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Hiking The Watzmann Traverse – A Bavarian Classic


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Junina Harvey



The Watzmann Traverse is a legendary hiking route that takes you through the picturesque Bavarian Alps in Germany. Renowned as one of the most challenging yet rewarding alpine journeys, this classic traverse offers breathtaking views, rugged terrain, and a sense of accomplishment like no other. Whether you are an experienced mountaineer or an avid hiker looking for a new adventure, the Watzmann Traverse promises an unforgettable experience.


The Watzmann, standing at 2,713 meters (8,901 feet), is the third-highest mountain in Germany and serves as the centerpiece of this trek. The journey typically takes four days and covers approximately 20 kilometers (12 miles), crossing rocky paths, narrow ridges, and fascinating plateaus. Along the way, you’ll witness stunning alpine landscapes, cascading waterfalls, and diverse flora and fauna that make this region a true natural wonder.


Not only does the Watzmann Traverse offer incredible beauty and a thrilling physical challenge, but it is also steeped in history and folklore. The mountain is said to be named after the legendary King Watzmann of Bavaria, whose story adds an enchanting aura to the experience. As you embark on this traverse, you’ll embark on a journey that is not only physically demanding but also spiritually enriching.


It is important to note that the Watzmann Traverse is not for the faint-hearted. The route requires a good level of fitness, proper hiking gear, and mountaineering experience. The mix of exposed terrain, steep ascents, and unpredictable weather conditions demands careful preparation and caution. However, for those who are up to the challenge, the rewards are unparalleled.


This article will provide you with a detailed route overview, insights into each day of the trek, essential tips and packing list recommendations, and important safety precautions to ensure a successful and enjoyable Watzmann Traverse. So, lace up your boots, pack your backpack, and get ready to embark on an epic adventure in the heart of the Bavarian Alps.


Route Overview

The Watzmann Traverse is typically completed in four days, with each day presenting its own set of challenges and rewards. Here is a brief overview of the route:

  1. Day 1: Berchtesgaden to Wimbachgrieshütte
  2. Your journey begins in the charming town of Berchtesgaden, where you will start the ascent towards the Watzmann massif. The trail takes you through lush forests, past serene lakes, and eventually leads you to the Wimbachgrieshütte. This mountain hut serves as the first overnight stop and provides a cozy refuge amidst the stunning alpine surroundings.

  3. Day 2: Wimbachgrieshütte to Hocheck
  4. On the second day, you’ll continue your ascent towards the Hocheck, a rocky peak that offers magnificent panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. The trail becomes steeper and more challenging, requiring some scrambling and careful footing. After reaching the summit, you’ll descend to the Kührointalm, where you can enjoy a well-deserved rest.

  5. Day 3: Hocheck to Watzmannhaus
  6. This is often considered the most demanding day of the traverse. You’ll navigate narrow ridges, exposed sections, and steep ascents as you make your way towards the iconic Watzmannhaus. This mountain hut, perched at the foot of the Watzmann, is a popular stop for hikers and climbers. From here, you can marvel at the striking views of the Watzmann’s east face and soak in the serene alpine atmosphere.

  7. Day 4: Watzmannhaus to Wimbachbrücke
  8. The final day of the traverse takes you along the longest stage of the journey. You’ll descend through beautiful landscapes, passing by the legendary Watzmann-Ostwand (Watzmann’s east face). The trail leads you back to civilization, concluding at the town of Wimbachbrücke. Celebrate your accomplishment and reflect on the unforgettable experiences you’ve had during this incredible alpine adventure.

The Watzmann Traverse offers a diverse range of landscapes, challenging terrains, and awe-inspiring views that will leave you in awe of the Bavarian Alps. Each day brings new adventures and opportunities to connect with nature, making it an unforgettable experience for anyone seeking a true alpine adventure.


Day 1: Berchtesgaden to Wimbachgrieshütte

Your Watzmann Traverse adventure begins in the enchanting town of Berchtesgaden, nestled in the heart of the Bavarian Alps. After a hearty breakfast to fuel your journey, you’ll set off on foot towards the Watzmann massif.


The trail initially takes you through picturesque meadows and dense forests, offering glimpses of the stunning surrounding landscapes. As you ascend, you’ll encounter serene alpine lakes that reflect the towering peaks and vibrant greenery. Take a moment to breathe in the fresh mountain air and appreciate the tranquility of the surroundings.


