While the Schrecksee hike is a real challenge, it’s non-stop vistas in the “land of 400 peaks” and ends at a turquoise colored lake in the magnificent and underrated Allgaüer Alps.
tl;dr: Challenging 10.6 mile day hiking trail guide based on my personal experience to the highest lake hike in Bavaria Germany. Including GPS stages for your phone, travel tips and best places to stay and other adventure activities nearby.
This absolutely scenic hike goes from the valley floor in Hinterstein to Germany’s highest lake and every Nature photographers’ dream – the Schrecksee lake.
It’s one of the best things to do in Oberstdorf, and it’s worth the 1,000 meter (3,475 feet up and down) challenge. It’s on my top hikes in Germany list.
Ideally, you should ride a bike from the parking area to the beginning of the single track trail (but it’s a great cow filled walk if you’re bike-less).
And definitely stop at Konstanzer Jägerhaus after the hike for their mouth watering käsespätzle – you’ve earned it.
Morgan’s Schrecksee Hiking Youtube
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Schreck means fear in German. I think this place is the opposite of fear – pure bliss. No restaurant crowds, insanely beautiful and hard enough that many day hikers don’t come.
I want to come back and create a hut to hut route that passes by here next autumn.
Schrecksee Hike Quick Guide
- Starting: Hinterstein Parking
- Distance: 10.6 mi (17 km)
- Type: Out and Back
- Time Needed: 5-6 hours
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 3,475′ 1,059m
- Difficulty: Medium-hard
- When to Go: Late May-Oct
- Where to Stay in Oberstdorf: Explorer Hotel (midrange), Elements Christlesee (family), Das Frieburg Romantikhotel (luxury)
⛰ More Adventure? Book a Hut to Hut Hiking Tour
- 6 Days in Austrian Alps
- 8 Days Culinary Austrian Hut to Hut Hike
- Weekend Culinary Hut Tour
Who is this hike for?
Lake seekers, hut to hut hikers, day hikers that want solitude, photographers, travelers that want a break from fairytale [Neuschwanstein Castle madness] Germany and real Nature.
Who is this lake Schrecksee hike not for?
The elevation gain is tough so you need to be prepared for the knee thrashing. It’s not easy.
- No exposure or technical parts
- Insanely beautiful views
- The lake is a photographers dream
It’s pretty hard physically
No Bathroom at lake
- Out and Back - Not loop but you could make one
Craving More Adventure in the Allgaüer Alps?
Don’t have time to read the whole article? No Problem! To sum up, here are the three best outdoor things to do in addition to awesome hiking at Schrecksee. The Starzlach gorge is really close to the hike.
- Advanced Canyoning
- 3-4 Hours
- Start point
- Ages 15 and Older
- Extreme Hiking with Harness and Clipping into ladders
- 6 hours
- B and C rating
- Ages 10 and Older
Schrecksee Hike Map
How to use this map: Use your computer mouse or fingers to zoom in and out. Click on the icons to get more information. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the written index. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your google maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open google maps, click the menu button, and go to “your places”/ “maps.”
Schrecksee Hike: My Experience
Parking – Start of Single Track (1:00 hour)
To start your hike, head to the dedicated parking lot in the hamlet of Hinterstein where you can park for the day for 10 euros. Note that overnight parking is not allowed. Use the app or coins to pay for parking.
The trail begins with a pleasant walk through a lowland valley filled with cows and their tinkling bells. While many people opt to bike this section, I enjoyed it as a warm-up for the steep trail ahead. The path is flat and sometimes paved but there’s not much traffic.
Be sure to take in the lovely ravine on the right, with its beautiful larch and colorful trees in autumn. As you ascend, you’ll pass by a delicious hutte that’s worth a stop on the way back.
I didn’t bring too much food so I could indulge in the käsespätzle. Once you reach the mini power station, take a left through the cow gate to start the brutal ascent. Get ready for a challenging but rewarding hike with stunning views!
Start of Single Track- Schrecksee Lake (3:00 hours)
The ascent is now pretty much in one direction – up! You can’t really get lost as there is a well defined, yet rocky path and very good visibility.
At no point is the trail exposed or feel dangerous. However, it is rocky and a bit slippery in some parts with a very small cable. You really don’t need any handheld support. Just endurance.
The mountains here are so wonderfully peaky – they are called “gipfel” in German and you can see so many triangular peaks.
Once you get near the top you’ll actually level out a bit and have one more small ascent before you reach the lake.
Once there you’ll see the lovely island and plenty of places to sit on the sunny slope and have a snack.
The best views of the lake do require a little bit more of a steep walk to take some pictures and then back track the way you came.
Schrecksee Lake – Food at Konstanzer Jägerhaus (4:15 hours)
I saw that there is a way to make a loop but it would probably take one extra hour of hiking and have you end up back in hinterstein by taking the northern ridge back.
On your way back give your knees periodic breaks or else you’ll end up like me and sore for a week. It’s really quite steep, but your rewards is one of the most tasty meals in Germany.
Food at Konstanzer Jägerhaus – Parking (5:00 hours)
The final walk back to the car is incredible at sunset.
Things to Know About Oberstdorf Germany
Is Oberstdorf Germany Worth Visiting?
Yes! If you love the outdoors and charming villages that aren’t pretentious. It’s not the typical alpine village with buildings plastered in malerei and geraniums. It’s more work-a-day, yet offers incredible hiking, skiing and delicious food.
This hike is closest to the village of Sonthofen, but Oberstdorf has quite a bit more going on.
The mountains here are very pointy and the people are more willing to have a chat than busier Alps towns like Garmisch or Innsbruck.
Located only an hour from the more touristy hot spots, Oberstdorf is a great break from the tourist overwhelm and the focus really is on immersing in Nature and adventure.
