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Hiking in Austria – the wild Leutasch Gorge and picturesque Mittenwald

Our walking holiday in Austria with Headwater Holidays had taken us along the picturesque Gaistal Valley, up to the high peak of Seefelder Spitz and we’d enjoyed the traditional Rifleman’s parade at Seefeld. On our final day of hiking in Austria, my friend Julia and I found that the best was yet to come, as we explored the wild, rocky landscapes of the Leutasch Gorge and the picturesque painted houses of Mittenwald, before a final lakeside walk through glorious mountain scenery.

Hiking in the Leutasch Gorge Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

From Hotel Xander we took a 10 minute taxi ride down the valley to the entrance of the Leutasch Gorge which spans the border between Austria and Germany. On reading the information signs it was clear that we were entering a mysterious watery realm, owned by the fairies and goblins that live in the gorge, where the water swirls in a fast moving torrent between high rocky cliffs.

The Leutasch Gorge in Austria with Headwater Holidays Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Leutasch Gorge in Austria with Headwater Holidays

Along the wooded path we took the turning that leads into the gorge itself, along metal walkways from which we could see the water foaming in pools of milky-green below us. The metal walkways, a complex feat of engineering completed in 2005, followed one side of the gorge until we crossed a bridge to the other side.

The Leutasch Gorge in Austria with Headwater Holidays Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Leutasch Gorge in Austria with Headwater Holidays

Dizzyingly far below us, the rushing water made a ribbon of green, while above us the pine trees shot tall towards the sky from the grey rocky side of the gorge. We walked in dappled sunshine, stopping every now and then to read the information boards with stories of mountain fairies and the dramatic names of this watery world, such as Hell’s Bridge and the Devil’s Cauldron.

The Leutasch Gorge in Austria with Headwater Holidays Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Leutasch Gorge in Austria with Headwater Holidays

At the end of our walk through the main gorge, the path descended to a cafe and kiosk where we found the entrance to a smaller gorge. While the main gorge walk had been free, we now paid €3 to enter the gorge, in order the see the rushing waterfall at the end, which was well worth the additional cost. This time the gorge was narrow and the air refreshingly cool, as we zig-zagged along the walkway just above the green-blue water.

The Leutasch Gorge in Austria with Headwater Holidays Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Leutasch Gorge in Austria with Headwater Holidays

After 10 minutes we reached the waterfall at the end of the gorge, a deafening torrent of water that created spray all around us. Although the day had been warm, I was pleased to have my waterproof jacket to stay dry and found a small alcove to the side of the viewing platform to unpack my camera for a quick photo.



The waterfall of the Leutasch Gorge in Austria with Headwater Holidays Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The waterfall of the Leutasch Gorge in Austria with Headwater Holidays

Retracing our steps along the walkway through the gorge, Julia and I stopped to eat our picnic lunch by a flower filled meadow, then followed our printed notes from Headwater Holidays to follow the river past pretty Alpine houses to reach the town Mittenwald on the German side of the border.

Walking to Mittenwald from the Leutasch Gorge Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Walking to Mittenwald from the Leutasch Gorge

As we entered the centre of Mittenwald we noticed the painted houses for which the town is well known. The murals often have a religious story or meaning behind them and the local tourist office runs guided tours where you can discover more about them.

Mittenwald in Germany with Headwater Holidays Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Mittenwald in Germany with Headwater Holidays

We walked along the main pedestrianised street, past many attractive pavement cafes, to the painted church tower of St. Peter and Paul at the end. We found a shady cafe to have a beer and then inquired at the tourist office about the bus up to the lakes of Lautersee and Ferchensee above Mittenwald.

The painted houses of Mittenwald in Germany with Headwater Holidays Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The painted houses of Mittenwald in Germany with Headwater Holidays

Other hotel guests had recommended these lakes and since I’d hurt my ankle in a fall on the first day, we were looking for a gentle walk rather than the arduous Frenchman’s Climb described in the Headwater Holidays walking notes. Enquiring at the tourist office we were directed to the train station where we found the number 1 bus to take us up to the two lakes, from where we could walk back down into Mittenwald.

