When Is the Best Time
The Partnachklamm in Bavaria is one of the most breathtaking places in all seasons. A hike through the gorge is definitely a must, combined with lunch at the Kaiserschmarrnalm.
Walking through the narrow gorge with its thundering rapids, waterfalls and gullies is always a mind-blowing experience. No matter the weather, you will definitely get wet from the dripping water. The tunnels and gallery are not high. People over 1.75 m tall have to bend down in some places.
I've been living in this area for three years already, and I always show family and friends this unique piece of nature, and I never get bored. I visited the Partnachklamm in all seasons; all are different but breathtaking.
Nevertheless, the winter is exceptional. I will give you all insights, tell you the best times to avoid the crowds in the gorge, which hikes you can combine with Patnach and where to eat the best “Kaiserschmarrn” and “Kasspatzn”, two traditional dishes in the Alps. Read my complete guide for a fabulous day in the mountains, or use my Table of Content for the first part of my detailed guide.
Where is the Gorge the Partnachklamm?
The Partnachklamm belongs to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, most famous for the highest mountain in Germany, Zugspitze and Lake Eibsee in Bavaria close to the Austrian border.
How to Get to Partnachklamm?
You get to the gorge from the B2 in Garmisch Partenkirchen direction Eckbauerbahn (cable car) and Olympia Skistadion (The Olympic ski stadium where the famous New Year ski jumping takes place.) It takes roughly half an hour from the parking lot on a paved and gravel path to the ticket counter. The path is well-marked.
Where to Park the Car and Tip
There is no parking at the entrance, only a huge one at the Olympic ski jump and the cable car station “Eckbauerbahn”. Although there is plenty of space, it is full at midday in the peak seasons in summer and during the Christmas holidays, and weekends are even worse. If you wish to visit the gorge on a sunny Sunday, come latest at 10.30 am. Depending on the season, come either early or in the afternoon. Closest Parking Google Maps Location
Parking Fee Tip: 24 hours for 5 Euro - much cheaper with the parking app, which works well in many places in Europe. We paid less than 3 Euros for eight hours of parking. EasyPark
Opening Hours Partnachklamm
Most crucial, no access after-hours! Gates are closed, and if you would like to access the gorge at the exit after the opening hours, the grid is closed, and you are forced to hike the entire way back. Last access half an hour before closure.
- October until May 8 am-6 pm
- Juni-September 8 am-20 pm
Entrance Fee Partnach Gorge
- Regular price - 6 Euro
- Holiday Guests in this area - 5 Euro
- Children aged 6-17 - 3 Euro
- Dog fee 1 Euro
Are Dogs Permitted in the Gorge
Yes, you can take your dog on a leash through the gorge but avoid the busiest time, midday. It may frighten your dog with so many people squeezing past you and him.
Walking Time – How Much Time Needed
Although the path through the gorge is just 700 m long, the return walk may take 2-3 hours from the car park and back. It takes 20 minutes from the car park to the gorge entrance. The shortest roundtrip is walking the same way through the gorge back but trusts me; you will stop every minute from soaking in the beauty and taking pictures.
But there are more hiking options, up to an entire day trail, all hiked by myself, which I describe in detail below.
Access for People with Mobility Issues Possible
Unfortunately, the gorge is too narrow and uneven for wheelchairs. However, a horse carriage is available if you can't walk far. The return walk, including the horse carriage, is roughly 2 km long.
- Horse carriage fee 6 € per adult
- Entire horse carriage minimum 24 € or four people
3 Weather – Climate Facts for Partnachklamm
- The climate and seasons are heavily influenced by the mountains. Partnachklamm is located roughly 800 m above sea level therefore, the winter last longer, roughly from November to March. The winter is the most spectacular time to visit the Partnach Gorge and the quietest – more below.
- Most precipitation in the summer; however, it is frequently sunny and pleasant. Nevertheless, rain is not an issue most of the path is covered by rocks, galleries, or tunnels, and you get wet anyway.
- There is high humidity in the gorge from the dripping water and from the Partnach torrent. The air is excellent for people with raspatory issues. Due to the humidity, a hot summer day is refreshing and cool inside the gorge. In spring and autumn, a jacket is essential, and winter is cold as hell. As long as you move, it is fine, but as soon as you stand still to soak in this stunning place or for taking pictures, you start freezing.
