A double peak for border crossers

About "Kranzhorn" mountain and its two peak crosses

Kranzhorn in Erl, the viewpoint mountain with 2 peak crosses

No, you're not seeing double when you get to the top of Kranzhorn. There are actually two crosses, just a few meters apart, rising up toward the sky. A strange sight that has puzzled many hikers. I learn more about why this is the case and what other surprises the famous viewpoint has to offer from Alexandra Maier, the hostess at Kranzhornalm.

How the mountain got its name

Was it the border between Tyrol and Bavaria that gave the 1,366 meter high mountain its name? Or does it come from "Khrants" – the Tyrolean word for juniper? "Nobody really knows for sure. We also still don't know who set up the two peak crosses", explains Alexandra Maier. But what we do know is that Kranzhorn is one of the most popular viewpoint mountains in Austria. And this is confirmed over and over again: "Our guests are impressed by the fascinating views. But that's not all - there's a rare surprise waiting for them at the very top!"

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Daughter Laura with Martin

The doppelgänger at 1,366 meters

There are countless routes leading to the peak of Kranzhorn. Some start in Bavaria, others from the Tyrolean side. But the hikers all have one thing in common: the peak is their goal. Because you don't see a peak like Kranzhorn every day. Since 1900 there have been two peak crosses on top. The extremely rare sight begs the question: "Why is one peak cross not enough?"

But anyone who has researched their tour a little in advance knows that they're not seeing double, and that there's a good reason: "The mountain is directly on the border between Bavaria and Austria. And so that both countries had their own monument there were two crosses set up", says Alexandra Maier. It's not hard to tell which cross belongs to which country: "One is made of metal, the other of wood. The wooden cross naturally belongs to the nature-loving Tyroleans, and was lovingly restored by the young Erl farmers ten years ago", reveals Alexandra Maier, from whom I learn more about the various routes to the peak.

All paths lead to Kranzhorn

Or at least a lot of them do. And from two countries, as Alexandra describes: "The easiest route leads from Bergstraße in Erl up onto the mountain. From the signposted car park you reach the peak crosses in one hour, via a forestry road. It's an easy path, which is very popular with families and mountain bikers.

An alternative for sporty mountain enthusiasts leads along a steep track from the Erl district of Scheiben, and takes around two hours. If you want to start from Bavaria then follow the shady two-hour forestry road from Windshausen or Samerberg. Walkers who are in a hurry can take the shortcut and reach the peak in around 45 minutes. No matter which side you come from, all paths lead to the mountain – and past Kranzhornalm", smiles Alexandra.

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The Kranzhornalm is only 20 minutes from the peak

Kranzhornalm: eating with friends

When the "music" is playing, the walkers are being treated to sensational dishes and the Tyrolean hospitality can be felt, then you're at Kranzhornalm, just 20 minutes from the peak. That's where the Anker family personally looks after their guests: "My parents have been on the alm for 45 years, and three years ago my brother and I took over the hut", says Alexandra.

And there's plenty to experience at 1,300 meters: Relax in the rustic hut after energetic challenges on Tyrol's highest football field or adventurous hours at the playground or petting zoo. "Pressknödel (pressed dumplings) with sauerkraut, Blutwurstgröstl (blood sausage gröstl) or mum's homemade cakes have enticed many hikers. Add to that music played by dad, and the rustic hut atmosphere is perfect. And if you decide to spend the night with us, there's a dormitory with mattresses for 17 people", laughs Alexandra.

One peak, two crosses, countless experiences

There are plenty of unforgettable moments on Kranzhorn. The climb up is full of surprises for watchful eyes. You might see a chamois crossing the path, or spy a rare gentian blossom or Alpine rose on the edge of the path. At the latest after you've marvelled at the strange surprise of two crosses at the peak, your gaze will wander into the distance: definitely the greatest reward for mountain climbers. From the Lofer Steinberg Mountains to the Wilder Kaiser, from the Chiemgau Alps to the Inn Valley: the views of the German and Austrian countryside are endless. "You can hear about it all you want, but only once you've seen it for yourself can you see how beautiful it really is", concludes Alexandra.

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A visit to Kranzhornalm promises an unforgettable mountain experience

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by Sylvia Dreher