The Tiefenbachklamm or Tiefenbach Gorge hike in Austria is the quintessential hike in the Alpbachtal Seenland region near Innsbruck. The trail follows the Brandenberger Ache (river) where it cascades over rocks and dives deep into the depths of the gorge.
We hiked the Tiefenbachklamm (roughly translated as deep river gorge) for the 3rd time on a beautiful autumn day with a good friend visiting from London. Gary let us know months in advance that we shouldn’t even think about taking him on a mountain hike. With its gentle gradient and a mountain restaurant with refreshments at the top end of the gorge, we thought the Tiefenbachklamm hike didn’t count as a “mountain hike”.
To find out what Gary thought, read his verdict below.
In a nutshell
Level of difficulty: Easy, but careful footwork required in places
Total distance: About 8km to the top end of the gorge and back
Total walking time: 2,5 to 3 hours (without a restaurant break)
Difference in altitude: Insignificant
Where to start
The Tiefenbachklamm trail is accessible from the road between Kramsach and Brandenberg in Tyrol, approximately 3,5km from the Sonnwendjoch cable car station. You will notice a parking area on your left, with the sign indicating the start of the trail a little bit further on the right. There is a bus stop just after the sign.
Not even 50m from the start of the trail, you will reach a flat “beach” area next to the Brandenberger Ache. Step off the trail to take some pictures of the beautiful scenery up and down the river. M loves to play here, jumping from rock to rock and trying to bounce pebbles off the water. He had his own friend to accompany him on this hike, which meant we never heard one complaint coming from his mouth.
Read more: The ultimate beginners’ hike near Innsbruck
Enter the forest
From the “beach” the trail heads off into the forest. Depending on the time of the year, keep your eyes open for wildflowers, berries, mushrooms and even fire salamander.
The river is quickly far below you, with steep inclines on your right. While the trail is still relatively wide at this point, there are no barriers on the side of the incline. You will also cross a couple of streams, some with bridges over them and others where you must simply step over rocks to prevent your shoes from getting wet.
Once you reach the first wire rope safety barriers, the trail is narrowed significantly by an impressive rock wall on your left. Water streams down the rock in places, making the trail wet and possibly slippery.
The trail remains narrow until you reach a viewing platform at the highest point of the gorge, about 1,5km from the start of the hike. The dizzying views down the sheer drops can be too much for people with a fear of heights. In my case, the need to take photographs and film Coenraad outweighed my fear of heights. We made the kids sit flat on their bums a safe distance away from the railings.
Soon after leaving the viewing platform you cross the first of three steel bridges over the Tiefenbachklamm. On the opposite side of the river, the trail winds its way through the forest again. You are still quite high above the cascading turquoise water. Fringed by golden autumn foliage, it’s hard to keep your eyes on the trail.
Waterfall and old power station
The trail leads over the second bridge before a waterfall looking like a bridal veil comes into sight across the river. It’s near an old ruin that was once part of a hydroelectric power plant dating to 1928.
You know you are close to the Jausenstation Tiefenbachklamm (literally translated as snack station Tiefenbach Gorge) when you reach the third bridge. From here, it is only another five minutes to the clearing where refreshments await. There is also a small playground for the kids who amazingly have enough energy left for swinging and sliding.
Read more: Why you should visit the scenic village of Alpbach near the Tiefenbachklamm
Gary’s verdict of the Tiefenbachklamm
Although I never cease being captivated by the breath-taking beauty of Tyrol, especially the expansive views from the Alpine mountaintops, as a couch potato from central London I have always been perfectly clear about the fact that no one is likely to ever describe me as an agile mountain goat.
On my latest visit, when Linda suggested a hike, I guardingly made it clear that I would consider any option if it was not too far. More importantly, it shouldn’t involve me climbing a mountain. That’s why we have cable cars, right?
On the way to Kramsach, I had no idea what to expect, let alone whether I could manage an 8km hike in Austria, no matter the difficulty.
From the start I must confess I was immediately pleasantly surprised by the captivating scenery of the Tiefenbach Gorge, fringed by a beautiful array of autumn foliage. Another unexpected delight was the unusual colour of the river water – an opaque blue – and the noise it makes as it cascades down the rocky gorge.
Although the riverside trail is hardly flat, the gentle gradients, steps, twists, turns and changing vistas kept me constantly captivated. On the odd occasion, I imagined my legs feeling a bit tired, there were plenty of vantage points to stop off at and take in the spectacular views.
At the end of the gorge, reached in about 1 hour 15 mins, is a welcoming Alm where one can rest weary feet and enjoy some hearty refreshments. In our case a large glass of refreshing Radler, a kind of a beer shandy which is very low in alcohol (bearing in mind we still had to walk back).
I must admit I did consider the availability of an Uber ride back to the start, but I am pleased I didn’t. The walk back to the start offers a slightly more downhill gradient. It seemed to go a lot faster than the first leg up the gorge.
At the end of the hike, I felt exhilarated, and my legs strangely weren’t tired at all. Dare I admit it, I felt refreshed, alive, and, okay, a bit of a mountain goat after all!
My note: Gary was so fast that we only saw the back of him. In fact, it’s a miracle that we got a picture of him on the trail. I think he is ready for a mountain hike in Austria when he visits next!
Read more: Walk with ghosts in the Leutascher Geisterklamm
Fast facts and tips
- The bridges and walkways mostly make for easy hiking, but special care must be taken with small children or dogs despite the safety barriers.
- For centuries, the Brandenberger Ache was used by the logging industry to drive logs downstream. The earliest mention of such activity was in 1412, and the last log drivers finished work here in 1966.
- Kayaking through the Tiefenbachklamm is possible. Sport Ossi offers kayak rental and guided kayak tours.
- The Tiefenbachklamm trail is closed in winter (November to April) and on days with heavy rainfall in summer. Always check with Alpbachtal Seenland for up to date information.
- If you are dependent on public transport, Bus 4070 from Brixlegg to Aschau stops at the entrance to the Tiefenbachklamm.
- Find a rock in the river at the “beach” near the start of the trail when you are done. Take your shoes and socks off and let the cold water sooth your tired feet.
- If you want to, you can extend your hike by starting in Kramsach and walking all the way to Brandenberg. This trail is called the Achenmarsh. You can also catch a bus back in Brandenberg.
- Both the hike and the parking is free of charge.
Read more: The most beautiful family hike in Austria.
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