3 Tips to Avoid the Crowds in the Gorge
- The gorge is popular with tourists and residents alike. As a result, the pay kiosk was replaced, two cash desks were installed, also ticket machines at the entrance and exit, and finally, restrooms are available. The Partnach Gorge is always worth visiting, but, if possible, avoid middays during the summer, Christmas holidays, and in particular sunny Sundays are crazy.
- Mid-week is much quieter throughout the year.
- It is quieter in the morning from 8-9 am and late afternoon after 5 pm in winter and 6 pm in summer.
The light inside the gorge is best in the morning when sunlight hits the river shortly. Winter is spectacular but much darker inside the gorge, and a tripod is essential.
Essential Tip for the Alm
Deep in this valley, there isn't any reliable internet therefore, no credit cards are excepted at any of the mentioned mountain huts. Bring cash if you plan to have lunch and beverages along the trail!!! The meals and beverages don't cost a fortune plan, roughly 15-20 Euros for each of you plus tip.
Partnachklamm in Winter (November-March)
The Partnachklamm is otherworldly in winter. Usually, the best winter months are January and February. Of course, snow and ice are not guaranteed, but there is a rule of thumb in the south of Bavaria that it starts snowing in the first two weeks of January, and it usually does.
You can’t imagine how spectacular the Partnach gorge looks, with frozen waterfalls and icicles hanging from the walls next to the narrow path which leads above the Partnach and through the gorge. Some local photographers come here weekly with their tripod to get the best shot of this magnificent winter scene.
It is cold as hell in the gorge in winter. Wear proper winter boots and the warmest jacket also a beany and gloves. However, you don't get wet from the waterfalls all are frozen.
5 Hikes Through Partnachlamm
Many visitors walk only through the gorge and back, but the Partnachklamm hike can be extended to a magnificent half-day tour or even a full-day hike.
My recommended tours are 6.5 km and 7.3 km long, with excellent typical local dishes indoors and outdoors at the Kaiserschmarrnalm, one of my favourite mountain restaurants in the Zugspitze region or a light snack and beverages at the Partnachalm or at Hintergraseck.
1 Partnach Gorge Walk
Shortest walk through the gorge and the same way back, but compared to my second suggestion, it is just 500 m shorter. Therefore, I highly recommend the second or third hike combined with an excellent lunch or afternoon coffee with the typical Apfelstrudel or a Bavarian beer.
- Length: 6 km
- Elevation Gain: 384 m
- Duration: photo stops included - roughly 2.5 hours
2 Half Day Circular Tour Partnachklamm - Alm
After the gorge, you turn left on a narrow forest path to Kaiserschmarrnalm. After the Alm, most of the path is paved. You reach the tiny village Vordergraseck and the “Hotel Das Graseck” beautiful located. From here, it is a steep descent on a paved road for 400 m.
- Length: 6.5 km
- Elevation Gain: 408 m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Duration: Roughly 3-4 hours for the hike plus photo stops and lunch at my favourite mountain restaurant Kaiserschmarrnalm.
- Circular Trail Locus App Hiking Map
3 Half Day Tour Partnach – Alm – Cable Car
This is one of my recommended hikes to experience more of this stunning area, combined with a delicious meal and a cable car ride back to the parking lot. IMO this is an exciting trail and fun to take the cable car down.
After the gorge, turn left on a narrow forest path to the Alm. After the Kaiserschmarrnalm, you follow the road to Graseck but then turn right toward Eckbauer.
It is an easy walk until the track ascends for roughly 300 m elevations. Another hut called Eckbauer offers spectacular views of the mountains at 1.237 m above sea level.
- Length: 6.5 km
- Elevation Gain: 752 m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Duration: 4-6 hours, depending on your fitness level and if you are used to hiking in higher elevations.
- Circular Trail Locus App Hiking Map
4 Half Day Tour Partnach - Alm - Iron Bridge
This hike does not include my preferred Alm; instead, it offers spectacular views of the gorge from a bridge at a higher elevation. After the canyon, turn right to Partnach-Alm. The track climbs 160 m in height to the Alm, which may be difficult if you have any knee issues and descends back to the other side of the gorge.
