Hell Valley Gorge – The Best Hike in Bavaria

Walkway along the Hollentalklamm in Garmisch Partenkirchen, Bavaria
Walkway along the Hollentalklamm

Hell Valley Gorge is the best hike I’ve done in Bavaria.

Hell Valley Gorge, (Höllentalklamm in German) is located in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a mountain resort town in the German Alps.  At an admission cost of only €3, it’s  simply the best €3 I have ever spent.  Visitors pay a €3 entry fee, either at the beginning or the end (depending which way you enter Hell Valley Gorge) and are treated to bridges, dimly lit tunnels and catwalks following the raging water and waterfalls through the 1000m long narrow gorge.  Don’t forget to look up, way up, the gorge is up to 150m in places, but watch your step, all that water makes for a slippery path.
Me posing in Hell Valley GorgeWe entered Hell Valley Gorge from the opposite side(the long way around), and turned it into a 15km hike, our idea of a fun Sunday.  This is right before the entrance (in reverse direction) and I thought “This is really pretty.” but I wasn’t blown away.  That would come later:
One of the many tunnels that leads visitors along the gorge.Soon we entered a dimly lit cave, one of many as it would turn out.  We also quickly found out that caves located in gorges leak, so wear a waterproof jacket if you don’t want to get wet.
Stairs and a bridge are part of the walkway through the gorgeSometimes you had the option of choosing between the path that hovered over the raging water or the tunnel.  I always chose the path.  J.P. (my German husband) always chose the tunnel.
Walking along the gorge on a wooden platform.Being so close to the roaring water was deafening.  You couldn’t hear unless you were standing right beside somebody.  Several times other hikers creeped up on me as I was taking a photo and I only noticed after I saw that they had passed me.  Combined with a slippery path, all my senses were on full alert.  I felt alive.  I was loving it!  In a matter of minutes, Hell Valley Gorge has become my favorite hike in Bavaria.
WaterfallIt was such a contrast of senses, rushing violent water with serene greys and blues, that reminded me of a spa.  I felt both exhilarated and relaxed at the same time. The colors had such an impact on me that I’ve decided to redecorate my bathroom in the relaxing color schemes of Hell Valley Gorge and to remind me of this fascinating place every time I walk into my bathroom.
Waterfall and walkway

What’s really remarkable is that every year the Hell Valley Gorge trails are maintained and repaired by members of the Munich Alpine Club, who keep the admission cost down by volunteering their time and to who I say a huge “thank you”.

What’s the best €3 you’ve ever spent?

Hell Valley Gorge is located in the village of Grainau at the foot of the Zugspite, Germany’s highest mountain.  Alternatively you can get there from Garmisch-Partenkirchen if you are looking for a longer hike (to be described in an upcoming blog post).  I’ve also named Hell Valley Gorge as the Best Local Destination in Germany as part of my Best of Travel 2011.

 

See more places to visit in Germany.

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45 thoughts on “Hell Valley Gorge – The Best Hike in Bavaria”

  1. @Cheryl – Would highly recommend it if you’re in the Munich/Alps area. It’s been my favorite day trip from Munich so far.

  2. @Cathy – Honesty I would have paid a lot more than €3 for it, but certainly wasn’t complaining. You definitely saw more by choosing the paths over the tunnels. I took over 100 photos, so it was hard to decide 🙂

  3. That’s beautiful! 3 euros well spend as I love hiking and exploring caves and outdoor places like this. Reminds me of a place I visited in Switzerland. Funny how some choose the safe path and others the more dangerous! Just don’t try that in Yosemite! 🙂

    You will have to share what the bathroom looks like once you redecorate.

  4. We have a similar gorge in my hometown, only on a smaller scale, and you walk in the water, hopping between rocks. Hoellental looks very cool! Next time in Munich, definitely!

  5. @Jeremy – Me too, can’t think of a better way to spend my money. Interesting that my husband chose the safe way and left me to my own devices on the really slippery way – guess he’s confident in my hiking abilities :). Will share the bathroom photos for sure.

    @Sophie – Sounds lovely as well. I love gorges.

  6. @Abby – It was so fun, but not as cold as it looks, although we did get wet, but you do have access to Cirque d’Soleil every night, of which I’m incredibly jealous 🙂

  7. I’d never heard of that Laurel until your article.
    15KM walk/hike must have been a real joy.
    Good pics too!
    Thanks for sharing.
    John D. Wilson

  8. That’s the second time I’ve seen something in Garmisch area this week. There’s one more to add to my ever-expanding list of places I want to go, although I think I should get back in shape. 15km is a bit of a hike lol.

