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Gamsjoch Peak Hike, Karwendel Nature Park, Tyrol, Austria

Gamsjoch (2452 m) is a three-headed mountain in Karwendel Nature Park in Tirol, Austria.

The western summit of Gamsjoch (2438 m) is one of the most visited peaks in the Eastern Karwendel Mountains because of its proximity to the Eng Almdorf (Eng alpine pasture village) and Grosser Ahornboden (Great Maple Floor), a large plain studded with 2,300 sycamore maple trees.

From the summit, hikers can enjoy sweeping views of the Hinterautal-Vomper-Kette, the largest Karwendel mountain chain. This panoramic view is fondly called the Karwendel Kino, which means Karwendel cinema.

Along the route, it’s possible to see hundreds of native chamois. And with some luck, you may be able to spot ibex near the summit. We consider this trail one of the best day hikes in Austria.

The hike to Gamsjoch begins at Die Eng – Alpengasthof und Naturhotel, at the end of the Risstal Valley Road, just before the Eng alpine pasture.

The easiest ascent route to Gamsjoch is via the Hochljoch saddle. However, many people opt for the steep Gumpenkar cirque ascent route, because it’s faster.

Gamsjoch, Grosser Ahornboden, Austria Ahornboden
  • Trailhead: Parkplatz Ahornboden, Hnterriss, Großer Ahornboden | Google Maps
  • Distance: 13.8 km round trip, or 18 km out-and-back via Hohljoch
  • Time Needed: 6:30 – 8:30 hours
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1324 meters, or 1390 meters out-and-back via Hohljoch
  • Difficulty: Difficult. You need stamina, a head for heights, and good trail intuition. 
  • Minimum Elevation: 1197 meters
  • Maximum Elevation: 2438 meters
  • When to hike: end of June – mid/end of October, depending on snow conditions.
  • Where to Eat: Eng Alm Rasthütte
  • Where to Stay: Die Eng – Alpengasthof und Naturhotel (midrange)
  • Recommended Hiking Map: Kompass hiking map Naturpark Karwendel
  • Recommended Itinerary: 10-Day Bavarian and Tyrolean Alps Road Trip

Gamsjoch Hiking Map


Where is Gamsjoch?

Gamsjoch Hike, Karwendel Nature Park, Tyrol, Austria

The three-summit Gamsjoch is the main peak of the Gamsjochgruppe in the eastern Karwendel Mountains in Tyrol.

The peak lies north of Hinterautal-Vomper mountain chain and between the Falken and Sonnjoch groups.

The Gamsjoch is bordered by the Eng Valley to the east, the Lalider Valley to the west and the Riss Valley to the north.


Gamsjoch Hike Difficulty

Gamsjoch Ridge Trail, Karwendel Mountains, Tyrol, Austria

This is a difficult day hike. It requires 1300 meters of elevation gain/loss.

You should be acclimated, in excellent physical condition, sure-footed, and have sufficient mountain experience.

We highly encourage you to ascend and descend to Gamsjoch via the Hochljoch saddle

The circuit trail ascends via the scree-filled Gumpenkar via an unmarked and excruciatingly steep trail. We hiked this route, because a local recommended it.

The Gumpenkar ascent route is more direct and faster, which is why people do it.

But, in hindsight, we would have skipped it in favor of the far more pleasant Hochljoch saddle ascent. 


Gamsjoch Trailhead: Die Eng Hotel in Hinteriss Valley

Die Eng, Grosser Ahornboden, Austria

Die Eng – Alpengasthof und Naturhotel is located at the end of Hinterisstal (Upper Riss Valley), between Grosser Ahornboden and the Eng Alpine Pasture.

Hinterisstal is accessible by a toll road from the Vorderriss Valley, Bavaria, Germany. The toll fee is 7 EUR (cash payment). 

Note: There’s no road access to Grosser Ahornboden/Eng Alm from Austria.

From Austria, most visitors drive to Grosser Ahornboden from Lake Achensee. It’s about a 1:30 hr drive. From Achenkirch, drive north in the direction of Germany.

Follow the B307 and the Risstal Landesstrasse to the Großer Ahornboden. The Risstal Landesstrasse ends at Hotel Die Eng, where there is a huge parking lot. 


Gamsjoch Trail Description 


Die Eng Parking Lot – Gumpenkar Gully – Gumpenkar/Hochljoch Trail Intersection (1:20 hours)

Gamsjoch Trailhead, Die Eng, Grosser Ahornboden, Austria

Just below the parking lot at Die Eng – Alpengasthof und Naturhotel, there’s a path that leads across the Rissbach stream.

Cross the Rissbach stream and then turn right on the alpine pasture road, away from the Eng Almdorf (Eng alpine pasture hamlet), where there’s a cluster of huts.

