Kemptner Hut and Großer Krottenkopf Hike

German Alps in Bavaria
German Alps in Bavaria

By Vicky · Published Jul. 27th, 2022 · Updated Mar. 23rd, 2023

This dramatic overnight hike, staying in Kemptner Hut and summiting Großer Krottenkopf, is incredibly beautiful, especially in flower season when the ground is carpeted in colour.

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This hike is in the Allgäu Alps of Bavaria, Germany and Austria. It starts from Spielmansau at the end of Bus Line 8 from Oberstdorf Bahnhof (train station) in Bavaria, Germany. The hike ends back at Oberstdorf Bahnhof, though the second day can be shortened by taking the hourly bus.

Tips for Kemptner Hut and Großer Krottenkopf Hike

  • After this hike I bought these hiking poles* (they would have been very useful to take along).
  • You need a sheet sleeping bag* for the hut.
  • We used the Kompass Allgäuer Alpen Map* for this hike.
  • Take your passport – this hike crosses into Austria (just in case!)
  • Kemptner Hut is open from mid-June to Sept/Oct. Saturdays in Summer can sell out, so you must book in advance on their website.
  • Don’t attempt to summit Großer Krottenkopf if the trails are slippery or if visibility is poor.
  • Wildflower season is the best time to hike to Kemptner hut and along the ridge to Rauheck
  • Offline maps app works well for this hike.
  • Check out other great hikes on our Germany Hiking Page.

Day 1: 14.5 km, 1700 m up, 850 m down

Bus from Oberstdorf Bahnhof to Spielmannsau

We arrived at Oberstdorf Bahnhof at 08:40 and took Bus Line 8 at 08:45 to Spielmannsau. This bus goes every hour from 07:45 to 17:45 and the timetable can be found here. The bus is privately owned, not in the German public transport system, and you have to pay €4/2 one-way per adult/child (it’s not part of any regional travel card). It’s more of a mini-bus than a normal bus and the journey takes 20 minutes. If you arrive on the train, don’t be too slow getting off. The bus station is on the right adjacent to the train platforms.

Hiking up to Kemptner Hut

A chapel near Spielmannsau in the Bavarian Alps of Germany
Setting off to walk to Kemptner Hut and up Großer Krottenkopf from the bus stop at Spielmannsau
Setting off from Spielmannsau

It’s 6.2 km with 850 metres climb from the Spielmannsau bus stop to Kemptner Hut. The hike takes roughly 2-3 hours.

From the bus stop in Spielmannsau head along the track towards the mountains, past the cute little chapel. A short distance later you’ll pass an Alpine restaurant. After 1 km from the start, you’ll reach the first choice of way at a junction. Take the upper track, which has a signpost, rather than the track by the river which disappears into a tiny path.

Setting off to walk to Kemptner Hut and up Großer Krottenkopf from the bus stop at Spielmannsau
Walking up to Kempter Hut from Spielmannsau near Oberstdorf in Bavaria
Wildflowers in an Alpine meadow in Germany

A few hundred metres later you’ll reach a small hut and the start of the cable car that carries goods up to Kemptner Hut. It’s also the furthest point in the valley that bikes can reach, so there are often quite a few bikes parked here. The track now becomes a much smaller path as it heads up the valley.

Walking up the Valley

The path continues through some forest, with nice views back down the valley, and you’ll see a small waterfall on your right. A short distance later is a path leading 10 metres to the left, to a little chapel and some benches if you want to have a break.

A waterfall in the Bavaria Alps near Oberstdorf
HIking path to Kemptner Hut
Kemptner Hut in the Bavarian Alps of Germany

There are some beautiful wild-flower meadows that the path passes through as it climbs up the left-hand side of the valley. At one point the path crosses a sometimes wet rocky area. There’s a chain to hold onto and the path is narrow, but it’s not difficult. After a steep uphill, the path comes out in a bowl surrounded by steep, rocky mountainous cliffs high above.

It’s a beautiful place and Kemptner Hut is in this secluded bowl. Before noon there is a self-service bar at the hut where you can buy drinks (hot, cold, alcoholic). After noon you’ll be served at your table and can order food (soups, bratwurst, full meals). We couldn’t check in yet (starts at 1pm), but we left our extra baggage in the boot room to make our packs a bit lighter. After a sit-down and an apfelschorle (fizzy apple) we set off for the next stage of the hike up Großer Krottenkopf, leaving just before noon.

Kemptner Hut to Großer Krottenkopf Hike

Beautiful wildflowers near Kemptner Hut on the way up Großer Krottenkopf in the Bavaria Alps

It’s 4.1 km with 811 metres climb from Kemptner hut to the peak of Großer Krottenkopf. It took us 2.5-3 hours, including stops, and we walked on the fast side. The path is tricky and steep in places, especially near the top, so it is slower than you might expect. The way down is almost as slow as the way up because of the steepness and difficulty (and because your legs might be very tired). We took 2 hours for the way down from Großer Krottenkopf Peak to Kemptner Hut.

