The ski resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen -- really twin Bavarian towns -- is my base for several days of stunning day hikes. Surrounded by soaring peaks that rise thousands of feet above the forest clad valley -- Zugspitze, which rises to almost 10,000 feet, is Germany's highest -- Garmisch-Partenkirchen clearly attracts those thrill seekers who savor a rush of adrenaline from navigating along craggy slopes at dizzying heights where sure-footedness is a must. But, I prefer a more easy-going approach to my aerobic activities, which is why I chose this serious of short and easy-to-moderate trails that, for the most part, can be tackled by the whole family.
2. The Kramer Plateau offers several options, including an easy three-hour route -- that runs along the southern slopes of Mt. Kramer. After crossing wildflower speckled meadows, along the way, you'll notice chapels that were built as a soldier memorials as well as an old chapel (Alte Kirche) bedecked with 15th century wall paintings.
Mount Wank offer lovely views of the awe-inspiring Zugspitz mountain range. This moderate hike that wanders through pastures and dense pine forests passes the thundering Kesselgraben waterfall. Taking the cable car to the summit where you can lunch at the mountain hut and then meandering on trails that network the middle and upper slopes makes for a leisurely and scenic way to enjoy this almost 6,000 foot mountain.
4. The Parnachklamm Gorge is really the best hike of the lot given that along the four-mile path you'll be walking through dark tunnels and across small footbridges along a rock ledge -- luckily, they installed a guardrail of sorts -- positioned above a cascading stream that's snuggled at the base of a sheer-walled gorge. It's a national monument that's full of sensory pleasures: you'll become wet, thanks to the tumbling waterfalls that you pass behind. Then gaze about and you'll see a window of azure blue sky above while the spray coming off the cascades provides colorful reflections of the broad bands of sunlight that penetrate this deep slit in the earth.
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