The Bärenschützklamm is an adventurous, romantic region that deserves a place on your bucket list. If the gorge fever circulating for years has reached you, too, then the Bear Gorge in Austria promises the perfect weekend tour for you. If you love nature, lakes, and waterfalls, you will surely enjoy a half-day tour around the gorge, only 40 minutes from Graz.
To help you with your trip, I have gathered everything you need to know, including opening hours, tickets, information about parking, accommodation, tour descriptions, hiking routes, the difficulty of the routes, and more.
|Address||Bärenschütz Weg 40, 8131 Mixnitz, Österreich|
|Distance from Vienna||~ 4 hours / 360 km|
|Opening hours||07:30 – 16:00 (cash desk)|
|Season||May - Oktober|
|Closed||November - April|
|Hiking distance||9.7 km (ca. 4 hours)|
|Level difference||740 m|
|Ticket price||€5 - €3.5|
|Min. age||6 yrs old|
Map - Where is Barenschetzklamm?
The Bear Gorge, or Bärenschützklamm, is located in Austria, in the province of Styria. The gorge is part of the Almenland Nature Park. The Grazer Bergland Mountains in the Central Alps and the canyon in the Mura River Valley are located right next to the village of Mixnitz. This small village can be considered the entrance to the gorge. The nearest major city is Graz, about 40 minutes and 41 km from Mixnitz.
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To reach the Bear Gorge, you must get to Mixnitz by car. The gorge is well marked on the maps, and upon arriving in Mixnitz, you find signs indicating the exact directions. Use the address of the car park or the entrance to get there.
- Address: Bärenschütz Weg 40, 8131, Austria
- Distance from Vienna: 160 km / 2 hours
- Distance from Graz: 41 km / 40 minutes
Barenschutzklamm hiking trail
There is a moderate difficulty 9.7 km long hiking trail in the gorge, where you must ascend 740 meters. Inside the fissure, on well-built wooden ladders and stairs, next to waterfalls, you can move forward into the inside of the gorge.
You will see massive, steep rock walls along the way, and your reward will be 24 dazzling waterfalls. Bärenschützklamm is one of the longest waterfall gorges in Europe.
Because the traffic in the gorge is one-way, the return journey takes place on the other side of the mountain, on a winding path between pine forests that leads to Lake Teichalm. Here, you can take another short walk down the lakeside path. There is no possibility of returning to the gorge.
Climbing experience is not required to conquer the gorge, but you should be athletically fit, have stable movement coordination, and not get dizzy easily. In the gorge, you will find hiking trails to choose from:
- Short route (4 hours)
- Long route to the Hochlantsch peak (5 hours)
- Long route with the Schrüsserlbrunn Church (6 hours)
The short and convenient route is approx. 4 hours long. You can add this to an all-day tour. The longer route includes the Hochlantsch peak (1720 meters) and a terraced hut with panoramic valley views.
If you have time to look at everything closely and go up to the top, you are better off booking accommodation in the area. At the end of this article, you will also find our recommendations regarding accommodation.
Tour signs placed in prominent places will show you the right direction. The Bear Gorge tour is a moderately complex (loop trail) hiking trail.
During the tour, you can explore the canyon on various routes. After a wide forest road, 115 bridges, 55 ladders, and a 1,400-meter-long section lead through the gorge, you return to the starting point on a rocky but well-walked forest path.
Although the well-built and easily walkable gorge has safe bridges and ladders and several rest areas (huts) on the way, it is worth preparing well by choosing the right hiking boots and packing enough water and food.
Once you arrive at the car park next to Mixnitz Station, you will reach a 3 km stretch of forest to the entrance to Bear Gorge. Once you’re there, follow the red-white-red hiking trail No. 745, which leads to the checkout at the entrance.
The forest section provides a great opportunity to tune in to the upcoming stairs while walking and to warm up to prevent future accidents. Fortunately, the difficulty of the introductory phase is easy. After leaving the entrance, you will see the first waterfall and might even get a view of the whole canyon.
A tiring but safe ascent will follow as you progress through the gorge while you have plenty to admire. After the 45-minute-long forest tour, you arrive at Hans Kerl’s hut, where you can enter the area of the Bear Gorge after paying the entrance fee.
In the gorge, you only have to make a 350-meter ascent through railings, handrails, and safe wooden ladders. As you move along the roaring stream, you can see the waterfalls around you from ever higher. In many places in this section, you will pass through steel-structured bridges and narrow ravines attached to the rocks.
Hiking routes and trails
- Halfway through the hike, you will reach a forest house where the gorge expands. From here on, fewer ladders will follow. Of course, there is plenty to see at this stage as well. At the last bridge of the gorge, the sign “Letzte Bachbrück” indicates that this section is over. This last stepped section leads up to the forest road.
- After the rock walls, you will reach a pine forest, where you will soon find yourself in front of a hut called Gasthaus zum Guten Hirten at 1209 meters. After a mandatory rest and refreshment, you can descend back to the valley on hiking trail No. 746.
- If you still have time and energy, go to the Hochlantsch Summit. This means an additional 500 meters of elevation, as the peak is 1772 meters.
- This part of the Bear Gorge tour can be walked back and forth in about 2 hours. The road leads mainly through rocky, gravelly terrain to the summit.
- The longer route is widespread among hikers due to the fantastic view. The terrace on the hilltop offers a beautiful view of the valley. There is a toilet in the hut, as well as hot lunches.
- If that wasn't enough, you could reach the Schrüsserlbrunn Pilgrimage Church in only 99 steps.
