Mountains and lakes, alpine pastures, flower meadows and pastures, inns and churches. The landscape around Rosenheim looks just like the typical Upper Bavarian backdrop you’d expect, our reporters think. Text: Markus Stein, Photos: Bernhard Huber
All Around Rosenheim
Ice cream time! Claudia Gschwendtner opens the large freezer and takes out a cup of strawberry ice cream. She takes a small wooden spoon from the lid and takes a nibble of cold, fruity delicacy.
“We run a kiosk at the Rinssee and used to sell ‘industrial ice cream’,” says the boss of the Rinser Natureis manufactory. “But over time, we developed the desire to sell ice cream that is natural. Without artificial flavours, colourings, palm fat, binders and the like,” the ice cream maker continues. And since the Gschwendtners have dairy cows, there was nothing more obvious than to make their own ice cream.
Rinssee Lake: Calm and Warm
The manufactory offers a wide range of natural ice cream: creamy ice cream made from the farm’s own milk, sorbet ice cream with its own (or bought-in) fruits, and yoghurt ice cream. The cups are made of biodegradable cardboard. In addition to classics such as vanilla or chocolate, there are innovative creations such as chestnut or plum ice cream or the flavours cinnamon, beetroot-raspberry combination and – one might almost say natural – also wheat beer ice cream ...
Gelato producer Gschwendtner recommends the small lakes around Rosenheim to visitors who find Chiemsee Lake too turbulent. Bathing paradises, mostly with sunbathing lawns and shady trees, are easily reached by bike. Like Rinssee Lake in the north of the city, with shallow water and, therefore, one of the warmest in the area, or the bathing spots at the Eggstätt-Hemhofer Seenplatte (lake district).
Simssee Lake: The Little Brother of Lake Chiemsee
Ice age – in a geological sense – prevailed in the Rosenheim region until about 10,000 years ago. Mighty glaciers pushed northwards from the mountains into the Alpine foothills, through the Inn valley, the smaller Prien valley and the valley of the Tiroler Ache – precisely where Chiemsee Lake was later to emerge.
In the process and during the melting, the huge masses of ice went on to shape today’s picture-book landscape with its gentle hills and lakes. Rosenheim, for example, lies at the bottom of a huge former glacial lake. Simssee Lake, barely ten kilometres to the east, is the last remnant of this.
The “little brother of Chiemsee Lake”, as it is also called, is the largest lake in the Rosenheim district. Its many untouched reed and riparian zones are habitats for fish such as roach, bleak or whitefish. Birds such as bluethroat, great reed warbler and water rail also like its banks.
Whitefish, Zander or Pike
At four bathing spots, you can refresh yourself in the cool waters of Simsee Lake, get on a SUP, go sailing or cycle around the lake. The leisurely tour is 20 kilometres long. On this relaxed excursion, you always have the opportunity to get your fill – or not – of the view of the Chiemgau mountains.
Now, on a late summer evening, the lake lies calm and relaxed, as if weary from the long season. The reflection of the sun glistens on the surface. The air smells of mown grass. And, on the horizon, the silhouettes of the Chiemgau mountains appear. A few kilometres to the west, the “Simssee-Stuben” offer culinary delights made from whitefish, pike-perch or pike, all caught fresh from the lake.
Samerberg: A quiet little world of its own
Ice Age was also creative as a landscape architect between Lakes Simsee and Chiemsee. There, debris between two glaciers collected and accumulated to form moraines – today, there is a varied hilly landscape at an altitude of almost 700 metres, covered with scattered meadows, trees, small woods and hamlets with orchards.
In the middle of it all, Sepp and Sybille Stein run their “Reifnhof”, an adventure farm with dairy cows and sheep. The highlight are three shepherd’s caravans in which you can stay. The largest is designed for four people and has a small kitchenette, but neither TV nor Wi-Fi. It is available from 55 euros per night.
“With us, guests experience what it’s like on a farm. They can participate in caring for animals, churning butter or making cheese,” says Sybille. “I also offer forest bathing, crafting and painting with children and with adults in our creative workshop.”
The Samerberg is a high valley formed by moraines
Continuing on to the Samerberg. This is actually not a mountain at all, but a high valley formed by moraines. It stretches over four kilometres from east to west and is flanked by the 920-metre-high Dandlberg in the west and the almost 1,600-metre-high Hochries massif.
A quiet little world of its own with pretty villages, geranium-adorned farmsteads, meadows and pastures, as well as the ecologically important Samerberger Filze moorland area. You can explore this world in a down-to-earth fashion on one of the 44 circular hiking trails or on a tandem paragliding flight. A circular walk leads to four old churches with art treasures worth seeing: from Roßholzen via Steinkirchen and Törwang to Grainbach.
Salvation and Physical Well-Being
Grainbach is an exemplary embodiment of the Bavarian harmony of village inn and village church. Here, the friendly late Gothic church of St. Nicholas and St. Aegidius await visitors – the highlight is the baroque high altar by the Tölz sculptor Joseph Anton Fröhlich – and there, just a few steps away, the “Gasthof Alpenrose” Inn.
“The property was first mentioned as a ‘Tavernwirtschaft’ (a traditional inn) in 1561, and my family has owned it since 1886,” says the young innkeeper and chef Florian Lerche. The “Alpenrose” has a small beer garden with a view of the church. The interior is cosily furnished, partly with old wood, and partly with a modern flair.
Florian cooks modern Bavarian and regional food. “We are trying to implement this in the best possible way,” he emphasises strongly. “We get the vegetables from a permaculture garden in Sonnbach, the meat is supplied from the Rosenheim district, the game from ‘Jaga’ and the fish from Chiemsee Lake. Sea fish is not on our menu!”
From Törwang, the road leads steeply uphill to Steinkirchen. A small octagonal chapel was built on a hill near Obereck in the 19th century. Today, it is surrounded by numerous benches, where you are more than welcome to take a break. The view over the Rosenheim Basin and to the south into the Bavarian and Tyrolean Alps is fantastic.
An oak tree holds its branches protectively over the chapel. It is over 100 years old and was planted for the 70th birthday of the then Prince Regent Luitpold. Less clearly documented, yet still a nice story: It is here that Ludwig III, the last King of Bavaria, is said to have bid farewell to “his” kingdom after his deposition in 1918.
Time for the View to Trump All Others
The single-seat chairlift sways leisurely upwards from Grainbach. Feet dangle in the air. Far below, a stream rushes into the valley. You can also see the curves, waves and wallrides of the Bikepark Samerberg winding through the forest. Cows pluck fresh grass from the pasture peacefully and concented. Their massive bodies cast large shadows in the morning sun.
Change at Ebenwaldalm to the Hochriesbahn, a cosy gondola lift from the early 1970s. Exit at the mountain station and then another ten minutes on foot to the Hochrieshütte where sounds of “Ahh” and “Ohh” are plentiful.
The view is phenomenal. To the north, the view stretches far across the Chiemgau region, and Munich and Landshut can be glimpsed on the horizon. In the south, the peaks of the Eastern Alps present a gigantic rendezvous: from east to west, the Berchtesgaden Alps with Untersberg and Watzmann, the Loferer and Leoganger Steinberge, the Glockner Group and the Zillertal Alps, the Venediger Group and the Karwendel mountains, and in the west you can make out Mount Zugspitze!
After many fascinating moments and a hearty snack in the “Hochrieshütte” hut, it’s time for a break: Enough wandering into the distance ... the good things are so close, namely down in the Rosenheimer Land!