Useful Information

Location: Hinterautalstraße 422, 6108 Scharnitz.
Either start at the parking lot in Scharnitz or follow the Hinterautalstraße up the Isar valley to Hotel Wiesenhof or across the bridge to the Scharnitzer Alm.
(47.374629, 11.308661)
Open: no restrictions.
MAY to SEP recommended.
Not accessible after heavy rains and during storms.
Fee: free.
Classification: GorgeGorge
Light: n/a
Guided tours: self guided, D=45 min, L=600 m.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Naturpark-Infozentrum Scharnitz, Hinterautalstraße 555b, Scharnitz, Tel: +43-50880-540, Fax: +43-50880-541. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.



The Gleirschklamm (Gleirsch Gorge) is one of the most beautiful unspoilt gorges in the Karwendel mountains, on the northern side of the Inn valley, at the border between Germany and Tyrolia in Austria. It was formed by the Gleirsch brook, a left tributary of the young Isar river. The 45 minutes walk through the gorge is a normal alpine walking trail, there are almost no elevated sections or bridges, but they say you should be sure-footed and free from vertigo. But the spectacular specialty of this trail are sedimentary rocks which where turned by the formation of the Alps, so the horizontal layers are now vertical. At one point the softer layer was eroded and so the trail goes through an erosional cave formed by the harder layers on both sides. This is a rather rare sight and an interesting geotope. The through cave is not very long, so a torch is actually not needed.

In the past, the gorge was used for timber drifting. It was a difficult task to transport the logs through the narrow gorge. In early summer, the melt water was dammed at the beginning of the Gleirsch Gorge at a place called Klausen. The logs were lowered into the water and after reaching the necessary water level, the Klausen gate was opened. The logs shot through the gorge with a mighty surge of water and then down the Isar valley towards Scharnitz. But quite often the logs got wedged in the gorge and had to be freed by the experienced men, which were called Trifter. Today, nothing reminds us of this dangerous work, during which many men were injured and some lost their lives.

The gorge is reached on a cul-de-sac road from Scharnitz, the border town between Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Zirl. The B2/177/E5 highway is one of the main routes from Munich to Innsbruck, although most of it is normal highway, not motorway. At the border, where today are parking lots, cafes, and gas stations, you can easily see where the border control and customs buildings once stood. This gorge is probably a nice stopover, a possibility to get some fresh air during a long drive. The road from Scharnitz is signposted Hotel Wiesenhof, where the road ends with a big parking lot. Unfortunately it is on the wrong side of the valley, you have to walk downhill to the bridge Wiesenhofsteg below the lodge, and follow the single lane road on the other side upstream to the gorge. Alternatively you can turn right a few hundred meters before, to the Kneippanlage, and park at the tiny parking lot where the road ends. Just follow the road straight ahead.

The full tour, walking to the gorge, then through the gorge, and back the same trail will probably take a little more than two hours. But there are numerous alternatives, like going a little uphill at the end of the gorge and return to the Isar valley above the gorge. If you cross the Isar on the bridge a little upstream you will return on the other side of the Isar, and there is another interesting spot. A narrow trail leads down to the small cave Raggin Gufl, which is located in the cliff above Isar river. The cave was excavated and revealed prehistoric remains. Which route you take depends on how much time you want to spend. But the best thing about the gorge is, that it is quite unknown, and except for very few good weather Sundays in Summer you will be more or less alone. Good walking shoes, sun protection, some food and water, and a raincoat are recommended. Some people ride a bike to the gorge, as the access is a single lane gravel road.