As the saying goes, opposites attract. The same can be said for the Alpenwelt Karwendel. Juxtaposing the hustle and bustle is tranquil solitude; gentle meadows face off with craggy cliffs, gray fields of rock border lush green valleys. The Karwendel mountain range is not only a study in scenic contrasts, but is arguably the most beautiful range in the northern Alps. A ride through the Karwendel range is the ultimate experience for any mountain biker.
In the Karwendel mountains, cyclists are spoiled for trail choices ranging from the basic to the challenging. The more level trails barely climb 100 m (328 ft.), whereas the steeper trails have elevation changes of up to 3,000 m (9842 ft). There are well-marked, off-road cycling trails throughout the Karwendel range, several of which will take you to one of the rest lodges of the DAV alpine club. Every year the renowned "Transalp Challenge" passes through the Karwendel range on its way south to Lake Garda in Italy.
Time to get into shape
The Karwendel Round which circles the entire northern Karwendel mountain chain is undoubtedly the most popular course. This Bavarian-Tyrolean mega tour is hard core, so make sure to be in good shape before you get in the saddle. Featuring 1,800 m (5905 ft.) in elevation change, a length of 68 km (42.3 mi.), and an estimated time of 5 to 8 hours, it is sure to be a memorable tour. After the steep ride up to the Karwendelhaus lodge where cyclists can refuel and enjoy spectacular views, the ride continues uphill to the Hochalmsattel col. This is followed by yet another highlight: right beneath the top of Birkkarspitze (2,749 m/9019 ft.), you will coast downhill (lots of switchbacks) to the Kleiner Ahornboden. In this secluded valley surrounded by towering peaks, you can stop for a break in a grove of ancient, gnarled mountain maple trees. Farther back, you can see the steep walls of the Laliderer Wände, very popular for rock climbing. Another long, fast descent brings you down to the Risstal valley. Then you will begin the long ride back along the other side of the northern Karwendel mountain chain. Your next stop will be at the Vereiner Alm lodge at the base of the Soiernspitze, where you can relax in the afternoon sun and maybe enjoy a refreshing repast. The trail then continues downhill to the Seinsalm lodge (Isarhorn). You can either turn left to ride towards the town of Mittenwald or turn right to continue on to the towns of Krün and Wallgau.
The Karwendel Round in brief:
- Elevation change: 1,800 m (5906 ft.), not recommended as the first tour of the season!
- Distance: 68 km (42.3 mi.)
- Estimated time: from 5 to 8 hours
- Very scenic with great contrasts
- Excellent trails with no sections requiring you to carry your bike
A large network of well-marked mountain bike trails makes Alpenwelt Karwendel the perfect place for a cycling vacation - come and explore this varied region in southern Bavaria on two wheels!