Goessnitz Waterfall

Heiligenblut am Grossglockner / Hohe Tauern National Park, Carinthia (Karnten), Austria

About Goessnitz Waterfall


Hiking Distance: 3.4km round trip
Suggested Time: 60-90 minutes

Date first visited: 2018-07-12
Date last visited: 2018-07-12

Waterfall Latitude: 47.04126
Waterfall Longitude: 12.81094

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The Goessnitz Waterfall (or Gossnitz Waterfall as well as Gößnitzfall) was the one waterfall that we did on our Grossglockner High Alpine Road Tour that actually required us to earn it with a hike.

Indeed, most of the waterfalls on the famous road were primarily roadside attractions so that made this particular waterfall all the more memorable and intimate.

Heiligenblut_187_07122018 - The Gossnitz Waterfall (Goessnitz Waterfall or Gößnitz Wasserfall)
The Gossnitz Waterfall (Goessnitz Waterfall or Gößnitz Wasserfall)

The Goessnitz Falls gushed with high volume, which was kind of unusual for one possessing a 70m plunge.

Regarding the spelling of the Goessnitz Waterfall, I’ve seen it referred to as the Gossnitz Waterfall, Gößnitz Wasserfall, Gößnitzfall, and the Goessnitzfall.

According to some local myths, the notch in the 100m rock wall supporting the waterfall suggested that a giant might have struck the rock wall with a giant axe.

Speaking of myths, the trail leading from the Retschitzparkplatz (see directions below) to the Gößnitz Waterfall followed along the so-called Natura Mystica.

Heiligenblut_157_07122018 - The unsanctioned profile view of the Goessnitz Waterfall with the official lookout area somewhere on the topleft of this picture
The unsanctioned profile view of the Goessnitz Waterfall with the official lookout area somewhere on the topleft of this picture

This 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.

Even the trailhead had a sort of Natura Mystica Oracle with its Stonehenge-like organization of rocks and pillars.

Gößnitz Waterfall Trail Description – hiking to the bridge at the far end of the loop

From the aforementioned car park, 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.

Heiligenblut_092_07122018 - The Goessnitz Waterfall Trail providing teasing glimpses of the village of Winkl
The Goessnitz Waterfall Trail providing teasing glimpses of the village of Winkl

This path went by a clearing with some wavy “lounge chairs” for laying down and resting by a meadow.

Then, the trail reached 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.

Heiligenblut_126_07122018 - The Gößnitz Wasserfall Trail following along this diversion channel leading to a mill
The Gößnitz Wasserfall Trail following along this diversion channel leading to a mill

Afterwards, I took 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.

Gößnitz Waterfall Trail Description – unsanctioned spur to the bottom of the waterfall

The spur trail was pretty much a five-minute scramble alongside the Goessnitzbach Creek.

Personally, I wouldn’t recommend this off-trail scramble if the creek was flooding or if the terrain was slippery like during a rain.

Heiligenblut_134_07122018 - This was the footbridge over the Gößnitzbach, but the scrambling path along the creek to the base of the waterfall actually continued to the right of this bridge
This was the footbridge over the Gößnitzbach, but the scrambling path along the creek to the base of the waterfall actually continued to the right of this bridge

Towards the end of this unsanctioned scramble, I finally saw a very attractive side view of the Goessnitz Waterfall.

From this angle, I managed to see 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.

Gößnitz Waterfall Trail Description – spur to the waterfall lookout and completing the loop

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.

Heiligenblut_184_07122018 - The steep climb leading up to the official lookout directly opposite the canyon from the Goessnitz Waterfall
The steep climb leading up to the official lookout directly opposite the canyon from the Goessnitz Waterfall

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 Goessnitz 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.

Heiligenblut_205_07122018 - Direct look at the Gößnitz Wasserfall against the afternoon sun from the misty lookout high up on the hillside opposite its brink
Direct look at the Gößnitz Wasserfall against the afternoon sun from the misty lookout high up on the hillside opposite its brink

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 Gößnitz 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.

Heiligenblut_230_07122018 - Looking back towards the context of Winkl and the high mountains supporting the Grossglockner High Alpine Road from the end (or start) of the Gößnitz Waterfall Trail
Looking back towards the context of Winkl and the high mountains supporting the Grossglockner High Alpine Road from the end (or start) of the Gößnitz Waterfall Trail

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.

Gößnitz Waterfall Trail Description – accidentally extending the hike

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.

Most of that walk was pretty much roadside walking, which further added insult to my calamity of not knowing where the proper trailhead parking was.

Heiligenblut_248_07122018 - My extended hike to the Goessnitz Waterfall (or Gößnitz Wasserfall) was pretty much mostly road walking with some additional scenic views over Heiligenblut
My extended hike to the Goessnitz Waterfall (or Gößnitz Wasserfall) was pretty much mostly road walking with some additional scenic views over Heiligenblut

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.

