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Hiking for beginners in Germany: trails, equipment and travel

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The weather is great and you feel like going out for a hike but have no idea how to begin? Below is a hiking for beginners in German guide to help you choose the right trails for you, the appropriate equipment have and where to travel to get to the hiking trails.

Are you a beginner hiker and still need a little push? Or have you been outside for a while and looking for new inspiration? Below is a hiking for beginners in Germany guide to help you make the right decisions that will allow you to enjoy the great German outdoors.

10 reasons for hiking as a beginner

  1. Hikes connect us with nature and let us feel that we are part of nature.
  2. Hiking increases endurance and strengthens the heart and circulation while training many different muscle groups, improves balance, and calms the nerves. 
  3. Hiking is mixture of concentration and relaxation make hikes a treat for the soul. In the green you can recharge your batteries and leave everyday life behind.
  4. Outdoor opens up a wide range of related fields of knowledge and skills for children and adults. Areas such as meteorology, history, geology and technologies such as GPS and textile science gain a completely new relevance through intensive experience in nature.
  5. Promote health. The muscles are strengthened and joints, ligaments and tendons are better supplied with oxygenated blood while hiking. Hiking also harmonizes blood pressure and prevents obesity and diabetes.
  6. We need light and fresh air, especially in the cold season. So embrace winter hikes. You will be amazed how warm you get on a hike and how happy you feel afterwards. 
  7. Hiking can push you to your limits and thus allow you to get to know yourself and your body better. 
  8. Hiking will allow you to see the German culture by interacting with Germans along the hiking routes and learn about an area. As an Expat in Germany, what better way to learn about Germany! 
  9. It’s good for your self-esteem. When you turn around after a long hike, it often seems like a miracle that these two legs really carried you so far. 
  10. Nothing connects people as much as spending time together in nature. On a hike, you literally get involved in sharing a section on the path of life. Breaking out together, marveling, overcoming challenges and maybe even getting wet welds together. In addition, you get to know people all over again while hiking. 

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Planning a beginner hike

There are so many different ways to plan a tour these days. The classic is of course still the hiking map on which all paths are marked. The disadvantage is, of course, that a new hiking map has to be obtained for each area. As a beginner, however, the map is sufficient for your hiking region. Remember, always start slowly!

Alternatively, you can download a hiking app onto your smartphone and plan your tours using the app or use the tours of the community and simply “hike” them. The offer is great and there are countless hiking routes, guaranteed on your doorstep!

1. Choosing the right walking shoes for your beginner hike

hiking for beginners

It doesn’t take much to hike, but there are a few things you should buy beforehand. These include:

  • Hiking boots – Do not wear your trainer or sneakers to go for hikes that last a few hours. The reason for this is the lack of support for the ankle in sneakers and trainers. Therefore, a well-fitting pair of hiking shoes is essential. 
  • Hiking socks – Hiking socks are not only thicker than normal socks, they also keep you really warm. Another advantage of hiking socks is that they are breathable and dry faster than normal socks. 
  • Hiking backpack – On long hikes it is also important to have some provisions with you. But how do you transport this? Therefore, a hiking backpack should also be purchased. There are also a few things to watch out for here.

Hiking for beginner – why the right hiking shoes and socks are important

  • As a beginner for a small round, especially if you are not yet completely sure that you will learn to love hiking, your sports or running shoes are also sufficient. You don’t have to buy the most expensive shoe for that. Just make sure that the sole is profiled and non-slip.
  • If you choose a longer hike, make sure you get good hiking shoes that are adapted to the hiking trails, the surface on them and the weather. Additionally, get yourself some hiking socks to avoid blisters – even the best and most breathable Gore-Tex shoes are of no use with simple cotton socks. Because cotton socks soak up sweat and do not pass it on to the shoe, which is supposed to release the moisture to the outside. Therefore, use special hiking socks with synthetic and wool components that are reinforced and padded on the balls of the feet and heels. These transport sweat to the outside.

2. Choosing the right beginner trail

hikng for beginners

Where you go is also crucial. Because there are hiking trails that are well suited for beginners and others that only advanced hikers should take. 

