Hiking Seebensee & Drachensee in the Tyrol Mountain
Austria is one of the best destinations in Europe for hiking adventures. Large mountains ranges stretch nearly across the whole country and offer exciting trails with spectacular views along the way. The hike to Seebensee & Drachensee is a wonderful day escapade. It starts in the town of Ehrwald and leads up to a bright turquoise lake and a fantastic mountain backdrop. The first part of the trail is relatively easy and during summer days packed with families and mountain bikers. Those in search of the extra thrill should continue further to Coburger Hutte. Up there you will discover a second mountain lake- Drachensee. In this article, you will find all the informations and our experience of hiking to Lake Seebensee & Drachensee in Tyrol, Austria, in the summer.
Start hiking to Seebensee & Drachensee at Ehrwald
Ehrwald is a holiday destination city in Austria where the hike begins. There is a large parking lot (free of charge) where you can leave your car. From here, most people take the Ehrwalder Almbahn cable car to Ehrwalder Alm Top skipping the most elevated part of the trail. The ticket costs 18.5 EUR and you can buy it directly at the station.
Wanting to save some money we decided not to use the cable car and hike the whole way. Finding the right trail is easy- past the Ehrwalder Almbahn station turn right and you’ll come across a fence with direction signs. Follow the path to Seebensee. This first part of the hike (that can be shorten by the cable car ride) is 2,5km long and 392m in elevation. It will take apx 1h to complete. It took us 30 min longer and it was the hardest part- our backpacks were very heavy since we carried full camping gear.
From Ehrwalder Almbahn top to Seebensee
If you took the cable car you will start your hike here. The road leading all the way to Seebensee is large, flat, well maintained and has only 149m of elevation. It’s a very easy part and a perfect adventure for the whole family. The views are extraordinary and keep getting better further you go. We took our time mostly because of our heavy backpacks, but we also wanted to sink in the scenery. Parts of the trail lead through a forest, others are uncovered and pass next to a large mountain.
This mountain lake with turquoise water is simply breathtaking. You can walk around the whole lake and find the perfect spot for lunch break if you brought some food with you. Alternatively, close by there is a Seebenalm mountain hut where you can try some simple Austrian food. Enjoy a well deserved break before you set for the last part of the journey.
Hiking to Drachensee is easy, just follow the wide path along the left side of Lake Seebensee. At the end of the path, you will find signs indicating Coburger Hutte. Soon you will find yourself at the bottom of a trail that looks very steep. The serpentine, narrow trail leads up a big steep to Coburger Hutte (you’ll be able to see it from the bottom). Even if elevated, the trail wasn’t as hard as we expected and completing it took us 40 min.
↬ TIP : This part of the trail is an alpine trek, filled with small and big rocks and uneven. Good hiking shoes are a must.
Reaching Coburger Hutte after 8km of intense hike feels like a real achievement. You are immediately rewarded by spectacular views of the surrounding mountain tops and deep blue Drachensee lake down below. Take a break to sink in the surrounding nature. Coburger Hutte takes reservations for overnight stays, has a restaurant and good bathroom facilities. We strongly suggest staying here for the night to wake up to most amazing panorama.
Our (failed) camping experience
First of all we must remind you that camping anywhere in the Tyrol mountains is prohibited. There is however one exception to this rule. If you are not able to make it back from your hike before dusk, it is allowed to set a small camp for the night. However you must pack up and leave with the first sun rays the following morning and LEAVE NO TRACE BEHIND.
Since we planned to wander around the trails of Seebensee & Drachensee until late, we imagined the possibility of not returning to our car before sunset after our hiking day. That’s why once the dusk approached and we were still at the top of the mountain, we opened our small tent, prepared a meal and watched the stars appear on the clear sky. It was around 10 PM when we heard loud thunder. In front of us the sky was still perfectly clear, but dark clouds and lightning appeared behind us. When the first raindrops fell we were not worried. However when few minutes later strong hailstorm hit the roof we knew it meant trouble. The hail was strong enough to make holes in the tent and we knew we couldn’t stay there. That’s why at night, getting completely soaked, we packed our belongings and started running towards the shelter.
Night in Coburger Hutte
Coburger Hutte was still packed despite the late hour and the whole restaurant went quiet at our unexpected arrival mid night and mid storm. Luckily, there were still free beds available for that night. And luckily we had 46 EUR cash with us (23 EUR per person), since the hut doesn’t accept credit cards.
The room was simple, but it was dry, warm and cosy. There were 6 bunk beds and we shared the room with 2 more people that night. After a warm shower we fell asleep easily while the strong wind was still whistling in the night. We woke up before 6AM, crawled out of our sleeping bags and went out to watch the sunrise. We opened our tent again, cooked breakfast and spent a peaceful morning. It was just us and a herd of sheep passing by.
Hiking down from Drachensee & seebensee was way easier and faster than the way up. Our backpacks were lighter and the trail was almost empty early in the morning. We even stopped for a second breakfast at Seebenalm mountain hut before completing the remaining 6km back to our car. In the end, it took us 3h40 min to go up and only 1h20min to walk all the way back down to the parking lot.
Without a doubt the easiest way of getting to Ehrwald is by a car. If you are using public transportation, train is your best option. You can get to Ehrwald Zugspitzebahn (a train station in Ehrwald) with a direct train from many cities in Germany and Austria. From the train station, take a local bus to Ehrwalder Almbahn where your hike begins.
Hiking From Ehrwalder Almbahn (bottom) to Seebensee
- Duration: 2H
- Distance: 7KM
- Difficulty: easy/medium
- Elevation: 606m
Hiking From Seebensee to Drachensee
- Duration: 40 MIN
- Difficulty: medium
- Elevation: 223m
What to take
It’s a one day hike therefor you won’t need to take much. Wear comfortable clothing and hiking shoes. However, if you take the cable car to Ehrwalder Almbahn top and from there plan to hike only to Seebensee, a good pair of sneakers will be enough.
↬ Note : This part of the trail is also accessible for kid trolleys.
Bring a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses especially during summer day. Pack waterproof jacket just in case (you should have it with you on every hike). Take Grayl and reusable bottle and refill it with water at the sources as you go.
If you think you might not return before dusk, pack few extra items that will allow you to survive the night. You can use the same items that are on the camping list we wrote for Seceda Mountain.
When to go
Hiking to Seebensee and Drachensee is definitely best to do in the summer. However the holiday months of July and August attract most visitors and the trail will be very busy. You can easily avoid that by starting your hike early in the morning. There are only a few people on the path before 9AM. Alternatively, late Spring and early Autumn should have good enough weather for your trip. While hiking outside of the summer season check the weather conditions before.
Where to next
Hiking to Seebensee and Drachensee is just 1 out of countless amazing experiences in Austria. From here you can drive to Plansee, Olperer Hutte or take a relaxing afternoon at famous Aqua Dome. This area is also only a few hours drive from Italian Dolomites.