Continuing on, the trail becomes more challenging, with steeper inclines and rockier terrain. You’ll navigate through narrow paths, surrounded by dense vegetation and a sense of adventure. Along the way, keep an eye out for the diverse flora and fauna that call this region home. From colorful wildflowers to elusive alpine animals, the natural beauty of the Bavarian Alps will captivate you at every turn.


After a few hours of hiking, you’ll arrive at the Wimbachgrieshütte, your first overnight stop. This cozy mountain hut offers a warm and welcoming ambiance, providing a much-needed respite after a long day on the trail. Enjoy a traditional Bavarian meal, complete with locally sourced ingredients, and swap stories with fellow hikers who are embarking on their own alpine adventures.


The Wimbachgrieshütte is situated in a breathtaking location, surrounded by towering peaks and a tranquil alpine valley. Take some time to relax and soak in the serene atmosphere while marveling at the impressive mountain vistas. The hut also offers stunning views of the Watzmann, serving as a constant reminder of the challenge that lies ahead.


As the sun sets behind the mountains, retire to your comfortable bunkbed for a well-deserved rest. Let the sounds of nature lull you to sleep, knowing that you have embarked on an incredible journey through the Bavarian Alps and are one step closer to conquering the iconic Watzmann Traverse.


Day 2: Wimbachgrieshütte to Hocheck

Awakening to the crisp alpine air and the anticipation of another day filled with adventure, you’ll bid farewell to the Wimbachgrieshütte and continue your journey deeper into the Bavarian Alps on the second day of the Watzmann Traverse.


The trail from Wimbachgrieshütte to Hocheck presents a more challenging terrain, requiring a good level of fitness and some mountaineering skills. As you ascend amidst mesmerizing alpine scenery, you’ll encounter rocky paths and sections that demand careful footing. The steep and narrow terrain may involve some scrambling, adding an element of excitement and a sense of accomplishment to your journey.


As you make your way higher into the mountains, panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and valleys will unfold before your eyes. Take a moment to pause and absorb the grandeur of the Bavarian Alps, as the beauty of this pristine wilderness is truly awe-inspiring.


Reaching the summit of Hocheck, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see. From this vantage point, you can admire the jagged peaks, lush valleys, and meandering rivers that characterize the landscape of this alpine wonderland. The view serves as a reminder of the vastness and magnificence of nature, instilling a sense of humility and appreciation within you.


After taking in the stunning scenery, you’ll begin your descent towards the Kührointalm, where you can replenish your energy and rest your weary legs. This mountain inn provides a cozy atmosphere and a chance to connect with fellow hikers, sharing stories of triumphs and challenges along the trail. Fuel up with hearty Bavarian cuisine and savor the flavors of the region before continuing your journey.


The second day of the Watzmann Traverse is filled with adrenaline-inducing moments and awe-inspiring vistas. It tests your physical strength and mental endurance, but the rewards are immeasurable. Embrace the challenges, appreciate the beauty, and continue your alpine adventure with excitement and determination as you move closer to conquering the iconic Watzmann Traverse.


Day 3: Hocheck to Watzmannhaus

On day three of the Watzmann Traverse, you’ll embark on one of the most demanding and exhilarating sections of the journey. The trail from Hocheck to Watzmannhaus is filled with narrow ridges, steep ascents, and breathtaking views that will leave you in awe of the Bavarian Alps.


As you leave the Kührointalm behind, the trail winds its way through rugged terrain, taking you closer to the iconic Watzmann. This section requires a good level of mountaineering skill and a head for heights, as you’ll navigate exposed ridges and cliff faces. The adrenaline will surge through your veins as you carefully make your way along the narrow paths, knowing that the stunning vistas that await are well worth the challenge.


The highlight of this day is the arrival at the iconic Watzmannhaus, perched at the foot of the awe-inspiring Watzmann mountain. This mountain hut has been a haven for mountaineers and hikers for over a century and offers spectacular views of the surrounding peaks and valleys.


Upon reaching Watzmannhaus, you’ll be greeted with warm alpine hospitality. Take a moment to relax on the sun terrace and soak in the dramatic views of the imposing east face of the Watzmann, rising majestically above you. As you bask in the tranquility of this alpine setting, you’ll feel a profound connection to the natural world.


Watzmannhaus is not only a place to rest and refuel, but it is also a hub of mountaineering knowledge and camaraderie. Engage in conversations with fellow hikers, share stories of triumphs and challenges, and draw inspiration from the collective spirit of exploration. The mountain hut provides comfortable accommodations and delicious meals, allowing you to recharge both your body and spirit.


