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View of the northeastern part of the Karwendel (Location: Blue Mountains)
Highest point
Elevation 2,749 m (9,019 ft)
Coordinates 47°24′41″N11°26′15″E / 47.41139°N 11.43750°E / 47.41139; 11.43750
CountriesAustria and Germany
Range coordinates 47°25′N11°28′E / 47.417°N 11.467°E / 47.417; 11.467 Coordinates: 47°25′N11°28′E / 47.417°N 11.467°E / 47.417; 11.467
Parent range Northern Limestone Alps

The Karwendel is the largest mountain range of the Northern Limestone Alps. The major part belongs to the Austrian federal state of Tyrol, while the adjacent area in the north is part of Bavaria, Germany. Four chains stretch from west to east; in addition, there are a number of fringe ranges and an extensive promontory (Vorkarwendel) in the north.



The term Karwendel describes the part of the Alps between the Isar river and the Seefeld Saddle mountain pass in the west and Achen Lake in the east. In the north it stretches to the Bavarian Prealps. In the south the Lower Inn Valley with the city of Innsbruck separates the Karwendel from the Central Eastern Alps. Other major settlements include Seefeld in Tirol and Mittenwald in the west, as well as Eben am Achensee in the east. Neighbouring ranges are the Wetterstein and Mieming Mountains in the west and the Brandenberg Alps in the east.

The mountaineer Hermann von Barth created the tradition of naming the Karwendel chains ranges after the valleys limiting them in the south: Karwendel valley, Hinterau valley and Vomper Loch, Gleirsch valley, Hall valley, and Inn valley:

Side ranges are the Erlspitze Group, Soiern Group and Vorkarwendel, Falken Group, Gamsjoch Group and Sonnjoch Group.


There are 125 peaks in the Karwendel that reach heights of over 2,000 metres. The most important are listed below together with some notable peaks between 1,800 and 2,000 metres high.

The Northern Karwendel viewed from Wetterstein Karwendel (Wettersteinblick).jpg
The Northern Karwendel viewed from Wetterstein
Panorama of the Austrian mountain peaks Harmelekopf and Reither Spitze. viewed from Wildsee, Seefeld, Tirol. Panorama Harmelekopf and Reither Spitze.jpg
Panorama of the Austrian mountain peaks Härmelekopf and Reither Spitze. viewed from Wildsee, Seefeld, Tirol.

Alpine huts

In the Karwendel, of the 21 Alpine huts, 18 are run by the German or Austrian Alpine Clubs:

Related Research Articles

Tux Alps

The Tux Alps or Tux Prealps are a sub-group of the Austrian Central Alps, which in turn form part of the Eastern Alps within Central Europe. They are located entirely within the Austrian federal state of Tyrol. The Tux Alps are one of three mountain ranges that form an Alpine backdrop to the city of Innsbruck. Their highest peak is the Lizumer Reckner, 2,886 m (AA), which rises between the glen of Wattentaler Lizum and the valley of the Navisbach. Their name is derived from the village of Tux which is tucked away in a side valley of the Zillertal.

Seefeld in Tirol Place in Tyrol, Austria

Seefeld in Tirol is an old farming village, now a major tourist resort, in Innsbruck-Land District in the Austrian state of Tyrol with a local population of 3,312. The village is located about 17 km (11 mi) northwest of Innsbruck on a plateau between the Wetterstein mountains and the Karwendel on a historic road from Mittenwald to Innsbruck that has been important since the Middle Ages. It was first mentioned in 1022 and since the 14th century has been a pilgrimage site, benefiting not only from the visit of numerous pilgrims but also from its stacking rights as a trading station between Augsburg and the Venice. Also since the 14th century, Tyrolean shale oil has been extracted in the area. Seefeld was a popular holiday resort even before 1900 and, since the 1930s, has been a well known winter sports centres and amongst the most popular tourist resorts in Austria. The municipality, which has been the venue for several Winter Olympics Games, is the home village of Anton Seelos, the inventor of the parallel turn.


