If you’re looking for a hike in the Alps, do this: the Rinnkendl-Steig hiking trail in Germany’s Berchtesgaden National Park. Yes, there are great Alps in Austria and France and Switzerland and Italy, and there are also great Alps in southern Germany. Why is this trail great?
Starting point is a boat ride across a clear, deep green lake called the Koenigssee, which magically ferries you behind an unassuming mountain into a land of Sound-of-Music goodness. Which it literally is, because parts of the movie were filmed here (also here). *Side note to all non-Americans who have never heard of The Sound of Music (stop gasping, Americans! It’s possible!) – it’s a Broadway musical and subsequent Julie Andrews film which basically molded the stereotypical “Alps” landscape into all of our brains.* This hike offers spectacular views of the lake, mixes open cliffs with forests, and offers thick carpets of wildflowers. It also gets steep and at times you’ll have to hang onto steel cables and really pay attention to your steps. If you truly hate heights, avoid it, but if you are generally ok, be careful and try it. While the hike takes several hours, it doesn’t take all day. At the top you’ll be rewarded with fresh cake, beer, bratwurst, and salad at the Kuehroint hut, where you can also spend the night if you want to continue your hiking fun up the Watzmann mountain the next day (and yes, you’ll want to do that).