hiking from Scharnitz past the Isar headwaters to Hallerangerhaus
Doing things you love, with people you love in beautiful places is the best way to spend the weekend. It won’t matter if it’s raining or things don’t go as planned.
Since our first Heimgarten hike I’ve desperately been wanting to squeeze in one overnight hike this year before most of the huts would close for the winter – and this weekend was our last chance. Plan A was to stay at the incredibly beautiful Falkenhütte in the Karwendel and walk through the Kleiner and Großer Ahornboden. Plan B was to redo a hike Dub and I had to cut short two years ago to Krottenkopf. Plan C was to walk past the headwaters of the Isar, stay overnight at Hallerangerhaus and traverse over to Hafelekar the next day. We went with plan C.2.
Dub’s warning that they had forecast rain for 5pm that afternoon I chose to optimistically ignore. The weather was beautifully sunny as we walked through bronze golden beech and fir forests. Rather than following the main forest road we climbed the smaller Isarsteig, following the signs for Wiesenhof and Glierschklamm. While we only bumped into a few locals walking their dogs, we could see a thin but continuous stream of hikers, bikers, and the occasional car trickling down the main forest road on the other side of the river.
And the kids even got to play on the playground.
We followed the Isarsteig until Gleirschtal, crossed the little gorge at Gleirschklamm and followed the path for one more bend before taking a small trail to the left that took us over the Isar and back up to the main path. After an hour of quiet solitary hiking, this was a bit of a culture shock: the wide gravel road was beautiful territory for bikers, mountain bikers and leisurely weekend pedalers. In the next hours at least 50 of them passed us.
The weather didn’t hold up until 5. Shortly after merging onto the main path, we felt the first rain drops and by the time we started the final 1 hour climb I could feel the inside of my rain jacket stick to my neck and shoulders like soaked paper.
The weather didn’t hold up until 5. Shortly after merging onto the main path, we felt the first rain drops and by the time we started the final 1 hour climb I could feel the inside of my rain jacket stick to my neck and shoulders like soaked paper. It wasn’t pouring but a constant soft drizzle – enough to keep my camera tucked under the rain jacket and everyone’s thoughts and words silently tucked in ours heads. Yet at every bend, every time I lifted my head, every new mountain emerging behind its neighbour, my heart gave a little jolt and the corners of my mouth a little twitch. This land is just too beautiful.
When we reached the hut – soaked and with blistered feet – the rain let up. The few clouds that remained nestled between golden larch trees and rocky needles lifted that feeling of having arrived from silent relief to silent euphoria.
It was a tough choice but really not even worth discussing. 2 out of 8 feet were severely blistered. I’m not sure how they made it back downhill as smoothly as they did, but the hike to Hafelekar was simply out of question.
Hallerangerhaus closed their doors for the season behind us. Ahead of us, there was the soft, awakening morning light of that spectacular golden October weekend we had been promised. The rocky pinnacles had lost their mysterious aura from the previous afternoon and were glowing in the sun.
At Kastenalm, those 2 blistery feet dropped their boots with a joyous Jauchzer of relief and all 8 feet hopped onto the taxi bus that chauffeured us back to Scharnitz train station – not proud of, but still glad, to enlist such service.
The hike through the Hinerautal is pretty and easy. While we saw beautiful views and had an enjoyable hike, I probably wouldn’t do it again any time soon. The path itself was too much catering towards bikers and car access (it is a restricted access road though, we saw maybe 10 cars in the two days). Despite the rain on Saturday it was quite busy, especially with bikers, which isn’t the most fun if you’re walking. I’m still intrigued to do the traverse to Hafelekar, but we may try using a different access route.
how to get there and back
Take the regional train from Munich to Innsbruck and get off at Scharnitz (the Bayern-Ticket is valid just until Scharnitz).
From the train station, walk straight out to the main street Seefelder Straße and turn left (downtown), then tie the first left past the bridge. You’ll basically be following the river for the next 3 ½ hours until you reach Kastenalm. While still in town, we decided to follow the signs for Isarsteig. While this adds maybe 10 minutes to the hike, path wise, it makes for the most trail-like stretch winding through the forest right along the river. Rather then constantly being passed by faster hikers, bikers and occasionally cars, the Isarsteig seems to be mostly used by locals going for a stroll. Follow the signs for Wiesenhof and Gleirschklamm. At the sign „Gleirschklamm – Nur für Geübte“ follow the main path for one more bend, rather than folioing it up higher go straight and down to the river. There’s a small bridge and a winding path that’ll lead you over to the main path. You’ll pop out onto the path at a fork, make sure to take the upper right towards Kastenalm.
equipment and condition
While the hike doesn’t require all that much condition (the climbing section in the end only takes about 1 to 1 ½ hours), the long flat beginning does require some stamina. Since the paths are very well kept and flat, no special hiking shoes are required. Do make sure however to make shoes you’re comfortable walking 19 km in though. Kastenalm, Hallerangerhaus and Hallerangeralm are serviced throughout the summer, so you don’t even need to pack a big lunch or dinner.