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Crossing the Alps à la Eurohike - 6 highlights between Garmisch and Meran

Hiking blogger Nick tells us about his Eurohike crossing of the Alps with his dog from Garmisch to Meran and his 6 highlights on the tour.
Crystal clear Leutschacher Ache, lined with trees

With his outdoor blog UrbanHiker.de, Nick provides tips for beginners and pros on hiking routes, destinations and walking with dogs. His aim is to encourage people to explore the world on foot - whether in the city, in the countryside and from low mountain ranges to the Alps. He loves travelling with his dog Asta, especially on long-distance hiking trails and in the mountains.

Crystal clear Leutschacher Ache, lined with trees

In six stages, we traversed three countries amidst stunning mountain views. Our journey commenced in Garmisch, renowned as an Olympic hub and winter sports haven, embraced by the majestic presence of the Zugspitze. En route, we savored the charm of Bavarian beer gardens, relished the gentle transition to the Austrian border, and even indulged in a brief train excursion from Telfs to Landeck. Each day unfurled fresh marvels: scaling the Reschen Pass, ascending via chairlift to the Mutzkopf, and the pivotal moment of reaching the border confluence of Austria, Italy, and Switzerland.

Upon entering South Tyrol, we found ourselves enveloped by endless vineyards and orchards that define the region. Our final day culminated in a panoramic trail leading us along the renowned Tappeiner Promenade straight into the heart of Meran, a charming spa town. Throughout our journey, Asta and I encountered not only breathtaking landscapes but also the warmth of fellow hikers and locals who generously shared their stories and aspirations. Trekking across the Alps together with my four-legged companion proved immensely rewarding, as we traversed shimmering lakes, negotiated rugged gorges, and meandered through picturesque apple orchards.

#1 Partnach Gorge

Our Alpine expedition kicks off with a remarkable natural wonder: the crossing of the Partnach Gorge alongside my faithful companion, Asta, serves as the inaugural highlight of our Eurohike journey across the Alps, "From Garmisch to Meran." As we step into this primal landscape, the thunderous roar of cascading water envelops us, a testament to the untamed power of the Partnach River, which has carved its path a remarkable 80 meters deep into the surrounding rock. This awe-inspiring sight brings us to a momentary pause, filled with wonder. Amidst the summer heat, the refreshing coolness of the gorge provides much-needed relief for both of us. Designated as a natural monument since 1912, the Partnach Gorge reveals its rugged beauty along a 700-meter-long path, adorned with tunnels and footbridges, inviting us to explore its timeless allure. Reflecting on its storied past, we're reminded of the daring feats of 18th-century lumberjacks who ventured here to transport wood, a legacy that continues to inspire awe to this day. Navigating through the narrow tunnels, we are greeted by the gentle caress of fine water droplets on our skin, a revitalizing mist that invigorates our senses. Mindful of the gorge's propensity for surprises, we ensure to wear rain protection, anticipating the occasional wet encounter. This sublime experience offers us the opportunity to marvel at the sheer power and beauty of nature, setting the stage for an unforgettable beginning to our adventure.

 

View through the Partnach Gorge with river

#2 Ferchensee

After trekking the initial 16 kilometers of our 20-kilometer stage, we arrive at the serene Ferchensee lake, a natural oasis nestled along the hike from Garmisch to Meran. The scenery is breathtaking: the changing light paints the water in varied hues, while the towering mountains cast their reflection upon the tranquil surface. This picturesque alpine lake, sculpted by the remnants of the last ice age, offers an ideal spot for a well-deserved break. Pausing at Gasthof Ferchensee, we indulge in a hearty meal to replenish our energy before embarking on the final stretch of our journey. Here, amidst the tranquil surroundings, we savor the peace and serenity, gathering our strength for the remaining kilometers ahead.

 

#3 The Black and Green Lakes

Embarking on the fourth stage of our Eurohike expedition, we ascend into the serene realm of the mountain lakes above Nauders, following an exhilarating chairlift ride. After a leisurely stroll spanning approximately two kilometers, we arrive at the enchanting Schwarzsee, nestled amidst an upland moor and embraced by the gentle hues of the surrounding mountain forests. Within this protected nature reserve, we uncover a world of unparalleled beauty: water lilies gracefully adorning the oxygen-deprived waters, and a diverse array of flora and fauna thriving within this secluded sanctuary. The lake, once shaped by human intervention, now serves as a poignant testament to the remarkable resilience of nature.

