The Gossnitz Waterfall (or Gößnitz Waterfall; Goessnitz without the German letters) was the one waterfall that we did on our Grossglockner High Alpine Road Tour that actually required us to earn it. Indeed, most of the waterfalls on the famous road were primarily roadside attractions so that made this particular waterfall all the more memorable.
The Gossnitz Falls gushed with high volume, which was kind of unusual for one possessing a 70m plunge. The notch in the 100m rock wall supporting the waterfall suggested that a giant might have struck the rock wall with a giant axe according to some local myths.
Speaking of myths, the trail leading from the Retschitzparkplatz (see directions below) to the Gossnitz Waterfall followed along the so-called Natura Mystica, which was basically a series of interpretive signs explaining the area around the trail as well as some of the health benefits of partaking in such a path to “enlightenment” so-to-speak.
From the aforementioned car park (you’ll know it when you see it because there’s a Natura Mystica Oracle with its Stonehenge-like organization of rocks and pillars), I followed an ascending trail that led behind a fence then skirted along the foothills overlooking the village of Winkl.
The undulating trail then descended into a forested area where I kept right at a fork, which was the start and end of a loop trail. This path went by a clearing with some wavy “lounge chairs” for laying down and resting by a meadow before reaching some other less-advertised unpaved parking area near where the Gößnitzbach joined up with the Möll River. It took me around 20 minutes to get to this point.
Next, I went over a bridge traversing the Goessnitzbach before taking the trail just on the other side following upstream along the creek while passing by some water channels and a mill en route. Roughly another 20 minutes later, I reached another footbridge going across the Goessnitzbach, but before crossing it, I noticed a spur trail that continued straight ahead along the creek.
After another five minutes of scrambling alongside the creek (I wouldn’t recommend this off-trail scramble if the creek was flooding or the terrain slippery like during a rain), I finally saw a very attractive side view of the Gossnitz Waterfall while seeing it from the foot of some very vertical rock cliffs (some of which were overhanging). Indeed, the rockfall danger was real here, and I didn’t linger for long.
Back at the footbridge on the main trail, I then crossed it and followed the trail downstream along the Goessnitzbach before reaching another signed junction. This time, I went right and took the spur trail that climbed steeply up a combination of switchbacks and steps. The footing here was a little dicier because of the mist from the Gößnitz Waterfall wafting up and wetting the slopes.
After roughly an hour from the main car park, I finally made it up to the viewing platform looking right at the brink of the Gossnitz Waterfall, where the spray from it still made it up this high. I was looking against the sun in the mid-afternoon when I made my visit so it was a bit challenging to photograph. However, in looking the opposite direction from the ridge, I was able to see the Grossglockner Road and avalanche shelters high up the opposite mountainside.
Once I had my fill of this view of the Gossnitz Waterfall, I then descended back down to the main trail, then kept right to complete the loop. Afterwards, I returned back to the Retschitzparkplatz roughly 20 minutes later.
Overall, had I started from the Retschitzparkplatz, I would have hiked about 3.4km round trip and it would have taken me between 60-90 minutes depending on how long I would have lingered at each lookout or how often I would take breaks.
However, I actually made a mistake in parking at the structure in Heiligenblut and did the hike from there. So that wound up adding another 1.5km in each direction (3km round trip) to the overall hike. So what should have been about 3.4km wound up being 6.4km total, and thus I wound up spending over 2 hours away from the car.
Finally, given the spelling of the Gossnitz Waterfall, I’ve seen it referred to as the Goessnitz Waterfall, Gößnitz Wasserfall, Gößnitzfall, and the Goessnitzfall.
The Gößnitz Waterfall was best accessed from the Retschitzparkplatz right at the village of Winkl, which was beneath the town of Heiligenblut. Heiligenblut itself was located just downhill from the southern toll station of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road (or Großglockner Hochalpenstraße). I’ll describe the driving directions from both Zell am See to the north as well as Lienz to the south.
From the center of Zell am See, we drove south on the Brucker Bundestraße as it entered some tunnels leading me onto the B311 going south. Once out of the tunnels, I remained on the B311 due south for another 4km before taking the ramp on the right to go south on the Glocknerstraße.
Note that if you’re coming from Sankt Johann im Pongau, then this road would be accessed from an off-ramp leaving the B311 at about 33km west of the city. Once off the highway, turn left to go south on the Glocknerstraße.
Once on the Glocknerstraße, the road then headed south for a little over 13km to the toll booths, where we had to pay 36 euros (as of 2018) to proceed onwards. Then, we would continue another 32km south along the B107 Road all the way to the town of Heiligenblut just downhill from the southern toll station.
In Heiligenblut, we had to continue on the local street Hof (instead of making the hairpin turn), and follow this street downhill for about 900m to another intersection. Turning right at this junction, we’d then follow the Winkl Road for just under 500m before reaching the Retzschitzparkplatz on the left.
This drive would take about 90 minutes, and it would require a toll since it involved driving through the Großglockner Hochalpenstraße.
Going in the opposite direction, from Lienz, we would drive on the B107 northeast towards Winklern. Then, we’d continue driving north on the B107 for about 21km to Heiligenblut. Right at the hairpin turn, we’d turn left to get onto Hof, then follow the street downhill towards the Retzschitzparkplatz as described above.
Overall, this drive would take a little about 45 minutes, but a toll wouldn’t be required because it wouldn’t cross any of the toll booths.
For geographical context, Zell am See was 14km (about 15 minutes drive) south of Saalfelden am Steinernen Meer, 28km (about 30 minutes drive) east of Mittersill, 40km (over 30 minutes drive) west of Sankt Johann im Pongau, and 92km (about 90 minutes drive) north of Lienz via the Felbertauern Road as opposed to the much slower Grossglockner Road, and 88km (under 1.5 hours drive) south of Salzburg.
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