The lowest part of Northern Karwendel Ridge is the huge and extremely beautiful saddle, called Bäralplsattel. It is a soft undulating meadow between steep and rugged peaks. Like sentinels two of those peaks are standing west and east of that col: Raffelspitze to the west and Bäralplkopf to the east.
Both summits are rarely visited, both summits are off-trail undertakings on steep slopes with short but easy rock climbs, Bäralplkopf being the easier one.
Strictly spoken Bäralplkopf is not a summit. It is just the end point of the long ridge from Vogelkarspitze, Hintere and Vordere Schlichtenkarspitze to Bäralplsattel. With a prominence of hardly 20 meters this last bump in the ridge before dropping down to the eponymous saddle, Bäralplkopf normally would not be named.
When viewed from the west, e.g. out of Karwendeltal, you see a steep and impressive peak east of Bäralplsattel: now our “summit” takes his right to be a true summit as the steep north and west face and the huge south slopes give quite an impression.
Bäralplkopf is located between Vordere Schlichtenkarspitze to the east and Bäralplsattel / Raffelspitze to the west. The north face is a near perpendicular rock face, dropping down nearly 800 m into Fermersbach valley. The about 400 m high west face rises above Bäralplsattel whereas the south slope drops down in one rush from the summit into the 1000m meters lower Karwendeltal.
It is, as I said, a rarely visited summit. There are no trails, no markings, leading to the top, no summit cross or summit cairn. Most people climb Bäralplkopf while traversing to or from Vogelkarspitze. As the main routes use the south slopes, Bäralplkopf can be visited early and late in the year. It is a hiking summit but hiking means navigating in steep, unmarked, off-trail terrain. Don´t underestimate that fact!
Bäralplkopf was first summited by Hermann von Barth in the summer of 1870.
The best trailheads for Bäralplkopf / normal routes are
You reach Mittenwald or Scharnitz by car:
Scharnitz parking areas:
At the church near Isar bridge take Hinterautalstraße in southern direction. After the undergrade passing of the railways you reach a huge parking area to your left (fees!).
300 m further on there is another small parking area after the bridge across river Isar to your right.
The Karwendelhaus ascent from Scharnitz uses the long Karwendeltal road up to Hochalmsattel, the col between Birkkarspitze and Östliche Karwendelspitze where the huge mountain hut is located.
MTB is nearly a must (otherwise 13 km walk!).
Start at the small parking area, ascend the road to your left and turn immediately to the right. The road uses the lower slopes of Brunnsteinspitze to enter into Karwendel valley. Go on nearly level or with a very moderate grade to former Larchetalm (unfortunately demolished after a quarrel about how to run this former mountain hut within the National Park of Karwendel) and further on to Anger Alm. After passing Anger Alm meadows the road ascends with some switchbacks to Hochalmsattel. Take the right hand road at the Hochalmsattel road junction to reach Karwendelhaus.
Karwendelhaus can be reached, too, from
Mittenwald parking area:
Follow road B 2 until it crosses Isar river north of Mittenwald. Turn left (right when coming from Innsbruck) before the road crosses Isar again, and follow this road until you reach the hiker parking area.
From the parking area follow the forest road north of Seinsbach valley up to Fereinalm and Krinner-Kofler-Hütte; alternatively take Jägersteig trail south of Seinsbach valley to the same destination.
For Hochlandhütte follow the signposts at road B 2 to the Mittenwald barracks. Turen on the road to the barracks and go straight on to the undergrade passing of road B 2. Turn right to park your car on the parking area.
Follow the forest road in southern direction. At the first trail junction take the left hand trail and ascend on that trail, partly using some forest roads further up the slope, to Hochlandhütte.
Scharnitz and Mittenwald can be reached with railway, too. See the railway schedule here .
Main Routes Overview
Direct south route from Bäralplsattel
The broad meadow col of Bäralplsattel is the lowest point of the Northern Karwendel Ridge and the starting point of the mainly off-trail and unmarked ascent to Bäralplkopf.
You reach Bäralplsattel
from Scharnitz by following the forest road starting from the Scharnitz parking areas into Karwendeltal. Pass by former Larchetkaralm. Take the last forest road branching off to your left before you enter the meadown of Angeralm.
Up to there use best a MTB.
