Maximum altitude:

Southern Approach:

from Mittenwald (~910m) ~880m 27+1/2km ~200m
Scharnitz (~950m) ~840m 19+1/2km ~200m
Northern Approach:

from Hinterriss (920m) ~870m 18km ~500m

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A ride over the Hochalmsattel is often described as the classic great Karwendel mountains ride. These amazingly steep mountains could be mistaken for the dolomites because of there sheer cliff faces. The ride is also often referred to as going to the Karwendelhaus, which is just short of the summit. When crossing the saddle, the ride contiinues down the other side, which adds to the scenic variety with a small mountain park of old several hundred year old "Ahorn" trees and a deep mountain stream gulch, not to mention more great cliff faces.


From South. The turnoff up the Karwendelvalley is in the Austrian border town of Scharnitz, just north of the church and the bridge across the river Isar. The sign at the turnoff is easily missed. The narrow paved road is lined with a few guest houses. The route turns steeply uphill at the next left, signed Karwendelhaus. The long Kawendelvalley runs between the two major ridges of the Karwendel group of mountains. The northern ridge is named the Karwendel chain, the one to the south the Vomper chain. The road climbs and drops intermittently between these two amazingly steep and straight ridges, so that the smooth double track trail seems to gain altitude slowly. Finally a large clearing opens the view on the saddle with the Karwendelhaus. Steep switchbacks lead to the top. The Karwendelhaus is a little lower than the saddle and 1km off the route. The saddle is above treeline and on sunny weekends a busy gathering spot for cyclists.

From North.
(described downwards). The trail heads for the low mountain exit to the left at the bottom of the valley, as seen from the saddle. It does not head for the high country below the toothlike mountains straight ahead, where most of the trails are visible. During a traversal on May 23rd, there was still enough snow on the trail between the summit and "kleiner Ahornboden", that quite a bit of extra time was needed. But the route was obvious from the many bikers that had left tracks before. Even when there is no snow this is the roughest surface of the route, and even this stretch is relatively smooth. The spectacular descent takes a break at a small mountain park, with Ahorn trees that are many hundred years old and look it too. From here signs point the way down a better surfaced road (which is still closed to non official motor vehicles). A junction offers the option to follow the short route along the Johannestal, down along an incised mountain stream, that can be heard a hundred feet below, but rarely seen. The road merges onto pavement just west of the conglomeration of houses of Hinterriss. From here most mountain bikers head up between the Soiern mountains and the Karwendel mountains to emerge back in Mittenwald. But to get the maximum elevation gain out of this side, you can also continue down pavement north to Vorderriss. Somewhere in this last stretch the route crosses the Austrian-German border.


Hochalmsattel:  A loop ride from Kruen(Germany) > Scharnitz(Austria) > Karwendelvalley > Hochalmsattel > Hinterriss > Vorderriss > Wallgau > sp:  50.5 miles wtih 4000ft of climbing in 5:1 hours,  (VDO MC1.0 m4:9.5.23).
Notes: which includes one wrong turn in Scharnitz and shopping for the day's food

The last page of a day on an extended tour is: Achenpass

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