We were glad having our hiking poles for the slippery track because of the mud and the autumn leaves.
Have a look from the iron bridge before you continue hiking. This track offers excellent views from higher elevations into the gorge.
- Lenght: 7.35 km
- Elevation Gain: 490 m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Duration: 3-4 hours
- Circular Trail Locus App Hiking Map
5 Full Day Hike - All in One Day
This trail combines the Partnachklamm with the three mentioned mountain restaurants and the iron bridge, but also magnificent views of Zugspitze. I highly recommend hiking poles, plenty of water, and electrolytes for this hike. We tried out this track in October 2022 before I mentioned this additional hike here in my guide.
If you like to explore more of this valley and you are physically fit, this may be the right choice for you. Nevertheless, you can take a shortcut which takes 15 minutes to the cable car instead of descending back to the car park for one hour.
Added are both maps for these two different day hike options, but even this hiking app doesn't know that this trail exists.
Therefore, I added the first part for both hikes plus the rest of the route. This track leads above the iron bridge, which was destroyed, but it is reopened again. It may get closed in the winter, but if so, it is already mentioned at the entrance of the gorge.
- Lenght: 11.5 km/16 km
- Elevation Gain: 930 m/1000 m
- Elevation Loss: 440 m/920 m
- Difficulty: Strenuous
- Duration: 6-8 hours
- First part circular trail for both hikes by Locus App
- Circular Trail Locus App Hiking Map with shortcut
- Circular Trail Locus App Hiking Map full route
- Wear sturdy shoes – the gorge is wet from the spray of the torrent.
- Have a rain-proof jacket with a hoody on hand for the constant dripping and the high humidity here, but excellent for people with respiratory issues. Another reason why I love to visit this gorge several times a year.
- It is freezing in the gorge in winter, and due to the humidity, it is cold as hell, especially if you stand still and admire the spectacular gorge. Bring gloves, a beany, and wear warm boots and a winter jacket.
- A torch or headlamp is helpful for the tunnels, especially on darker winter days.
- Always carry a light snack or apple in case the Alm is closed or packed with guests.
Best Months to Visit
Location and Tips
The Partnachklamm is a 700-meter-long gorge cut by the mountain river Partnach over 85 meters deep through alpine shell limestone at the foot of the Wetterstein Mountains.
I visit the gorge at least three times a year, and I am always stoked by this changing beauty which mother earth created by the sheer power of water and weathering.
The Partnach rises in the Reintalanger and is fed by meltwater from the Schneeferner glacier (which, unfortunately, is no longer considered a glacier) located on the Zugspitzplatt and melted snow. The Partnach Gorge, or Partnachklamm, was declared a natural monument in 1912.
7 Partnach Gorge History Facts
- The Partnach was used as a drifting stream in the 19th century. Trees from the surrounding forests were sawn up and transported down into the valley and villages during the snow melt in spring.
- After a heavy storm in this area in 1885, there were too many tree trunks in higher elevations which could not be transported down through the gorge as before. The trunks wedged and developing access for the loggers through the Partnachklamm was the only way to unlock them. Due to this access, the first venturesome tourists climbed through the gorge.
- In 1910 the German Alpine Association constructed a safer path through the gorge to make this natural wonder accessible to more tourists. They figured out that floods can destroy bridges and driftwood like it still does in Höllentalklamm. For this reason, the path and tunnels were developed on the left side only. In 1912 the entire project was finished.
- In 1930 the gorge was taken over by the municipality and was further developed, for winter visits, when the gorge walls are covered with frozen waterfalls and icicles. This was the best decision; the winter is magical and my favourite time in the Partnachklamm.
- In the 1960s, this type of drifting lost its importance when roads into the secluded forests were constructed.
- In 1991 a massive rockslide destroyed a part of the path at the end of the gorge and changed the Partnach flow. The gorge was closed until an additional tunnel of 108 m in length was blasted into the rock. You are able to see these rocks and a reservoir through windows in this tunnel.
- Due to its popularity, access to the gorge was improved, and toilets were installed in 2021.
Contact me if you wish to use any of my photos, but I will take action against picture theft.