The Wetterstein mountains, colloquially called Wetterstein, is a mountain group in the Northern Limestone Alps within the Eastern Alps. It is a comparatively compact range located between Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Mittenwald, Seefeld in Tirol and Ehrwald along the border between Germany (Bavaria) and Austria (Tyrol). Zugspitze, the highest peak is at the same time the highest mountain in Germany.

Bavarian Prealps

The Bavarian Prealps are a mountain range within the Northern Limestone Alps in south Germany. They include the Bavarian Prealp region between the river Loisach to the west and the river Inn to the east; the range is about 80 kilometres (50 mi) long and 20–30 kilometres (12–19 mi) wide. The term is not defined politically, but alpine-geographically because small areas of the Bavarian Prealps lie in Tyrol.

Arnspitze Group

The Arnspitze Group is a free-standing mountain chain in Austrian and Germany, in the states of Tyrol and Bavaria, between Seefeld in Tirol and Mittenwald, and between the Leutasch valley in the west and the Isar valley near Scharnitz in the east. In the literature, the Arnspitze Group is classed as part of the Wettersteingebirge. The majority of the group belongs to Tyrol, a northeastern part of the chain lies in Bavaria. The border between Bavaria and Tyrol runs over the summit of the Große Arnspitze.

Hintere Bachofenspitze

The Hintere Bachofenspitze in the Karwendel mountains of Tyrol is 2,668 metres (8,753 ft) high and forms the northernmost point of the parish of Thaur in the Inn Valley. Since the erection of a summit cross, that was set up in October 2003 by Franz Brunner and Fritz Gostner, this summit has enjoyed growing popularity.

Mieming Range

The Mieming(er) Range, Mieminger Chain or Mieminger Mountains, is a mountain range of the Northern Limestone Alps in the Eastern Alps. It is located entirely in Austria within the state of Tyrol. This sub-group is somewhat in the shadows of its more famous neighbour, the Wetterstein to the north. Whilst the region around the Coburger Hut and the lakes of Seebensee and Drachensee in the west and the Hohe Munde in the extreme east receive large numbers of visitors, the less developed central area remains very quiet. The Hohe Munde is also a popular and challenging ski touring destination.

Mittenwald Railway

The Mittenwald Railway, popularly known as the Karwendelbahn, is a railway line in the Alps in Austria and Germany. It connects Innsbruck via Seefeld and Mittenwald to Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

<i>Karwendel</i> (train)

The Karwendel is an international named express train service between Germany and Austria. The train was named after the Karwendel mountain range forming the German-Austrian border south of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which it passes on the Mittenwald Railway (Karwendelbahn). Introduced in 1930, it is currently labelled as an Intercity-Express train connection operated by Deutsche Bahn AG.

Nordkette Mountain in Austria

The Nordkette, also variously called the North Chain, Northern Range, rarely the Inn Valley Range or Inn Valley Chain (Inntalkette), is a range of mountains just north of the city of Innsbruck in Austria. It is the southernmost of the four great mountain chains in the Karwendel. To the west it is linked by the Erl Saddle to the Erlspitze Group, to the east via the Stempeljoch saddle to the Gleirsch-Halltal Range. To the south it is bounded by the Inn valley. Its highest summit is the Kleiner Solstein in the west of the range.

Hohe Warte (Karwendel) Mountain in the Karwendel in Tyrol

The Hohe Warte is a mountain, 2,597 m (AA) in height, in the Karwendel range in Austria. It is located between the Kleiner Solstein to the west and the Hintere Brandjochspitze to the east, in the Nordkette in the state of Tyrol, north of the Innsbruck quarter of Kranebitten and has a prominence of at least 77 metres.

Erlspitze Group

The Erlspitze Group, also called the Seefeld Group, is the southwesternmost side range of the Austrian part of the Karwendel mountains in the Alps. It forms a horseshoe-shaped highland around the valley of Eppzirler Tal and is joined in the south to the Nordkette by the Erl Saddle (Erlsattel) near Solsteinhaus. It is bounded in the west by the Seefeld Basin, in the east by the valleys of the Gleirschtal and the Großes Kristental; its forested northern foothills reach as far as Scharnitz.

