Kaiser Gorge in Brandenberg, © Erwin Haiden
Kaiser Gorge in Brandenberg, © Erwin Haiden

Misty & Mystical: Tirol’s Most Beautiful Canyons

Where water has cleaved its way from the mountain down to the valley over time immemorial, its path is reflected in adventurous landscapes, misty and mystical – Tirol’s most beautiful canyons.

Water is stronger than stone: where streams have inexorably forced their way from the mountain down to the valley over centuries, the waters have cleaved through rock and stone, creating ravines and gorges in many places, with rock pools, gullies and waterfalls. Years ago, the power of these canyon streams was often exploited for log driving. Nowadays, Tirol’s gorges and canyons are popular day trip destinations and well accessible via walkways and steps. You will, however, still need to be sure of foot, as the rising spray often makes the paths quite slippery.

It really is worthwhile to stop every so often, just to look and marvel: the views and surprising aspects of these canyons are simply magnificent; nowhere else does nature present itself in such sparkling and mysterious style!

1 · Galitzen Gorge

Galitzen Gorge, © Tirol Werbung/Bernd Uhlig

Only a few minutes from Lienz in Osttirol and on the Drau Cycle Trail, visitors experience a spectacular water spectacle at Galitzen Gorge. A path and walkway that run along the rock wall, allow fascinating insights of the raw power of Galitzenbach River and its thundering waterfalls. A water park with labyrinth and cable ferry, forest rope course, via Ferrate in varying levels of difficulty and stone ball mill make Galitzen Gorge a popular destination for families.

High, rock walls flank the entrance to the gorge, just after the village of Leisach (approaching from Lienz in the direction of Pustertal). Opening times, May to October.

2 · Gleirsch Gorge

Gleirsch Gorge, southeast of Scharnitz, © Region Seefeld

Gleirschtal Valley lies southeast of Scharnitz, where the Gleirsch River makes its way through wild and romantic rocky channels, leaving one of the most beautiful gorges in Karwendel in its wake. Log driving took place in these waters from the 16th to mid-20th Century. Secure walkways, which require a certain degree of surefootedness, lead through the gorge in around 45 minutes, past waterfalls, stone tunnels and turquoise rock pools. Don’t forget to look out for the many small wonders, such as nesting dippers, who have built their nests in the rocks.

Starting from Scharnitz, take the Isarsteig Trail, past Scharnitzer Alm, along the Nederweg Trail to the entrance of Gleirsch Gorge. Open daily in summer, closed in winter.

3 · Grießbach Gorge

Grießbach Gorge in Kirchdorf/Erpfendorf, © Tirol Werbung/Monika Höfler

Grießbach Gorge is one of the most beautiful day trip destinations in the Kirchdorf and Erpfendorf region. Those who dare, can cross the 25-metre long hanging bridge. Strung 4 metres over the riverbed, it is followed by wooden walkways, narrow paths, benches and another hanging bridge. The new walkways do not have handrails on the river’s edge: so take care whilst admiring the waterfalls and rock formations. The gorge opens up after around three quarters of an hour’s walk, where visitors can enjoy a play and picnic area, slack-lines and a barefoot trail.

The free “Klamm” carpark can be found just after Erpfendorf (1 km from the junction in the direction of Kössen/Waidring). From here, the entrance to the gorge is well signposted. Open daily from spring to autumn (weather permitting).

4 · Hölltal Gorge

Hölltal Gorge in Lechtal Valley, © Tirol Werbung

The “Weg der Sinne – Trail of Senses” in Bschlabs in the Lechtal Valley, leads from Maria Schnee Chapel of Pilgrimage to the Hölltal Gorge. It has an average depth of 40 metres and the narrowest point is only 45 centimetres wide. The impressive trail, which is easy to negotiate with good walking boots, is adorned with works of art by local artists. The design of these wood and steel sculptures is closely intertwined with the history of the valley. After the hanging bridge, a particularly special place opens up behind a rock: a place of surprising tranquillity!

The trail takes around one hour to complete. It begins at Maria Schnee Chapel of Pilgrimage in Bschlabs. Not bound by any opening times in summer.

5 · Kaiser Gorge

Kaiser Gorge in Brandenberg, © Erwin Haiden

The Kaiser Gorge in Brandenberg is home to a magnificent natural spectacle. The Brandenberg Ache canyon river has proved to be a formidable rock sculptor, as it flowed through these mighty confines, leaving incredible challenges for kayakers and white-water sport enthusiasts in its wake. Walkers can take the narrow, rocky, but well secured path that leads for one kilometre through the narrow canyon with its bridges and rock tunnels. After which, the river becomes wider and the landscapes more easy on the eye, with plenty of nice spots that invite you to linger and enjoy.

