Crossing the Alps is the most sought-after, once in a lifetime experience of many mountain bikers. And while most people think of a north-south crossing, the Alps offer many more possibilities.
A relatively unknown route is a cross along the Maximilianweg (also called Maxweg or Königsroute), named after the patron saint of this route, King Maximilian II of Bavaria, who took this path for the first time in 1858. He crossed the German Alps from west to east—from Lake Constance to the Königssee—and in honor of his achievement, the German Alpine Association officially named this route Maximiliansweg in 1991.
Originally intended as a long-distance hiking trail, the Maxweg also offers something for mountain bikers, however, and guarantees an adventurous ride over twelve stages. On it, you’ll cycle straight through (and sometimes over) five mountain ranges: the Austrian Bregenzerwald Mountains, the Allgäuer Alps, the Ammergauer Alps, the Bavarian Alps, the Chiemgauer Alps and the Berchtesgadener Alps. Unspoilt nature, lonely valleys and panoramic peaks are just as much a part of the programme as idyllic villages, rustic mountain pastures, deep gorges and a lot of forest. And while the Maxweg is, for the most part, relatively easy to ride, there are some longer, tougher trails and even a few sliding passages. After all, this is a true Alpine crossing.
You’ll start your adventure in Lindau on Lake Constance and finish it directly at the last corner of Germany—at the Königssee, at the foot of the legendary Watzmann. In between, you’ll cross the German-Austrian border over and over again—and you’ll cycle past innumerable Highlights that will turn this into an unforgettable trip. For example, right at the beginning of your ride you’ll visit Mount Pfänder, Lake Constance, and the Hochgrat, as well as the charming town of Füssen containing some of the world’s most revered castes, namely Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein. As you continue, you’ll visit the renowned singletrack playground of the Schützensteig, Lake Plansee, Lake Eibsee at the foot of the Zugspitze, the incredible Ahornboden valley, and many, many more. Mentioning them all is unfortunately outside of the scope of this introduction; the best thing to do is to visit them all yourself—and to properly experience this incredible Tour.
Your starting point and end point are both very easy to reach by train. This ensures that you can arrive and depart by public transport. As is the case with adventures like this, however, there is always the possibility of a planned or unplanned exit at a different stage of your Tour. Therefore, if the twelve stages seem like they might be too much for you, we recommend you divide the Maxweg into several sections.
In Lindau on Lake Constance your adventure starts on the trail of the royal route, or Maxweg, as the crossing of the Alps from west to east today is called.
For holiday makers, the place is particularly popular because of its Mediterranean climate and the cheerful-casual way of life. The region is not called the "Bavarian Riviera" for nothing.Just a few kilometers after the start, you can swap the lively atmosphere for the peace and serenity of the mountains and the beauty of nature.Right at the beginning you climb the Lindau local mountain, the Pfänder. Most visitors reach the summit, which is just over 1,000 meters high, by cable car. But you can be proud of your performance and strengthen you in the mountain restaurant. Afterwards you will cross the Bregenzer Wald and enjoy the great views of the nearby Nagelfluhkette again and again.The end of the stage marks a high plateau, which is again slightly higher than the Pfänder. There you will find the Alpengasthof Hörmoos, which certainly offers you a pleasant stay and well-deserved rest.
Well recovered, you start into the second stage of the Maxweg.Today, a real chunk awaits you with the Hochgrat. The mountain of Oberstaufen is 1,834 meters high and thus the highest elevation of the Nagelfluhkette. A great view rewards for the sweaty driveway.On the further route you cross the Nagelfluhkette and the Iller valley in the Allgäu. Numerous opportunities for retreat line the way and you are spoiled for choice, where you want to strengthen yourself for the further journey. And you can use the strengthening well, because next to the Hochgrat you have to conquer two more mountains - the Rangiswanger Horn and the Imberger Horn. The summit success, however, remains, unless you can stop the bike and climb the last altitude on foot.If you still have enough grains, time and desire, you can turn a few laps in the local bike park at the finish of the stage in Bad Hindelang. In any case, the ascent to the start of the two routes will be made easier with the Hornbahn Hindelang.
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
Today's third leg on the Maxweg is a bit shorter than the first two.Nevertheless, a veritable increase over almost 400 meters of altitude waiting for you right at the beginning.From the starting point Bad Hindelang you pedal on the old Jochstraße to Oberjoch. Fortunately, the road is closed to normal traffic. At the top is the almost 1,200 meters Oberjochpass.Then follows a long descent, past the Vilsstausee and along the Vils to Pfronten. There you climb the Falkenstein with the castle ruins of the same name, which is especially worth seeing because of its exposed location.As far as Füssen, you can now let it roll and, if you like, take a break at the romantic and idyllic Weissensee.In Füssen is the end for today. Here you can let the day fade away in the romantic old town.
Truly royal is on the fourth leg of the royal route.Soon after the start, you pass two world-famous figureheads from days gone by of the Bavarian monarchy: Hohenschwangau Castle and Neuschwanstein Castle.Until then, you already have a few scenic highlights of this section behind you. Absolutely worth seeing is for example the Lechfall and the Alpsee. A great driving technical highlight is the Alpenrosenweg.Of course, the royal castles are very turbulent, but as soon as you leave Neuschwanstein behind you, peace and the experience of nature come to the fore.You are now on a stretch of track that was described many years ago in a legendary Moser tour - "Around the Säuling".
