For a fantastic day hike near Munich, try out Wendelstein. A friend and I started at Osterhofen and made it to the peak in a few hours (1,047 meters of height gain). Although I’ve only hiked the Osterhofen trail, there is a similar trail from Bayrischzell, and a longer one (1,329 meters of height gain) from the town of Brannenburg. We departed on foot from the gondola station at Osterhofen, where there was a nice map. The view from the parking lot is very scenic:
Along the way we passed the Bergcafe Siglhof. On the way down we had some tasty Bayrisch food there; I can recommend the Obatzda (a kind of cheese you spread on a big soft pretzel).
It was easy to follow the signs; we didn’t make any wrong turns. One amusing sight that I didn’t snap was an elderly couple who had obviously taken the Seilbahn up and decided to walk down. His smooth-bottomed leather shoes weren’t gripping too well on the damp trail, and her one-inch heels weren’t exactly the wisest choice either. After a couple hours of hiking we got a nice view from the top:
Watch out for the local wildlife while eating at the restaurant near the top. This little sucka was trying to eat my plum cake!
For the infirm and those with small kids (also for the lazy…), here’s one of the other ways to get up to Wendelstein. Note that it doesn’t go to the actual peak, but a hundred meters or so below it. Still a great view, even if you don’t choose to follow the sidewalks to the top.
One last note about hiking the mountains in Europe: most of them have gondolas to the top (think ski season), so you’ll hike for hours and find people at the summit who got there in 15 minutes with zero sweat. It’s sweet to see old ladies making their way around the peak restaurant on a cane, but it can be frustrating. If that bothers you, don’t hike at Wendelstein where there are both a Seilbahn (gondola) and Zahnradbahn (mountain train) operating. The good news is you can get a great meal and a beer at the top.
Here’s a gratuitous photo of chickens doing the tango, near the Bergcafe Siglhof:
Website of the cable car and train operator: http://www.wendelsteinbahn.de/
Towns: Osterhofen for the Seilbahn, Brannenburg for Zahnradbahn. Alternatively you can hike from either of those, or from Bayrischzell (and a few others I haven’t named). You should be able to get there by car or train (BOB), though as a car owner I can’t help much with the train connections. Google maps is your friend. Have a good trip!