The Bärenschützklamm is an adventurous, romantic region that surely deserves a place on your bucket list. If the gorge fever that has been circulating around 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 which is located 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, difficulty of the routes, and more.
Most important facts about Bear Gorge
|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|
Where is Barenschetzklamm?
Bärenschützklamm Vienna distance
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, which is about 40 minutes and 41 km from Mixnitz.
To reach the Bear Gorge, we first have to get to Mixnitz by car. The gorge is well marked on the maps, and upon arriving in Mixnitz, we 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
If you’re not traveling for a day, but for a weekend, you should also read our post about the Bear Gorge area, where you’ll learn what to do in the area (with children as well).
Barenschutzklamm hiking trail
There is a 9.7 km long hiking trail of moderate difficulty in the Bear Gorge, where you have to 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. Along the way you will see huge and steep rock walls, and your reward will be 24 dazzling waterfalls. Bear Gorge is one of the longest waterfall gorges in Europe.
Attention! ⚠️ You cannot walk downstairs inside the gorge! 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 to return in 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 valley you will find 3 options for hiking
- Short route (4 hours)
- Long route to the Hochlantsch peak (+60 minutes)
- Long route with the Schrüsserlbrunn Church (long tour +30 minutes)
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) as well as a terraced hut with panoramic views of the valley.
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 directions. The Bear Gorge tour is a moderately difficult hiking trail (round trip).
During the tour you can explore the canyon on a variety of routes. After a wide forest road, 115 bridges, 55 ladders and a 1,400-meter-long section lead through the gorge, and then 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, just 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 you might even get a view of the whole canyon.
As you progress through the gorge, a tiring but safe ascent will follow while you will have plenty to admire. After the 45-minute-long forest tour, we arrive at Hans Kerl’s hut, where we 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 forward 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.
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 the hiking trail No. 746.
If you still have time and energy, go up to the Hochlantsch summit. This means an additional 500 meters of elevation, as the peak is located at an altitude of 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 wonderful view of the valley. There is a toilet in the hut, as well as hot lunches.
If that wasn't enough, you can reach the Schrüsserlbrunn Pilgrimage Church via 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, fern, mossy rock valleys, and the wild power of the river which has made its way through walls of limestone and dolomite mountains.
Huts in Bärenschützklamm
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. Even before the tour, you have the opportunity to use the toilet in the parking lot. Halfway through the 3-km-long introductory section, there is also 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. From here 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 specialties before your trip. Then you’ll find a small hut halfway in the gorge. Then just out of the gorge, as you climb the last steps, you’ll reach the next major resting place called "Zum Guten Hirten".
If you decide to 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 in one of the highest points of the mountain, legendary for its cottage cheese strudel.
Barenschutzklamm Opening Hours
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 pm.
When it gets dark, the visual conditions deteriorate a lot, which is especially dangerous in the gorge! If, however, you can only get to the entrance in the afternoon, you should take a headlamp with you! It’s also worth preparing sandwiches, as I don’t have information on how long the huts in the gorge are open (and if you’re in a big hurry, you might not stop for an hour anyway).
The gorge can also be visited in light rainy weather. In this case, 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!
Barenschutzklamm - Tickets and prices
You can buy a ticket at the Hans-Kerl hut at the entrance to the gorge.
- Adult from 16 years of age: 5 euros
- Adult with Aplinist 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.
Hiking with Kids
The gorge is not recommended for children under the age of 6, as it would be dangerous and difficult for them to cross the bridges and stairs.
On the edge of Mixnitz is a large car park belonging to the gorge where we can leave our vehicle for free. Use the following GPS coordinates to park: 47 ° 20'09.4 ″ N 15 ° 22'26.8 ″ E
Tip: The parking lot is big enough, but it is recommended to arrive in the morning to find an empty parking space.
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 limestone by the Mixnitzback stream, awaits visitors with wonderful 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 as natural assets in 1978.
In 1896, the first tourists to try and 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 in turn 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 Bear Gorge got its name from the fact that there were many bears living in the area, but even for them, the gorge was a difficult and dangerous terrain.
Almenland Nature Park
Many routes lead to the Almenland Naturpark, but the most breathtaking is through the Bear Gorge. The Almenland Nature Park’s website is available in English and German.
Known for its breathtakingly beautiful and inaccessible countryside, the Nature Park was declared a national park in 2002, making it the youngest national park in Austria. It provides a stunning natural experience for every visitor.
What should I wear in the gorge?
Since there is no way to turn back in the gorge, make sure in the parking lot that you have stored everything you need.
- a small backpack
- a sandwich and some fruit or chocolate
- 2 liters of water per person
- hiking boots with ribbed tread that are waterproof and protect your ankle
- layered, comfortable clothing, a raincoat and rain pants
- 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
When is the best to go?
Bear Gorge is a popular destination from 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.
Tip: I personally like the gorge best during the fall, when the vegetation covering the gorge splatters in variegated colours. 🍁
What to do in the area?
If you can stay a couple of days nearby, there are plenty of unique places worth visiting in every season. We collected the best attractions in the Almenland Nature Park here.
I wish you a great trip, let's meet in the gorge! 🐻 