Großglockner Hochalpenstrasse

An exceedingly natural delight awaits you when driving this panoramic road. On this trip the jounrey is the reward and you really should take your time when driving along this road. In this post you will for once not find a description of one of my hikes but one of a drive through the high alps to Austria’s highest mountain.

The month of September wasn’t one of the best weatherwise this year, so I couldn’t go hiking in the mountains. When the forecast finally announced a golden October I decided to take a few days off and go hiking. I had to realize though that most of the cabins in the Bavarian and Tyrolian Alps had already closed and I therefore had to look for alternatives.

After a quick call to my friends living above the lake Milstatt it was clear that I’ll be spending a couple of days in south-east Austria. Full of anticipation I started planning my trip. I could have driven quickly via the highway but decided to make this drive already my first day of vacation and take the scenic route. On the morning of my departure I did check the weather conditions at the Großglockner on their Webcam  and did see that there is no cloud to be seen on the sky. So I knew which road to take on this fantastic day.

Fusch on the Großglocknerstrasse

Starting in Munich I took the highway all the way down to the Austrian border in Kufstein and continue unhurried from there on smaller roads. As I said I wanted this day to be a relaxing one.

In Fusch an der Großglocknerstraße the adventure starts. Framed by the towering summits of the „Hohe Tauern“ national park the road leads ever farther into the Fuschertal. And still no cloud on this deep blue sky. This will be a real delight.

You have to pay a fee in order to be allowed to ride this road and it is not exactly a bargain. As of October 2017 you will have to pay €35,00 per car for the use of this 30-mile drive. That’s why I did check the webcam before getting here. When the weather conditions aren’t too good it’s only half the fun. After I have paid my fee I can start the adventure. The road winds itself upwards in long loops. I do stop on every other parking spot along the road and admire this magnificent panorama.

At a certain height the forest consists mainly of larches. I knew that those trees loose their needles in fall but that they first do show such a colorful show of orange and yellow was new to me. With the snow covered mountains and the deep blue sky as a backdrop this was a real sort of firework of colors. Just awesome.

Along the road you will find quite a few stops with nature trails and exhibitions telling you everything about this region. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to visit them. Next time I will have to start earlier to gain the time to check out one or the other.

The highest elevation point of the tour is reached at the „Edelweißspitze“ with about 8450 ft. above sea level. The vista from here is just spectacular. Especially on a bright and sunny day like today. Since September was, as I mentioned above,  cool and wet I do stumble across some snow on the side of the road. The street itself is clear and dry. I am taking some time to go for a short walk and admire the scenery. But since I still have to do some driving before I reach my friends it’s a rather short break I am taking.

On the southern side of the summit the road does continue in long loops. You pass a high valley above the timberline which is also called „witches‘ caldron“ and offers breathtaking alpine scenery.

Once you have already passed most of the route you will come to Schöneck and a roundabout where you can turn to the Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Höhe. You definitely should do this, since you will get a great view of the Großglockner and the Pasterzen glacier. The road will rise again and along this part you will find a few more places to stop and take pictures. Once you have reached the end of the road you will not only be rewarded with great views but also with quite some entertainment. I feel sorry, that I don’t have more time to explore. Another reason to come back one day.

So I get in my car and drive back to the roundabout. My friends are waiting for me. But this drive already was sheer relaxation. At the turn I do take the direction of Heiligenblut , a well known place of pilgrimage at the southern foot of the Großglockner.

I still have to drive for another hour before reaching my final destination. I will write about the trails I hiked there in later posts. I do hope I did awake your desire to take this drive too. So you just have to wait for good weather conditions and get started.



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