I don’t know why I didn’t realize we would be hiking in the Alps while we were in Germany. I always think of the Swiss Alps, but in reality the range runs through France, Austria, Germany, Italy, and Slovenia, as well as Switzerland.
We went hiking in the Alps in Germany. One of my favorite walks was climbing Predigtstuhl in Berchtesgadener Land near Bad Reichenhall. That’s a mouthful.
We could see Predigtstuhl peak from the apartment we rented. At night, we could see the restaurant, with its lights aglow, from our bed. It was the last thing I saw out the window every night while in Germany. Of course, I had to walk up there.
Hiking in the Alps
Anders and I started from our apartment in Bayersich Gmain on New Year’s Day. Of all the things I liked about this apartment, and there were many, its location near so many trails and pathways was at the top of my list. From our front door to the top of Predigtstuhl took about four hours.
The trail started at the Wanderplatz and went uphill quickly. At first it was just a steep (closed) dirt road, then a mountain trail, and eventually we were pulling ourselves over rock faces with cables and climbing metal stairs bolted to the mountain.
It was a lot of work getting up that hill, but Anders had the best attitude the whole time.
About half way up the mountain, we heard gun shots. In the valley below, men dressed in traditional costumes were shooting black powder guns. This is part of the tradition in this part of Germany and Austria and we heard the shots several times between Christmas and New Year’s Day. I am glad we knew about it, otherwise the shots would have been a little scary.
Looking down on the valley, we could see smoke coming out of the guns far below us, and then a bit later, hear the sound. It was a great lesson in the difference between the speed of light and the speed of sound.
From our vantage point, we had a big view of the valley all the way to Salzburg. It was like looking at a giant relief map and gave me some much-desired perspective on the area. We kept walking up the narrow valley on the packed trail with the snow getting deeper around us.
We were both in running shoes, which meant wet socks and feet once we hit the snow. Poor Anders had slick soles on his shoes and I had to pull him up a few sections when his shoes wouldn’t grip. First thing the next day, we got him new trail shoes.
There’s a risk taking your kid into the mountains. Not as risky as taking him in a car, but it feels riskier in the moment. And when his slippery-soled shoes slide in the snow, you ask yourself if this was a good idea.
After a moment of questioning myself, I realized we were fine, we were having fun, and we would be so proud of our accomplishment at the top. Plus, it had gotten too steep and slippery to turn around, so the only way to go was up!
At the top of Predigtstuhl we could hear voices from the Alpine Hut or Almhütte Schlegelmulde. People were sitting in lounge chairs in the snow, soaking up sun and beer. Kids were sledding and playing in the snow. The casual restaurant served snacks and German food to the crowds who rode up the other side of the mountain in the Predigtstuhlbahn cable car. After not seeing or hearing anyone on the mountain, it was fun to emerge into this revelry.
We hiked past the Almhütte to the bigger restaurant and cable car dock, Bergrestaurant Predigtstuhl. While we waited for Henry and Finn to arrive via Predigtstuhlbahn we ordered beer, hot cocoa, and cake. We sat in the sunroom and warmed our feet while gazing at the rugged, snowy mountains out the window. We felt like we deserved the sweet reward.
From the top of Predigtstuhl, a little higher than the restaurant but easily accessible for gondola-riders, we had a panoramic view of mountains, lakes, small towns, and Salzburg. We were feeling a little smug about climbing to the top while everyone else took the Predigtstuhlbahn, but not so smug that we didn’t buy ourselves tickets for the ride down.
The next day it started snowing and didn’t let up for a couple of weeks. We wouldn’t have been able to hike up there even a day after our New Year’s trip, even with proper footwear. As they say, you have to climb mountains while the sun shines.
How to Hike Predigtstuhl
Predigtstuhl Maps and Trails
There are many trails going to the top of Predigtstuhl. We took Wandervege 477 from Bayerisch Gmain. I think the ones leaving from Bad Reichenhall may be less technical, but also more crowded. The trails up Predigtstuhl are extremely well signed and easy to follow.
We picked up a free map at the Predigtstuhlbahn ticket office in Bad Reichenhall. You might also be able to get one at the tourist information center in Bad Reichenhall.
More detailed maps are available in the bookstores at German train stations, or on Amazon.
Restaurants at the Top of Predigtstuhl
There are two places to eat on the mountain, and of course, you can also bring a picnic. Almhütte Schlegelmulde is like a ski lodge you’d find mid-mountain at a ski resort. In fact, there is a small chair lift here that takes skier farther up the mountain when there is more snow. The Alpine Hut is about a ten-minute walk from the gondola.
Bergrestaurant Predigtstuhl is in the building where the gondola docks. It’s more formal. They serve a buffet on Sundays until 2:00 and host “Prosecco Saturdays.” We missed the buffet by ten minutes and could only order cake. We were ok with that.
The weather in Bavaria is pretty mild, in my experience. One of the benefits of hailing from the windiest place on earth, I suppose. Check the Bad Reichenhall weather before you go and dress appropriately (says the woman in running shoes).
Purchase tickets for the Bad Reichenhall cable car in Bad Reichenhall (Südtiroler Platz 1). If you want to get up at a certain time, be sure to purchase ahead of time. Henry and Finn had to wait for a couple cars before they could get on.
One-way tickets can be purchased at the Predigtstuhlbahn ticket office if you are riding up the mountain, or in the Bergrestaurant if you are riding down only.
Check the website for up to date prices.
Resources for Hiking Berchtesgadenerland Trails
Hiking maps come in handy.
The whole time we were in Germany I wished I had my trekking poles. Not only is wanderstöcke my favorite German word, trekking poles are so nice to have on snowy, steep, or downhill jaunts. Next time I will wander with my wanderstöcke. Get your own on Amazon.
