Klamm: 700 m | canyon walls150 m tall | 1 hr
Total: 14 km | 500 hm | 5 hrs
Höllentalklamm is located near Grainau at the foot of the Zugspitze (2962 m, Germany’s highest peak). Allow for extra time inside the Klamm to take in the beautiful color and mesmerizing sound of the water rushing over boulders, through rock walls, spilling over crags and overhangs. Breathe in the cool misty air, run your hand along the dripping walls, and be sure to look back every few steps for another perspective.
Ascent: In Hammersbach, there are a few parking lots, which fill up early on sunny weekends. From Hammersbach, take the trail next to the river for about 1.5 hours. This shady forest trail has beautiful views of the Zugspitze and Alpspitze.
At the entrance of the Klamm is a small kiosk (1045 m), offering drinks and a terrace overlooking the wooded valley. There is a small entrance fee. The Klamm itself is 700 meters long with steep canyon walls (150 m) and spectacular waterfalls. It has wooden footbridges and stairs cut into the rock, as well as illuminated rock tunnels.
Beyond the Klamm, the valley widens and you follow a few switchbacks up the mountain. The Höllentalangerhütte (1381 m) lies about 30 minutes from the Klamm and offers 360* views of the Zugspitze and surrounding peaks. The original hut built in 1893 was demolished in 2013 and a new building opened in 2015. It has a new environmentally friendly hydroelectric power plant that provides 100% of the hut’s electricity. The hut sleeps about 100 people and books up quickly.
From the hut, you can take several trails. Be aware that it is another 4 hours to the Zugspitze or Alpspitze (and then at least 6 hours back down).
Descent: Follow the same trail back until you get to the valley floor a few hundred meters before the Klamm exit. Cross the river and take the log stairway up the other side of the mountain. You’ll cross a suspension bridge that is a dizzying 300 meters above the Klamm. Continue to follow the trail toward Grainau/Hammersbach.
Klamm: 700 m | canyon walls 80 m tall | 1 hr
Total: 7 km | 500 hm | 3.5 hrs
Open: Summer and Winter (mystical icescapes)
Parking: Olympic stadium, Karl-and-Martin Neuner-Platz
Like Höllentalklamm, Partnachklamm is about 700 meters long, but is cut just 80 meters deep. It also differs from the Höllental in that it’s easier to access and it is open year round (weather permitting). In winter, the Partnachklamm is particularly enchanting with its glowing blue-green ice walls, clear icicles hanging from the rock, and snow blanketed boulders.
Ascent: Park at the Olympic stadium in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and walk just 20 minutes to the entrance of the Klamm (small fee). At the end of the Klamm, you can hike 70 meters up to a suspension bridge crossing the gorge.
At the Klamm exit you will find both easy routes to the nearest hut and more challenging tours to the Zugspitze or Alpsptize, for example. This hike offers the former—follow the signs to the Eckbauer hut. The path leads under the Graseckbahn ski lift and winds its way along a wide forest road, then up several switchbacks up to the Berggasthof Eckbauer (1237 m). Views from this hut’s huge sun terrace present a panorama of the 2600 meter-high rocky peaks of the Wetterstein mountain range in the south meeting the Karwendel mountains to the east.
Descent: Follow the signs back down to the Olympic stadium via Wamberg and the Kainzenbad, a natural alpine swimming pool.
Kaiserklamm is located in the Alpbachtal region of Austria, just across the German border. It’s unique in that you can kayak through the white waters (not allowed in the other two Klamms). Note that it’s also quite flat and therefore an easy hike.
Ascent: From the charming 500-year old Kaiserhaus (710 m), walk just 10 minutes on a forest road until you come to a bridge that crosses the Brandenberger Ache (river). Just before crossing the bridge, access the Klamm (free) through an iron gate. Inside the Klamm, you’ll wind your way through rock tunnels and over several bridges.
The narrow path opens to another forest road. From here you can take several hikes in all directions. Continue walking until you cross the river at Trauersteg, then turn right and follow the signs to Brandalm (871 m). Views at this low elevation are green rolling pastures.
Descent: Follow the ridge down to Ellbachgraben where the forest path then descends back down to the river. Follow along the river and you’ll return back to the entrance of the Klamm, approaching the bridge from the opposite side.