The painted houses of Mittenwald in Germany with Headwater Holidays Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The painted houses of Mittenwald in Germany with Headwater Holidays

The bus dropped us off at the furthest lake of Ferchensee, at a convenient cafe with cheerful yellow sun umbrellas, where we couldn’t resist stopping for an apple strudel and a creamy iced coffee. Our table on the lakeside terrrace was perfectly placed to watch the trout and larger perch swimming around the jetty, in a scene that was pure Austrian holiday brochure

Lake Ferchensee above Mittenwald in Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Lake Ferchensee above Mittenwald in Germany

As the afternoon wore on and the sun cast its golden glow across the lake, it was tempting to just sit and enjoy the idyllic mountain scenery. Reluctantly we continued on the lake side path, knowing that if we delayed too long we’d miss the last bus from Mittenwald back to our hotel.

Lake Ferchensee above Mittenwald in Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Lake Ferchensee above Mittenwald in Germany

We reached the grassy swimming place where Julia decided to go for a swim and I waited on a bench while she gently breaststroked up and down serenely like a swan. At the end of the lake, the path took us through forest past a pretty little shrine and in another 15 minutes we reached the second lake of Lautersee. Not daring to stop too long we continued as the track took us now steeply down to Mittenwald past several cascades and waterfalls which streamed down the mountain.

Chapel by Lake Ferchensee above Mittenwald in Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Chapel by Lake Ferchensee above Mittenwald in Germany

By half past six we were down at Mittenwald again, with the evening sun lighting up the grey crag above us. Returning to the bus station we found the bus that would drop us back at our hotel in Leutasch after a day of enjoying the landscapes of Austria and Southern Germany.



It was a fabulous finale to our four days of walking with Headwater Holidays. I hope you’ll also enjoy reading about the other walks from this trip;

Day 1 – A high mountain walk (and a tumble) in the Gaistal Valley of Austria in which we set out from our hotel hoping to sample the local food served in the mountain huts of the valley but changed our plans when I took a tumble and had to hobble down the mountain.

Day 2 – Hiking in Austria – the views from the cross at Seefelder Spitze in which we took the cable car from Seefeld up the ridge of Seefelder Spitze for 360 degree views over Seefeld and the surrounding valleys.

Day 3 – Hiking in Austria – a Rifleman’s Parade and Mental Power Walk at Seefeld in which we joined a traditional parade with local regiments in colourful uniforms, then walked back to our hotel along a forest walking trail with relaxation stations on the theme of mental wellbeing.

Want to go walking in Austria’s Leutasch Valley?

Heather’s walking holiday in Austria’s Leutasch Valley was provided by Headwater Holidays – find out more about this holiday here. This 7 night walking holiday is based in Kirchplaztl at the 4 star Hotel Xander with over 450km of walking trails accessible direct from the hotel or via local bus, taxi and lifts. The holiday includes a full programme of self-guided day walks of 1 boot or 2 boot levels, depending on whether you prefer the gentle valley walks or the more challenging high altitude trails which are sometimes accessed via chair lifts and cable cars. The holiday includes detailed walking guides and maps, breakfast and dinner at the hotel, a packed lunch on walking days and flights/ transfers via Innsbruck. Prices from £669 per person.

Headwater Holidays are a leading UK specialist in self-guided walking, cycling and relaxed activity holidays that allow you to travel at your own pace and get closer to the places you visit. For more information check their Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Youtube | Pinterest | Instagram

More things to do in the Tirol region of Austria

For more information on things to do in the Tirol region of Austria visit the Tirol tourism website and follow their social media channels: Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest. More information about things to do in Austria on the Visit Austria Website and information on the Seefeld Region on the Seefeld Olympia Region Website.

How to get to Leutasch Valley, Austria

Heather flew from Bristol to Munich with BMI Regional who fly 12 times each week on this route, so you often have a choice of 2 flights per day. The ticket includes 20kg checked baggage and full at-seat in-flight bar and snack service at no extra charge.

Transfers from Innsbruck airport are less than 1 hour’s drive to Leutach and included in your Headwater Holidays package. If, like us you fly into Munich Airport, the transfer to Leutasch Valley takes around 2 hours and can be arranged through your hotel or holiday provider.

