One of the spectacular scenic attraction in the Wetterstein Range, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen is the Höllental Canyon or Höllentalklamm. Situated at the mouth of the Höllental, a very steep and deep valley, created by the south facing walls of the Waxensteinkamm and the north facing walls of the Höllentalspitzen (Jubiläumsgrat)
, Zugspitze and Osterfelder. The Zugspitze with it's height of 2964 m, the Waxenstein with 2267 m, the Höllentalspitzen with 2720 m and the Osterfelder with a height of 2050 m are forming the deep valley. The elevation of the river in the bottom of the Canyon is about 1100 m above sea level in average.
The Höllentalklamm is a 150 m deep and in average 15 m wide canyon. The river Hammersbach roars through it's entire length. The river is fed by the melting waters of the Höllental Glacier just below the Zugspitze, Germany's highest peak. The trail was constructed in the early 1900's and is maintained by the German Alpine Club. At the entrance hut the hiker will pay a toll which contributes to the high maintaining costs. Every fall and spring the boardwalks and bridges are getting removed and re-installed to prevent damage by massive avalanches busting into the canyon during the winter month.
The trail though the Höllentalklamm is a wet and cold adventure. Water is dripping from above, water is running in little streams along and across the trail. Drizzle will blow right into your face and I bet your socks don't stay dry for long. It's noisy too, the river roars through it's narrow bed and cascades down over tall steps, boulders and logs. The water is ice-cold because it's melting water from a glacier further above the valley. In the spring time the maintenance crew is digging holes and tunnels into the avalanche debris from the past winter to get going. Eventually the snow melts away by mid summer.
one of the many boardwalks
How to get there - other trails
The trailhead is in the little village of Hammersbach about 6 KM east from Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The first part of the trail is a steep one hour approach along the river. The hike through the Klamm is about 0.6 miles / 1 kilometer long and the trail gains approximately 450 ft / 150m from the entrance of the canyon to it's end in the beautiful valley of the Höllental.
The trail though the Höllentalklamm continues to the Höllentalanger Hut. This place is a main hub for several independent trail heads.
1) The Zugspitz trail/Via Ferrata
; a very long hike/scramble to Germany's tallest mountain
2) The Matheissenkar trail; a steep and remote hike to the peak of the Alpspitze
3a) The Knappenhaeuser trail; a moderate hiking trail to the Adolf Zöppritz Lodge at the Kreuzeck
3b) this trail forks and an other section gets you to the Osterfelder Cable Car station
4) Trailhead for scrambles to several peaks of the Waxenstein Massif
5) Trailhead for the Riffelscharte trail
A trail running paralell, the Klammsteig, follows the Canyon high above and crosses the deep below running river about half way with a spectacular steel bridge contruction. This trail combined with the trail in the canyon makes up for a perfect loop.
the spiral stairs deep in the canyon
In the 1930's miners used the trail to get up into the mines in the Höllental region. The mines produced lead, silver and vanadium and are closed since 1945. Remainings of the abandoned mines are close to the upper mouth. Follow the hiking trail for about an other hour to the Reintalanger Hut. This is an Alpine Club Hut and serves for many mountaineers as their base for klimbing the Zugspitze.
Notes and additional information
The canyon is moist and wet even on sunny days, you better bring raingear no matter how nice the weather is.
Fees are EU 2.50 per person
A brief link to the German Alpine Club, Garmisch Partenkirchen, who is the maintainer of the Höllentalklamm
The Höllentalanger Hut
is a good place to stay overnight.