Beautiful wildflowers by a hiking path near Kemptner Hut on the way up Großer Krottenkopf in the Bavaria Alps
A marmot in wildflowers in the Alps

The path starts by heading upwards from Kemptner Hut. Take the left at the first junction to head out of the bowl. Soon you pass a smaller path off to the left that is the route for tomorrow. There are many marmots in this area – keep your eyes peeled!

Hiking Into Austria

You’ll reach a flat saddle and pass over into Austria (there’s a little block on the floor with D and Ö on either side which marks the boundary). From here there are great views of the Alps further into Austria. The path now descends down many zigzags and then makes its way around and slightly upwards through scree, though the path is easy here.

Path from Kemptner Hut to Großer Krottenkopf in the Bavaria Alps

At a junction with several paths, take the one to the left heading upwards towards a saddle. This path seems to go on for a long time. In places it’s quite slippery and steep, hiking poles would be very useful here. Nearer the top there are some slightly difficult sections because it’s slippery and you have to cross some rocks, but it’s not that bad.

Tricky hiking trail up Großer Krottenkopf
Views from the Saddle below the summit of Großer Krottenkopf
Hiking to the Saddle below the summit of Großer Krottenkopf

Eventually you’ll reach a saddle with a great view. The other side is very rocky, with dramatic rock cliffs towering above scree. It’s a good place to have a break before the final push to the top.

Hiking from the saddle to the top of Großer Krottenkopf

Don’t attempt to hike to the top of Großer Krottenkopf if the visibility is poor, if it’s very windy, or if it’s wet and slippery. If this is the case, content yourself with reaching the saddle.

If the weather is fine, head left to start the final climb up to the peak of Großer Krottenkopf. To start with the path zigzags upwards through some scree. You’ll then reach a slanted rockface, and in general, the scree disappears and the path just continues over rocks. While the path is not obvious on the ground, there are red blobs of paint to guide you. However, there seem to be many red paint blobs, they don’t mark a specific way, just pick out the most sensible path near them.

View of the Summit of Großer Krottenkopf
Views from near the peak of Großer Krottenkopf

The path bends left and you walk along some ledges before climbing upwards again towards the top. Just before the peak is perhaps the scariest part, though not really difficult. You have to cross a rather narrow rocky ridge with quite some exposure. If you don’t look down it’s totally fine! Then on the other side, you’re at the top!

At the top of Großer Krottenkopf

Views from peak of Großer Krottenkopf in the Austrian Alps

The top of Großer Krottenkopf is relatively spacious. There’s a huge metal cross, and a slightly wobbly bench on the other side. The views really are spectacular. You can see range after range of mountains to the south, including very high peaks and glaciers. Nearer by there are very rocky ridges, and a blue lake just below you.

Views from peak of Großer Krottenkopf in the Austrian Alps

The descent from Großer Krottenkopf to Kemptner Hut

The descent is slow, and is again 4.1 km but now with only 55 metres climb upwards and 850 metres down. We took about 2 hours and arrived back at the hut shortly after 5pm. The route is the same as the way up, and it’s a relief to return to the German side and see Kemptner hut in the distance.

Hiking trail between Kemptner Hut and Großer Krottenkopf
Hiking trail between Kemptner Hut and Großer Krottenkopf

How difficult is the Großer Krottenkopf Hike?

The route from Kemptner Hut to Krottenkopfscharte (or Krottenkopf Gap), the saddle 250 vertical metres below the summit, only has minor difficulty. You have to concentrate in places and have a steady footing. There are also some steeper patches on loose scree where you must be careful, but there is little exposure.

From Krottenkopfschart to the peak of Großer Krottenkopf there is more difficulty and definitely more exposure. You have to be confident walking across some rock slabs (though these are not too bad since there are ledges and often hand holds) and you need to be fairly agile for some slight scrambles. Luckily in the most difficult places, the exposure is not great.

Just before the summit, there is a very narrow, rocky ridge where the exposure is high. Again, luckily, the difficulty is low, but the steep drops on either side make it a little scary. It’s not for people who are afraid of heights. The peak itself has some room, though sitting on the wobbly bench and looking downwards does take some getting used to.

Hiking poles are of limited use in this section (apart from the beginning), since you need your hands free to grab onto the rocks. It’s not advisable to summit Großer Krottenkopf in rainy, slippery or foggy weather.

