Not far from Heiligenblut, in the vicinity of the Grossglockner Alpine Road there are a lot of attractions for the interested visitor to the Grossglockner region. One of these jewels is Apriach, the sleepy little mountain village, which hugs the steep slopes of the upper Mölltal. Just as the village, the mountain road to Apriach that we want to cover is nestled on the hillside and winds its way high up from Großkirchheim and Döllach to Apriach and continues through Schachnern up to Heiligenblut.
Starting at the Hunguest Hotel Heiligenblut towards Winklern we pass through Heiligenblut and pass by the right-most eighty-meters-high Jungfernsprung waterfall until we reach after about 10 minutes Grosskirchheim / Döllach. Shortly after the first houses we turn left onto the Dorfstrasse, where the ‘Döllach’ village sign greets us. After another 300 meters we turn left at the ‘Apriach’ junction – careful driving is advisable here.The road is, as expected, pretty tight and twisty and winds among rustic houses and lush pastures. Some curves are so tight that you would prefer to lift the iron above ;-) Reaching the panoramic road and the intriguing view, however, are a well-deserved reward for the ‘effort’ of the driveway. If you come at intersections the way up and you don’t know what direction to choose, always choose ‘uphill’.
The Apriach road is characterized by the wonderful panorama of the surrounding mountain ridges and the impressive view of the deeply lying Mölltal. The road is rarely travelled since it is not really known for tourists. Still you should drive with caution since both the road and the curves are narrow and difficult to see through at higher speeds. This would not discourage a biker - you should try it by all means.It is worthwhile to insert breaks during the journey and visit the water mills of Apriach. These mills are historic witnesses of rural life from the times when water was used as a driving force. These mills are still fully operational and used in part in show events.
Similarly, the 400-year-old ‘Mentlhof’ farm is worth a visit. Today it is a beautifully furnished mountain farm museum where you can walk on the path of mountain peasants of early ages and you can learn about the hardships of life above 1,400 m of altitude. You can lend a hand on everything and imagine the works made by the former inhabitants. The Mentlhof tavern offers culinary delights, for the labourer must eat well and hearty!When you are really close to your destination you can still have a look around in the gold-mining village of Heiligenblut. When you pass Schachnern you can take the road right up the hill to the gold mining village. The road is narrow and the many curves are very tight and sometimes adventurous. After about one km you reach the parking where you can cool down the machine and invite yourself for a drink in the ‘Alter Pocher’ Alpine inn (1,809 m). After the refreshment you can walk around the restored gold-mining village and try panning for gold. Whoever finds a treasure may give me half for the good tip.
After a drink and some gold-panning it is time to go back to the hotel. The switchbacks take you back to the familiar Schachnern road and then to the Glockner panoramic road. Here you turn left and a few minutes later and some meters lower you can see the entrance sign of Heiligenblut.