Scharnitz Pass

The Scharnitz Pass is a narrow section of the upper Isar valley in the Northern Limestone Alps. It lies at a height of about 955 m on the Austro-German border between the states of Bavaria and Tyrol. Its name derives from the village of Scharnitz immediately to the south.

Reither Spitze Austrian mountain

The Reither Spitze is a mountain in the Karwendel in the Austrian federal state of Tyrol that, thanks to its location at the southwestern end of the Erlspitze Group, is particularly well known for its great views of the surrounding area from its summit. Its name is derived the village of Reith bei Seefeld, which lies at its southwestern foot.

Seefeld Plateau

The Seefeld Plateau is a montane valley and basin landscape in the North Tyrolean Limestone Alps about 500 metres above the Inn valley in the Austrian state of Tyrol. The plateau covers the valley basin around the villages of Seefeld in Tirol and Scharnitz as well as the valley of Leutaschtal.


The Solsteinhaus is an Alpine Club hut belonging to the Austrian Alpine Club located at a height of 1,806 m (AA) on the Erl Saddle (Erlsattel) between the mountains of the Nordkette and Erlspitze Group. It was opened in 1914 and totally renovated in 2007. It lies in the western Karwendel Alps in the state of Tyrol not far from the state capital of Innsbruck. Due to its central location and the numerous tour options it offers, the hut is a base for climbers taking part in tours of several days long, as well as a starting point for summit attempts. In addition the hut is a popular destination for hikers who can easily do a day tour to the hut. In winter the hut is closed, but there is a winter room for ski tourers. During safe avalanche conditions, high Alpine ski tours can be undertaken to the surrounding summits; but these all require good experience.

Zirler Berg

The Zirler Berg near Zirl in the Austrian federal state of Tyrol is a mountain, 1,057 m (AA) high, in the Karwendel Alps, a western part of the Northern Limestone Alps. It is a southern foothill of the Reither Spitze (2,374 m) and is known mainly because the Seefelder Straße (B 177) on its southern slopes climbs through 388 metres in a distance of less than 4 kilometres from Zirl in the Inn valley to Leithen on the Seefeld Plateau.

Seefeld Saddle

The Seefeld Saddle is a saddle and mountain pass, 1,185 m (AA), in the Northern Limestone Alps in the Austrian federal state of Tyrol. Two major transport routes run over it: the Seefelder Straße (B 177) and the Mittenwald Railway. On the Seefeld Plateau north of the saddle lies the village and ski resort of Seefeld in Tirol.

Gleirsch-Halltal Chain

The Gleirsch-Halltal Chain or Gleirsch-Halltal Range is a mountain chain in the Karwendel in the Northern Limestone Alps. It follows to the south of the Hinterautal-Vomper Chain, the longest mountain chain in the Karwendel, and is almost as big as it. South of the Stempeljochspitze on the other side of the Stempeljoch saddle it is joined to the Nordkette. The name of the range is derived from the two valleys: the Gleirschtal to the west and southwest and the Halltal to the southeast.

Northern Karwendel Chain

The Northern Karwendel Chain is the northernmost of the four great, largely parallel mountain chains in the Karwendel in the Alps. It is made from very pure Wetterstein limestone, which has its heart in the Karwendel and runs for a total length of c. 18 kilometres from Scharnitz in the northeast via Mittenwald to the Wörner, where it turns sharply east, until it finally ends west of the Johannestal valley. It has 25 main summits with an average height of 2,400 m. The highest peak is the Eastern Karwendelspitze. The boundary between Germany and Austria runs along the crest from the Brunnensteinspitze in the west to the Eastern Karwendelspitze in the east. The northwestern side is Bavarian, the southeastern flank is Tyrolean. The Northern Karwendel Chain should not be confused with the southernmost chain of the Karwendel, the Inn Valley Chain, which is known colloquially as the Nordkette or "North Chain" due to its location north of the city of Innsbruck.