Kuhflucht Waterfalls

Farchant / Garmisch-Partenkirchen District, Bavaria (Bayern), Germany

About Kuhflucht Waterfalls


Hiking Distance: about 3km round trip (main waterfalls only)
Suggested Time: 90 minutes (main waterfalls only) or 3 hours (to spring)

Date first visited: 2018-06-27
Date last visited: 2018-06-27

Waterfall Latitude: 47.52589
Waterfall Longitude: 11.13249

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The Kuhflucht Waterfalls were a series of waterfalls near Farchant said to have a cumulative height of 270m making this one of Germany’s tallest waterfalls.

In my experience, though, it was hard to corroborate considering that there wasn’t a view that allowed me to see them all in one shot.

Kuhflucht_Waterfall_125_06272018 - One of many of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls
One of many of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls

Thus, it was difficult to evaluate whether they should be counted as one or as separate entities joined together by less steep cascading sections.

In fact, there were several individual small drops that I witnessed on this excursion.

As a result, I’m not exactly sure why the literature claims there were three waterfalls in all.

In any case, this was one excursion where I wished I could do again because there was quite a bit of head scratching moments when I did it on our Germany/Austria trip in 2018.

Kuhflucht_Waterfall_116_06272018 - Another one of the many drops of the main series of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls or Kuhflucht Wasserfälle
Another one of the many drops of the main series of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls or Kuhflucht Wasserfälle

I’ll get into why later in this writeup, but the bottom line was that I had a multitude of calamities on this hike.

For example, I started the hike from the wrong trailhead, which extended the hike longer than it needed to be.

Then, I didn’t go far enough to see the uppermost drops of the waterfall at the Kuhfluchtquelle.

That was the spring where the start of the series of waterfalls gushed out of a hole in a cliff wall.

Kuhflucht_Waterfall_097_06272018 - Context of the lower parts of the main series of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls as seen from the footbridge
Context of the lower parts of the main series of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls as seen from the footbridge

Finally, we’ve been referring to this waterfall as the Kuhflucht Waterfalls, but in the literature, it keeps translating as the “Cow Escape Waterfalls”.

This is one example where the Google Translate fails because kuhflucht was said to have Roman origins and was supposed to mean “confluence” perhaps referring to the joining of the Kuhfluchtgraben with the Loisach.

I’ve also seen this waterfall referred to as the Kuhfluchtwasserfälle, Kuhflucht Wasserfälle, and the Kuhflucht Wasserfall in German.

As for the hike to experience the waterfalls, I’ll describe the way I should have done this hike before getting into the particulars of why I screwed up.

Kuhflucht Waterfall Trail Description – from the nearest car park to the footbridge

Kuhflucht_Waterfall_161_06272018 - The initial part of the Kuhflucht Waterfall Trail meandered along this gentle path with plenty of rest benches
The initial part of the Kuhflucht Waterfall Trail meandered along this gentle path with plenty of rest benches

From the Kuhflucht Waterfall car park (see directions below), a trail went through a fence and followed along a gradual incline through a lightly forested path with some benches along the way.

I noticed some mountain bikers were in this stretch of the trail given the gentle terrain.

This stretch lasted for a little over 500m before it reached a trail junction with the Oberau Kuhfluchtwasserfälle Walderlebnispfad (I think it might also be referred to as the Philosophenweg or Philosopher’s Path).

That was a separate trail from a different car park.

Kuhflucht_Waterfall_030_06262018 - The Kuhflucht Waterfall Trail keeping right of the footbridge (i.e. not taking it) to continue further upstream along the Kuhfluchtgraben
The Kuhflucht Waterfall Trail keeping right of the footbridge (i.e. not taking it) to continue further upstream along the Kuhfluchtgraben

Continuing straight towards the fencing and going past a sign suggesting the falls was a mere 25 minutes away, I followed the Kuhfluchtgraben upstream (keeping right and not crossing the bridge over the stream).

At this point, I encountered some blue interpretive signs suggesting that the trail now coincided with the Königsweg (King’s Path).

From what I gleaned from reading the signs in my limited German, apparently King Maximilian II hiked here in July 7, 1858.

In any case, the path then continued further along the Kuhfluchtgraben revealing a series of small waterfalls (probably disputing the claim that there were only three if you count these).

