Even though we’d heard Partnach Gorge is usually completely frozen over this time of year, the weather has been unseasonably warm for most of the winter. Thankfully, our free day in Garmisch was a particularly beautiful one for December in the Bavarian Alps – sunny and crisp, with a little bite in the air; just right for a little outdoor adventure! Looking back, I’m not sure we’d have been able to make the trip with our boys (ages 4 and 2) if it had been much colder.
That morning, we got up early, as usual, and left the resort right after a hearty breakfast.
Per the directions printed in the English language brochure we found on the Partnachklamm website (http://partnachklamm.eu), we parked in front of the historic Olympic Ski Stadium, which is just a few minutes away from Edelweiss and a fascinating sightseeing stop all on its own.
We were somewhat confused as to what we were supposed to do once we’d arrived, but we eventually found our way to a closed road just past the stadium, which is lined with a few small shops, public bathrooms (make sure you bring euro cent pieces with you!), and cafes. After walking a little ways down the road, about ten minutes or so, we came to a wide left turn that led us up to the Gorge.
From there, it was a good twenty to thirty minute trek, not counting the multiple detours we made to check out a neat stick or throw rocks in the creek, but it was well worth it!
We also made plenty of stops to soak in the beautiful scenery. It was so peaceful and quiet out that early in the morning, and we only came across a handful of other hikers along the way.
After passing another small cluster of restaurants and hotels (Gasthofs), a cable car landing, and a lovely, frozen waterfall, we finally made it to the Gorge entrance! There, we paid our fee and eagerly made our way inside.
Can I just be dorky for a minute? For the sake of a good pun (okay, okay; maybe it’s not, but I’m going to roll with it, anyway)?
The Partnach is Gorge-ous!
Inside, it was cold, dark, damp and loud.
We couldn’t have been in for more than a couple of minutes, and the soothing sound of rushing water had already lulled Logan to sleep. I have to say, I envy the knack toddlers have for being able to fall asleep just about anywhere (except for their own beds at nap time, maybe, but that’s a different story, altogether). My husband carried him on his shoulders as we made our way through the narrow, tunnel-like passageways.
It was surreal, that’s for sure! Shafts of sunlight broke the darkness, lighting up craggy walls in some places, while casting mysterious shadows in others.
At times, it felt like we were walking through waterfalls. When we got a break from the splashing cliff faces, the rocky ceiling was drip-drip-dripping on our heads and shoulders.
Even though I tried to protect it as well as I could, my camera got a little wet, and the lens started fogging up. That’s why most of the pictures I got towards the end are all a little blurry.
Still beautiful, though.
It didn’t take us long to make our way through and out the other side. Maybe fifteen minutes or so.
By then, were were plenty wet, chilled, amazed from the whole experience, and our eyes had only just adjusted to the darkness.
When we stepped out into the sunlight, it almost felt like we were entering a different world.
It took us a minute to find our bearings, shake off the daze, and decide where we wanted to go from here.
Instead of heading down the mountain and back the way we’d come, we decided to do a little more exploring. At a fork in the trail, we chose the one that climbed up and over the Gorge. It was a steep fifteen-minute hike, but the view of the surrounding Alps from the top were amazing. At the end of the footpath, we found a mountain-top hotel with a cable car station.
I’d never been in a cable car before, and I have a thing about heights and being confined in tight spaces, so I wasn’t exactly thrilled about getting in one. But, I quickly overcame my fear when I realized we’d be back at the bottom of the mountain in a matter of seconds!
After our hike, the boys loved quenching their thirst with fresh mountain water, straight from the tap.
What to Know Before You Go
Park at the Olympic Ski Stadium.
- Bring euro coins for parking fees and public restrooms.
- ADDRESS: Am Eisstadion 1, 82467 Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany
- €4.00 for adults.
- €2.50 for kids, ages 6 – 17 years (children 0-5 are free).
- €9.50 for a family ticket.
You will get wet!
- Wear a rain coat and boots (no umbrellas), if you have them, and think about bringing a change of clothes, just in case! Also, put your electronics in a safe place before you head into the Gorge, and protect your camera as well as you can.
Strollers are not practical.
- The tunnels are pretty narrow, with low-hanging ceilings. We had to duck and squeeze our way through several of them. Consider bringing a wrap or baby carrier for children, ages 3 and younger.
Check the website (http://partnachklamm.eu) for opening times before you head out.
- Throughout the year, there may be several closures due to maintenance and inclement weather. Make sure it’s open when you’re wanting to go to avoid any unnecessary disappointment.