I guess the consolation prize of my mistake was that Julie and Tahia had a chance to check out the town of Heiligenblut while I was busy doing the extended hike solo.

Authorities

The Gößnitz Waterfall resides near the town of Heiligenblut in the state of Carinthia (Kärnten), Austria. It may be administered by the Heiligenblut government. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting their website.

Heiligenblut_003_07122018 - Context of the Heiligenblut Church with the Grossglockner Peak in the distance when I had mistakenly started my hike from Heiligenblut instead of the actual trailhead for the Goessnitz Waterfall Trail
Heiligenblut_017_07122018 - Although it wasn't necessary on the Goessnitz Waterfall hike, my mistake by starting my hike from Heiligenblut actually had some fringe benefits like this bit of scenery with the local church backed by nice mountains
Heiligenblut_040_07122018 - Looking down into the lower part of the Heiligenblut as I was walking the Hof Road towards the Retzschitzparkplatz
Heiligenblut_054_07122018 - It was actually possible to see Austria's highest peak (the Grossglockner Peak) from Heiligenblut
Heiligenblut_057_07122018 - Walking by this crucifix (seemed kind of ubiquitous in both Southern Germany and Austria) while walking towards the Retzschitzparkplatz to finally start the Goessnitz Waterfall hike
Heiligenblut_075_07122018 - The car park at Retzschitzparkplatz (so named because it was by the Retzschitzbach Creek) featured this interesting Stonehenge-like oracle of the Natura Mystica
Heiligenblut_079_07122018 - Looking back at the Retzschitzparkplatz, which was where I should have parked the car in the first place to do the Goessnitz Waterfall hike
Heiligenblut_082_07122018 - Fencing at the start of the Goessnitz Waterfall hike from the Retzschitzparkplatz
Heiligenblut_083_07122018 - Starting on the forested trail leaving the Retzschitzparkplatz and heading towards the Goessnitz Waterfall
Heiligenblut_086_07122018 - On the trail to the Goessnitz Waterfall just after leaving the Retzschitzparkplatz as the trail followed along this sloping ledge bypassing the village of Winkl
Heiligenblut_088_07122018 - Walking past one of the Austrian-flag-colored-spraypainted trees along the early part of the Goessnitz Waterfall Trail
Heiligenblut_090_07122018 - Looking across the valley towards the village of Winkl from the Goessnitz Waterfall Trail along the Natura Mystica path to enlightenment
Heiligenblut_098_07122018 - This was a particularly narrow part of the Goessnitz Waterfall Trail adjacent to the grassy clearing by Winkl
Heiligenblut_110_07122018 - This was a surprise car park further along the Goessnitz Waterfall Trail, but I wasn't sure if this would be available to the public since it wasn't well-publicized
Heiligenblut_114_07122018 - Looking across Winklbichl towards the Grossglockner High Alpine Road way in the distance towards the upper part of this photo (notice the avalanche shelter tunnel)
Heiligenblut_115_07122018 - Encountering trail signage as I finally felt like I was on the proper trail for the Goessnitz Waterfall hike somewhere beyond the Winklbichl
Heiligenblut_117_07122018 - Shortly after the bridge over the Goessnitzbach, I then followed this rooty trail that went upstream along the creek
Heiligenblut_118_07122018 - Approaching some kind of mill where it seemed like the diversion channel paralleling the Goessnitzbach went right into it
Heiligenblut_132_07122018 - Continuing on the Goessnitz Waterfall Trail, which now followed the Goessnitzbach further upstream
Heiligenblut_139_07122018 - As I continued further up along the unsanctioned trail to the right side of the footbridge over the Goessnitzbach, I started to get my first glimpses of the gushing Goessnitz Waterfall
Heiligenblut_141_07122018 - Getting closer to the base of the Goessnitz Waterfall from the unsanctioned scramble along the Goessnitzbach
Heiligenblut_147_07122018 - Within the cool afternoon shadow with a clean profile look towards the Goessnitz Waterfall from the end of the unsanctioned scramble to get closer to its base
Heiligenblut_162_07122018 - A satisfying look at the Goessnitz Waterfall, but I couldn't linger here for too long due to the threat of rockfalls from the vertical overhanging cliffs above me
Heiligenblut_164_07122018 - Looking back towards an avalanche shelter belonging to the Grossglockner High Alpine Road as seen from my unsanctioned creek-bank scramble from the base of the Goessnitz Waterfall
Heiligenblut_173_07122018 - To give you an idea of how far I went to the base of the Goessnitz Waterfall, this was the view looking back to that footbridge with the Grossglockner Road near the top of the peak at the top of this picture
Heiligenblut_177_07122018 - Almost back at the footbridge that I had forsaken earlier so I could do this unsanctioned scramble for a profile look at the Goessnitz Waterfall
Heiligenblut_180_07122018 - Crossing the bridge over the Goessnitzbach as I was headed towards the sanctioned overlook
Heiligenblut_181_07122018 - After crossing the bridge, the Goessnitz Waterfall Trail now started to follow the Goessnitzbach Creek downstream
Heiligenblut_182_07122018 - On the rooty and rocky ascent leading up to the sanctioned overlook of the Goessnitz Waterfall
Heiligenblut_183_07122018 - Continuing up the spur trail climbing steeply towards the sanctioned lookout for the Goessnitz Waterfall
Heiligenblut_185_07122018 - One of the switchbacks on the way up to the sanctioned lookout for the Goessnitz Waterfall, which illustrates how steep this spur trail was
Heiligenblut_186_07122018 - Approaching the mist zone coming from the Goessnitz Waterfall
Heiligenblut_188_07122018 - Looking right at the Goessnitz Waterfall from near the sanctioned lookout
Heiligenblut_195_07122018 - Looking right across the head of the canyon from the sanctioned overlook for the Goessnitz Waterfall
Heiligenblut_198_07122018 - Looking in the opposite direction of the Goessnitz Waterfall from the sanctioned lookout towards the mountains supporting the Grossglockner High Alpine Road
Heiligenblut_209_07122018 - Looking downstream from the sanctioned overlook towards some farms or homes at Winklbichl
Heiligenblut_212_07122018 - I noticed this waterfall further up the hill as seen from the Goessnitz Waterfall, and it made me wonder if I had stumbled upon the Fensterbach Waterfall
Heiligenblut_215_07122018 - Looking down at the steep switchbacking path below the sanctioned lookout for the Goessnitz Waterfall
Heiligenblut_218_07122018 - Looking across the Goessnitzbach Creek towards the mill on the other side as I was completing the loop hike for the Goessnitz Waterfall
Heiligenblut_219_07122018 - After returning to the loop trail back at the bottom, I continued following the Goessnitzbach downstream
Heiligenblut_220_07122018 - Continuing to follow the sign as I was on my way to complete the looping part of the Goessnitz Waterfall hike
Heiligenblut_222_07122018 - Approaching a clearing and rest bench as I knew that I was getting closer to the end of the looping part of the Goessnitz Waterfall hike
Heiligenblut_224_07122018 - The latter part of the Goessnitz Waterfall Trail skirting past the clearing as I was getting back to the original trail junction at the start of the loop
Heiligenblut_227_07122018 - Beyond the clearing, the trail narrowed as it was about to rejoin the main non-looping-part of the Goessnitz Waterfall Trail before finally returning to the Retzschitzparkplatz
Heiligenblut_228_07122018 - The final stretch back to the Retzschitzparkplatz as the Goessnitz Waterfall Trail undulated a little bit
Heiligenblut_233_07122018 - Approaching a trail junction near the start of the Goessnitz Waterfall hike at the Retzschitzparkplatz
Heiligenblut_236_07122018 - Back at the car park at Retzschitzparkplatz (so named because it was by the Retzschitzbach Creek)
Heiligenblut_242_07122018 - Looking back towards Heiligenblut as I was making the climb back to town as part of my extended Goessnitz Waterfall hike for parking in the wrong spot
Heiligenblut_252_07122018 - Making it back to the town of Heiligenblut to complete my accidental extended hike to the Goessnitz Waterfall