After about 180 meters, take a sharp left on the unmarked footpath leading across the meadow towards the forest.

The starting point of the Gumpenkar trail isn’t marked. Here’s the exact location (GPS: ​​Google Maps). For help locating this trail, use the free Maps.me app. 

The trail ascends steeply, vertically and unmercifully along a wide gravel track, which looks like an abandoned forest road, through the woods.

After about 40 minutes, you’ll clear the forest line. Gumpenspitze peak is visible ahead. The path continues to ascend, though less steeply.

Soon you’ll reach the dried up stream bed of Gumpenbach, which is now a field of loose scree and rubble.

There are several washed-out red waymarks, but few and far between. Continue straight uphill. 

Gumpekar, Gumpenbach, Karwendel Nature Park, Austria

To the right, the west summit of the Gumpenjoch comes into view.

The trail mostly hugs the right bank of the stream bed, following the contours of the trickling stream.

Gumpenkar hike, Karwendel Mountains, Austria

When the trail leads to the rocky gully (pictured below), hike up the gully for a few meters and then bear left. The path heads straight uphill, parallel to the gully/stream bed.

The trail eventually crosses the Gumpenbach stream.

Gumpenkar Bach, Karwendel, Austria

The path then continues right across a washed-out section with upturned soil.

Finally, the path twists up a grassy slope and joins the main Hochljoch saddle ascent route. 


Gumpenkar/Hochljoch Trail Intersection to Gumpenjöchl (40 minutes)

Gumpenjöchl, Karwendel Mountains, Austria

Head right, following the well-established, marked trail. 

This trail leads to Gumpenjöchl, the saddle between Gumpenspitze Peak and Gamsjoch Peak. 

After conquering a series of wooden stairs, the path steers you sharply left and up the grassy, tussock slopes of the Gumpenkar basin.

As we ascended to the Gumpenjöchl, we encountered hundreds of chamois.

The Gumpenjöchl (1974 m) saddle affords fantastic views of the Laliderer Spitze, the Birgkarspitze, and the Falkenhütte.


Gumpenjöchl – Gamsjoch (1:30 hours)

Gumpenjöchl - Gamsjoch hiking trail, Karwendel Mountains, Tyrol, Austria

From Gumpenjoch, head right. Follow the dirt footpath in an easterly direction across tussock slopes. 

With time, the path gets steeper, narrower and more strenuous. There’s a long rocky section, where you may need to use your hands.

If you have any fear of heights, this path will be difficult.

Gamsjoch Peak ascent, Karwendel, Austria

Now hike further northwest up the slope. This is the steepest part of the entire hike.

After about 1 hour from the Gumpenjoch saddle, you will reach a grassy plateau which soon turns to scree.

Hiking to Gamsjoch, Karwendel Mountains, Austria

Follow the zigzag path towards Gamsjoch.

After about 30 minutes you will reach the ridge of the west peak of Gamsjoch.

Gamsjoch Ridge, Karwendel, Austria

Follow the ridge to Gamsjoch, marked by a summit cross. 

The ridge path splits, so you can take the lower track safely up to the summit, without exposure.


Gamsjoch – Gumpenjöchl – Hohljoch (2 hours)

Gamsjoch Peak hiking trail, Karwendel Mountains, Austria

Return to the Gumpenjöchl saddle along the same route.

From the Gumpenjoch saddle, continue following the familiar trail down the grassy slopes of the Gumpenkar basin.

Instead of returning to Die Eng/Grosser Ahornboden via the gully, stay on the friendly, marked trail to Laliderersalm Hochleger (1526 m). This high trail is scenic, easy, and mostly flat.

From the Laliderersalm Hochleger huts, it’s a quick descent to Hochljoch saddle.

Hochljoch saddle to Grosser Ahornboden, Hiking Trail, Austria

We were so bummed we didn’t ascend this way, because it’s far more beautiful.


Hohljoch to Die Eng Parking Lot (1 – 1:30 hrs)

Eng Almdorf, Grosser Ahornboden, Austria

At Hohljoch (1794 m), Eng is signed 1:30 hours.

This trail is busy because it connects Eng/Grosser Ahornboden with the Falkenhütte mountain hut.

Follow the obvious track back down to Eng Valley.

Engalm Rasthütte, Eng, Grosser Ahornboden, Austria

The trail eventually leads you through the Eng Almdorf (alpine pasture village), where you can grab something to eat at the Engalm Rasthütte, or purchase some alpine cheese, or local products.


Where to Stay in Grosser Ahornboden


Die Eng – Alpengasthof & Naturhotel

Grosser Ahornboden, Great Maple Floor, Tyrol, Austria

After our summit hike, we spent the night at the Alpengasthof and Naturhotel die Eng. The hotel is located directly at the trailhead, between Grosser Ahornboden and the Eng Alpine Pasture.