Kuhflucht_Waterfall_059_06262018 - One of the attractive waterfalls seen along the King's Path making me think there were many more than three waterfalls according to the literature
One of the attractive waterfalls seen along the King’s Path making me think there were many more than three waterfalls according to the literature

At this point, the climb became a bit steeper in order to get above these waterfalls and continue following the increasingly turbulent creek.

There were also some side spur trails descending from the main trail in order to get a closer look at some of these smaller waterfalls and cascades.

Kuhflucht Waterfall Trail Description – ascending alongside the larger waterfalls

After about 750m from the trail junction (or a little over 1.2km from the closest trailhead), the trail then crossed a bridge over the Kuhfluchtgraben.

There was an attractive lower section of what appeared to be a significant waterfall on the left and a lighter flowing cascade coming down a gully on the right.

Kuhflucht_Waterfall_087_06272018 - Context of more cascades over the bouldery Kuhfluchtgraben with footbridge up ahead
Context of more cascades over the bouldery Kuhfluchtgraben with footbridge up ahead

Beneath a crucifix, there was also a spur trail climbing up to a lookout shelter, but it was closed during my visit as apparently the soil beneath the shelter was unstable.

Had I been allowed to go up there, I’d surely get a nice frontal view of the series of Kuhflucht Waterfalls that I was only able to see part of from the bridge.

Beyond the bridge, the trail then climbed up a steep series of steps before continuing its ascent up several switchbacks.

Then, the trail branched, where the right branch went into a dead-end within a gorge revealing more of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls.

Kuhflucht_Waterfall_109_06272018 - Approaching one of the dead-ends with a view of part of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls
Approaching one of the dead-ends with a view of part of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls

Backtracking and continuing up the increasingly narrow and steep trail, there was another branch.

This was where keeping right went to another dead-end revealing the uppermost of the waterfall series of what I’m calling the main Kuhflucht Waterfalls.

I believe this was probably what the signs were referring to when they said it was 25 minutes of hiking to get here from the trailhead.

Knowing that there was a spring further upstream (but not knowing how far I had to go), I backtracked and continued up the still increasingly narrow and uphill path.

Kuhflucht_Waterfall_126_06272018 - Approaching a different dead-end yielding a look at another part of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls
Approaching a different dead-end yielding a look at another part of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls

At this point, the trail seemed to be significantly sketchier as it went up one switchback and steep incline after another.

The further up I went, the more it seemed like the trail was going away from the Kuhfluchtgraben.

This started to make me doubt that I was going to see the Kuhfluchtquelle and that I somehow missed the spur trail revealing it.

Kuhflucht Waterfall Trail Description – premature turnaround

In any case, I wound up caving into my doubts as the trail continued to climb with seemingly no end in sight.

Kuhflucht_Waterfall_150_06272018 - Looking up at a pair of hikers going higher up and well upstream of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls
Looking up at a pair of hikers going higher up and well upstream of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls

Meanwhile, the trajectory of the trail continued to veer away from the gorge and creek.

In hindsight, I believe that I should have persisted higher up on this ever-so-steep incline and ultimately make it up to an overlook with a spur trail that would then cut across to the Kuhfluchtquelle.

According to a German trip report, it should have been around 30 minutes of exhaustive climbing before reaching the lookout and spur trail.

However, I think I wound up doing about 20 minutes (though it seemed like longer) before turning back.

Kuhflucht_Waterfall_146_06272018 - The trail relentlessly climbed above the main Kuhflucht Waterfalls for what seemed like forever. When I got to about this point, I doubted that it was taking me to the Kuhfluchtquelle so I ultimately turned back (regrettably)
The trail relentlessly climbed above the main Kuhflucht Waterfalls for what seemed like forever. When I got to about this point, I doubted that it was taking me to the Kuhfluchtquelle so I ultimately turned back (regrettably)

Overall, had I done the whole hike in this manner, I’d estimate that hike would have taken about 2.5-3 hours.

It would have taken around 1-1.5 hours round trip to just get to the main Kuhflucht Waterfalls just upstream from the bridge and crucifix and back.

Kuhflucht Waterfall Trail Description – how I ended up doing this hike

The way I wound up doing the Kuhflucht Waterfall hike was from an alternate trailhead (see directions below).

I then went to what appeared to be some park with a bunch of trails intersecting with each other.

