Austria/Germany (2,962 m) – Site of the World’s Highest Cog Railway
The Zugspitze is the tallest mountain in Germany and one of the most iconic mountains of the Alps. Thanks to its location near major cities and the cable cars which climb to its peak, the summit of the Zugspitze is one of the most easily accessible of all the major mountains of Europe. It is famous as the site of the Bavarian Zugspitze Railway, one of the highest and steepest cog railways in the world. Its name means “avalanche path”.
The mountainous part of Southern Bavaria was explored by German tribes in earliest human times. It was probably climbed for the first time in the 1770s. A cross was erected on the peak of the mountain in 1851, though it has since been replaced. During the Third Reich the mountain was symbolically occupied by the SS, then symbolically taken by the Americans in 1945.
The Zugspitze is the most popular mountain destination in Germany. It is located approximately sixty miles south of Munich in Germany and 25 miles northwest of Innsbruck in Austria and is easily accessible by road from both sides. The Zugspitze is home to numerous huts meant for use by hikers and skiers, though a former lodge on the mountain, the Schneefernerhaus, is now closed for overnight guests. The iconic cog railroad climbs to the Schneeferhaus, while cable cars complete the journey to the peak. The current Summit Cross was moved to its present location in 2009 and can still be reached.