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If you are in Munich looking for a scenic escape from the city, driving the Jachaneu toll road, which is part of the German Alpine Highway, is a great way to enjoy the beauty of the Bavarian countryside. You can simply take it easy enjoying a scenic drive, or you can stop for hiking in the Jachenau region, or spend the day relaxing at Walchensee for swimming, paddleboarding or kayaking.
You will need a car for this adventure. So whether you own a car, or have a rental, then gas up and hit the road. Make sure to back the proper gear for your adventure – whether it is hiking boots and water bottle for a trek out to the Jachaneu Waterfall, a picnic blanket for lunch at the lake, or your favorite paddleboard for relaxing on the lake. Whatever adventure you choose be prepared to spend most of the day exploring this beautiful lake filled valley just outside of Munich.
To get from Munich to Jachenau, you’ll want to take highway 13 down through Holzkirchen, Bad Tölz, and finally to Lenggries (all which make great pit stops for cute Bavarian towns) before turning on the scenic highway 2027. From there, continue along the highway toward Jachenau. Drive as slow as you want, to appreciate the picture-perfect logging and farmhouses. There are lots of cyclists on the road, so exercise caution.
For the Hikers
For the hikers taking this trip, navigate to the town of Jachenau and park at the Rathhaus or the paid wanderplatz. There is a trail map in the Rathhaus parking lot to help you plan your trip. I suggest the 1-1.5 hour walk to the Jachenau waterfall. This trail winds through lush forest, and passes fields of wildflowers and alpine cows while following a glacier river. Just before you arrive at the waterfall you’ll pass a small hut serving coffee, cake, snacks, and of course beer. The owners are lovely and I highly encourage you to sit down and order a nice slice of homemade cake with a cup of fresh stovetop coffee while taking in your surroundings. Once you reach the waterfall you can take off your shoes and wade in or just sit on the bench and enjoy the view.
The trail continues up past the waterfall at a steep incline. For the more serious hikers prepared for a day on the trail, continue on the trail to the Tutzinger Hütte for lunch at the Alpine hut before returning the way you came ending back at your car in Jachenau.
Driving the Jachenau Toll Road
Shortly after leaving the town of Jachenau, you will come to a small toll booth. It might be easy to just drive on past, but go slow and look for the little wooden cabin. Often someone is waving you down, but there may be times they are inside and need to come out to your car. There will be a sign that says privatestrase meaning, private road. The cost to drive along the toll road is 5 Euro for a car of 8 people or less. You will need cash.
A group of Bavarian loggers and farmers built the road because they needed to get their logs and other goods out of the Jachenau region and to the various small towns and the city of Munich. To this day, it remains in the ownership of these small loggers and farmers.
The road continues to wind through forest and natural landscape before it spits you out at a more secluded section of the Walchensee Lake.
A Day by the Lake at Walchensee
Park the car and head to the lake for a swim – if you dare, a picnic lunch on the sandy beach or pump up that kayak or paddleboard for a day of adventure on the lake. Parking is free, and you can park at the beach or anywhere along the road to find the perfect secluded spot. You can easily spend the entire afternoon enjoying the lake, but it can get quite popular on sunny summer weekends.
Heading Back to Munich
You can quickly head north after leaving the toll road and return to Munich through Kochel and Walchensee. If you are still in the mood to stretch your legs there is a lovely walk around part of Walchensee that you can access from the town. This route offers scenic winding roads continuing along the German Alpine Highway taking you back up to Munich.
You could also head south and pass through Wallgau and Krun, which, in my opinion, are some of the most quintessential charming towns in Bavaria. The houses, restaurants, and buildings here are all perfectly painted with traditional Bavarian religious images. Feel free to stop at any of the Gasthauses for a beer before continuing down to Garmish and back to Munich.
If you have extra time, you can check out the Muranuer Moos or the Garmisch Klamm to add a little more adventure to your day.
Susanna grew up in small-town Alaska where the changing climate was always on her mind. Through traveling, she gained an interest in the power of sustainable and regenerative travel. She now attends a Master's program for Ecology and bridges sustainable travel with the science of ecology.