About Raggaschlucht Waterfalls
The Raggaschlucht Waterfalls were a series of waterfalls nestled within the popular Raggaschlucht Gorge. While there were several smaller chutes and cascades squeezed into the depths of the gorge, the last (or uppermost) of the waterfalls was by far the most impressive as it had a classical drop of about 20-25m.
The gorge’s formation was the result of tectonic forces as European Continental Plate subducted under the East Alpine Plate creating the mountains and associated gorges and gullies that cut even deeper into the joints or faults in the plates already in existence. It’s said that the gorge was in the early stages of a transformation into a valley, and that over millions of years, it too, would eventually become a V-shaped valley much like other mature valleys in mountainous places like Austria.
As far as gorge walks were concerned, it was similar to other gorge walks throughout Austria and in parts of Bavaria in Germany in that what were otherwise be inaccessible canyons were now made accessible by wooden walks with steps clinging onto the rock walls of the gorge. Thus, you’d get this deafening effect of rushing water loudly reverberating between the narrow canyon walls while also getting so tantalizingly close to the dangerous rush of the stream right beneath the feet.
In the case of Raggaschlucht, it was said to be 800m long with an elevation gain of 200m. The hike was done one-way in a clockwise manner, which was a wise choice of traffic control considering how narrow the walkways were, and how difficult (and pointless) it would be for people to be going down the gorge from the top down instead of slowly going up from the bottom.
The excursion started with a short hike through a small village before ascending towards a kiosk at about 400m from the car park (see directions below). I paid 7 euros to get in (open from 9am to 5pm during peak Summer seaon), then promptly passed through the turnstile and continued on into the gorge walk.
Indeed, the path started off a little on the gentle side as it skirted the gorge flanked by some foliage as well as some little water channels along the gorge wall. But soon it reached a wooden walkway that went through an entrance door and immediately into the narrow depths of the Raggaschlucht Gorge.
For pretty much the entire walk, the path would overhang above the Ragga River down below as it climbed up a combination of ramps and steps all the while with cascades and chutes roaring beneath. When I did this hike at midday, there were moments of looking against the sun, which also created harsh shadows that made photography difficult due to the sharp contrast between light and dark.
Some parts of the canyon were narrow enough to hold onto rocks wedged by the gorge’s width. Other parts of the gorge had circular shapes due to whirlpools and eddies drilling into the surrounding cliffs. Eventually towards the end of the 800m length of the hike, I encountered a final climb alongside a cascade then passing before the big waterfall finale at the end.
The rest of the Raggaschlucht portion of the hike went up switchbacking stairs providing higher views of the waterfall opposite the head of the gorge. And once I made it to the top, I was able to get a sweeping view across the Mölltal Valley before descending down a steep forest path where good shoes were a must in order to maintain decent traction on the steep slopes.
Overall, I managed to do this loop hike in around 90 minutes time (about 75 minutes on the loop part of the hike itself), which was more than the 60 minutes recommended time. Since my GPS wasn’t working well while in the confines of the gorge, I estimated that the overall distance covered by this hike was on the order of 2.5km round trip using the car park as the starting point.
Getting to the Raggaschlucht Waterfalls let alone the gorge itself in the extensive Mölltal Valley (whose headwaters was at the Pasterze Glacier by the Grossglockner Peak) was pretty straightforward. We’ll describe the directions coming from the east in Millstatt as well as coming from the west in Lienz.
From Millstatt, we drove west on the B98 for about 8km to the A10 autobahn ramp heading west (keeping left at the fork). We then followed this freeway to its end in another 5km or so as it then continued heading west on the B100 for almost the next 4km before keeping right to go onto the B106 Road within the Mölltal Valley.
We then persisted on the B106 for about 24km before making a sharp left turn at the well-signed turnoff for the Raggaschlucht Gorge (or 5km west of the junction with the B105 at Obervellach). We then took the local road down the ramp and towards the grassy car park, which was very hot and exposed to the sun due to the lack of shade.
Overall, this drive took us about 45 minutes.
Coming from the other direction in Lienz, we’d drive east on the B107 for about 15km before turning right onto the B106 going east into the Mölltal Valley. Then, we continued about another 25km along the B106 before turning right into the ramp and well-signed turnoff for the Raggaschlucht car park.
Overall this drive took us about 45 minutes as well.
For geographical context, Millstatt was 85km (about an hour drive) west of Klagenfurt am Wörthersee, 75km (about an hour drive) east of Lienz , 99km (well over an hour drive) south of Sankt Johann im Pongau, and 151km (about 2 hours drive) southeast of Zell am See.
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