Bavaria has a wealth of streams and rivers. Hikers are delighted by its waters as they gush over rocks in the mountains or bubble up steep slopes. Alongside spectacular cascades, lesser-known waterfalls are also worth a visit. 16 Tips – from Germany’s Highest Waterfall to the Mini-Fall in Franconia!
16 Beautiful Waterfalls in Bavaria
Kuhflucht Waterfalls in Farchant: It’s Gushing Out of the Wall
The Kuhfluch waterfalls are made up of three consecutive waterfalls. Together they measure 270 metres in height and are among the highest falls in Germany. The name “Kuhflucht”, or “cow escape”, may originate from Roman times, from “confluctum”.
This refers to the “confluence” of the waters from the mountain with the Loisach river further down in the valley. Another possible explanation is that the name is derived from “Kuhflack”, from the cows that found a place to rest here during the summer and “flackten” (Bavarian for “laying down”) in the shade. The falls’ water originates from several karst springs and gushes down from the plateau between Krottenkopf peak and Simetsberg mountain.
The average flow of all springs is about 1,500 litres per second. The main spring is the Kuhfluchtquelle, which bubbles directly out of a 200-metre-high rock face. From Farchant you can reach the lower fall in about 45 minutes by following the forest adventure trail and the “Königsweg”. Those who wish to do so can hike in the direction of “Weilheimer Hütte” and head for another viewpoint.
Steinklamm Gorge at Spiegelau: How Unusual!
The Steinklamm Gorge to the south of Spiegelau, near the Bavarian Forest National Park, is the site of a fascinating natural spectacle. The protagonists are the roaring waters of the great Ohe – a source river of the Ilz –, moss-covered rocks in lush green, polished whirlpools and a deep gorge in the gneiss rock with unique flora!
As early as 1868, geologist Carl Wilhelm von Gümbel, a member of the Royal Bavarian Academy of Sciences, listed the gorge as one of the “most remarkable natural features” in the Bavarian Forest. The gorge is as deep as 100 metres. The diverse forms of erosion, such as smoothly polished rock faces, flow channels and pools and the up to two-metre-deep but mostly sediment-filled whirlpools, are testimony to the power of water.
Since 2005 there has been a hiking trail through the gorge. It is five kilometres long and climbs 160 metres in elevation. You should plan about two hours for the hike. The starting point is at the car park in Spiegelau. Visitors have the option to return with the Waldbahn (Bavarian Forest Railway) from Grossarmschlag every two hours.
unser-bayerischer-wald.de (only in German)
Schossrinn Waterfall in the Priental: A Place of Feminine Power!
The Schossbach stream creates the most impressive waterfall in the Priental. The water drops a good 70 metres down the rock walls. And once it reaches the bottom, it fills a round rock pool from which an elliptical rock rises.
You can find the Schossrinn Waterfall near Hainbach to the south of Aschau, and it is regarded as an important geotope. “Schoßrinn”, in written German “Schussrinne”, also refers to the wooden pipe through which water is channelled onto a mill wheel, making it a fitting name for a waterfall.
For esoterics, the area around the catchment basin has a magical aura. It is considered a place of strength for women and, according to the tourism office, frequented by women “to pause and recharge their energy”. The health-promoting effect of waterfalls – presumably also for men – has been confirmed by science: due to the whirling water, the air at the foot of a waterfall is supposedly rich in negative ions. These stimulate one’s immune system and give allergy and asthma sufferers a boost.
The Schossrinn Waterfall is located a good kilometre to the north-west of Hainbach. There are signs indicating the way. You can also hike to the waterfall from Aschau along the Prientalweg trail. The Prien, into which the Schoßbach flows, is the second largest tributary to Lake Chiemsee after the Tiroler Achen.
Schleifmühl Gorge in Unterammergau: Waterfalls for Whetstones
The Schleifmühl Gorge at the foot of the Ammergau Alps is only about 500 metres long. Its exit is at the south-western end of Unterammergau. The gorge has a height difference of 60 metres and is traversed by the Schleifmühlenlaine stream. The mountain stream forms several pools and waterfalls worth seeing on its journey through the gorge.
You can explore the Schleifmühl Gorge, which is listed as a geotope, on a secured trail that is also suitable for beginners. In the lower section, mills were operated from the 15th to the 20th century in which whetstones were produced. The siliceous limestone used was extracted from nearby quarries. Today, these are also designated as a geotope and are accessible via a path.