Staying Overnight in Kemptner Hut

Kemptner Hut is a large mountain hut high up at 1844 metres in the Allgäu Alps (the section of Alps in southwest Germany). You can stay here overnight in either beds or lagers. Beds are in rooms which are 2-, 4- or 6-bedded, and contain bunk beds. Lagers are large rooms containing rows of mattresses on the floor, sometimes with 40 people or more in the same room. The beds and lagers have pillows and rugs, but you must bring a sheet sleeping bag*. The hut has no showers.

View from Kemptner Hut
View from Kemptner Hut

Beds are €25/37, lager spots are €15/27 for members/non-members of the DAV. The beds in rooms tend to sell out faster. If you’re in a lager, remember to bring a headtorch* so you can find your way about when it’s dark. If you’re a light sleeper, you might want earplugs. However, if you’ve hiked up Großer Krottenkopf you’ll probably sleep very well. You can tell those who’ve been slacking because they walk too quickly up the stairs.

The DAV is the Deutscher Alpenverein (German Alps Club). You can get a yearly membership for €50-100 (depending on the section you join), with a discount for couples and families. This gives you reduced rates at mountain huts and a few other side benefits. It’s worth joining if you spend at least five nights in a mountain hut.

When we were there, in mid-summer, the hut was full. We sat outside – it was quite cold, even if the day had been very warm, so we wore our down jackets. Inside it was very cosy, both in the dining room and in the lager. Prices for dinner were €8-20 and for breakfast €4-8. The hut also sold a few snacks.

Day 2: 20.6 km, 715 m up, 1750 m down

We woke up at 6:30am and had breakfast just before 7. Some people had already set off, and some were still sleeping. Breakfast was 6am-8am and it was very efficiently organised.

Hiking Kemptner Hut to Rauheck Peak

The walk from Kemptner Hut to Rauheck Peak is 7.1 km with 680 metres climb upwards, and 185 metres down. It takes about 2.5-3 hours.

Hiking trail near Kemptner Hut in the Bavaria Alps near Oberstdorf
Looking back down on Kemptner Hut in the shadows
Tricky hiking trail near Kemptner Hut in the Bavaria Alps near Oberstdorf

From Kemptner Hut, set off up the same trail as towards Großer Krottenkopf. At the first main junction turn left, and then at the next junction take the smaller path, again to the left. Rauheck Peak is signed from here.

This smaller path leads through flowers and up along the side of a steep slope below dramatic rocky cliffs above. The path is quite narrow at times and can feel slightly unstable, but there is not really any difficulty, you just have to watch your feet.

Steep, tricky trail near Kemptner Hut in the Bavaria Alps near Oberstdorf
Steep, slippery trail down

After about 2 km from the last junction, you come to a saddle with beautiful views in both directions. We had a break here to admire the view and check out the next stage. The path bends around to the right, and soon you come to a steep set of zigzags downwards. There are metal cables here to hold onto as the path is quite slippery and steep.

After about 2 km from the last junction, you come to a saddle with beautiful views in both directions. We had a break here to admire the view and check out the next stage. The path bends around to the right, and soon you come to a steep set of zigzags downwards. There are metal cables here to hold onto as the path is quite slippery and steep.

At the bottom of the zigzags, you continue along a narrow path across a damp rocky waterfall and onto a large section of scree. At one point it was a little scary when the path headed downwards on a steep, slippery slope with barely anything to hold onto. Hiking poles would have been a great help here.

Reaching the Ridge

Kreuzeck and Rauheck Ridge with wildflowers
Kreuzeck and Rauheck Ridge with wildflowers

After that tricky section, the path levelled out and started heading uphill again. There are no more difficult sections on the rest of the hike. Soon we reached another saddle, with steep mountains to the right and the ridge walk we would take to the left.

A beautiful ridge walk between Kreuzeck and Rauheck Peaks with wildflowers

The ridge walk was extremely beautiful, with fantastic views and the ground carpeted with wildflowers. The ridge was fairly broad and the walking quite easy, with some ups and downs. The first named peak you reach is Kreuzeck. You can make the route shorter by cutting down to the valley from here – see the box below.

Rauheck Peak is 1 km further, with a down and up in between. from Rauheck Peak there are more amazing views, and the path to descend leads off to the left here and into the valley.

Views from the top of Rauheck Peak
Views from the top of Rauheck Peak

How difficult is the small path from Kemptner Hut to Rauheck Peak?

The route from Kemptner Hut to Rauheck Peak has some narrow paths on steep slopes and it can be slippery. It’s easier than summiting Großer Krottenkopf but you do have to concentrate in some places.

The most difficult patches are after the first saddle but before the ridge. You have to descend slippery zigzags, but there is a metal cable to hold. After that, there are a few places on the narrow path through the scree that are steep and slippery with nothing much to hold onto. From the ridge onwards there is very limited difficulty.

