Hagengebirge is located about 30 km south of the city of Salzburg. It forms like Tennengebirge a huge limestone plateau with a large number of peaks mostly situated at the rims of the plateau.
The plateau extends over an area of approx. 70km² while the whole range covers about 140km².
The western part of Hagengebirge (in Germany) is a national park while the not less attractive and much larger Austrian part still has little protection.
In the East Hagengebirge is separated from Tennengebirge by the deep canyon of river Salzach (up to 1700m deep). In the North the magnificent valley of Bluntautal confines this mountain range. The fjord like lake Königsee, one of the most beautiful and unspoiled lakes of the Alps forms the natural border of Hagengebirge in the West. Finally the Blühnbachtal, a romantic valley with a beautiful castle borders the Hagengebirge in the South.
Hagengebirge is one of the remotest places of Salzburg. No huts, no public roads exist and springs are sparse so that access to the inner parts of Hagengebirge usually is quite a long and exhausting hike.
Only a few marked paths lead to the most important peaks. Huge areas of the plateau region are almost unaccessable due to densley growing dwarf pines and the rugged karstic surface.
This remoteness has also a historic reason. This mountain range was the favourite hunting areas of the powerfull archbishops of Salzburg and public had been kept out for hundreds of years.
Hagengebirge is a paradise for those who look for lonleyness and unspoiled nature. But it is also a place of desire for the many caving expeditions that explore the dark secrets of Hagengebirge. Some of the longest caves of Austria extend inside Hagengebirge. Huge karstic springs emerge in the North forming spectacular waterfalls and fill the Bluntau valley with water.
Hagengebirge is situated about 30 km south of Salzburg City. Salzburg has an international airport and is connected to the transnational railway and motorway net.
The villages around the Tennengebirge can be reached by public transports like busses (Schönau / Königsee) or by bus and train (Berchtesgaden, Golling, Tenneck, Werfen).
Easiest access to more elevated regions of Hagengebirge is provided by a good road that leads from Berchtesgaden to the middle station of the Jenner cable car (Goell mountain group) or by the cable car itself that is still outside of Hagengebirge.
No red tape.
Summits of Hagengebirge
Mountain chains and large ridges as developed in most of the mountain groups are almost completely absent at Hagengebirge. The mountain range is characterized by the huge plateau with most of the important peaks at the rims.
The main summits
in the very west (Gotzen Plateau) are
In Austria bivouacing is allowed above the forest line, in Germany there are restrictions within the national park.
Only very few huts are located at the margins or close to Hagengebirge:
1.) Carl von Stahlhaus, 1736 m
70 sleeping places
open all year
Located at Torrener Joch exactly between Hagengebirge and Göll and exactly at the border between Austria and Germany.
2.) Schneibsteinhaus, 1670 m
Located at Torrener Joch, very close to Stahlhaus
3.) Gotzenalm, 1685 m
Tel.: +49 / 8652-69 09 00
83 beds / sleeping places
open from mid May till 15th of Oct.
Great views to Königsee and Watzmann from the nearby Feuerpalfen
4.) Wasseralm, 1420 m
Tel. +49 / 8652 / 22 07
30 sleeping places
between Hagengebirge and Steinernes Meer
5.) Eckberthütte, 1144 m
Tel. +43/664 /4315967
20 sleeping places
open from mid May till end of October, during winter self service, then 4 sleeping places
Similar to Tennengebirge most of Hagengebirge is composed of upper Triassic limestone, so called Dachsteinkalk (Triassic period extends from about 250 to 200 million years ago). In the north-eastern part it is overlain by lower Jurassic red limestones that frequently contain fossils as ammonites and belemnites. The up to 1000m thick Dachsteinkalk lies above thick dolomitic rocks (Wettersteindolomit) of middle Triassic age. These dolomites are underlain by lower triassic limestones (Gutensteiner Kalke) and schists (Werfener Schiefer). At the mountain base evaporites, such as gipsum or rock salt, are present.
The morphology of Hagengebirge is mainly dominated by the upper triassic limestones that have undergone heavy karstification. Many large cave systems have developed within the Dachsteinkalk. As the Dachsteinkalk is a very compact and rigid rock that has formed in tropic lagoons and reefs it forms a large number of huge rock walls offering good climbing conditions.