Kaiser Gorge is located around 10 kilometres from Brandenberg, north of Gasthaus Kaiserhaus (it takes around 30 minutes to walk through the gorge). On days with heavy rainfall from November to April, the gorge is closed for safety reasons.

6 · Kundler Gorge

Kundler Gorge between Wörgl and Wildschönau, © Tirol Werbung/Alexander Ziegler

Kundler Gorge extends from Kundl to the romantic Wildschönau Mühltal Valley. Its entrance alone is a sight to behold: a timber frame bridge leads to the impressive rock formations along the Wildschönauer Ache canyon river. Amateur geologists will find the fascinating monoliths of differing rock types to be of particular interest. As exuberantly high-spirited the river may be, the path is easy and undemanding. It takes around an hour to walk and is suitable for prams. The section of the route from the end of the gorge to Mühltal can be made conveniently on the novelty slow train.

Free parking at Kundler Gorge, which begins next to the distinctive wooden bridge. The novelty slow train operates several times a day from mid May to mid October.

7 · Leutasch Ghost Gorge

Leutasch Ghost Gorge, © Region Seefeld

The ghost of Leutasch Ghost Gorge is said to live with his goblins in the “Hell’s waters, ghost pools and witches cauldron” of the tempestuous Leutascher Ache canyon river. Visitors have no need to fear, however, as this ghost means no harm and tells interesting stories about his mysterious kingdom on display boards along the trail. A little courage is needed, however, to walk the route: adventurous steel walkways that lead to wonderful views of the rushing torrents, cascades and bizarre rock walls, with drops of up to 75 metres.

Three paths lead through the realm of the Gorge Ghost: the Klammgeistweg – Gorge Ghost Trail (3 kilometres),the Koboldpfad – Goblin Path (1.9 kilometres) and the Wasserfallsteig – Waterfall Trail (500 metres). The Gorge Ghost Trail leads from the car park in the Leutasch district of Schanz or, from the old customs house at Leutasch to the gorge after around 600 metres, the walk takes around 1.5 hours. Accessible from spring to autumn, closed in winter.

8 · Radurschlklamm Gorge

Radurschl Gorge near Pfunds, © TVB Tiroler Oberland/Kurt Kirschner

Rocky overhangs, tumultuous waterfalls and an interesting alpine flora with rare grasses and ferns welcome walkers to the Radurschl Gorge near Pfunds. The easy trail leads over small wooden bridges, a hanging bridge and well-constructed trails to the foaming spray and water torrents of the Radurschlbach River. This gorge walk offers a refreshingly welcome change of scene, especially on hot summer days. Pfunds Tourist Board offers tours through these former hunting grounds of Emperor Maximilian I.

The route begins in the Pfunds sub district of Stampfau. The gorge trail passes the machine house and leads to a waterfall. The entrance to Radurschl Gorge is behind the bridge to the right. Only accessible in the summer months.

9 · Rosengarten Gorge

Rosengarten Gorge in Imst, © Imst Tourismus

The picturesque Rosengarten Gorge begins only a stone’s throw from Imst town centre. Schinderbach River carved this 1.5 kilometre long ravine, which extends from the Blue Grotto to Johannes (St. John’s) Church. This natural gem, one of Tirol’s most valuable natural habitats, is not filled with roses (as the name may suggest), but with rare ferns and mosses, as well as millions of years old, geologically fascinating rocks. A well-secured mountain trail with bridges takes you right through the gorge. Imst Tourist Board regularly organise geological and botanical round walks.

The entrance to the gorge is located in the very centre of Imst. Open from spring to autumn, it is not passable in winter.

10 · Schnanner Klamm Gorge

Schnann Gorge at Arlberg, © TVB St. Anton am Arlberg

Hiking or climbing? You can do both at Schnann Gorge. It has a bouldering area and 42 climbing routes in varying levels of difficulty. Furthermore, with “her” boisterous white waters, steep rocky faces and two magnificent dam walls, she is one of the finest natural monuments in the Arlberg Region. Although partially secured with wire ropes, the well-maintained trail still demands a certain degree of surefootedness. It takes walkers past interesting rock formations and beautiful waterfalls. Iron steps have been anchored into sections of the trail to facilitate progress.

