Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

High-Altitude Adventure: Hiking Gorges in the Austrian Alps

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They’ve got great food, they’ve got distinctive culture, but my biggest reason for loving the Alps so is its abundance of outdoor opportunities. I’d rather be outside enjoying Mother Nature than cooped up in a museum any old day.

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

In Switzerland, you’ve got Jungfrau, the highest train station in Europe, which overlooks the Alps in the surrounding countries, too, and the car-free town of Zermatt, which sits at the bottom of the Matterhorn. There, you’ll find numerous glacier hikes, as well as chocolate and cheese experiences galore (all things that the Swiss do particularly well). In summer months, there’s ample warm-weather hiking around Bern and Lucerne, plus Interlaken, Europe’s premiere destination for adrenaline junkies. It was also one of my first stops on my solo train journey across Western Europe as an impressionable 20-year-old student, and my canyoneering experience there was something I’ll never forget. SVV also traveled there with his roommate Joe in the winter of 1999 and always brings it up as a destination of choice in central Europe should we find ourselves in the area again.

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge
Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

Austria, on the other hand, moves to the beat of a different tune (you can thank famous residents Mozart and Maria von Trapp for that!). It boasts some awe-inspiring Renaissance castles and palaces in cities like the 800-year-old Innsbruck, in addition to some of the best ski resorts on the continent (and bonus: you can fill up on strudel after a long day on the slopes!). It’s also full of peaceful alpine meadows and charming lakeside towns such as Hallstatt in contrast to its bigger, busier entities like Salzburg.

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

And then, there’s Germany with its distinctly Bavarian culture that’s palpable in the Alps’ gateway, Munich, as well as every town woven throughout the notable mountain range. Flanked by some of the most impressive and gorgeous peaks around, the Bavarian Alps also conceal famous sites from history such as the Kehlsteinhaus (or the Eagle’s Nest), located near the Austrian border just outside Berchtesgaden. And the country is brimming with other wonders like Baden-Baden, a spa town near the Black Forest, that I’m still dying to reach.

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

Oh, and if you’re lucky, you’ll also stumble upon the Leutasch Gorge (or Leutaschklamm), a new discovery of mine on this last trip that might be one of the most unique offerings of all.

Technically speaking, the gorge sits on the Bavarian-Tyrolean border, and we found ourselves crisscrossing back and forth between Germany and Austria over the course of two hours.

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

The 10.4-mile Leutaschklamm Gorge Loop is a new-ish development in the Alps and one I’d not discovered until I started researching attractions to hit up on this trip. Said to be inhabited by goblins and spirits, this gorge was fully developed for tourism a decade ago—three years after I last visited this region—thanks to a 1.4 million euro investment by the EU, Austrian and German governments.

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

What did this money provide? Why, steel walkways and bridges that spanned nearly 1,000 meters and made it one of the coolest new structures in the area.

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

I’ll admit: Those first few steps out onto the bridge were a bit disarming. After all, you’re walking over open grates, the gushing river a good hundred feet below you.

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge
Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

But once I got into my groove, I absolutely loved it. I kept expecting the steel walkways to end around every bend, and yet they kept going. I guess 1,000 meters is pretty long when you’re dangling precariously above a gorge.

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

Still, what a one-of-a-kind, breathtaking experience to offer visitors like myself. Not to mention, it’s a free activity!

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge
Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

For others retracing our steps, the one thing I will say is to watch the path you’re taking carefully. Since we arrived via the less traveled route, we completely missed the entrance to the gorge loop as the markers are small and blend into their surrounds. We actually hiked all the way to the other entrance and back again until we found where we were supposed to detour for the gorge.

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge
Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

Then again, all who wander are not lost—isn’t that how the saying goes? We came across some scenic vistas thanks to our veering off the beaten path.

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

If you come from the way we did around back—we entered just west of downtown Mittenwald along the Isar river off of Riedboden—you’ll find yourself coming up the back way by Gletscherschliff, which is a bit of a steep climb in sections. But if you arrive via the main entrance in Schanz, Austria, where the parking lot is, it’s relatively easy—great for kids and well-suited for hikers of all skill and fitness level.

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge
Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

On our way back to the car, we walked along the Isar, the river that sliced through Mittenwald, and decided to take a bit of an impromptu dip.

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

There’s no prettier, cleaner water in the world than that you’ll find in Switzerland, Austria and Germany, and it felt refreshing to plunge into the Isar.

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge
Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

It was also really cold! I immediately understood why Isar translates to “ice river.”

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge
Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

I’d say we earned our beers by the day’s end, wouldn’t you?

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge
Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge
Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge

Road Tripping through the Bavarian Alps: From Mittenwald to the Leutasch Gorge


 

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How to Plan an Epic Road Trip through the #AbsolutelyAlps
How to Plan an Epic Road Trip through the #AbsolutelyAlps
How to Plan an Epic Road Trip through the #AbsolutelyAlps

 

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COMMENTS
  • December 20, 2016

    Leutasch Gorge looks amazing. Love the staircase pictures and that super cool walkway hanging on the walls.