The middle and lower triassic rocks (dolomites, limestones, schists) that are gently dipping to the north and north-east are only exposed in the southern and south eastern parts of Hagengebirge. At Blühnbachtal these rocks crop out till a height of approx. 1600m and half way to the village of Golling they sink below the valley floor. The dolomitic rocks are far less permeable than the karstic limestone above. As consequence almost all precipitation is drained by caves and by widened joints and bedding planes (due to karst processes) to the north, where huge springs are situated (Bluntau valley and Eisgraben near Sulzau).
The geologic composition of Hagengebirge is quite favourable for the formation of caves and sinkholes. In fact all surface water is immediately drained away through joints and shafts. Despite an annual precipitation of more than 2000mm/year large parts of Hagengebirge resemble a desert.
The longest cave of Hagengebirge is the Tantal Cave which is more than 34km long. The cave has only one known entrance high above the Blühnbach valley at the south side of Hagengebirge close to the border between Dachstein limestone and Wetterstein dolomite.
Close to Tantal Cave the almost 30km long Jägerbrunntrog cave is located. A connection to Tantal cave is very probable but could not been veryfied yet. Due to the difficult access the caves are rarely visited and no exploration work is done.
Intensive exploration work is going on in the Wildpalfen System, a more than 6km long cave in the German part of Hagengebirge.
Further interesting caves are Scheukofen near the village of Sulzau (historic mining of dripstones) and Bärenhöhle (bear cave) in Bluntau valley where well preserved prehistoric skeletons of several cave bears were found.
Giant Springs and Waterfalls
As mentioned above the Hagengebirge is an outstanding example for limestone karst. Some of the deepest caves in the world with a vertical extension of more than 1000m (Jägerbrunntrog Cave)and some of the longest caves of Austria (more than 34km) - far from beeing completely explored - transsect this mountain range.
Through caves and shafts all of the precipitation is transported downwards. In stratigraphically deeper units dolomite which is not that affected by corrosion occurs. These dolomite layers which are much less permeable for water are generally inclined to the north(-east) so that the boundary between the karstic limestones and the dolomites can be found in a height of up to 1600m in the south while it is below the level of the valley in the north.
As a consequence all major springs can be found at the northern and eastern side of the Hagengebirge.
The largest one is situated in the Bluntau valley near Golling. Other large springs are the Eisgraben spring near Sulzau and the Kleitzeleck spring in Blühnbach Valley .
Most of the year these springs show only a small amount of water (except Bluntau Valley) or are even dry.
During snow melt or after longer raining periods the water table within the mountain rises and the giant springs are becoming active. Most of this water comes out in May forming powerful waterfalls. The more astonishing is that these waterfalls have not been discovered by tourism yet (fortunately).
A few examples are shown below.
Rivers and Lakes
Beautiful rivers and lakes surround Hagengebirge.
River Salzach, the largest river of the federal state of Salzburg, confines the Hagengebirge to the east. In an up to 1700m deep canyon it separates the large karstic plateau of Hagengebirge from Tennengebirge. Most impressive is a very narrow and for a short distance subterranean part of this canyon, the Salzachöfen. It is the only place in Austria where a powerful river as Salzach flows through such a narrow gorge. Some parts of the Salzachöfen including the subterranean course can be visited.
Not only Hagengebirge itself but also the rivers confining this mountain range exhibit a large variety of natural wonders.
In the north the Bluntau valley, a valley of waterfalls is located between Göll Group and Hagengebirge. Large springs like those of Weisse and Schwarze Torren, where during snow melt up to 20.000 litres of water / second leave the Hagengebirge and the many waterfalls of the Torren river and Fischbach river make this place very special. In addition another huge karstic spring feeding the famous Gollinger waterfall emerges at the base of Kleiner Göll near the entrance of Bluntau valley.
In the south Blühnbach valley is a real jewel with a large castle (Schloss Blühnbach) surrounded by forests and a spectacular mountain scenery. Behind Schloss Blühnbach the powerful (but only during snow melt or after heavy rains) Kleitzelegg waterfall hides.
Definitely a highlight not only of Hagengebirge but of the whole Northern Alps is Lake Königsee (king´s lake)in the heart of the national park Berchtesgaden with Hagengebirge in the east, the mighty Watzmann east face in the west and Steinernes Meer in the south. Behind the fjord like Königsee another lake, Obersee, is located.
For this region the Alpenvereinskarte 10/2 Hochkönig, Hagengebirge, 1:25.000, published by the Alpenverein and the official Austrian Map (ÖK, 1:50.000)
offer the best basis for all activities. The Hagengebirge is covered by the following map sheets: