Backpacking in Germany: Tips & Trails

Ultralight Backpacking in Germany: A backpacker climbing a mountain in Germany

In this post, we'll take a look at:

Backpacking in Germany is a breeze, thanks to the country’s array of trails catering to outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels. It’s a thrilling destination with diverse natural beauty showcased in 16 national parks.

In this article, we’ll delve into the world of ultralight backpacking in Germany, offering important details for your upcoming adventure.

We’ll also highlight the top 5 trails in two categories: day hikes (less than 30 miles) and multi-day trips with opportunities to resupply every two days.

Key Tips for Backpacking in Germany

  • What to expect: Most hiking trails are very well marked with color codes, signs, and symbols. Pick up local topo hiking maps before setting out. Trails range from easy to difficult. Hiking infrastructure is excellent. Trails are well-maintained, and mountain huts provide overnight accommodation in more remote areas.
  • Essential gear: Ensure you wear sturdy hiking shoes for ankle support and traction on uneven trails, and consider bringing rain gear.
  • Wildlife: You won’t come across lions, tigers, or bears while hiking in Germany. But it’s important to be aware of smaller creatures like snakes, spiders, ticks, and diseases they might carry. Although there are some risks, meeting these animals is not common.
  • Wild camping: Camping in the wild is not officially permitted in Germany. Yet, if you stick to the regular rules, act responsibly, and avoid harming the environment, authorities typically choose to overlook it.
  • Best times to go: The prime hiking season in Germany spans from spring to fall, with optimal times in May, June, and September for mild weather, reduced rainfall, and fewer crowds. Spring features blooming wildflowers and migrating birds, while fall offers vibrant foliage. Summer provides accessible trails but sees increased crowds, heat, and afternoon thunderstorms.

Top 5 Day Hikes (Under 30 Miles)

Discover the best day hikes to elevate your adventure with ultralight gear:

  1. Feldbergsteig (7.7 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  2. The Eagle’s Nest (9.4 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  3. Zugspitze from Garmisch-Partenkirchen Via Ferrata (13.9 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  4. Höllentalanger Hut via Höllental (6.8 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  5. The Goethe Trail to the Brocken Summit (11.1 miles).
    See on AllTrails.

Top 5 Multi-Day Trips

Germany features excellent multi-day trails with resupply points every two days:

  1. E5 Oberstdorf-Meran (105.5 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  2. Mosel-Camino: Koblenz-Stolzenfels – Trier-St. Matthi (97.9 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  3. Ostseeweg (35.7 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  4. Lake Schwerin Loop (38.2 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  5. Rennsteig (Fernwanderweg) (106.8 miles).
    See on AllTrails.

Annual Weather Averages

The weather for backpacking in Germany varies based on the season and region. In general:

  • Spring (March to May): The adventure season kicks off in spring as snow melts in the mountains. Lower altitude trails are accessible first. Wildflowers bloom and birds migrate back. Daytime temperatures range from 40-60°F. Be prepared for lingering cold snaps and rain showers.
  • Summer (June to August): All trails are open in summer. Days are long, averaging 15+ hours of daylight. Temperatures reach 60-70°F on average, cooler in the mountains. Afternoon thunderstorms are common. The busiest hiking season.
  • Fall (September to October): Warm days and cool nights make for ideal adventure weather. Trees display vibrant fall foliage. Average highs are 50-60°F. Shoulder season with fewer crowds. Watch for increased rain by October.
  • Winter (November to February): Only lower elevation trails are hikeable in winter. Expect snow, ice and cold temps below freezing. Winter gear like snowshoes and crampons are required in the mountains. Shorter days.

Before selecting your equipment, examine the weather information for Germany (Munich).

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High °F374149586672767566564538
Low °F262632384652565547403328
Rain/Snow (D*)1091191212131111101012
Note: This table is approximate; weather can change with altitude.
D* – Days of rain or snow.

FAQ

Can I have a campfire while backpacking in Germany?

When backpacking in Germany, planning is important when it comes to building campfires. You can only have fires in designated areas with grills or pre-built stone rings at campgrounds, not in forests or protected natural spots to avoid the risk of wildfires. Make sure to use only dead wood that has fallen away from trails and plants. Pay attention to any posted fire bans, especially during dry seasons. By being responsible, choosing approved sites, using the right materials, being careful in dry conditions, and fully putting out the fire, campers can still enjoy this traditional activity safely.

What are some safety tips for backpacking in Germany?

When you go hiking in Germany, make sure to plan your route ahead of time and let someone at home know your plans. Bring along a map, compass, and a GPS device. Dress appropriately for the changing mountain weather by wearing layers, waterproof gear, and proper footwear. It’s safer to hike with a companion, stick to marked trails, and be cautious of steep drop-offs. Check if permits are needed for certain alpine hiking areas. Be cautious of loose rocks, and remember that lightning can be a hazard in the mountains. Learn some basic German phrases in case you need to ask for help. Be ready for encounters with ticks, snakes, and insects by wearing long pants and checking yourself regularly.

How to deal with wildlife encounters while backpacking in Germany?

Don’t get close to, feed, or try to attract animals on purpose. If you come across boars, don’t run because they might charge. Instead, move away slowly and give them room. Bears are uncommon, but it’s best not to engage with them if you see any. In wooded areas, be cautious of ticks and take off any that attach within 24 hours. When you see deer, foxes, or rabbits in forests, watch them from a distance without disturbing their homes. Birds, such as storks, often nest in fields, so respect the areas marked off with string.

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