Best Things to do in Oberstdorf Germany
All Season Outdoor Adventure – Hiking and winter sports are the highlights, but Oberstdorf has it all.
1. Klettersteig near Sontfhofen
This popular activity involves climbing steep rock faces with the aid of a steel cable and harness. The klettersteig in Sonthofen offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, making it an unforgettable experience for thrill-seekers and nature lovers alike.
While it can be a challenging activity, there are routes available for all levels of experience, so whether you’re a beginner or an experienced climber, you can enjoy the thrill of a klettersteig in Sonthofen.
Book ➡️ Expert Guided Klettersteig Hike
2. Skiing and Snowboarding
Oberstdorf, a popular winter destination in the German Alps, offers a variety of ski and snowboard options for visitors of all skill levels. With access to over 130 kilometers of slopes, including Germany’s longest ski run, there are plenty of opportunities for skiing and snowboarding.
The Nebelhorn and Fellhorn-Kanzelwand ski areas are particularly popular, offering a range of runs for beginners and experts alike, as well as stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. You can also enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and other winter activities in the town and surrounding area.
Oberstdorf, a charming town nestled in the German Alps, offers a variety of cultural activities for visitors to enjoy. Start by exploring the town’s rich history at the Heimatmuseum, which showcases traditional Bavarian life and culture. For art enthusiasts, the Kunsthaus provides a unique space to admire contemporary art exhibitions.
The St. Johannes Nepomuk church, with its stunning baroque architecture and beautiful frescoes, is another must-visit cultural attraction. If you’re looking for a more immersive experience, consider attending one of the town’s many festivals, such as the Oberstdorfer Musiksommer, a music festival that takes place every summer.
Whether you’re interested in art, history, or music, Oberstdorf has something to offer for every cultural enthusiast.
4. Kick Bikes (Mountain Scooters)
After a long hike, the last thing you want to do is walk all the way back to the valley. Instead, you can rent a kickbike, or mountain scooter, to fly down the mountain. It’s seriously fun and works really well with a hut to hut hike that we did a few years ago.
This was the first time my daughter went paragliding and it was amazing and far less scary than you’d imagine.
6. Mountain Biking
All of the local ski resorts have summer lifts that will carry your mountain bike to the top so you can fly down at your own risk.
7. Canyoning Starzlkach Canyon
For the ultimate adventure in Sonthofen, Germany, try canyoning in the Starzlachklamm! This thrilling activity involves navigating through canyons by jumping, sliding, and rappelling down waterfalls and rock formations.
Sonthofen’s unique terrain and beautiful landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for a canyoning adventure. With experienced guides to lead the way, visitors of all skill levels can enjoy this adrenaline-pumping activity.
Golf enthusiasts will be delighted with the options available in Oberstdorf, Germany. The town offers two stunning golf courses: the Oberstdorf Golf Club and the Sonnenalp Golf Club. The Oberstdorf Golf Club features a challenging 9-hole course with stunning mountain views, while the Sonnenalp Golf Club boasts a more extensive 18-hole course with a mix of flat and hilly terrain. Both courses offer a unique golfing experience in a beautiful alpine setting.
Best Places to Stay in Oberstdorf
Based on my personal experience, these are my recommendations for hotels near Schrecksee based on your situation.
- Amazing breakfast
- Sauna and spa
- Allows dogs
- Pool, sauna
- Cross country ski trail at door
- Michelin-star Maximilian restaurant
- Exceptional breakfast service
Best for Family
Waldhotel am Christlessee in Oberstdorf, Germany offers a peaceful and relaxing stay surrounded by nature, with a beautiful lake view and hiking trails nearby. The hotel also features a spa and wellness center, making it the perfect place for a rejuvenating getaway.
Most Sustainable & Best Budget
Explorer Hotel Oberstdorf has an amazing breakfast and really modern rooms. It’s young and vibrant and will even pack your breakfast to go if you want an early start. on the trails.
Das Freiberg Romantikhotel is a place you’ll never forget. Don’t plan an early hike here because you’ll want to savor their amazing breakfast and indulge in the pool and spa area. And with a Michelin star restaurant you may not want to leave.
More Northern Alps Travel Blogs
How do I navigate the Schrecksee hiking trail?
You can use Komoot to navigate this trail easily. My Schrecksee komoot GPS has everything listed so you don’t get lost. The trail is not well marked but fairly easy with a hiking app like komoot.
How do I say this in German?
In German, this hike is called Schrecksee wanderung. It’s a 17 km hike to Germany’s highest lake.
More Hiking & Outdoor Gear Resources
Here’s more awesome gear to empower your journey. I have written in-depth comparisons of products that make hiking and exploring the Great Outdoors safer and more fun, especially if you’re a beginner (or like me, a little rusty in the knees).
Physical Therapist Curated Gear Guides for Hikers
- 🧎 Make your knees feel better while hiking and walking: Best Knee Braces for Hiking
- 🌳Make the downhills stop hurting and hike with more confidence Best Trekking Poles Review
- ⌚ Never get lost on the trail and navigate the wilderness safely with My Review of the Best GPS Watches for Hiking
- ❄️ Go hiking on uneven terrain safely: The Best Hiking Boots with Ankle Support
- 🥾 Don’t get lost in the backcountry during a big hike: My Review of the BEST PLB – Personal Locator Beacons
My Guides to Bucketlist Hikes in Europe
(That I’ve personally done and loved.)
I hope this guide to the Schrecksee hike has given you all the information you need to enjoy this awesome hidden gem.
Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and passionate hiker who believes in exploring the world on foot with good food. Follow her journey as she shares science-based hiking tips and advocates for sustainable tourism.