As the sun sets behind the peaks and the evening sky fills with hues of orange and pink, revel in the sense of accomplishment that comes with reaching Watzmannhaus. Reflect on how far you’ve come and the breathtaking landscapes you’ve traversed during this unforgettable alpine adventure.


Day three of the Watzmann Traverse is a true test of your mountaineering skills and offers an unrivaled opportunity to immerse yourself in the raw beauty of the Bavarian Alps. Continue your journey with determination and passion as you inch closer to completing this legendary and challenging trek.


Day 4: Watzmannhaus to Wimbachbrücke

As the final day of your Watzmann Traverse dawns, you’ll bid farewell to the iconic Watzmannhaus and begin your descent back to civilization. This stage of the journey is the longest, but it offers a chance to reflect on the incredible experiences and challenges you’ve faced during your alpine adventure.


The trail from Watzmannhaus to Wimbachbrücke takes you through a diverse landscape, allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Bavarian Alps for one last time. From the lush alpine meadows to the striking rock formations, each step brings new wonders to behold.


As you descend, you’ll be treated to awe-inspiring views of the legendary Watzmann-Ostwand, the east face of the Watzmann. This dramatic wall of rock serves as a reminder of the grandeur and power of nature. Take a moment to appreciate its imposing presence and the feat of conquering the traverse.


The trail meanders through forests and across streams, providing a tranquil and refreshing atmosphere. The sounds of nature accompany you along the way, from the gentle rustling of leaves to the melodic chirping of birds. Allow yourself to be enveloped in the serenity of the surroundings as you approach the end of this remarkable journey.


As you reach Wimbachbrücke, the town where your adventure began, a sense of achievement and fulfillment washes over you. Take the time to celebrate your accomplishment and reflect on the personal growth, resilience, and connection to nature that this journey has brought.


Whether you choose to indulge in a hearty meal at a local restaurant or simply sit by the river and soak in the peaceful ambiance, cherish this moment of accomplishment. The Watzmann Traverse has challenged you, tested your limits, and rewarded you with unparalleled beauty and a deep appreciation for the Bavarian Alps.


As you bid farewell to the stunning landscapes and the memories you’ve created, carry the spirit of the Watzmann Traverse with you. Let it fuel your future adventures and inspire you to continue exploring the remarkable wonders that the world has to offer.


Completing the final day of the Watzmann Traverse is a bittersweet moment, but it marks the end of an extraordinary journey that will forever hold a special place in your heart.



The Watzmann Traverse is an unforgettable alpine adventure that takes you through the breathtaking Bavarian Alps, offering a combination of challenging terrain, awe-inspiring vistas, and a deep connection with nature. This legendary trek pushes your physical and mental limits, but the rewards are immeasurable.


From the picturesque town of Berchtesgaden to the stunning Watzmannhaus, each stage of the traverse presents its own set of challenges and rewards. The journey is not just about conquering the mountains; it’s about immersing yourself in the beauty of the natural world, embracing the physical and spiritual growth that comes with pushing your boundaries.


Throughout the traverse, you’ll witness majestic peaks, traverse narrow ridges, and navigate steep ascents. You’ll encounter serene alpine lakes, cascading waterfalls, and diverse flora and fauna that make this region a true natural wonder. The landscapes will inspire awe and fill you with a sense of wonder at the grandeur of the Bavarian Alps.


Along the way, you’ll also experience the camaraderie of fellow hikers, sharing stories, and forging deep connections. The mountain huts offer warmth, comfort, and a chance to rest and refuel, while also providing a sense of community and shared accomplishment.


The Watzmann Traverse is not a journey to be taken lightly. It requires careful preparation, proper hiking gear, and mountaineering experience. It’s important to adhere to safety precautions, be mindful of weather conditions, and respect the fragility of the environment. By trekking responsibly, you can ensure that future generations will have the opportunity to experience the wonders of the Bavarian Alps.


As you complete the final stage of the traverse and reflect on your journey, you’ll carry with you memories of stunning vistas, physical accomplishments, and a newfound appreciation for the power of nature. The Watzmann Traverse is more than just a hike; it’s an experience that will leave an indelible mark on your soul.