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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.

Driving to the Gößnitz Waterfall from Zell am See

Heiligenblut_059_07122018 - Descending the road from the main part of Heiligenblut towards the lower road leading closer to the Retschitzparkplatz at Winkl
Descending the road from the main part of Heiligenblut towards the lower road leading closer to the Retschitzparkplatz at Winkl

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.

Heiligenblut_070_07122018 - The local road leading to the Retschitzparkplatz at Winkl
The local road leading to the Retschitzparkplatz at Winkl

While 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.

Heiligenblut_074_07122018 - The Retschitzparkplatz at Winkl, which was the nearest sanctioned car park for the Gößnitz Waterfall hike
The Retschitzparkplatz at Winkl, which was the nearest sanctioned car park for the Gößnitz Waterfall hike

This drive would take about 90 minutes, and it would require a toll since it involved driving through the Großglockner Hochalpenstraße.

Driving to the Gößnitz Waterfall from Lienz

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.

Heiligenblut_001_07122018 - This car park was for the Heiligenblut am Grossglockner, which wound up being my mistake because I unnecessarily lengthened my hike by an additional hour
This car park was for the Heiligenblut am Grossglockner, which wound up being my mistake because I unnecessarily lengthened my hike by an additional hour

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.

Sweep starting off with the Grossglockner Road in the distance before panning over to a top down view of the Gößnitz Waterfall from the official lookout


Sweep of the Gößnitz Waterfall from near its base at an unsanctioned trail

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Tagged with: grossglockner, heiligenblut, winkl, winklbischl, gossnitzbach, goessnitzbach, austria, waterfall, hike



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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