Kuhflucht_Waterfall_023_06262018 - Hiking along the Kuhfluchtwasserfälle Walderlebnispfad, which was the result of me taking the incorrect trailhead to reach the Kuhflucht Waterfalls
Hiking along the Kuhfluchtwasserfälle Walderlebnispfad, which was the result of me taking the incorrect trailhead to reach the Kuhflucht Waterfalls

Next, I followed a sign pointing the way to the Oberau Kuhfluchtwasserfälle Walderlebnispfad (which might be called the Philosophenweg according to a sign going in the other direction).

In any case, I took this easy path full of quizzes and apparati to engage kids in Nature for about 850m (350m more than the closest trailhead).

I then only went partially up the steeply climbing trail before turning back as I gave into my own doubts about whether the trail would take me to where I needed to go or not.

Obviously in hindsight, I should have kept going.

Kuhflucht_Waterfall_149_06272018 - At one point in my pursuit of the Kuhfluchtquelle, I followed a false trail that took me to this very steep dropoff that I didn't bother to cross
At one point in my pursuit of the Kuhfluchtquelle, I followed a false trail that took me to this very steep dropoff that I didn’t bother to cross

In the end, I wound up spending about 2.5 hours on the trail.

But the extra 700m or more of hiking from the wrong trailhead (which took away my sense of how long this hike should have taken) didn’t help my cause.

In hindsight, I should have spent an additional hour overall and then I would have made it to the promised land of the Kuhfluchtquelle.

Authorities

The Kuhflucht Waterfalls reside next to the town of Farchant in the state of Bavaria (Bayern), Germany. It may be administered by the Farchant government. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting their website.

