The Garnitzenklamm is one of Carinthia's most spectacular gorges, marked by water cascades, deep gulches and large boulders. Also geologically highly interesting, the Garnitzenklamm allows insights into the structure and folds of the Carnic Alps (Geo-Trail). The 4 km long trail (one-way) with a 500 m change in altitude requires suitable shoes and sure-footedness, and then there's nothing better than to head off on the adventure hike (recommended for children 6 years and older)!
Immediately upon leaving the village of Hermagor, turn in the direction of Möderndorf, following the signs to Garnitzenklamm. The parking lots for Garnitzenklamm are exactly where the road starts to wind its way up to the Eggeralm. The entrance to the gorge is next to the car park. There you will see a real witty traffic sign, with a crossed out high heel. Indeed, suitable shoes are a must in the gorge; even sneakers might be too slippery on the rocks, especially where they are wet.
Since 1891, the gorge has been made accessible by the Hermagor section of the Austrian Alpine Association. Their main work is to repair all damaged parts of both the path and the bridges after the annual floods. Typically, the Garnitzenklamm is walkable from May to October as long as the weather is dry.
The path is divided into four parts with varying options for the return hike. So far, my family and I have mastered the first three parts of the path through the gorge and hiked back to the parking lot on a forest road, which took us about 3 1/2 hours of hiking time. Should you hike with children allow plenty of extra time for "musts" such as throwing stones, building dams or bathing in the icy water. Don't forget a snack; there is no hut on the way!
The Garnitzenklamm is a product of the last glacial period. Then, a good 10,000 years ago, melting glaciers drained off enormous quantities of water. A geological fault zone of the Carnic Alps offered lower resistance to the water than the surrounding rock and as a result, the water gradually ate deeper and deeper into that fault zone.
Interestingly, the water thus unveiled some aspects of the history of the earth: Our Alps were created about 250 millions of years ago by crustal upheavals and there is huge geological variety within the Alps, depending on the type of sediment that can be found in its different mountain ranges. Tectonic plates crashed, landmasses were crushed and following that crustal shifts and faults occurred, partly in very confined spaces. Because the Garnitzenklamm offers exemplary insights into the geological structure and layers of the Carnic Alps, a so-called Geo-Trail with several illustrated charts along the path has been set up.
On leaving Hermagor follow signs to Möderndorf/Garnitzenklamm and then keep going straight on. Ticket prices and other information are available on the website here. There is a reduction with the Kärnten card.
Suitable hiking shoes are a must. Don't hike during or immediately after heavy rain. Recommended for children aged 6 and older.
You can find an orientation map in German here.