Fernpass Excursion by Car
Duration: half day
The half day trip over the Fernpass takes in all sides of the Wetterstein range of mountains - the wall of peaks to the north of the Seefeld plateau. Effectively it is a trip around the Zugspitz - Germany's highest mountain at just under 3000 metres.
Leave the plateau by taking the road down from Mösern to Telfs, the nearest main town in the Inn valley and, instead of taking the turn for the motorway, carry on into the centre of the town. From there the 189 leads to the right and up onto the Mieminger plateau behind the town. This plateau is popular with German tourists not only for its sunny position and little villages but also because it is the setting for a well-known TV soap - the Bergdoktor (the mountain doctor).
A worthwhile side excursion at the village of Barwies is to the church at Locherboden perched above the Inn valley and a favourite place of pilgrimage. The main road across the plateau leads up to the Holzleithensattel before descending to Nassereith and the foot of the Fernpass.
The castle at the foot of the Fernpass, the Fernstein, is to the left of the road, and on the right is the Fernstein lake, with the ruins of a 15th century hunting lodge on an island in the middle. On the way down from the Fernpass there are views across to the Zugspitz massif and down to the Blindsee, a lake popular with freshwater divers and with a deep green hue.
At the bottom, take the turning on the right in the direction of Ehrwald, a small village which is the home of the Tiroler Zugspitzbahn - a modern cable car which climbs in 20 minutes to just under the summit of the Zugspitz. It is also possible to walk from Ehrwald back over the Ehrwalderalm and the Gais valley to Leutasch.
The junction for Garmisch-Partenkirchen appears soon after leaving Ehrwald, and the road, following the Loisach stream, crosses the border into Germany. The stream, although small, has been the setting for the kayak world championships in the past.
The road leads directly into the centre of Garmisch, Germany's premier mountain resort. The two towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen were united in 1935 for the following Winter Olympics and have grown into a popular winter and summer resort with Europeans. Many Americans also visit, as the town has a history as a US army recreation centre, and is easily accessible from Munich.
From here take the road to Mittenwald, a small town famous for its violin making, and then over the border back to Scharnitz and the Seefeld plateau.
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