Kuhflucht_Waterfall_004_06262018 - Starting the hike to the Kuhflucht Waterfalls though I started off from a car park that didn't seem to be the nearest one. Instead, I found myself hiking towards the Philosophenweg, which was left at this upcoming fork
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_007_06262018 - The Philosophenweg followed along this gentle but longer footpath towards the Kuhflucht Waterfalls, which was full of rest benches and apparati for children to get a little more interactive with Nature
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_010_06262018 - Looking back at one of the kiosks or apparati on the Philosophenweg en route to the Kuhflucht Waterfalls
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_015_06262018 - Looking against the morning sun while hiking along the Philosophenweg en route to the Kuhflucht Waterfalls via a longer route than I should have taken
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_017_06262018 - Still continuing along the nice stroll along the Philosophenweg before even getting to the actual Kuhflucht Waterfalls Trail
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_018_06262018 - Approaching another one of the apparati along the Philosophenweg en route to the Kuhflucht Waterfalls Trail
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_020_06262018 - Looking towards one of the apparati along the Philosophenweg which was still not even on the Kuhflucht Waterfalls Trail yet
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_027_06262018 - Walking past a shelter as the Philosophenweg finally joined up with the Kuhflucht Waterfalls Trail
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_035_06262018 - Looking back at the first footbridge over the Kuhfluchtgraben as I continued upstream towards the Kuhflucht Waterfalls
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_039_06262018 - The Kuhflucht Waterfalls Trail (also referred to as the King's Path at this point) started climbing a little more as it passed one small waterfall after another
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_042_06262018 - This was one of the small waterfalls seen along the way to the Kuhflucht Waterfalls
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_044_06262018 - The Kuhflucht Waterfalls Trail started climbing a bit as it continued on the King's Path along the Kuhfluchtgraben en route to its main waterfalls
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_045_06262018 - Looking back downstream from the King's Path en route to the Kuhflucht Waterfalls
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_046_06262018 - Looking down at a somewhat hidden small waterfall along the Kuhflucht Waterfalls Trail
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_048_06262018 - Context of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls Trail passing by yet another one of the small but attractive waterfalls on the Kuhfluchtgraben
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_050_06262018 - Direct look at one of the more attractive of the intermediate waterfalls on the Kuhfluchtgraben en route to the main Kuhflucht Waterfalls
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_068_06272018 - The Kuhflucht Waterfalls Trail continuing to climb alongside the Kuhfluchtgraben
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_070_06272018 - There were still some rest benches along the Kuhflucht Waterfalls Trail like this one, which was creatively placed under an overhang
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_073_06272018 - Obstructed view towards some intermediate cascades on the Kuhfluchtgraben en route to the Kuhflucht Waterfalls
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_075_06272018 - As I briefly followed a spur trail that followed along the banks of the Kuhfluchtgraben, I got this view of an intermediate waterfall shooting onto a sloping slab of rock
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_080_06272018 - At the end of the spur trail that descended from the main trail then followed along the Kuhfluchtgraben, I eventually ended up with this view of some lower cascades beneath the footbridge traversing the stream itself
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_081_06272018 - Looking upstream at the intermediate cascades downstream of the footbridge traversing the Kuhfluchtgraben right by the main Kuhflucht Waterfalls
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_084_06272018 - I wasn't alone on my morning hike to the Kuhflucht Waterfalls as this couple was headed back from their hike. I wondered how far then went
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_089_06272018 - Context of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls Trail as it traversed a rock slide area
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_091_06272018 - Continuing on the main Kuhflucht Waterfall Trail and approaching that footbridge traversing the Kuhfluchtgraben
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_093_06272018 - This trail closure by the crucifix would have led up to a lookout shelter with a direct view of the main part of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_157_06272018 - Right at the footbridge traversing the Kuhfluchtgraben
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_094_06272018 - Looking upstream from the footbridge revealing part of the main part of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_101_06272018 - Looking back across the bridge over the Kuhfluchtgraben towards the unstable lookout on the topleft of this picture. That's why they closed the trail to get there, but I will always wonder what that direct view of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls would have been like
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_102_06272018 - Contextual look at the base of the main drops of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls with a side cascade about to join it, and the unstable lookout on the topright of this picture
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_104_06272018 - Looking back down towards a steep steps that climbed up from the footbridge over the Kuhfluchtgraben as the trail was now climbing alongside parts of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_106_06272018 - There were definitely quite a bit of climbing after the footbridge, though I couldn't help but wonder about the white sign apparently leading up to some hut somewhere beyond the Kuhflucht Waterfalls
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_112_06272018 - At the end of the first of the spur trails on the steep ascent alongside the Kuhflucht Waterfalls, I got into the gorge, which revealed this view of part of the main waterfalls
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_118_06272018 - Contextual look at the overhang framing the attractive section of what I was calling the main Kuhflucht Waterfalls
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_121_06272018 - As the Kuhflucht Waterfalls Trail continued higher up on its ascent, it provided teasing glimpses of the valley containing Farchant
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_130_06272018 - This was the view of the top of the main Kuhflucht Waterfalls at the dead-end of another spur trail deviating from the steep ascent
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_131_06272018 - Looking back at the spur trail leading to the view of the upper part of the main Kuhflucht Waterfalls
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_134_06272018 - This was as comprehensive a view as I was going to get of the upper part of the main Kuhflucht Waterfalls
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_138_06272018 - As I continued even higher up the trail, I was getting even more teasing glimpses of the valley below containing both Farchant and Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_139_06272018 - The narrow ascending trail above the main Kuhflucht Waterfalls and leading towards the Kuhfluchtquelle
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_140_06272018 - Context of the very narrow and steep trail rising high above the Kuhflucht Waterfalls as I pursued Kuhfluchtquelle
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_141_06272018 - At this point of the ascent, the trail seemed to have these red dots marking the way. However, I wasn't sure if the red dot was referring to Kuhfluchtquelle or something else
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_144_06272018 - Still ascending on the steep trail as I was pursuing the Kuhfluchtquelle
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_145_06272018 - Somewhere around this red dot, I noticed what appeared to be a path that deviated from the main trail, and it wound up taking me to a very steep drop off so I had to believe that couldn't be the way to the Kuhfluchtquelle
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_151_06272018 - Starting to head back down when I gave into my doubts and stopped the very long climb up to the Kuhfluchtquelle (somehow thinking I had already passed it)
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_153_06272018 - Context of the very steep trail as I was descending the many switchbacks down to the main Kuhflucht Waterfalls
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_155_06272018 - Looking down towards the bottom of the steep descent leading back down to the footbridge across the Kuhfluchtgraben, which hinted at the steep terrain that I had to negotiate
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_159_06272018 - Just past the junction with the Philosophenweg Trail, the trail started to follow along the Kuhfluchtgraben Stream
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_163_06272018 - Looking back at a trail sign where I finally realized that I had started from the incorrect trailhead.  So I decided to follow the actual trail that I should have taken in the first place just to see how much of a mistake I had made
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_165_06272018 - Continuing on the gentle footpath as I looked back and saw that the trail appeared to be pretty flat en route to the Kuhflucht Waterfalls
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_167_06272018 - Heading back down towards the closest car park for the Kuhflucht Waterfalls Trail through this opening with nice mountains in the distance
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_174_06272018 - Finally approaching the main car park for the Kuhflucht Waterfalls
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_175_06272018 - Looking back at the gentle footpath after arriving at the main car park for the Kuhflucht Waterfalls. This would have cut quite a bit of the hike, which might have given me more energy and hope to keep going in pursuit of the Kuhfluchtquelle.  Oh well, I'll have to pursue that if we're fortunate to come back next time
Kuhflucht_Waterfall_183_06272018 - Walking back along the the Estbergstrasse for another 600m before finally arriving at a different car park thereby ending the unnecessary extension of my Kuhflucht Waterfalls hike