At the end of the gorge, the “Schneiderla's Schleifmühle” has been restored and can be visited. Gasthof “Schleifmühle” has also created a small museum with a grinding mill. There is also a new long-distance hiking trail called “Das Erbe der Wetzsteinmacher”, or “The Heritage of the Wetzsteinmacher”, which connects the former Wetzsteinmacher towns of Schwangau, Trauchgau, Unterammergau and Ohlstadt as well as the Glentleiten Open-Air Museum.
ammergauer-alpen.de (only in German)
Geratser Waterfall: A Stream’s Dream
This little natural gem can be found near Gerats/Rieden, to the north of Rettenberg in Oberallgäu. Hidden in the forest, the Kranzegger and Geratser streams flow together to form a fizzing spectacle. One rushes down a broad, six-metre-high rock wall, while the other babbles over rock steps, though not as deeply.
A family-friendly hiking trail leads here from Vorderburg, taking about an hour to reach. First, from the car park by the church, head towards the field, turn left 200 metres after a bridge and follow the signs to the waterfall. There is a small viewing platform for visitors. For those who want to enjoy even more water – the Rottachsee Lake, just two kilometres to the north, is perfect for swimming, surfing, sailing or walking.
Pfersag Waterfall: A Taste of Niagara!
Paradise can be found in Upper Franconia. And the two yellow towers on a blue background point the way there! For the landscape along the Upper Main Bend was once celebrated as God’s garden by the Biedermeier poet Victor von Scheffel (1826 to 1886). Today, it can be explored on two long-distance hiking routes certified by the German Hiking Association. One of these runs for just under 50 kilometres through the tranquil countryside north of the Main river, between Michelau and Mainroth. Narrow paths wind here through meadows and forests and along charming stream and lake landscapes.
On stage 4 from Mainroth to Redwitz an der Rodach, hikers come across the charming Pfersag Waterfall to the north-east of Ebneth. It falls freely over a two-metre-high rock step and is quite extraordinary: its horseshoe shape is reminiscent of North America’s Niagara Falls – albeit in a modest miniature form. It is fed by the Nassbrunnen stream. When a lot of rain has fallen, the water flows over the entire width of the semicircle, while in dry times only a narrow stream flows over the middle. The Bavarian State Office for the Environment lists the Pfersag Waterfall as a valuable biotope and natural monument.
kueps.de (only in German)
Lech Waterfall in Füssen: A Legendary Long Jump
At the southern edge of Füssen, the Lech river makes for an impressive spectacle, plunging twelve metres and over five weir steps into the depths. The weir was built between 1784 and 1787 to utilise water power. Below, the river narrows and the water forces its way through a deep, narrow gorge.
The people of Füssen built a footbridge over the waterfall in 1895 in honour of King Maximilian II (1811 to 1864), the König-Max-Steg. A bust commemorates the namesake. The monarch had boosted Füssen’s economy with the construction of Hohenschwangau Palace. According to the legend, Saint Magnus also jumped over the Lech river at this spot, thereby escaping his pagan persecutors. He is said to have left a footprint, the so-called “Magnustritt”. You can see it quite clearly as an oval depression in the rock ... Magnus was supposedly a hermit from the 8th century and is regarded as the founder of the Füssen monastery of St. Mang.
Hiking tip: A beautiful trail, the Alpenrosenweg, leads from Füssen’s old town over the König-Max-Steg to Lake Alpsee and the Pindarplatz viewpoint with views of the royal castles of Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein. Duration: There and back in 4 hours.
fuessen.de (only in German)
Zipfelsbach Waterfalls at Bad Hindelang: Many Levels
The Zipfelsbach stream rises in the Allgäu High Alps to the south-east of Bad Hindelang. Its waters plunge down 300 metres over several levels above Hinterstein, at an elevation of around 1,200 metres. In the valley it flows into the Ostrach river. Especially in spring, when the snow melts, the mountain stream has plenty of water and impresses with its performance.