At the end of that forest road go left and then immediately right. Cross the Bäralpl creek and ascend in some zigzags the old, unmarked but goos trail up to the meadows of Bäralplsattel. You there reach the connecting trail Karwendelhaus – Hochlandhütte, the so called “Gjaidsteig”. Turn left on that trail. Watch out now! You have to leave this trail to your right where a scree slope, coming down from the south ridge of Bäralplkopf, comes into sight.
from Mittenwald and Krinner-Kofler-Hütte / Fereinalm
Starting at the hut go east on the forest road and take the right hand forest road at the first road junction. At the roads end follow the trail going first southeast then south until you reach the steep north slopes of Bäralplsatten. Follow the trail steeply up to “Gjaidsteig”, the connecting trail Karwendelhaus – Hochlandhütte. Turn left on that trail and ascend steeply on that partly secured trail to Bäralplsattel. Continue on that trail, crossing the meadows of Bäralplsattel and descending shortly until the above mentioned scree slope south of Bäralplkopf comes into sight.
from Mittenwald / Hochlandhütte
Starting at the hut follow the level trail in northeastern direction. Take the right hand trail at the first trail junction and ascend to Wörnersattel. From there enter the north side of Wörner on “Gjaidsteig” and follow that trail with some ups and downs below the huge north faces of Wörner, Hochkarspitze and Raffelspitze until you reach Bäralplsattel and, after a short descent, the above mentioned point where the scree slope comes into sight on your left.
Leave the Gjaidsteig at that point, ascending the scree slope on some narrow foot tracks or navigating around it on steep meadows until you reach the rocks above the scree. Start there a traverse in eastern direction, ascending slightly and keeping at the bottom of the steep rocks until you reach a meadow slope with a chute. Ascend that meadow to a huge cairn.
From there on you have many choices how to ascend the south slopes of Bäralplkopf. A direct ascend to the summit is steeper with more rock scramble than a traverse to the east until you are below the lowest point of the connecting ridge Schlichtenkarspitzen – Bäralplkopf. That part has less rocks and is – all in all – less steep, too. If you choose that option turn left on the ridge and follow it over easy rocks to the summit.
Traverse from Vogelkarspitze
See the Vogelkarspitze SP site how to arrive that summit, starting from Karwendelhaus.
Traverse the long and nearly level summit ridge of Vogelkarspitze from east to west. Descend steeply the southwest ridge of Vogelkarspitze. At the lower part of that ridge you may navigate round some steep rocks on their left side (ascending it is better to climb over that rock part directly; grade I scramble). Traverse and ascend on or near the ridge crest to Hintere Schlichtenkarspitze; short rock scramble.
From that summit follow the ridge crest on easy rocks or steep meadows to Vordere Schlichtenkarspitze and finally to Bäralplkopf.
Delightful walk on a high Karwendel ridge!
Rock climbing routes:
Red Tape & Accommodation
Bäralplkopf is part of the “Alpenpark Karwendel”, an important and strictly protected national park.
There is no entrance fee for the park but many regulations to follow. Please respect the following rules in the National Park:
There is a National Park Information Center at Hinterriß.
The parking areas at Scharnitz require a parking fee! The road from Hinterriß to Eng valley is a toll road.
Food and lodging can be found at
Camping is not allowed within Alpenpark Karwendel.
Gear & Mountain Condition
Bäralplkopf is climbed in late spring, summer and autumn until the first snow falls. Winter ascents are unusual.
The normal / traverse routes are a partly off-trail outing which requires a steady step in steep meadow terrain without any tracks or trails, some route finding qualities and scrambling abilities, especially for the traverse Bäralplkopf - Vogelkarspitze.
You need good hiking gear, good shoes, ski poles are recommended.
Take lots of water with you, especially for the traverse. There is no water between Karwendelhaus and Bäralplsattel!
The north routes require an experienced mountaineer and climbing abilities in mostly unstable terrain.
Maps & Guide Books
Alpenvereinskarte 1 : 25.000
Blatt Nr. 5/2, Mittleres Blatt
Online Shop Deutscher Alpenverein
Alpenvereinskarte 1 : 25.000
Blatt Nr. 5/1, Westliches Blatt
Online Shop Deutscher Alpenverein
Bayerische Topographische Karte 1 : 50.000
Karwendel, UK 50/51 Landessamt für Vermessung und Geoinformation, München
Alpenvereinsführer Karwendel alpin
Bergverlag Rother, München
for rock climbing:
Alpenvereinsführer Karwendel extrem
Bergverlag Rother, München
(out of stock)
Available only in German