Grainau, a village at the foot of Zugspitze, has an impressive natural spectacle in store: Höllental gorge – a feature which has been attracting tourists for more than 100 years.
Höllental gorge is around one kilometre long and up to 150 metres deep in places, thanks to the raging torrent of the Hammersbach stream. The path here leads up to 1,193 metres over bridges and steps, past numerous waterfalls, rocks and ice blocks along the way. The climate within the gorge is cool and moist, even on warm summer days, which is why wet-weather clothing is always recommended. You should also wear grippy shoes if possible. The gorge is closed in winter. Depending on snow levels, it usually opens at the end of May or beginning of June and is accessible until the end of October.
If you want to find out more about this famous gorge, the best way is to take a walk around the Höllentalklamm-Museum at its entrance. In addition to detailing the process of making the gorge accessible to visitors, the museum also focuses on the history of mining and the Garmisch-Partenkirchen region in general. Admission to the museum is included in the entrance fee for the gorge.
Food and drink is available from the Klammeingangshütte, which is located right in the heart of the gorge. Alternatively, you can continue walking up to the Höllentalangerhütte (1,387 m) beyond the end of the gorge. This roughly 20-minute hike serves up fantastic views of the Waxensteine, Riffelwände and Höllentalferner peaks as well as the nearby Zugspitze.
The idea of opening up Höllental gorge to visitors was first floated in 1900. The original aim was to allow direct access to the beautiful Höllentalanger pasture and shorten the ascent up the Zugspitze. The difficult construction work began in 1901 and took some four years of effort before it opened in summer 1905.
Regular maintenance work is still necessary today in order to install and remove the non-permanent steps and bridges and maintain the path. In winter, masses of snow and ice up to 70 metres in height can build up here, which also results in a great deal of work to reopen the gorge each year. That’s why an admission fee is charged for entering the gorge.
How to get there
The starting point for visiting Höllental gorge is either Dorfplatz Grainau or Hammersbach car park. There are plenty of parking spaces available at both.
From Munich, take the A95 towards Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Keep right in Garmisch and take the B23 to Grainau. Alternatively, you can take the Zugspitzbahn train service from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Hammersbach.
From Haus Hammersbach, there’s an almost 3 km walking path to the gorge entry booth at the Höllental gorge.