In Germany and all other Alpine countries, all hiking trails are marked with colors which correspond to the difficulty levels – blue for easy, red for medium and black for difficult are used for the difficulty classification of trails. These colors can be found as a point on the yellow signposts in the mountains. At the bottom of the yellow signpost is always the name of the signpost, often a DAV section. 

Mountain path classification in Germany

  • Thalwegs (not in the classification, T1): Talnahe, wide, easy-to-perpetrator of channels without risk of falling. Mostly not maintained and signposted by the Alpine Club.
  • Simple mountain paths ( blue , T2) are mostly narrow, can be steep and do not have any passages that are dangerous to fall.
  • Moderately difficult mountain trails ( red , T3) are mostly narrow, often steep and can have passages that are dangerous to fall. There may also be short insured walks (e.g. wire rope).
  • Difficult mountain trails ( black , T4 – T6) are narrow, often steep and dangerous to fall. There are often insured walking passages and / or simple climbing areas that require the use of the hands. Surefootedness and a head for heights are essential.

Hiking for beginners – How to choose the trail

Important to remember! The classifications above apply to “normal”, good conditions. Wetness, rain or old snow can massively increase the difficulties. Heavy precipitation or avalanches can also partially tear away paved paths. Keep this in mind when choosing your trail, especially in early summer and after heavy rains.

3. Checking the weather forecast

hiking for beginners

Even if bad weather shouldn’t keep you from a hike, you should always take a look at the weather forecast. It is important to know whether a change in the weather can be expected and how the weather is forecast during the day. 

Accordingly, you can choose your route, for example, it is best not to start walking in the event of a thunderstorm, go to shelters when it is raining, or choose your clothing accordingly.

In the mountains in particular, it is of fundamental importance to react correctly to the weather. 

Pay attention to the available daylight in winter. It gets dark very quickly and you should take that into account, it is better to start hiking in the morning so as not to run the risk of standing in the dark in the middle of nowhere.

4. Choosing the right navigation tool

Hiking app

hiking for beginners

A hiking app always helps when it comes to navigation and orientation. So make sure your smartphone battery will last the few hours you are out hiking.

  • Fully charge your smartphone before the tour
  • Take a power bank with you especially when you also take photos and videos of your tour

GPS device

hiking for beginners

A GPS device such as the Garmin GPSmaps 64s is tailored to outdoor conditions. For a beginner, you might find it unnecessary to start with.

Compass

hiking for beginners

If case you decide against electronics, then opt for a compass. Make sure you know how to use a compass and map!

Hiking for beginners: The 5 best hiking trails to start with as a beginner

Below is a list of the 5 best hiking trails for beginners that satisfy the followint criteria:

  • Difficulty: light
  • Type of hike: Mountain tour
  • Duration: 3 – 5hrs
  • How to get there: Local public transport

1. Jochberg (easy, 750m, 3:30hrs)

hiking for beginners

The Jochberg (1565m) on the Walchensee is one of the most famous hikes in the Bavarian Prealps. 

  • It is very close to Munich 
  • It offers a great great panorama, especially of all known lakes in the area and many famous mountains, such as the neighboring Herzogstand,  Benediktenwand, Schafreuter  and many more. 

On the way back you can walk along the Walchensee bank. So bring your swimsuit in the summer. 

Alternatively you can rest after the hike at the nearby Jocheralm (Mid May – mid October) which has a large terrace with enough space for everyone.

Summary hike Jochberg

  • Type: Easy mountain hike
  • Altitude meters: approx. 750 m in ascent and descent
  • Walking time: total 3:30hrs – ascent approx. 1:45hrs, descent approx. 1:45hrs
  • Condition: easy to medium, the approx. 750 meters in altitude should not be underestimated
  • Technique: moderately steep paths that require surefootedness
  • Round tour: yes
  • Equipment: hiking equipment

2. Salmaser- and Thalerhöhe (easy, 384m, 3:15hrs)

hiking for beginners

A mountain range above Konstanzertal and Alpsee, stretching almost dead straight from west to east for 10km and offers quiet alpine and forest landscape.

