The main road from the old gold-mining town of Zen am Ziller in the Tirol to the lakeside town of Zell am See in the province of Salzburg is a favourite amongst cyclists and motor-bikers. It is a winding route along a panoramic stretch of road, crossing the Gerlos Pass at an altitude of 1,530 m (5,020 ft) and descending through enchanting mountain countryside, with an amazing view of the famous Krimml Falls, the longest waterfall in Europe. The history of the road goes back to the 17th century, when gold was discovered in the Ziller Valley. Rather than risk transporting the precious metal through what were then the foreign states of Bavaria and TIrol, the prospectors widened the mule track over the Gerlos Pass so that cartloads of gold could be carried into the safe territory of Salzburg for smelting. After the gold rush, the road fell into disrepair and the Salzach and Ziller Valleys were once again cut off from each other. Amidst much bureaucratic bickering, plans were finally drawn up for a proper highway in 1949 but the road was not completed until 1962.
The present road zigzags its way up from Zel am Ziller in the Ziller Valley to the high moorland at the top of the pass, then descends through the Salzach Valley alongside the innaccessible narrow wooded valleys and fissured gorges of the Pinzgau Mountains, along the edge of the Hohe Tauern National Park. The Krimml Ache River flows through just such a valley, making a sudden plunging drop of 380 ID (1,250 ft). Tons of water thunder down in three great cascades, sending clouds of mist into the air - a truly awesome force of nature that will impress itself on your memory.
By car or bike
WHEN TO GO
TIME IT TAKES
1-2 hours by car; 4-5 hours by mountain bike.
Zell am Ziller – picturesque tourist town.
Piesendorf, Neukirchen – quaint villages.
Krimml Falls - highest waterfall in Europe, and one of the top eight in the world.
Zell am See - Scenic views of the Ziller and Pinzgau Mountains.
13th century Church of St Hippolyte
YOU SHOULD KNOW
This is a toll road, open all year round.