Climbing through a wet and narrow gorge, taking in beautiful views of the Zugspitze – Germany’s highest mountain – and parts of the Wetterstein mountain range, the hike up to Hupfleitenjoch and Kreuzeck via the Höllentalklamm gorge, makes for a fun but strenuous day hike in the Bavarian Alps. Making your way from Hammerbach train station, you will hike through the narrow and wet but incredible Höllentalklamm gorge, then making your way up to the 1,754 meter high Hupfleitenjoch, while being rewarded with amazing views of the Zugspitze and the valley below. From here the hike leads to the 1,651 meter high peak of Kreuzeck, taking in the views over the town Garmisch on the way. Overall you should plan 6 to 8 hours for this hike, depending on your speed and time for breaks.
Getting to the Starting Point
The hike up the Höllentalklamm gorge starts in Hammersbach, a small village near the city Garmisch. If you are using public transportation, you can catch a train from Munich central station to Garmisch, which takes roughly an hour and a half. In Garmisch you change to the Zugspitzbahn train. The station is just behind the main train station in Garmisch. If you’re starting in Munich after 9am, you can use the Bavaria Ticket and won’t need to buy a separate ticket for the Zugspitzbahn. Ride the train for a few stops and get off at the stop Hammersbach. Coming from the train you walk right along the rails for a short while, until you reach a small creek. Here you turn left and walk past a small chapel following the signs for Höllentalklamm.
Through Höllentalklamm gorge
From the village Hammerbach you’ll follow a wide gravel path along the small river through the forest. The path starts off easy and flat and climbs uphill shortly before reaching the entry to Höllentalklamm Gorge after roughly 40 minutes. There is a small restaurant right before the gorge where you’ll have to pay 4 Euro/pp to enter. As soon as we stepped a few meters into the gorge we were impressed by its size. High rock walls surround the narrow gorge, numerous tunnels have been carved into the rocks along the path, and the river has to be crossed by wooden bridges at some places.
Water dripped on us from the waterfalls almost the entire way through the gorge and at one point we had to walk behind a sheet of falling water. About an hour later, the exciting walk through the gorge came to an end and the rock walls gave way to a wider valley.
From the gorge to Hupfleitenjoch
We followed the valley along the river for a short while, before reaching an uphill section leading to a big lodge with a restaurant called Höllentalangerhütte . From here the valley opened up and rewarded us with amazing views of the Wetterstein mountains and Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze.
We enjoyed the view of the valley for a while and then made our way up to Hupfleitenjoch. Following the signs for Hupfleitenjoch to the right of the lodge, we started hiking a narrow path up the side of the mountain. Although the trail is narrow and there are sheer drops to the side, it is relatively easy and has cables to hold on to have been fixed in some parts.
After 30 minutes we passed a small old lodge that isn’t currently in use. Continuing along the trail toward the top of Hupfleitenjoch it got steeper, but the views down the valley and the path below us got even better.
From Hupfleitenjoch to Kreuzeck peak
From the top of Hupfleitenjoch we started hiking downhill, following the signs for Kreuzeckhaus to the left. The trail was mostly downhill or flat and easy. From here the views over the town Garmisch were nice with the mountains on both sides. After 45 minutes we arrived at the Kreuzeckhaus where you can rest or eat and enjoy the views over Garmisch from the terrace. In case you’re tired or don’t enjoy downhill walking, there is the option to take the Kreuzeckbahn cable car down from here.
We continued on the now wide and easy path downhill to the right of the lodge towards another lodge called Kreuzalm. Walking around the lodge, we followed a gravel road up the hill rising up in front of us. It took us another 15 minutes to get to the top of Kreuzeck. Just behind the ski lift station, a small path leads to the Kreuzeck peak, where you can take in amazing views of the Wetterstein Alps and Alpspitze mountain. You can follow the path past the cross through the forest to reach an even better viewpoint.
There are multiple options to make your way back down, but the fastest is following the small trail leading to the right as you face Garmisch, through a fence just below the ski lift station and the small hut on Kreuzeck peak. The trail leads to a wider path after a short time. From there you follow the path downhill toward a big lodge next to a small pond, with ski lifts visible in the distance. Continue downhill to the right of the pond, following the signs for Hausberg Talstation (Hausberg cable car station) and then make your way to Garmisch along the road across the train tracks. At a big parking lot you’ll have to turn left to get to the station. After roughly an hour and a half you’ll arrive back in Garmisch at the central train station.
If you want to explore more of the Bavarian Alps on another great day hike, check out our post on Herzogstand and Heimgarten, with great views over Lake Walchensee.