Summary Salmaser- and Thalerhöhe

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Walking time: 3:15 a.m.
  • Altitude ascent: 384m
  • Height difference descent: 384m
  • Distance: 9.5 km
  • Accessibility by public transport: no
  • Stop on the way: yes
  • Suitable for children: no

3. Herzogstand & Martinskopf from Walchensee valley station (easy, 950m, 5hrs)

hiking for beginners

The Herzogstand (1731hm) is not very far from Munich. It offers panoramic views especially of the Karwendel and Wetterstein mountains. The views are more spectacular on the Martinskopf (1675hm).

Summary Herzogstand & Martinskopf from the Walchensee valley station:

  • Type: Easy mountain hike
  • Altitude meters: approx. 900 meters in ascent and descent, no counter ascent
  • Walking time: total 5:00 hrs – ascent approx. 2:45 hrs, descent approx 2:15 hrs
  • Condition: easy to medium, no problem with good condition
  • Technique: Easy but rooted path, sometimes very steep. Surefootedness necessary (partly slightly exposed)
  • Round tour: No, descent like ascent
  • Equipment: hiking equipment 

4. The castles of Eisenberg (easy, 240m, 3:15hrs)

hiking for beginners

The highest peaks are Eisenberg and Hohenfreyberg. They have amazing castle ruins, some of which have been renovated and then rebuilt and expanded. 

At the foot of these mountains is the Schweingger Weiher. It’s a hidden swamp area with rare growth

Summary of the castles of Eisenberg

  • Tour type: hike
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Walking time: 3:15 h
  • Altitude ascent: 242
  • Vertical meters descent: 242
  • Distance: 8.80 km
  • Accessibility by public transport: yes
  • Stop on the way: yes
  • Suitable for children: yes

5. Herzogstand (easy, 840hm, 4h)

hiking for beginners

The Herzogstand (1731m) is one of Munich’s most famous local mountains and offers a magnificent view of the summit. 

Once you reach the summit, you can look south to the Walchensee and the Karwendel behind it and to the north over the Kochelsee into the plains. 

The tour takes place consistently on good paths (to Herzogstandhaus Forststraße) and can also be walked without danger in winter. 

At the summit, there is a small pavilion whre you can rest and eat a snack or just order some cheesecake at the Herzogstand mountain inn.

Summary of Herzogstand

  • Type: Easy mountain hike (blue)
  • Elevation gain: approx. 840 m ascent and descent
  • Walking time: 4 hours in total – ascent approx. 2:15 hours, descent approx. 1:45 hours
  • Condition: medium
  • Technique: no special skills required
  • Round tour: no, ascent and descent on the same route
  • Equipment: hiking equipment

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about hiking for beginners

How far should beginners be hiking in a day?

Hiking for beginners are always around 10 kilometers. This guideline is good for a day tour. On multi-day tours, you shouldn’t hike 30 kilometers on the first day. Start with 15 kilometers, then the body gets used to the strain and the following days you can hike much further.

How fast should beginners be hiking?

Don’t get too excited. Hiking is not racing! Do not be tempted to go at the pace other hikers are going. Take your time. How fast you hike is dependant on how trained you are. You can start at a leisurely pace at 3 to 4 km / h then work out how long you need for 10 kilometers: between 3 and 4 hours at the beginning.

What is needed during hiking for beginners?

Besides something comfortable to wear (weather dependant) and a pair of shoes, you need a bottle of water, a sandwich and /or some dry dried fruits. If you plan on hiking regularly in Germany, you can then start experimenting with the different things you can carry on a hike

Which shoes should beginners wear for a hike?

For T1 and T2 trails which offer the best hiking for beginners options, a pair of comfortable jogging shoes is enough to start with. Make sure that they are run in well and don’t wear your cotton socks. You can use jogging socks. If the routes become more demanding, then get yourself a pair of decent hiking boots with a stable and non-slip sole

Is hiking healthy for beginners?

Hiking is the best way for beginners to recharge. It’s easier on your joints and you have the advantage of fresh air and constant motion. It’s the perfect way to switch off and connect with nature – natural stress relief!

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Tim Gumbert
Tim is the go-to guy when it comes to finding all the gems regarding life as an Expat in Germany. His whole motto is discover Germany on your own and without a roadmap, explore new routes while climbing or mountain biking.
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