The entrance to the gorge is north of Schann am Arlberg. Passable from May to the end of October.

11 · Tiefenbachklamm Gorge

Tiefenbach Gorge between Kramsach and Brandenberg, © Alpbachtal Tourismus / Grießenböck Gabriele

Visitors can explore the spectacular Tiefenbach Gorge between Kramsach and Brandenberg along a well-secured, former log-driving trail, where an extraordinary natural spectacle takes place revolving around the Brandenberger Ache canyon river. The white waters force their way through the narrow ravine, flanked by extraordinary rock faces, while walkers watch the foaming surf and the occasional kayaker from the safety of the viewing platform. After 4 fascinating kilometres and an hour long canyon walk, the valley opens up to reveal a meadow and several places offering welcome refreshments.

Access the gorge from the Aschauer Straße Street. The gorge is closed for safety reasons on days with heavy rainfall, as well as from November to April.

12 · Wolfsklamm Gorge

The Wolfsklamm Gorge at Stans, © Tirol Werbung/Bernhard Aichner

Wooden bridges, walkways, ladders and 354 wooden steps lead through the wild and romantic Wolfsklamm Gorge, past rocky mountains, waterfalls and rock pools with emerald green waters. Hikers can listen to the effervescent babbling of the Stanserbach River at pretty resting spots, as the misty spray brings welcome refreshment. At the end of the gorge, a pilgrimage trial leads on to Felsenkloster Monastery and the former St. Georgenberg Hermitage, the oldest pilgrimage site in Tirol, where you will find yourself in the Alpenpark Karwendel nature reserve.

Walk in a northerly direction from Stans along the banks of the Stanserbach River until just before a shooting range. Turn right, and make your way through the forest to the entrance of Wolfsklamm Gorge, which will take around 25 minutes. The walk from Stans to St. Georgenberg takes around 1.5 hours.

13 · Zammer Lochputz

Zammer Lochputz, © Archiv TVB TirolWest/Günter Standl

An old forge, tunnels, stairs in the rock and a mountain cave: whoever embarks on the „Zammer Lochputz“ adventure in Lötzklamm Gorge at Zams, will discover many awe inspiring and mystical features along the way. Eventually, you will meet the stone bull and the Zammer Lochputz, which resembles a nymph’s head. Lötz Waterfall is a spectacular highlight, with a drop of 30 metres, the white waters cascade over weather-scarred rocks in a spewing onrush of unrestrained energy. Spectacular views of these pristine natural landscapes can be enjoyed from a 620-metre long trail system.

Access the gorge in Lötz at Zams, opening times are from 1st May to the end of October, tours take place on Mondays in July and evening tours every Wednesday in August. Closed in winter, although.

14 · Glemmbach Gorge

Glemmbach Gorge, © Kufsteinerland

Thanks to its remote location in southern Thierseetal Valley, pristine Glemmbach Gorge is a true wilderness gem that is often overlooked. With some technical sections, this trail doesn’t get too crowded. It’s a challenge, but a good one. Some parts of the trail have permanently fixed cables for protection, yet it requires sure footing and numerous creek crossings. As the valley closes in, the trail has no choice but to go right up the creek bed. It’s a rugged affair and, depending on water flow, wet as well. After braving this moderate loop trail for 15 kilometers and some 700 vertical meters though, the rewards are many—gorgeous natural scenery and relatively few people to share the trail with.

Trailhead for this loop trail is Gasthaus Krämerwirt Inn in the hamlet of Landl. Walk towards Riedenberg and turn left for Jochberg at the first fork. After the village, take the left trail down into the gorge.

15 · Tuxbach Gorge

Tuxback Gorge

Surrounded by thick forests, the Tuxbach Gorge in Finkenberg is well worth a visit. It is up to 70 metres deep in places and forms part of the Zillertal Valley Nature Park. The flora and fauna have adapted over the years to the damp, shady climate in the gorge. Some of the mountain sycamores here have leaves twice the size as those growing in other surroundings. There is a circular walk through the gorge and the nature park, including a crossing of the protected Teufelsbrücke bridge – a nerve-jangling experience with a namen that translates simply as Devil's Bridge.

The easy 1.5-hour walk begins at the car park at the bottom of the cable car (Finkenberger Almbahn) and heads west along the bank of the Tuxbach river to the Teufelsbrücke bridge and then along the "Naturerlebnisweg Glocke" trail. It is open from June until October.

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