Note: The duration stated above is the minimum time. If you are hiking with elderly people or children, or want to take a few breaks on the numerous benches along the way, you may well need twice as long. If you have some more time at hand, you might consider going the extended route around Oberilzmühle catchment lake and back to Hals, which is not included in this hike, extending it to a length of 8.5 km (5.28 mi). Along that path, you can even dip into the lake!
From Bus Stop Hals-Hochstein to the Drift Barrier
You start at the bus stop in Passau/Hals-Hochstein, where you can find a tally board (you will find this route as Route 11), and a short path which is the beginning and end of the hike. After this short, plane path leading you to Franz Stockbauer bridge, you cross river Ilz onto a niche hiking trail.
Continuing along the idyllic Ilz, you will get to the loop's hub, where the actual circular path starts. We recommend turning right here, to walk through the tunnel, the drift barrier (careful, no lighting!). Once you come out on the other side, there are three possible trails. The first on the right leads over a bridge and back to the other side of river Ilz. Here you can find the inn "Zur Triftsperre", which features a nice beergarden.
Along the Ilz to the Swimming Lake
The path on the left leads to a lofty viewing platform, the one in the middle, marked as Route 11, continues along the Ilz. You keep walking along the river on your right, and the forest on your left-hand side, until you reach a clearing with some little ponds. This is where you can find the lower Ilz swimming area, which features a kiosk in good weather. Ideally, you can combine your hike with a little swim here.
Back to the Drift Barrier and the Hub
Once you feel sufficiently refreshed, continue past the car park and an old farm, and turn left following the sign with number 11. After a few hundred metres, this is the only slight ascent of the route, which is, however, doable also for small children. This is the only short section where you cannot see the river.
Finally, you will get back to where you started the loop. If you have time to spare, you can walk around the market square of Hals, which is still as quaint as ever even after enduring extreme floods.
Where to eat
After the tunnel, you can cross a bridge to the inn "Zur Triftsperre". Another option can be the kiosk by the lower Ilz swimming area.
- You're traveling a distance of 2 miles on this easy trail. The hike is therefore not too long. The average length of all hikes in Bavaria is 28 miles.
- This easy hike is perfect for the whole family. What’s even better: You can also bring the family’s best friend on this dog friendly hike. (See all dog friendly hikes in Bavaria.)
- In case of good weather conditions, the hike can also be done without bringing your hiking boots. There are places to buy beverages and food along the track. However it’s always recommended to bring enough water and food along with you.
Highlights of the tour
The idyllic nature of this tour is what makes it so special. Passau's most beautiful recreational area boasts not only the slowly flowing Ilz, but also lots of untouched nature, a mere 2 km outside of the city centre.
The drift barrier, on the other hand, is almost historic, and used to serve as a shortcut to get wood from the Bavarian Forest to Passau without having to do the loop.
Along the path, you can also glimpse the ruins of Hals Castle in the back. Unfortunately, it is not allowed to enter the ruins. However, the climb is worth it even just to walk around the castle walls.
This route can easily be extended, by turning right after the tunnel, where you reach the reservoir dam after about 3 km, which lends itself to another crossing of the Ilz (see the longer route). On the other side of Ilz you go back to the bridge, which leads back to the tunnel. From there, simply follow route 11 again.
Sturdy shoes are an advantage, however, you can also do the hike with regular trainers. If it has rained the day before, or the weather is rather damp, proper tramping boots are necessary due to slip hazard. You will not find more than a few roots and stones for obstacles, though.
You can get to the starting point on public transportation, using bus line 4 from Passau to the final stop Hochstein.
Alternatively, you can leave Passau by car onto B12 towards Hutthurm. Turn left into Ilzleite towards Hals. Follow along Ilzleite until you cross a bridge towards Halser Marktplatz. Follow the major road, continuing alongside the river until you arrive at the bus stop. Some free car parks are available.