- The road back from the hut is well signposted. The slope of the downhill road puts a heavy strain on tired legs. The lower exit of the Bear Gorge is still about a 45-minute walk away, on the same road where you started the tour. The tour ends in the parking lot.
- During the tour, you can admire the diverse fauna and flora of the Almenland Nature Park. You will have the opportunity to see pine forests, ferns, mossy rock valleys, and the wild power of the river, which has made its way through walls of limestone and dolomite mountains.
Huts in the gorge
As I mentioned earlier, during the tour, you will find a total of 4 huts where you can refresh yourself, use the bathroom, or even have lunch. Before the tour, you can use the toilet in the parking lot. Halfway through the 3-km-long introductory section, there is a drinking fountain where you can refresh yourself.
- Guest House "Die Klammwirtin" / The restaurant is located at the entrance
- Jausenstation Grassauer / This restaurant is also located at the entrance
- Jausenstation "Zum Guten Hirten" / Located at the upper end of the gorge
- Guest House, "Steirischer Jokl" / This panoramic hut is already a part of the long tour. You can also go to the top and visit the church.
At the entrance to the gorge, you will find the first inn, “Die Klammwirtin”, where you can even taste Austrian specialities before your trip. Then, you’ll find a small hut halfway through the gorge. Then, just out of the gorge, you’ll reach the next major resting place called "Zum Guten Hirten" as you climb the last steps.
If you look at the Hochlantsch summit, you can sit in the fourth hut, which offers the most fantastic views. The mountain restaurant "Steirischer Jokl" is located at one of the highest points of the mountain and is legendary for its cottage cheese strudel.
The Bear Gorge’s visit period usually begins on May 1st and lasts until October 31st. The cash desk is open from 07:30 to 16:00, so you can enter the gorge no later than 4 p.m.
Tip: Even if you go into the gorge in the summer when it gets dark later, I suggest you go there before 2-3 p.m.
The visual conditions deteriorate greatly when it gets dark, which is especially dangerous in the gorge! If you can only reach the entrance in the afternoon, you should take a headlamp! It’s also worth preparing sandwiches, as I don’t know how long the huts in the gorge are open (and if you’re in a hurry, you might not stop for an hour anyway).
The gorge can also be visited in light rainy weather. Pay special attention to wearing the right footwear, warm clothing, and a raincoat. In stormy or extreme weather, the authorities may decide not to accept hikers!
Tickets and prices
You can buy a ticket at the Hans-Kerl hut entrance to the gorge.
- Adult from 16 years of age: 5 euros
- Adult with Alpinist card: 4 euros
- Children up to 16 years of age: 3.5 euros
- Children under the age of 6: Not allowed
- School groups: 2.6 euros
- Adult groups (min. 30 people): 3 euros
It is not yet possible to buy a ticket online, only on the spot. You do not need to register in advance.
(Prices might slightly increase every year!)
Hiking with kids
The gorge is not recommended for children under 6, as it would be dangerous and difficult for them to cross bridges and stairs.
On the edge of Mixnitz is a large car park belonging to the gorge where you can leave your vehicle for free. Use the following GPS coordinates to park: 47 ° 20'09.4 ″ N 15 ° 22'26.8 ″ E
About the Gorge
- The Bear Gorge, originally known as Bärenschützklamm, is one of the most popular Austrian destinations among hikers. Austria offers plenty of hiking and trekking opportunities, but the closest destination to the Austro-Hungarian border is the Bear Gorge, north of Graz.
- The gorge between the Graz Mountains, carved into the limestone by the Mixnitzback stream, awaits visitors with beautiful views and, in some cases, a challenging hiking route. The sight is truly romantic!
- The town of Mixnitz and the shelter called Guten Hilter were declared natural assets in 1978.
- In 1896, the first tourists to conquer the gorge valley, which had previously been called impassable, were unsuccessful. The wildness of nature, the unpredictability of the river, and the slippery cliffs caused injury to the first visitors, which initiated the interest of the Graz Alpinist Club.
- In 1901, they began to build the walkability of the gorge. Bear Gorge has since become one of the best-known and most popular tourist destinations in the Alps.
- The gorge got its name because many bears lived in the area, but even for them, it was a difficult and dangerous terrain.
What should I wear to the gorge?
Since there is no way to turn back into the gorge, ensure you have stored everything you need in the parking lot.
- a small backpack
- a sandwich and some fruit or chocolate
- 2 litres of water per person
- hiking boots with a ribbed tread that are waterproof and protect your ankle
- layered, comfortable clothing, a raincoat, and rainpants
- mosquito and tick repellents
- headlamp or flashlight (if you start the tour late and have a chance of finishing in the dark)
- spare shoes, extra socks, spare clothes
- cash and credit card
- your phone
Almenland Nature Park
Many routes lead to the Almenland Naturpark, but the most breathtaking is through the Bear Gorge. Known for its breathtakingly beautiful and inaccessible countryside, the park was declared a nature park in 2002, making it the youngest national park in Austria. It provides a stunning natural experience for every visitor.
When is the best to go?
Bear Gorge is a popular destination in all surrounding countries. In summer, during the high season, there are plenty of visits to the gorge and the surrounding national park. The high season is in July and August when the school holidays are on. Therefore, it is worth going in late spring or early fall. There are fewer visitors at this time so you can cross the wildly romantic gorge at your own pace. On weekdays, the number of visitors to the Bear Gorge is up to 40% lower, so if you want to avoid other hikers even more, choose a weekday for your trip.
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