In the summer months, a stop in the quaint "hunters hut" is not missing. There you can strengthen yourself for the demanding descent on the top trail "Schützensteig".A scenic dream is the Plansee. If you want to stay there, the "Musteralpe" is an absolute insider tip. But actually your way leads you today to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, past the equally beautiful Eibsee at the foot of the Zugspitze. There you will stay overnight and recover for the next day.
Today it gets alpine and the Zugspitze is your constant companion during the first part of the day. The highest mountain in Germany greets you in the morning at the start of the stage in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.Then it says: From now on it's uphill! Passing the famous ski jumps, it's on an increasingly steep side road in the direction of Reintal.The Reintal is one of the scenic highlights of the Maxweg. And the singletrack, which you first pedal uphill and "surf" after a stop in the Reintalangerhütte down, is really awesome.One last look over the shoulder to the Zugspitze and on to Schloss Elmau, the lakes above Mittenwald and Mittenwald. These highlights are also very entertaining today.Last but not least, you will roll along the Isar River on a wonderful bike path through the Karwendel to your current overnight stay in Scharnitz in Austria.
The sixth stage is the queen stage of the royal route. But do not be put off by the mileage, because a good part of the route is downhill.Before you can open the brakes, however, you must first reach the Almsattel. From Scharnitz in the Isar valley your way leads you through the beautiful Karwendeltal, along the Karwendelbach.The Karwendelhaus above the Hochalm saddle is ideal for a break in a breezy environment and with a fantastic view of the Karwendel.Then a not so easy downhill comes in the small maple back, which takes its name from the protected, up to 600 years old, maple trees.
On trails along the Johannesbach you reach the Risstal. There is the possibility for a further stop.Along the Rissbach the route now leads over several kilometers down to the Isar. Before you reach your current destination in the Jachenau, you have to overcome a small ridge again.At the beautiful Walchensee you have almost made it. From here it is not far to the Jachenau, a 15 kilometer long, idyllic forest and meadow valley. Through the valley flows the Jachen, on the banks of which you now roll out to the village Jachenau.You have now completed half of the stages.
After yesterday's mammoth stage, things get a bit more moderate today.In the lovely and spacious Jachenau you start easily in the day.On the first 20 kilometers to Lengries you can let it roll. With clever timing, maybe even a short visit to the bike park Lengries is in it.But you should not stay too long here, because the driveway along the Hirschbach up to the Hirschtalsattel is long.The reward for this: The downhill on the trail through the Stinkergraben. You will see why it carries the peculiar name on the way - an intense smell emanates from the sulphurous brook.After this olfactory experience you drive through a beautiful valley past some pastures to Kreuth. There you pass through the Wildbad Kreuth, which is known from the CSU retreats, before you finish today's stage in Kreuth.
From Kreuth the road leads you to Bayrischzell today. Also on this stage many highlights await you again. Great trails, romantic valleys and quaint Refreshments - actually everything that makes a good bike tour.Right at the beginning you can let off steam on a trail at Kreuth - and that several times, if you want that.On the quaint and romantic Bayralm you can strengthen yourself for the following trail descent and a stop in the venerable Archduke Johann Klause is certainly a great experience.However, before you reach the daily goal Bayrischzell, you have to pedal properly again. The misery saddle gets in your way. Once you have reached the saddle, you can almost always roll it to the finish.Since the stage was not so long, sure enough time for a hearty-hearted recovery program at the foot of the Wendelstein.
Today you are already on the ninth stage of the Maxmilianweg.Do you remember where you were three days ago? Or before five? After so many days on the go, most people are blurred in their timing. But it is not the right time to look back - because you live in the here and now and your gaze is directed forward.For example, on the pass road up to Sudelfeld or the great single trail down to Brannenberg. Full concentration is required here. In Bikepark Samerberg you can let it rattle again.The grandiose end of the day marks a top trail in the region that you can still take under the tunnels.
Only three more stages, then you have reached the goal at Koenigssee. Thanks to the varied route, time flies by.After two shorter stages today, you are cracking the 50-kilometer mark on the way from Aschau im Chiemgau to Ruhpolding. You will come through romantic valleys, see great mountain panoramas, find rustic alpine pastures, retreat to idyllic mountain lakes and with a bit of luck you can watch ski jumpers doing their training - even in summer. And a few singletrails should not be missing.Your accommodation is today in Ruhpolding, a small but not unknown holiday destination in the Bavarian Alps.
The penultimate leg of your crossing of the Alps from west to east starts with a great panoramic trail near Ruhpolding. So the bike day can start.It will be spectacular at Staubfall. As befits a real mountain bike tour, there are some places to push and carry.Trails, inns, gorges and mountain panoramas accompany you on the way to the capital of salt, Bad Reichenhall.An ideal place to replenish lost electrolytes.
Final sprint! Eleven stages on the Maxweg are now behind you and today you reach your destination, much as King Maximilian II did on his journey through the Alps.Many impressions and experiences are anchored in your memory and you will surely enjoy this fantastic tour through the Alps along the German-Austrian border.But today you have to pedal one last time to be able to hear the echo at the Königssee, the world-famous sound reflections on the rock face of the lake, after a good 50 kilometers.From there it is not far to Berchtesgaden, from where you can start the return journey by train.Enjoy these last kilometers and ride on!