Hiking poles would be particularly useful on some sections of this path, though sometimes the path is too narrow and the ground too steep for them to be of use.

The Descent down the Ridge from Rauheck to Dietersbach

The route from Rauheck Peak down a ridge to Dietersbach farm, where there’s a lovely biergarten, is 3.3 km with 1000 metres of descent. It’s quite slow going because it’s very steep and you have to watch your feet, but there isn’t any technical difficulty or scary bits, it’s just a long way down.

Hiking path from Rauheck Peak towards the valleys below, in the Bavarian Alps
Hiking path from Rauheck Peak towards the valleys below, in the Bavarian Alps, with wildflowers

There are not many route choices, just follow the path down the crest of the ridge all the way until you reach an obvious saddle. There is a section of thicker undergrowth to walk through shortly before you do, and all the way down there are beautiful views on either side.

At the saddle, the path heads left and continues its steep descent. You reach some trees, and after a while come out in the fields along the floor of the valley. Five minutes further and you’ll reach Alpe Dietersbach, a great place for an apfelkuche (apple cake), something to drink, and a sit-down.

A Shorter Route Back Down

An alternative route choice would be to continue along the top ridge only as far as Kreuzeck (the peak roughly 1 km before Rauheck). It would mean 5.6 km and a descent of 1333 metres back to the bus stop at Spielmannsau. A bus (every hour, Line 8) could then be caught back into Oberstdorf and the station. There is a Biergarten in Spielmannsau where you can wait. Taking this route will make the second day 11. 8 km with 570 metres up, 1425 metres down (instead of 20.6 km, 715 metres up, 1750 metres down).

Alternatively, if you want to continue to Rauheck but shorten the walk along the valley to Oberstdorf, you can also head to a bus stop at Christlessee after passing through Gerstruben and descending Hölltobel Gorge. The bus runs every hour (Line 8). Taking the bus from here shortens the walk by 5.5 km.

Walking down the Valley from Dietersbach to Oberstdorf.

Walking down the valley from Alpe Dietersbach to Oberstdorf
Walking down the valley from Alpe Dietersbach
Alpe Dietersbach, Alps, Germany

From Dietersbach to Oberstdorf station it’s roughly 10 km of easy walking along a track, with 565 metres of descent. The kilometres finally go by quickly, except for a steep descent to see the gorge.

The Alpine Village of Gerstruben

Three kilometres along the track from Dietersbach you’ll reach the cute little village of Gerstruben. Here you’ll also see more people who are obviously non-hikers. There’s a lovely chapel and several log chalets with flowers hanging on their windows, a rather idyllic scene. There’s also a restaurant here if you missed your chance earlier.

Alpine Village of Gerstruben near Oberstdorf
Small, white chapel in the Alpine Village of Gerstruben
Alpine Village of Gerstruben in the Bavarian Alps

Continue through the village on the road. About 200 metres after the village there’s a path off on the left to see Hölltobel Gorge.

Hölltobel Gorge

Unfortunately, it’s steeply downwards again through the forest, but afterwards, it’s flat all the way to Oberstdorf. The plus point of this route is that you can see Hölltobel Gorge. A stream plunges down a few waterfalls and has carved out quite a narrow channel in the rocks to make a gorge.

Hölltobel Gorge near Oberstdorf
Hölltobel Gorge
Alpine valleys near Oberstdorf

After the steep down, you’ll come out in some fields in a fairly broad valley. At the road junction, head right towards Oberstdorf. If you want to catch the bus, head left towards the Christlessee bus stop (see box above).

Keep on the right side of the river to pass through Gruben. At the next bridge, at Jägerstand restaurant, cross over the bridge to walk along the path on the other side of the river. In 15 minutes you’ll reach a busy bridge on the edge of Oberstdorf.

The Town of Oberstdorf

River near Oberstdorf
Oberstdorf Town

There are many places for refreshments in Oberstdorf, along with several shops selling hiking gear (but remember the shops are closed on Sundays). It’s just over 1 km from the busy bridge to the train station and it doesn’t matter which way you walk. You’ll see some cute Alpine houses and many tourists strolling the streets. Then you’ll reach the endpoint and be very happy to sit down.

Guidebooks for Hiking in the Alps

If you enjoyed this hike, try a lovely ridge walk nearby, an amazing overnight hike near Berchtesgaden, or discover other hikes in Germany.

FAQS for Kemptner Hut and Großer Krottenkopf Hike

How difficult is the Großer Krottenkopf Hike?

The hike up Großer Krottenkopf requires steady footing, a head for heights, and some agility. It does not require climbing skills but does involve some scrambling and walking along steep, narrow paths, sometimes with exposure.

When is Kemptner Hut open?

Kemptner Hut is open only in the summer, from mid-June to late September or early October.

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