought too many and were leaving already, we took some more pictures, held our faces in the sun a last time before gathering our things together and starting the hike back down. This part of the trail was mostly leading through forest again and was therefore still covered in snow for most of the hike down. But why not actually use this to our advantage and simply slide back down - having a little skiing competition in our hiking boots. 

A mere hour or so later we reached the famous lake spot again and since the sun was already setting, we stayed there a while waiting for the best light possible to shoot some more photos before heading on to the last stretch of the hike back to the parking lot. We were definitely rewarded for hanging out there and if you ever have the chance to be here for sunset - take it! At the far end of the lake the last light was coming through the mountains giving way for a magical touch of the scenery. 

When the sun had set and the blue hour began we hiked the final stretch back to the start of our tour and were more than happy to return after a day so well spent in beautiful Berchtesgaden. 

Pro tip: Stay for sunset and enjoy it at lake Hintersee!

I hope you found this post helpful and enjoyed this beautiful and famous sunny winter get away! I would love to hear about your hiking adventures through Berchtesgaden or Bavaria and if you have been on this hike - feel free to leave a comment below or contact me via email!

March 6, 2021
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