So, whether you’re an experienced mountaineer or an adventurous hiker seeking a new challenge, the Watzmann Traverse beckons you. Lace up your boots, embrace the beauty, and embark on an epic adventure through the heart of the Bavarian Alps. The Watzmann awaits, ready to test your limits and reward you with experiences that will last a lifetime.


Tips for Hiking the Watzmann Traverse

Embarking on the Watzmann Traverse requires careful planning and preparation. Here are some valuable tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey:

  1. Physical Fitness: The Watzmann Traverse is physically demanding, with steep ascents, challenging terrain, and long distances. Make sure you have a good level of fitness and endurance before attempting the trek. Incorporate cardio and strength training exercises into your fitness routine.
  2. Proper Gear: Invest in high-quality hiking boots that provide ankle support and traction. Dress in layers to adapt to changing weather conditions. Pack essential items such as a waterproof jacket, extra socks, a hat, gloves, sunscreen, and a first aid kit.
  3. Navigation: Familiarize yourself with the trail and carry a detailed map or GPS device. Be prepared to navigate challenging sections and follow markers or cairns along the way. Consider using a hiking app to track your progress and ensure you stay on the right path.
  4. Weather Awareness: Check the weather forecast before your hike and be prepared for changing conditions. The weather in the Alps can be unpredictable, so pack extra layers and be prepared to postpone or modify your plans if conditions deteriorate.
  5. Hydration and Nutrition: Stay hydrated by carrying an adequate supply of water and refill whenever possible. Pack lightweight, high-energy snacks to keep you fueled throughout the day. Take regular breaks to rest and replenish your energy.
  6. Safety Precautions: Hike with a partner or in a group for added safety. Let someone know your itinerary and expected return time. Carry a whistle, a headlamp, and a fully charged mobile phone for emergencies. Be cautious on exposed sections and use appropriate safety gear, such as trekking poles and a helmet if necessary.
  7. Leave No Trace: Respect the environment by hiking on designated trails, avoiding shortcuts, and properly disposing of waste. Preserve the natural beauty of the Bavarian Alps by leaving no trace behind.
  8. Local Knowledge: Familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations of the area, including any permits or restrictions. Seek advice from local hikers, mountain guides, or visitor centers to gain valuable insights and up-to-date information.

By following these tips, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle the Watzmann Traverse and make the most of this remarkable alpine adventure. Remember to embrace the journey, stay mindful of your surroundings, and savor every moment of this unforgettable experience in the heart of the Bavarian Alps.


Packing List

When preparing for the Watzmann Traverse, it’s essential to pack wisely and ensure you have all the necessary gear and supplies. Here is a comprehensive packing list to help you make the most of your alpine adventure:


Essential Gear:

  • Hiking boots with ankle support and good traction
  • Backpack with a rain cover
  • Trekking poles for stability
  • Waterproof jacket and pants
  • Layered clothing for changing weather conditions
  • Warm hat and gloves
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Headlamp with extra batteries
  • Hiking socks and extra pairs
  • Water bottle or hydration bladder

Navigation and Safety:

  • Map or guidebook of the Watzmann Traverse
  • Compass or GPS device
  • Whistle for signaling
  • Emergency blanket
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Cell phone with a fully charged battery
  • Knife or multi-tool

Food and Water:

  • High-energy snacks (trail mix, energy bars, dried fruit)
  • Meals for overnight stays at mountain huts (if not provided)
  • Water purification system or water filter

Other Essentials:

  • Trekking or camping stove (if planning to cook your own meals)
  • Cooking utensils and lightweight cookware
  • Lightweight camping mattress or sleeping pad
  • Sleeping bag suitable for alpine conditions
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap)
  • Towel or travel towel
  • Extra plastic bags for waste disposal
  • Cash and identification documents

Optional Extras:

  • Camera or smartphone for capturing memories
  • Hiking guidebook or reading material
  • Trekking umbrella for sun or rain protection
  • Gaiters for added protection against debris and water
  • Binoculars for wildlife viewing

Keep in mind that your packing list may vary depending on the time of year, weather conditions, and personal preferences. It’s crucial to pack light yet be prepared for the challenges and uncertainties of the Watzmann Traverse. Strive for a balance between essential gear and keeping your backpack weight manageable.


Remember to always prioritize safety, comfort, and respect for the environment. Proper gear and preparation will ensure you have a smooth and enjoyable journey through the stunning Bavarian Alps.


