The Kreuzspitze is the tallest peak in the Ammergau Alps subgroup called the "Kreuzspitzgruppe". The peaks within that group are formed from very loose rockformations. The subgroup has only two frequently visited peaks, one of them is the Kreuzspitze the second is the Friederspitz. The reason for low visitors numbers are probably the restricted access by car and the lack of well developed hiking trails. Hikers are more attracted to the Hochplatte area to the north and the Zugspitz area to the south.
When you drive from Oberammergau along the Plansee road towards Austria the wide open Graswang valley changes into a deep and narrow gorge just behind Linderhof. The northern side is steep high-alpine fir forest, and on your left hand side (south) you see tall vertical rock faces standing high above the valley ground. You wouldn't think that it is possible to hike up to the crest of the ridge or even find a possibility to ski down one of the steep and narrow chutes. But this unfriendly looking face of the mountain gives access from the north only through a hidden ravine, filled with steep loose gravel and scree and a challenging hike/scramble along a steep and rocky ridge to it's peak. Finally at the peak the hiker is rewarded with fantastic 360 degree views into parts of the Eastern Alps.
If you are looking for quiet and rugged trails and scrambles, the peaks around the Kreuzspitze are your choice. The Kreuzspitze is the start for a very long hike and scramble following the sharp ridge to the S-Kreuzspitze continuing further to Schellschlicht and descending into the valley of the river Loisach ending in the little village of Griesen. This route traverses the entire sub group from north to south.
Rockclimbers are not found on walls due to the loose rock :-(
Getting There & Trailheads(1) The two closest towns to access the trailhead are Reutte in Austria and Oberammergau in Germany. The only road directly connecting the two towns is the Plansee Road and this is the only paved road going through the Ammergau Alps as well. Coming from Oberammergau, drive about 10 km to the west on the narrow road, passing King Ludwig II's castle in Linderhof. About 4 km past Linderhof the road goes over a wide and boulder filled riverbed on a concrete bridge. Turn immediately to the left after crossing the bridge into the parking lot. This is the most common trailhead for approaching the Kreuzspitze.
(2) There is an other parking option a little less than 1 km before reaching the bridge at the borderline. Parking is only possible on the shoulder of the road and space is very limited. This is the better option for an approach in the skitouring season with direct access into the Hochgriess, the steep ravine stretching down from the north face of the Kreuzspitze (Skiing slope).
Getting To The PeakSUMMER
(1) If you park at the bridge, follow the trail south into the river bed for about 500 m and cross over to the east side. Look out for a trail winding up the steep step into the fir woods on the western slopes of Schwarzenkopf. The trail will traverse over to the northern slopes of the Kreuzspitze and turn right (south) into the Hochgriess. This is a very steep ravine filled with loose gravel, scree and boulders. The trail zig-zags for about 1.5 hrs to the western shoulder of the Kreuzspitze forming a knoll named Schwarzenkopf. From here follow the almost leveled and with kripple pines overgrown back towards the peak of the Kreuzspitze. After 15 min of mellow hiking the ridge steepens and the climb becomes strenuous again. From here it's more a mix of hiking the steep scree and scramble over some loose rock steps. After about 45 minutes of hard work the trail tops out at the peak. Enjoy the fantastic views from here!
(2) From the little village of Graswang follow the forest road (closed for motorized traffic) to the Kuchelbach Forest Service Hut. The forest road continues further into the deep gorge between Kuchelbergspitz and Friederspitz and merges into the hiking trail continuing to the top of Kreuzspitze. This is a very long approach and not many hikers are found on this trail.
(3) For strong hikers I recommend the combination of both trails as a loop. Start with the first option to reach the summit of the Kreuzspitze and descent to the east taking the second option. Either you park a shuttle car at the trailhead or take a bicycle to get to the trailhead and pick it up later.
Note: These are the only two official and marked trails reaching the summit of the Kreuzspitze. Everything else is called a "Schafsteig" meaning a trace of a trail created by wild roaming sheep in that area.
Park your car along the Plansee Road at option #(2) under the Traihead section. Jump over the guardrail into the riverbed. Cross over the stream and start skinning into the Hochgriess (the steep ravine) and gain elevation until you reach the 2 very steep gullies stretching down from the shoulder of Schwarzenkoepfl (right end of ravine). Boot-pack or if snow conditions allow skin through the wider one to the knoll of Schwarzenkopf. Depot the skis on the shoulder if the snow conditions are not ideal and continue boot-packing over the steep ridge to the Kreuzspitze peak. If snow conditions allow, you might be able to continue on skis over the shoulder and work your way up as high as possible in the super steep couloir below the Kreuzspitze peak (for experts only!)
Further Hiking And Scrambling OptionsFrom the peak of the Kreuzspitze:
(1) Ridge to S-Kreuzspitze. From here either to Schellschlicht or to the east to the Friederspitz. Difficulties: long and stenuous hike with scrambling and easy climbing sections (grade I, UIAA), sometimes exposed. Very remote, no developed trail, lonely. Ends in the little village of Griesen at the southern outskirts of the Kreuzspitz group.
(2) Ridge to Kuchelbergkopf and continue over the Kuchelbergspitz to Brunnenkoepfl. Descend from here on some "Schafsteig" trails either to Linderhof oder south to the Kuchelbach Forest Service Hut. Difficulties: Long and remote hike on undeveloped trails. Difficult to find past Brunnenkoepfl.
(3) Ridge to S-Kreuzspitze and turn west. The trail meanders over beautiful summer meadows to the Neualpe (Private Hunting Cabin). From here a steep trails descents back to the Plansee Road and trailhead at the bridge. Difficulties: exposed hike over a rocky/grassy ridge and after that easy. Makes a nice loop for hikers who are not afraid of heights.
[img:248737:aligncenter:medium:The long ridge from Kreuzspitze to Schellschlicht - hiking option #1]
Where To Stay?There is a privately owned and operated campground at the Plansee Plansee (Very crowded in the holiday season)
If you travel with an RV just pick one of the nice spots along the Plansee Road in the riverbed just don't stay too long.
Closest Bed and Breakfast accomodations are in Graswang, closest Hotel is Hotel Ammerwald and Hotel Forelle between trailhead and Plansee (Lake Plansee)
Mountain Conditions & Emergency ContactsMountain Rescue: Bergwacht Oberammergau (GER)
Mountain Rescue: Bergwacht Reutte (AUT), Phone: +43 664 6149800
Mountain weather/bavarian alps
Guide Books & MapsBergverlag Rother - Ammergauer Alpen, Hiking and Climbing guide book (sold out!)
Bergverlag Rother - Allgäuer Alpen und Ammergauer Alpen
Topo Map "Werdenfelser Land", published by Bayerisches Landesverrmessunsamt Muenchen, Sheet# L8530 and L8532