From Hinterstein it’s about a 15-minute walk to the lower part of the waterfalls. If you want to see all the levels of the Zipfelsbach stream, you should plan an ascent time of about one and a half hours. Narrow switchbacks lead uphill along the waterfall and to viewpoints that offer great views of the rushing water. The trail continues to the Zipfelsalpe, which lies at an elevation of 1,526 metres. The Alpe has a cosy terrace and welcomes you to enjoy snacks, coffee and cake, including the magnificent nature of the Allgäu mountains. Experienced hikers in good shape can add on a summit tour to the Kühgundkopf and Iseler.
Eisgraben Waterfall: A Part-Time Mountain Stream
The Black Moor is located in the Bavarian Rhön region, at the three-state border of Bavaria, Hesse, and Thuringia, to the west of Fladungen. It is among the most important raised bogs in Central Europe (raised bogs are fed by precipitation; lowland bogs are fed by groundwater). The moor is drained by the Aschelbach stream, also known as the Eisgraben, among other watercourses. The name “Eisgraben”, or “ice ditch”, was given due to the cold winds that flow through the valley.
The ten-kilometre-long stream runs from west to east and drains into the Rhine via the Streu, Fränkische Saale and Main rivers. The Eisgraben passes under the Hochrhönstrasse to the south-east of the moor. A few hundred metres further on, it forms a waterfall. The waters here fall four metres deep over large, black and wildly jumbled basalt boulders. When the snow melts, the Eisgraben can swell into a raging mountain stream. In the 1830s, it even brought about a devastating flood following a heavy rain.
After the waterfall, the stream digs deep into the ground and flows through a heavily carved valley. North of Nordheim vor der Rhön, the Eisgraben flows into the Streu river. There are various hiking trails leading to the Eisgraben, for example from the Black Moor or, with a steeper ascent, from Hausen.
Stuiben Waterfall near Oberstdorf: Spray Cloud
The most beautiful and largest waterfall in the Oberstdorf area is the Stuiben Waterfall in the Oytal valley. It lies at an elevation of about 1,300 metres. It is fed by the Stuibenbach stream, which rushes down a terrain step below the Käseralpe. The 25-metre break separates the alpine pasture from the Oytal. When the Stuibenbach stream carries a lot of water, the cloud of spray can be seen from far away in the Oytal valley. Further downstream, at the Prinzenkreuz, the stream reaches the valley floor and joins with the Laufbach stream. From then on it bears the name Oybach. In German, “Oy” stands for “Au” (land through which water flows). Until the 19th century, the Oytal was simply called “the Oy”.
The Stuiben Waterfall is about an hour's walk from Berggasthof “Oytalhaus” at an elevation of about 1,000 metres, and it takes another 20 minutes to reach the serviced Käseralpe. The flat Oytal valley is closed to visitor cars. The best way to reach the Berggasthof, or mountain inn, is by bike, and horse-drawn carriages also go there. You can also rent scooters for the return trip to Oberstdorf. The journey takes about 20 minutes. The “Oytalhaus” is a good starting point for many hikes and mountain tours.
oberstdorf.de (only in German)
Höllbachgspreng Gorge in Lindberg: Primeval Forest Feeling
In Lindberg in the Bavarian Forest National Park lies one of the last remaining primeval forest areas in Central Europe: the Hollbachgspreng Gorge. Its formation dates back to the last ice age. It is towered over by the Großer Falkenstein (1,315 metres).
The Bavarian name “Gspreng” refers to an impassable forest and rocky terrain and perfectly describes the enchanted piece of nature with its steep slopes. The stream that squeezes through high walls of gneiss and gushes into the depths as an impressive waterfall, the Höllbach, or “hell stream”, also deserves its name: The gloomy forest used to seem so threatening to people, as if the entrance to hell lay here.
Today it is a popular spot for nature lovers and hikers. A wildly romantic path leads up to the Falkenstein peak. Red beech, sycamore maple, mountain elm, spruce and fir grow in the Höllbachgspreng Gorge. In the undergrowth, you can find rare plants such as Seven Stars, Sundew, Mountain Lady Fern or Hungarian Gentian. And on the rocks, the rare sulphur lichen feels at home.
Hikes start from the car parks in Scheuereck, the Zwieslerwaldhaus and at the White Bridge. The “Igelbus” also goes there.
bayerischer-wald.de (only in German)
Rissloch Waterfalls near Bodenmais: The Largest!