Walking in the Bavarian Alps: 85 Mountain Walks and Treks is a great guide for planning your hiking in Germany.
Osprey makes my favorite backpacks and daypacks. They fit well, are well made, and have a lifetime guarantee. This pack even has a Stow-On-The-Go trekking pole attachment to conveniently stow your wanderstöcke when not in use.
Other Germany and Austria Posts
- Berchtesgaden National Park in Winter
- Hiking in the Alps: Predigtstuhl near Bad Reichenhall
- Things To Do in Munich
- Salzburg City Tour
- Visiting the Silent Night Chapel
- Favorite Hikes in Europe
- Day Trips from Budapest (Vienna)
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29 thoughts on “Hiking in the Alps: Predigtstuhl near Bad Reichenhall”
Yes it was good you knew about the gun shots! If not you might have thought you’d been through a time warp like in the movies when they go back in time. I heard about a German / Austrian soup which has cheese in it. I can’t remember what it’s called I just heard they eat it at the ski resorts to keep warm.
The guns are really loud, too! Cheese soup would definitely keep you warm!
I think I’ve told you this before but I love your posts and how you incorporate all the different natural activities into family outings. Being out in the nature hiking and then replenishing the tired souls with a hearty meal, beer for adults, and taking in the sights all along, is beautiful way to spend family time. Thank you for all the information. I’ve had some experience of hiking in Germany and have enjoyed every bit of it.
Thanks so much! Yes, we definitely like to combine the natural and cultural experiences. I would be outside hiking and cross-country skiing everyday if I could! And what a treat to end up somewhere with beer and hot chocolate.
I love hiking but I have never hiked in snow before. It looks beautiful although a bit daunting!
It was a little challenging ;). Fortunately, there wasn’t as much snow as the following day!
Great photos of a stunning landscape! Austria is amazing for hiking and your post proofs that perfectly!
Having snack at the restaurant at the top of Predigtstuhl with this view must be something very special.
It was an awesome day and a lovely cake lunch. We didn’t get to hike in Austria (this is Germany), but hope to this summer!
I’m a keen hiker and wasn’t aware that there are such excellent hikes in Germany. I’m from Scotland and we have some beautiful mountain scenery in our highlands – it’s lovely hiking on a clear sunny day, the pictures you shot are beautiful. My son has been accompanying me on hikes since he was 6 years old (he’s twelve now) and loves the mountains. Great post. I’m off to Nepal this year but I might try and pencil in the Alps at some point if I can get a decent deal on flights.
Ps This made me chuckle: ‘ One of my favorite walks was climbing Predigtstuhl in Berchtesgadener Land near Bad Reichenhall. That’s a mouthful.’
Thnks for sharing!
Everything in Germany is a mouthful! 😉 We are heading to Scotland in April and I am really looking forward to getting out and walking. Hopefully we will get a few sunny days with big views!
That beer and hot choc at the end must have tasted super sweet! It is funny how you do think of the Alps as bring merely Swiss, when they take up such a vast expanse of land. Your shots of the mountains at the end of the post are beautiful, too.
Beer and hot chocolate are always a good way to end a winter adventure! 🙂
Hello extended family! I am your father’s cousin, Henry, on your mothers’ side. She and my mother Elizabeth Huntington were sisters. My husband Ted and I visited with your father and mother-in-law two years ago when we were camp-trekking west from our home in AR. I am totally LOVING your adventure storries, but had kind of lost track. Aunt Mary Harrison posted a reminder on FB so have enjoyed your hiking in Germany. We were in Aschaffenburg from 64-66 when Ted was in the service. Beautiful, beautiful place!!!
Hello Nancy! Thanks for reading and commenting. I love to know who is on the other side of the computer screen! Aschaffenburg sounds lovely. We loved Germany so much that we are planning on going back this summer to hike around.
This sounds like a great family adventure. My kids would love it too. I didn’t realise that the Alps ran through so many countries but come to think of it, in Italy they told us we were drinking water from the Alps through the taps!
It’s such a long range! There is something about kids and mountains that goes really well together.
I always think of the alps being in Switzerland as well. I had no idea they spanned so many countries. I’m not much of a hiker. I just did a ‘walk’ in Freycinet Tasmania and I could barely walk the next day. I would be on the cable car for sure lol
It can take a little training to get in walking condition, but you see so much! I’d love to check out Tasmania.
What a fantastic way of spending New Years day. As a kid we always went hiking to celebrate the new year.
I haven’t been walking in the Alps too much so this is something I need to change this year.
I bet it was strange to arrive at the top with all those people when you had the mountain to yourself on the way up. I too would take the walking option.
Thanks for sharing your experience
I think spending New Year’s outside is the way to go! It was a little strange to see all those people at the top. We worked so hard to get there and they were just lounging in the sun! Glad to have the restaurant, though!
What a beautiful outing! And I loved how you worked your unique brand of homeschooling into the day: “It was a great lesson in the difference between the speed of light and the speed of sound.”
Thank you! While the kids are learning all the time, it’s nice to have the more obvious moments!
I’m always still login’ it!
So glad to have you following along! It’s almost like you are here with us :).
Another great report by my favorite daughter-in-law!
Good work and thanks much.
Thank you! Glad you popped over to read it.
I stumbled across your post on Pinterest, and was drawn to the beautiful photos of my adoptive home, Bad Reichenhall. Thank you for sharing your experiences! I hope you had a wonderful time in Bavaria, and that you & your family will have the opportunity to visit again. As fellow hikers, my husband & I think it’s heaven on earth. 🙂
Thanks so much for your comment! Of all the amazing places we went in Europe over a year of travel, this was my favorite! We planned to come back in the summer, but couldn’t find an affordable rental. I’m still hoping to make it back– I agree, Heaven on Earth!