    • December 23, 2016

      Thanks, Charles! It’s one of the more unique walks I’ve ever been on for sure.

  • December 20, 2016
    sam

    HIKING GORGES IN THE ALPS
    its nice adventure
    thank you
    sam
    http://abudhabicheapflights.com/

  • December 21, 2016

    I’ll get sweaty feet for sure, but it does look really awesome, walking above the gorge! Added it to our list of future trip ideas. 😉

    • December 21, 2016

      Yes, Birthe, it was truly unlike anything I’ve ever done before! And the walkway just seemed to go on and on and on. Judging by photos I found while researching this spot, I think we might have even missed some of it, too!

  • December 21, 2016

    The photo of the gorge where you’re clearly leaning over the edge of the grate gave me goosebumps! It’s a gorgeous picture, but I would be super scared to take it! 🙂

    • December 21, 2016

      Ha! Luckily, I’m not (too) afraid of heights. But those first few steps were definitely a bit scary!

  • December 21, 2016

    I loved reading this because I’m heading off to so many of the same places in just a month for some winter adventuring. I’m really happy you loved it and now I’m positive I will too. Thanks for sharing!

    • December 22, 2016

      Oooh, I can’t wait to see your photos, Kristen! Where all are you going?

  • December 21, 2016

    My dad and I were just reminiscing about a hike we took in Germany when I was 11. Turns out where we were — Partnach Gorge — is just on the other side of the mountain from here! The views at Partnach were similar in many ways, but the walkway (which in many spots was carved into the side of the gorge) was much closer to the water. I would love to do this one, too … that walkway is intense!

    • December 22, 2016

      That’s so crazy, Rebecca! I haven’t heard about Partnach but just did a Google Image search and it looks fantastic, too. Next trip, for sure!

  • December 21, 2016

    I legit don’t know if I could handle the heights on that gorge! Yes, it looks stunning, but I don’t know if I’d even process it lol.

    • January 9, 2017

      It was definitely unnerving, but you get used to it! =)

  • December 21, 2016

    What a cool hike! Although, you’ll never catch me bathing in ice cold water…yikes!

    • January 9, 2017

      Oh yeah, my heart definitely stopped and I didn’t stay in for long!

  • December 22, 2016

    Nice report. Yeah, its so fun to take the beaten path.

  • December 22, 2016

    I had the pleasure of working in Switzerland for three years, it is one of the most beautiful countries and you can spend every season outdoors doing something magnificent!

    • December 24, 2016

      Ah, I totally forgot about that period in your life. Super jealous these were your daily views!

  • December 22, 2016

    This looks AMAZING! Such a stunning part of the world.

    • January 9, 2017

      Right? I mean, I feel like Germany’s nature gets overshadowed by its cities (and its beer) and not enough Americans know about the awesome national parks they have there!

  • December 22, 2016

    Ok, now I’m definitely booking a flight! Rick has never been to Europe and I think this would be an excellent introduction!

    • January 9, 2017

      This is the perfect fusion of your shared interests: outdoor life, great food, city culture if you need it!

  • December 24, 2016

    I am seeking some idea, experiences. I really like your writing style. But you have many creative ideas than me. I just back from Bagan, Myanmar, I will write as you. Let it be!

  • December 25, 2016

    Wow! This looks really amazing! Love the sections that are on bridges, makes for great pictures. Definitely pinning for later.

    • January 9, 2017

      It’s totally Instagram-worthy, for sure!

  • December 26, 2016

    Oh wow, how fun! I love to hike but have never done something like this. I wish we had similar hikes with walkways and bridges closer to home (maybe we do and I just don’t know about them…will have to check into it).

    • January 9, 2017

      I’ve never seen anything like this in the US to be honest! I wish we did, though.

  • December 26, 2016

    Fun fact: my hometown was named after the Alps because the surrounding mountains look so much like these. <3 <3 <3

    xox

    • January 9, 2017

      Lucky lady, growing up in a place like this!

  • January 2, 2017

    Great post, i love reading your blog!

    • January 9, 2017

      Thank you so much! That’s so kind of you to say!

  • January 17, 2017

    This is a very beautiful area, indeed. I’ve been there once and I can’t wait to go again some day. Your photos make me want to get back thee as soon as the snow melts away.

    • January 20, 2017

      Awesome, Violeta! I hope you have an excellent trip there and some nice weather.

  • June 17, 2017

    My God! Those photos are so exciting to see. It’s a nice adventure…I hope you enjoyed it a lot.

    Thanks for sharing…keep up your good work.

  • August 7, 2017

    This place is a paradise for hikers! I’d love to hike it soon. What time of the year is best t go there?

    • August 14, 2017

      Hi Agness! I’d say maybe a few weeks to a month later than when we went (early September) as the weather is great then but crowds were still many from the late summer stragglers—hit up during the shoulder season to avoid people and winter 😉

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