It’s the best possible base for hiking in this region. You could stay here for a week and not run out of hiking options.

This mountains hotel has comfortable, modern rooms – many of which were recently refurbished. The hotel also has on-site restaurant and a relaxing spa area (modernized in 2022) that will revive your legs after the hike.

Book your stay at Alpengasthof and Naturhotel die Eng.



Austria Trip Planning Essentials

Use our Austria Travel Guide and Austria blog archive to plan a unique and memorable trip to Austria. 


When to Visit Austria 

We recommend visiting Austria between June and October for hiking and between December and March for skiing and winter adventuring.

Summer Travel | Summer in Austria

Autumn Travel | Autumn in Austria

Winter Travel | Winter in Austria, Salzburg in December, Vienna in December, Vienna in January, Skiing in Schladming


Getting around Austria

Austria has an excellent public transit system. We’ve used it extensively to travel throughout the country. We highly recommend using transit if you’re visiting cities (Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Graz, etc…), and/or doing hut-to-hut hikes. 

Some areas like Mayrhofen, Schladming and Lech am Arlberg have wonderful seasonal transit systems in place (e.g. summer hiking buses). However, if you’re not visiting during the high season, bus frequencies are significantly reduced and it’s far easier to get around with your own vehicle. 

If you’re planning on visiting multiple destinations across  Austria, we recommend renting a car. 

Use these road trip itineraries for trip planning inspiration:

Start in Vienna | 2 Week Austria Road Trip

Start in Salzburg, or Munich | 1 Week Austria Road Trip

Start in Munich | 10-Day Bavarian Alps & Tyrolean Alps Road Trip  

Car Rental 

We recommend using the Discovercars.com car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals. This easy-to-use booking platform compares car rental deals from 500+ trusted providers, so that you can choose the best option for your trip.

Check car rental rates here

If you’re driving into Austria from a neighboring country, don’t forget to purchase a vignette at/near the border. 


Hiking in Austria

Where to Hike in Austria

Read Austrian Alps Hiking Destinations for an overview of where to hike in Austria, with tips on specific trails and where to stay. Also check out Best Day Hikes in Austria and these region-specific hiking guides:

Tyrol | Innsbruck Hikes, Lake Achensee Hikes

Salzburg | Salzburg Hikes, Filzmoos Hikes

Styria | Schladming Hikes

Vorarlberg | Vorarlberg Hikes, Lech am Arlberg Hikes

Lower Austria | Vienna Mountains Hikes

Hut to Hut Hiking in Austria 

Austria is a premier hut-to-hut and long-distance hiking destination. The quality of the mountain huts are superb. We particularly love the high-alpine trails, which are called Höhenwege in German. We’ve summarized our favorite multi-day hikes in Trekking Austria. If you’re new to hut hiking, read this in-depth guide to Hut to Hut Hiking in Austria.

Hiking Essentials


What to See & Do in Austria

1. Visit a gorge like the Liechtenstein Gorge in Salzburg, or Wolfsklamm Gorge in Tyrol.

2. Bathe in the thermal pools of an Austrian Therme like Aqua Dome in Tyrol

3. Stay in a thermal spa hotel like Rogner Bad Blumau in Styria, EurothermenResort Bad Ischl in Upper Austria, or the Aqua Dome Hotel in Tyrol.

4. Hike to a mountain lake like Lake Tappenkarsee in Salzburg or Lake Drachensee in Tyrol.

5. Go Wine Tasting in South Styria.

6. Marvel at the culture, music, and architecture of Vienna.

7. Eat heartwarming mountain food in an Almhütte at Grosser Ahornboden in Tyrol, or Ursprungalm in Styria. 

8. Drive the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Hohe Tauern National Park. 

9. Visit the castles, monasteries, and wine taverns of the Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

10. Watch a Krampus Run: Krampus Parade in December.


Austrian Hotels

Moon & Honey Travel is an independent blog created by two passionate hikers. We are able to provide free content to you, because of ads and affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Happy travels and happy trails,

Sabrina & Kati

2 thoughts on “Gamsjoch Peak Hike, Karwendel Nature Park, Tyrol, Austria”

  1. Hi. For the Gamsjoch Peak hike you mention that you wished you had ascended via the more beautiful route using the HOchljoch saddle. Can you explain how you would do the hike that way? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hi Sue,
      The hochljoch saddle route is the descending route we hiked. Check out the map.
      Route: Die Eng – Hochljoch – Laliderer Hochleger – Gumpenjöchl – Gamsjoch
      All the best,
      Sabrina

      Reply

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