  9. OK, maybe I went here 10 years ago, but I can’t remember paying for it. Now you’ve got me curious. I live an hour away from this and I don’t think I’ve been here. I’m getting out my list and writing it down. I’m going to hell, dammit.

  10. That looks awesome!

    As a backpacker I admit I always try to look for free places but sometimes it really worth it to splurge. And at 3 Eu, that’s hardly splurging, it’s a great deal!

    I can spend hours looking at water, especially waves and waterfalls. I would have loved this place!

  11. how gorgeous!!! i just flew threw germany, wishing i had a couple of days to spend there!! reading this *really* makes me wish that I had a few days to spend there!

  12. Looks like a great experience. My kind of adventure. Thanks for sharing. Fast water running underground is a sensory extravaganza. Nakimu Caves at Rogers Pass is another example.

  13. Thanks for your comments everyone. I can’t recommend Hell Valley Gorge (Hoellentalklamm) enough. Robin – it was incredibly noisy (in a good way) and I’m not sure about the fishing John.

  14. Nice pic..it is look like a gangotree & jamnotree in himalaya in india.In chardham Yatra i got a great experience of hiking.

  15. Awesome Laurel! We have been snowboarding in Zugspitze before and spent some time in Garmisch, but have never heard about this place before! Thanks for sharing and making us want to go there!

  16. Hi Laurel,
    This sounds great. Weather has been terrible here so basically relying on caves and gorges to keep out of the rain. We’ve now visited the Partnach Gorge (Partnachklamm), Leutasch Gorge (Leutaschklamm) and Breitachklamm plus Sturmanns Hoehle and fast running out of options so I’m glad google has come to the rescue and pointed me towards Hoellentalklamm. We’ll do this tomorrow.
    If you’re ever back in Bavaria you must check out these other gorge walks. Partnachklamm is No. 2 (of 32) things to do in Garmisch (where this gorge also is), Leutasch is also amazing, just a hop over the border into Austria but worth it. EU funding allowed a metal walkway to be built 90m above the gorge. The view is surreal. A rather eerie perspective walking above the frothing river and waterfalls. Breitachklamm is the deepest of them all, deepest in central Europe actually, I believe.
    Thanks for the tip in any case…..good to know our options haven’t run dry (no pun intended) 😉

    • @Gordon, Let me know how you like Höllentalklamm. I like it even better than the Partnachklamm and the Leutasch Gorge. Haven’t done the Breitachklamm yet, but it’s on my list. I’m lucky, I live in Munich, so it’s not far away :). Thanks for the suggestions!

  17. My girlfriend and I just returned to Canada from Germany (August 2015) and based on the hiking information gathered from this site, we hiked the Höllentalklamm! Thanks so much for the tips. I believe the cost is now 4 euros, which is still great. Tip: We caught a bus from Garmish Partenkirchen to the Hammersbach stop and the bus dropped us right in front of a Höllentalklamm base sign. (you pay on the way up at a gate just before the main gorge entrance)

    We had an absolutely magical sunny day for the hike and as to be expected, it was slighly busy on the way up, but not at all in an uncomfortable way.

    The hike through the main gorge was fantastic. We eventually found a nice spot close to the slower moving glacial water, dipped our feet in and had a small lunch. From this point, you sort of reach the end of the lower hike close to water and I think alot of people walked back the same way.

    BUT, the real trick is to keep moving up the rocky stair case on the left side to a much higher and more beautiful zigzagging trail view of the Zugspitze! It’s just awesome. This part of the hike will eventually loop around and down through switchback trails through the forest, a neat little gorge bridge and back to your starting point. We found this to be much less busy. Saw maybe 6 people on the higher elevation loop.

    All in all, probably walked about 8km and the trail is not super difficult, but good gripping boots should be used. Can be very slippy.

    Thanks again, can’t wait to go back to this epic spot!

  18. Hi! Thanks for your recomendations! This place looks amazing! Do you think this hike is something a beginner like me can handle? Or is there a tour guide i can possibly hire to take me and a group through this hike? Hope you can help thanks!

    • @Patricia – you could just hike up part of it and then turn around when you had enough but I do recommend the 15km if you can do it. It really is beautiful.

  19. Hi Laurel, my 2 sons and I very excited to hike the Hell Valley Gorge during our German vacation. We will be staying in Munich. Is it difficult to get to the trail head from the train station? What train station would we get off at?
    Thanks for all the wonderful information!

  20. Hi Laurel,

    How exactly did you two turn it into the longer hike? I’m staying in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and would love to do the longer version of this hike!

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