A further two kilometers along our path lies the Grünsee, a veritable gem of nature whose invitingly warm and crystal-clear waters harbor a plethora of fish species, including rainbow trout and char. The picturesque vista across the lake is dominated by the imposing rock face of Piz Lad, a majestic presence that accompanies us on our journey towards the Reschner Alm. Here, amidst the serene embrace of the mountains, far removed from the clamor of the outside world, we feel a profound connection to nature that fills us with its innate beauty and tranquil silence. These lakes serve not merely as destinations, but as poignant invitations to immerse ourselves in and preserve the marvels of our natural world.

 

#4 Leutasch Gorge

During the second leg of our Eurohike alpine crossing, we arrive at the enchanting Leutasch ‘Spirit’ Gorge, a mystical chasm etched over millennia from the Tyrolean Mieminger Gebirge to Bavaria. Delving into this profound cleft, plunging up to 75 meters deep, we encounter a natural spectacle of cascading waterfalls and turbulent torrents, steeped in ancient folklore and legends. While my loyal companion, Asta, refrains from traversing the metal walkways to protect her paws, together we explore the alternative route leading to the panoramic bridge. From this vantage point, we are treated to awe-inspiring vistas of the gorge's tumultuous heart. Immersed in the damp mist and entranced by the symphony of the elements, we are captivated by tales of guardian demons and soaring spirits that once inhabited these sacred grounds. The Leutasch Gorge unveils itself as a truly magical realm, inviting us to uncover its hidden mysteries along well-trodden pathways and to experience the raw power of nature firsthand. A fabulous experience that shows us how deeply the roots of history are anchored in this landscape.

Impressive gorge of ghosts

#5 Lake Reschen with its sunken church tower

During the fourth leg of our hiking odyssey from Garmisch to Meran, we encounter a site that poignantly intertwines history and nature: Reschen on Lake Reschen. Bearing the scars of the tragic flood of 1950, which submerged Alt-Graun and sections of Reschen to create a reservoir, today, the solitary church tower stands as a somber monument amidst the waters. This iconic tower, protruding eerily from the lake's surface, serves as a surreal backdrop and draws numerous visitors to reflect upon the events of the past.

Reschen, nestled at an altitude of approximately 1,500 meters and home to roughly 900 inhabitants, thrives primarily on tourism. This quaint village, belonging to the municipality of Graun on the eastern shore of the lake, marks the northernmost point of the South Tyrolean Vinschgau Valley. Notably, this area serves as the source of the Adige River, Italy's second-largest river, which will accompany us on our journey to Merano. The poignant sight of the church tower submerged in Lake Reschen, amidst the vibrant activity of the village and its picturesque environs, leaves an indelible mark, bearing testament to humanity's enduring resilience in the face of nature's whims.

 

Sunken church of Graun in Lake Resia

For Asta and me, the tour was a transformative journey that deepened our bond and gifted us with countless cherished memories. The diversity of nature, spanning from the rugged majesty of mountain peaks to the gentle undulations of vineyard-clad hills, left an indelible impression. The itinerary crafted by Eurohike offered a perfect balance of challenge and relaxation, providing ample opportunities to fully immerse ourselves in the breathtaking beauty of the Alps.

Nick, "UrbanHiker"

#6 Merano and its promenade

The culminating moment of our journey with Asta from Garmisch to Meran is our arrival in the captivating town of Meran—a destination that also marks the starting point for our next adventure: the trek from Merano to Lake Garda. Merano greets us with a unique fusion of Alpine freshness and Mediterranean charm. Among its many attractions, the Tappeiner Promenade stands out as the "crown of Merano." This 4-kilometer-long, flat pathway meanders through a stunning array of Mediterranean and Alpine flora, showcasing exotic flowers and trees that are sure to enchant. Named after the esteemed physician and botanist Dr. Tappeiner, the promenade offers sweeping vistas of the city and beckons visitors to unwind in its numerous cafes, making it a truly unforgettable experience.

Merano captivates with its sprawling parks, verdant promenades, and botanical gardens, creating an ambiance of tranquility and natural beauty. The meandering watercourses weaving through the city further enhance the sense of an oasis, evoking peace and serenity. Particularly striking is the harmonious blend of Alpine-Mediterranean allure and the urban charm of the old town, where medieval architecture intertwines seamlessly with the historic city center, offering a captivating glimpse into the city's rich heritage.

Evening atmosphere over a river in Merano
Dog in front of a mountain backdrop

Mein Fazit

The six-day crossing of the Alps from Garmisch to Meran alongside my beloved companion Asta transcended mere hiking; it was an odyssey through awe-inspiring landscapes and indelible moments. From the majestic peaks encircling Garmisch to the sun-kissed vineyards of South Tyrol and the inviting ambiance of Bavarian beer gardens, each stage of the journey exuded its own unique charm. Noteworthy highlights included the exhilarating ascent to the Reschen Pass, the momentous crossing of the border triangle, and the serene conclusion amidst the picturesque setting of Merano.

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