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The Kuhflucht Waterfalls were close to the town of Farchant.

So I’ll describe the driving directions from the city of Garmisch-Partenkirchen since that was the main center.

Reaching the city from further away would be pretty straightforward via apps like Google Maps.

From Garmisch-Partenkirchen, we drove north on the B2 (Münchner Straße) until we reached a roundabout intersecting with the B23 and the start of the E533 freeway.

It’s very important that at this roundabout, we took the exit for Hauptstraße to head into the town of Farchant.

This was the first exit at the roundabout if heading north from Garmisch-Partenkirchen or keeping right at the fork and taking the second exit if coming in from the B23.

Kuhflucht_Waterfall_179_06272018 - This street junction was where I should have turned left to get to the nearest car park for the hike to the Kuhflucht Waterfalls
This street junction was where I should have turned left to get to the nearest car park for the hike to the Kuhflucht Waterfalls

If you end up continuing on the B2, then you will go onto the E533 freeway that then goes into a long tunnel that bypasses Farchant.

As a result, you won’t have an opportunity to exit and turn around until you’re 6km further north in Oberau.

In fact, the Kuhflucht Waterfalls Trail actually climbed over this tunnel though you wouldn’t know it as it would be well below the mountain’s slope.

Anyways, once on Hauptstraße, we then continued for about 2km as we entered into the town of Farchant.

Then, at the traffic light, we turned right onto Bahnhofstraße and drove east for about 450m as the street became Mühldörflstraße past the train tracks and the street crossed the Loisach.

Kuhflucht_Waterfall_176_06272018 - This was the appropriate car park for the Kuhflucht Waterfalls
This was the appropriate car park for the Kuhflucht Waterfalls

Once on the other side of the bridge over the Loisach, we kept right past Frickenstraße but then we would turn left onto the easy-to-miss Kuhfluchtweg at the next intersection.

The road would then dead-end at the trailhead car park after another 200m.

Of course, we actually missed the turnoff for Kuhfluchtweg and wound up parking at a fairly large lot another 600m further on the Estbergstraße.

Starting the hike from here would add about 700m round trip and would probably cost an additional 15 minutes or more.

Assuming you went the correct way, this drive should take less than 10 minutes from the center of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Kuhflucht_Waterfall_002_06262018 - This was the other car park further down the Estbergstraße that we wound up at after missing the Kuhfluchtweg, which extended the hike unnecessarily
This was the other car park further down the Estbergstraße that we wound up at after missing the Kuhfluchtweg, which extended the hike unnecessarily

However, if you make a similar mistake as we did, then the detour could easily turn this into a half-hour affair or longer.

For context, Garmisch-Partenkirchen was about 23km (around a half-hour drive) northeast of Ehrwald, Austria, 59km (about an hour drive) east of Füssen, 64 km (a little over an hour drive) north of Innsbruck, Austria, and 89km (well over an hour drive) south of Munich.

Checking out a convergence of cascades near the footbridge over the creek by some closure area


Semi-circular sweep focusing on the most interesting part of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls


Sweep of the uppermost of the most interesting part of the Kuhflucht Waterfalls

Trip Planning Resources


Nearby Accommodations




Tagged with: farchant, garmisch-partenkirchen, zugspitze, germany, waterfall, kuhfluchtquelle, kuhfluchtgraben, philosophenweg



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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