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One thing I love about going to Europe is how well the public transportation systems are integrated. Munich has several types of public transportation, from buses to light rail to commuter rail, and finally, the DB Bahn train network. Everything is well-connected, so getting from the Munich airport to my final destination, the German Alpine town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, was easy. I could then spend the rest of the afternoon hiking in Partnach Gorge.

Visiting Partnach Gorge

The Partnach Gorge in Garmisch, Germany, is a natural wonder that should be at the top of your list of places to see if you are near Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

The Partnach River descends from the German Alps, scraping its way through a narrow canyon before finally splitting between Garmisch and Partenkirchen. The vistas are remarkable both above and below Partnach Gorge, but the gorge itself is one of the most interesting spots I’ve seen worldwide. Reminiscent of the slot canyons in Arizona, Partnach Gorge (Partnachklamm in German) is as narrow as about 5 feet wide in places. The canyon is about half a mile long, and the rock walls rise up to 250 feet above the river.

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A pathway has been cut into the side, allowing hikers to pass through the gorge almost year-round (heavy snowmelt in the spring can result in necessary closures due to flooding). Waterfalls all along the route create damp conditions, so I’d recommend wearing a rain jacket.

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Partnach Gorge is easy to find from Garmish-Partenkirchen. Just follow the river south toward the Olympic Ski Jump center, which you can’t miss, as it towers above everything around it. The area hosted the 1936 Winter Olympics. Follow the path from the parking lot to the right of the jumps, continuing along the river. You’ll pass a few places selling beer and food, and eventually, you’ll come to a kiosk that charges a modest fee for entry.

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I spent at least an hour slowly walking through the gorge, taking photos, and admiring the views. Between the greyish-blue-green water of the raging river, the waterfalls, and the bright green foliage clinging to the rocks above, the Partnach Gorge hike was spectacular. I’ve posted a few photos here, but they don’t even come close to capturing the spectacle. It is one of those areas that must be seen to be believed.

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At the end of the narrow canyon of Partnach Gorge, hikers are presented with three options: double back and walk through the gorge again, continue walking along the Partnach River through the wider valley to the south, or take another path up to the left that then heads back north into the hills and eventually back to where you started the hike. I chose the latter of these options.

The resulting destination? One of the most glorious of all German inventions: the mountain beer hut.

Visiting a German mountain beer hut

After hiking (or, more accurately, stair-climbing) for about 30 minutes, I arrived at Forsthaus Graseck. It was at this point that I decided to test out my very limited knowledge of the German language. How hard can it be to say, “One beer, please”? In my case, very. I can try to blame it on the jet lag and lack of sleep, but what should have been “ein bier, bitte” came out as “un bier, bitte,” as I inexplicably combined Spanish and German. The woman at the counter was nice enough to correct me without shaming me for not even knowing how to say the number “one” in her language, and she managed to figure out what I wanted.

If there’s a better reward for doing a stair-climbing workout than a cold beer, I haven’t found it.

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I sat in the sun, relaxing for a while before hiking back down the hill toward the entrance of Partnach Gorge and Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

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