Safety Precautions

When embarking on the Watzmann Traverse, safety should always be your top priority. The Alpine environment can pose various challenges, so it’s important to take proper precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey. Here are some essential safety tips to consider:

  • Be prepared: Familiarize yourself with the route, terrain, and current weather conditions. Plan your itinerary accordingly and have a backup plan in case conditions change or unexpected challenges arise.
  • Stay informed: Check weather forecasts and trail conditions before and during your journey. Be aware of potential hazards such as rockfall, avalanches, or sudden weather changes. Adjust your plans accordingly to ensure your safety.
  • Hike with others: Whenever possible, hike with a partner or in a group. This not only enhances the camaraderie but also increases safety by having someone to support and assist you in case of emergencies. If hiking solo, inform someone about your itinerary and estimated return time.
  • Carry essential safety equipment: Pack a whistle for signaling, a headlamp with extra batteries, a fully charged cell phone, a first aid kit, and a space blanket. These items can be crucial in emergency situations and can help you stay safe and connected.
  • Be cautious on exposed sections: The Watzmann Traverse includes sections with steep drop-offs and exposed terrain. Exercise caution, stay focused, and use appropriate safety gear such as trekking poles for stability and a helmet if necessary. Move slowly and deliberately, ensuring each step is secure.
  • Stay on the trail: Stick to designated trails and markers to avoid getting lost or entering unsafe areas. Deviating from the established path can lead to accidents or environmental damage. Respect the fragile alpine ecosystem by staying on the designated routes.
  • Respect wildlife and nature: Observe wildlife from a distance, avoiding any interaction or disturbance. Do not feed animals or leave food scraps behind as this can disrupt their natural behaviors and habitat. Take care to leave no trace, packing out all waste and disposing of it properly.
  • Drink plenty of water: Hydration is key in the alpine environment. Carry an adequate supply of water and drink regularly to prevent dehydration. Consider using a water purification system or filter to refill from natural water sources, if safe to do so.
  • Know your limits: Be honest about your fitness level and mountaineering skills. The Watzmann Traverse is a challenging trek that requires physical endurance and experience in alpine environments. Do not push yourself beyond your capabilities and always prioritize your safety.

Remember, the mountains can be unpredictable and demanding. Proper preparation, caution, and respect for the environment are essential for a safe and enjoyable Watzmann Traverse. Embrace the adventure with a sense of responsibility and mindfulness, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty and grandeur of the Bavarian Alps.


Final Thoughts

The Watzmann Traverse is a journey that will forever hold a special place in your heart. From the challenging ascents to the breathtaking vistas, this alpine adventure offers a unique blend of physical exertion and natural beauty. As you reflect on your experience, here are some final thoughts to cherish:


First and foremost, appreciate the privilege of exploring the stunning Bavarian Alps. The Watzmann Traverse grants you access to some of the most remarkable landscapes in Europe. The towering peaks, pristine lakes, and lush valleys are a testament to the power and beauty of nature.


Embrace the challenges that the traverse presents. The steep climbs, narrow ridges, and exposed sections push you to your limits. Through determination and perseverance, you have conquered both the physical and mental obstacles that stood in your way. Celebrate your achievements and the personal growth that comes from pushing beyond your comfort zone.


Throughout your journey, you’ve witnessed the delicate balance of the alpine ecosystem. Respect the environment and leave no trace behind. By practicing responsible hiking and adhering to Leave No Trace principles, you contribute to the preservation of these pristine landscapes for future generations to enjoy.


The camaraderie formed during the Watzmann Traverse is a highlight that cannot be underestimated. The shared experiences, the mutual support, and the bonds forged among fellow hikers create lasting memories and lifelong connections. Treasure these connections and cherish the stories you’ve shared along the trail.


As you leave the Bavarian Alps, take a moment to reflect on the beauty and wonder you’ve encountered. Allow the memories of your journey to inspire future explorations and continue nurturing your love for the outdoors. Remember that adventure exists in various forms, and the lessons learned from the Watzmann Traverse can be applied to any endeavor.


The Watzmann Traverse is more than just a hike; it’s an immersive experience that challenges, inspires, and transforms. You have embarked on a remarkable journey that has forever changed you. Carry the spirit of the Watzmann Traverse with you in all your future endeavors, drawing upon its lessons of resilience, connection, and appreciation for the wonders of nature.


Now, as you return home with a heart full of memories and a renewed sense of adventure, may the spirit of the Watzmann Traverse be a constant reminder to embrace challenges, seek beauty, and never stop exploring.