Hotel Xander in Leutasch, Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Hotel Xander in Leutasch, Austria

Stay at Sporthotel Xander in Leutasch

Heather stayed at Sporthotel Xander in Leutasch as part of the walking holiday booked through Headwater Holidays. The hotel is a very comfortable 4 star hotel offering rooms, suites and apartments that are ideal for summer walkers or winter cross-country skiers. The other guests when we stayed at the end of August were mainly couples and a few families enjoying a late summer walking break. The hotel is used by several walking companies including Headwater Holidays.

Hotel Xander in Leutasch, Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Hotel Xander in Leutasch, Austria

We stayed on a full board basis, with breakfast, packed lunch and evening meal and found the food to be of a very high standard with a 4 course meal every night and a 5 course gala meal on one of the nights we were there. The hotel has an indoor pool and spa although we did not use them since we were out all day walking and making the most of the fine weather. The hamlet of Kirchplatzl where the hotel is situated is mainly residential and the nearest shops are a 15 minute walk away in Weidach. The bus to Seefeld which runs several times a day stops right by the hotel.

We think Hotel Xander is a comfortable, traditional hotel that will suit keen walkers who want a quiet and relaxing atmosphere. If you are looking for a lively atmosphere, shopping or evening entertainment then Seefeld would be a good alternative base. Check prices and book your stay here.



Read more articles about how to prepare for a hiking trip here:

How to choose the perfect waterproof jacket for your hiking holiday
10 Things to Pack for a Walking Holiday

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Read about hiking in the Leutasch Gorge and Mittenwald with Headwater Holidays

Thanks to Headwater Holidays who hosted Heather’s walking holiday and to BMI regional who provided Heather’s flight to Munich.

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13 Comments

  • Reply
    2travellingsisters
    November 23, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Another amazing post on your hike, loved reading it! Mittenwald looks so quaint and picturesque!
    2travellingsisters´s last blog post ..An evening at Sula Vineyards, Nashik

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      November 24, 2015 at 9:41 am

      @2travellingsisters so pleased you enjoyed reading about our hiking – Austria is a gorgeous region to visit

  • Reply
    Barbara Weibel
    November 24, 2015 at 2:40 am

    Gorgeous scenery! This is one that’s going on my wish list. In fact, I’d like to explore more of all of Austria.
    Barbara Weibel´s last blog post ..PHOTO: Vrelo Cave in Matka Canyon, Near Skopje, Macedonia

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      November 24, 2015 at 9:42 am

      @Barbara if you like mountain scenery Austria is the place

  • Reply
    Mary @ Green Global Travel
    November 25, 2015 at 4:36 am

    Great informational post and beautiful photos! I love the contrast of the bright blue water against the gray and green surroundings. This looks like it was an amazing experience.
    Mary @ Green Global Travel´s last blog post ..VIRGINIA: Pleasure House Oysters Helps Restore Chesapeake Bay

  • Reply
    Sand In My Suitcase
    November 25, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    The Leutasch Gorge looks amazing! We love hiking, but have never gone on a dedicated hiking trip. We like the idea of self-guided hiking trips too. We googled and Headwater Holidays will move your bags from hotel to hotel if moving around. (Wasn’t sure if one stays put in the same hotel with Headwater and fan out for daytrips form there, or if you can hike from hotel to hotel.) Thanks for the recommendation!
    Sand In My Suitcase´s last blog post ..Asian Style in Acapulco! Banyan Tree Cabo Marques

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      November 27, 2015 at 2:24 pm

      @Sandinmysuitcase You can do both travel styles – we had one hotel where we stayed and then did day trips for different walks each day. There are some trips, especially the cycling ones where the luggage is taken for you each day, which we have done in the past.

  • Reply
    the-worldwide
    November 27, 2015 at 5:18 am

    Excellent place. I love the pictures, these are alive.

  • Reply
    apm
    November 27, 2015 at 5:45 am

    This is very unique. nice place.

  • Reply
    lifedreamadventure
    December 10, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Very nice photos and beautiful coverage. Heather, some scenes are alike of Kali Gandaki gorge (deepest gorge) in Annapurna region of Nepal. Love to see this place, hope I can hike one day. Thank you for interesting story.

  • Reply
    suraj vishwakarma
    May 10, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    amazing post on your hike, loved reading it!I love the pictures, these are alive.I hope i will do hike one day
    Thank you for sharing with us

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