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“Great road, leading to even better hiking trails”

Timmelsjoch high alpine road
Reviewed September 8, 2013

This road runs along a route used for centuries by shepherds to move their flocks to and from their summer pastures on the other side of the Alps. There is archaeological evidence that it was already in use in antiquity. One the one hand it seems a pity that such a beautiful valley got dug up for the building of a highway. On the other hand, it is still beautiful, and the road is a great engineering achievement. At the top there is a small 'museum' with a nice display of photos showing the very considerable effort that went into the construction process. As of 2013 there are several buses a day during the summer season that go over the top of the pass (from Obergurgl to Moos and back) rather than stopping at the (unpatrolled post-Schengen) border. Do make sure you have absolutely up to date timetable information, as (despite having enquired the previous day) we ended up on a bus that turned round at the top, leaving us to hitch a lift to the start of our hike part way down the southern side. NB the bus ride to the top is one of many transport options and other attractions included in the excellent 'Oetztal Card', available from the local tourist offices and some hotels.

Thanks to some kind motorists we soon arrived at the Oberglaneggalm hairpin (a bus stop); ten minutes' walk along a level track is a traditional Tirolean farmhouse that serves delicious coffee and sells wonderful home-smoked air-dried ham, thinly sliced to order, at a fraction of the shop price. It looked as though a good lunch was being prepared for customers arriving later in the day. The views are spectacular (pastures, woods, and distant peaks), and the sound of cowbells fills the air. You step back in time to the days before motor roads and ski resorts. There are slopes of alpine rhododendrons which must look spectacular when they bloom in early summer.

Our goal was the Koenigsjoch, the next pass to the west of Timmelsjoch, a route formerly used by smugglers. We knew that guided hiking parties sometimes walk this trail north to south, but that the southern side is more challenging than the straighforward hike up the valley from the north. Hence, our plan was to take a look at the southern side from the bottom and go back to the road to catch a bus home if it seemed too difficult. The weather was perfect: dry, sunny, not too hot, late in the season so no snow or ice. The trail was well marked (we took one wrong turn, but our 1:25,000 map soon put us right), but I need to mention that there were a couple of bits that would not suit anyone without a head for heights and decent boots - a short section up a steep ridge with a loose earth surface, and a couple of short sections (less than 10 metres) along level but narrow rocky ledges that were provided with fixed ropes to hold on to. In bad weather it would be unpleasant, and probably rather dangerous for average mountain hikers like ourselves. As it was, we enjoyed the lower meadows, negotiated the steep bit safely, and made it to the top of the pass in time to have our picnic lunch with glorious views of the Dolomites, before strolling back down through the Koenigstal to Obergurgl. A great day out, thanks to the Timmelsjoch road getting us off to a good start.

Thank Kate B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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34 - 38 of 169 reviews

Reviewed September 8, 2013 via mobile

The sights, the views, the roads.. Everything about the pass is fantastic. I would recommend driving from Obergurgul to milano having some food and drink. Then on the way back, visit the wonderful view points and history about the smugglers.

1  Thank Alexander P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 31, 2013

Mountain pass very easy to cross, in the first place the Austrian side is very pleasant to ride, the Italian side on the other hand I do not like and would avoid in the future

2  Thank Jan D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 29, 2013

This must be one of the trips of a lifetime - if you are brave enough to attempt it that is! We drove from Obergurgle to Merano in a mini cooper cabriolet which was just the right size for the terrifying hair pin bends and steepness of this road. We also went early to avoid the crowds which I would recommend as it does get very busy as the day goes on. There are plenty of stopping points for taking in the view and taking photographs. The construction of this road must have been quite something when it was built. It not only serves as an essential link between Austria and Italy during the summer months when the snow has melted, but it is also a pleasure ground for those who love a challenge. I would love to ride it on a motorbike which must be an exhilarating experience. My husband decided to ride his mountain bike up to the top the following day just for the sheer hell of it. I thought he was totally mad, but he was rewarded with an orange juice and a free doughnut for his efforts when he made it! Happy days!

2  Thank ChristinaBirtles
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 16, 2013

Did the climb from the Austrian site on a mountain bike. Still a lot of snow alongside the road. Fantastic views. Be weill trained if you like the do the Italian side.

Thank TheVanHs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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