The Rissloch Nature Reserve lies between Bodenmais and Großer Arber. It ranks among the scenic highlights in the Arber region. Signposted hiking trails and a nature discovery path lead through the primeval-like mixed mountain forests of maple, beech, spruce and fir. The proportion of old trees and deadwood is high. The wood serves as a habitat for many animal and fungal species. Woodpeckers like the Great Spotted Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker or the rarer Three-toed Woodpecker hammer their nests into it, which are later occupied by bats, stock doves or small owls.
In Rissloch, several streams flow together to form the Rissbach. Its water cascades down a gorge. It is a total of 55 metres high and the largest waterfall in the Bavarian Forest. The main drop measures a whopping 15 metres! You can find this watery spectacle at the eastern entrance of the well over one and a half kilometres long gorge. Wooden bridges lead visitors over the water, which flows quite abundantly during snowmelt and heavy rain.
The spelling of the gorge is almost as diverse as its nature: There are versions like Rißloch, Rissloch or Riesloch. The term “Riss” refers to the geological weak spot along which the Rissbach stream has carved itself over thousands of years. Various hiking trails lead to the waterfalls.
bayerischer-wald.de (only in German)
Muglbach Waterfall in Bad Neualbenreuth: At the Centre of Europe
The Muglbach stream in the Upper Palatinate Forest originates on the south-western slope of the 865-metre-high Schopfberg mountain in the Czech Republic. It is almost 20 kilometres long and climbs a total of 255 metres. The Muglbach stream winds in many bends over a length of 15 kilometres through the Bad Neualbenreuther Fraisch, a small area at the foot of the Tillenberg mountain. By the way: The centre of Europe, as calculated during the Imperial and Royal period, is located on the Tillenberg mountain!
The waterfall, which gushes in many small torrents over mossy rocks shortly before the Muglmühle wasteland, is quite charming and worth a visit. In the past, the Muglbach stream powered numerous water mills. The stream continues past Bad Neualbenreuth and the Sibyllenbad – a spa town with a natural radon and Carbonated mineral water healing spring, as well as thermal baths, indoor and outdoor pools and sauna facilities – and flows into the Wondreb on the Czech side, a tributary of the Eger, which in turn flows into the Elbe.
oberpfaelzerwald.de (only in German)
Trettstein Waterfall: Premium Splashing
The Eidenbach may only be a small stream in the Spessart-Mainland, but it makes a big splash! After all, it created a natural monument and a valuable geotope: The Trettstein Waterfall.
North of Gräfendorf on the Franconian Saale river, the stream flows through a gorge of red sandstone, creating several small waterfalls. The Trettstein is the largest and most remarkable of these. Six metres deep, the water drops down over a slab of sandstone and strikes reddish rock at an angle before filling a pool. Hundreds of metres further on, the Eidenbach stream flows into the Waizenbach stream, which flows into the Franconian Saale at Gräfendorf. Other water courses are the Main, the Rhine and finally the North Sea.
A hiking trail to the waterfall with boardwalks and stairs has been constructed. It begins near the fork in the road at Gräfendorf/Waizenbach/Michelau. The name Trettstein is derived from the dialectal term “Trätsch-Stein”, which roughly means “splash stone”.
spessart-mainland.de (only in German)
Haimendorf Waterfall: There’s Music in It!
The Hüttenbach is a left tributary of the Pegnitz river in Middle Franconia. Over the course of thousands of years, it has carved itself into layers of the Rhaetian-Lias sandstone (around 200 million years old). North of Haimendorf, it splashes down five metres at the edge of hard rock slabs that form a step. The waterfall is a natural monument and designated as a geotope by the Bavarian State Office for the Environment.
It is an experience to be had, especially in winter. When it’s cold, the water freezes layer by layer, creating a curtain of icicles, which look like organ pipes! Together with wind and the gurgling water, they create fascinating sounds. This is why the small cascade is also referred to as the “sounding waterfall”.
Not far from here is Nuremberg’s local mountain, the 600-metre-high Moritzberg mountain. At the summit, there is a restaurant for refreshments, the St. Maurice Chapel from the 15th century for exploration and a lookout tower for panoramic views. From Röthenbach Seespitze railway station near Lauf an der Pegnitz, it is just under five kilometres to the waterfall. The path there leads through meadows, past the hotel and restaurant “Waldgasthof am Letten” and through forests. Motorists can park in Haimendorf, at the Schönberg hiking car park or at the Waldgasthof.