The forces of nature can be fierce and spectacular. Perhaps there is no better place to witness this than in the Alps. A fine example is the Leutaschklamm Gorge: a deep gorge that runs through the mountains on the border between Leutasch (Austria) and Mittenwald (Germany). It is here that you can see the impressive result of millions of years of erosion up close.
Basically, the leutaschklamm area exists of two parts. There is the ‘Leutascher Geisterklamm’, which is the name for the walking route around the area, covering most of the gorge. Next to that, there is the privately owned ‘Leutaschklamm Wasserfallsteig’, a short walkway to a 23 meter high waterfall inside of the gorge.
Hiking around the Leutaschklamm
For a long time, the Leutaschklamm has been inaccessible to the public. But thanks to an EU funded project completed in 2006, there is now an easy accessible walking route. A structure of steel walkways, stairways and bridges form a path that covers a distance of 970 metres. The path will lead you through, over and around the gorge. While walking along, you can admire terrific views on the gorge and its surroundings.
The entire walking route is relatively easy to walk (eg. suited for the whole family) and takes about 2 hours to complete. You can start the route from the official parking place in Schanz (Austria) or from the village of Mittenwald (Germany). Fun fact: while walking the route, you will cross the state border between Germany and Austria several times.
The route is divided into three parts: Klammgeisterweg, Koboldpfad and the Wasserfallsteig.
Part 1: Klammgeisterweg (2,5 km)
The most spectacular part of the route, leading you along the steel walkways and bridges high above the gorge. Along the route, there are several boards with information about myths, geology, flora and fauna of the area. In addition there are some interactive installations and games aimed at the younger ones.
At the panoramabrücke (panorama bridge), you can choose to loop back or continue the track along the ‘Koboldpfad’ (Kobold path)
Part 2: Koboldpfad (2 km)
The Koboldpfad leads you through the forest and covers a bit more height difference. Along the route you can learn more about the myths of the ‘Kobolden’ (Kobolds), little creatures that once were believed to live in these woods. Halfway there is a small cafe, that is also the entrance to the Wasserfallsteig.
Part 3: Wasserfallsteig (200 m)
The Wasserfallsteig is a small portion of the route that leads you to a 23 meter high waterfall inside the gorge (one-way). To access this part of the route, you’ll have to pay a small entrance fee (€ 2) at the cafe. While the Klammgeister path will let you see the gorge from up high, this path will show you the inside of the gorge. Not to be missed!
Those who are only interested in this part of the Leutaschklamm can also directly reach the cafe (and entrance) by road from Mittenwald.
You can reach the Leutaschklamm either from the Austrian side, coming from Innsbruck via Seefeld, or from the German side coming from Garmisch-Partenkirchen through Mittenwald. If you rely on public transport, it’s best to choose Mittenwald as your destination and walk from there.
There is an official car park near the village of Schanz. A parking day-ticket will cost you € 5 here. Alternatively, you can park in Mittenwald or at the parking place “Ins Ried”.
The largest part of the walkways is free to access. Only the Wasserfallsteig requires a small entrance fee (€ 2).
The Leutaschklamm is open every day, year round. However, severe weather (snow or rain) may cause the pathway to be closed, check in advance.
Eating & Drinking
There are three options for eating and drinking along the route. There is a restaurant near the parking area in Schanz, a small cafe at the entrance of the Wasserfallsteig and a larger restaurant further along the Koboldpfad (Gasthaus Gletscherschliff).
Most people will choose to visit the Leutaschklamm Gorge on a day-trip, while staying somewhere in the Bavarian or Austrian Alps. There are lots of hotels and guest houses to choose from in the area, this is a small list of recommendations: