Hahntenjoch is one of the most renowned driving experiences in the Alps – a classic pass road that captures the very best of alpine driving.
Approaching from Elmen on the north-west side, the initial set of hairpins is followed by a few kilometres of wonderfully flowing tarmac that continues to rise as the mountains unfurl before your eyes.
As you begin the pass approach road proper, things get a little tighter. It’s not hairpin after hairpin – you still get a chance to maintain some of that rhythm from lower down – but this section is definitely a bit busier. Once you reach the pass itself, take a break to admire the stunning view across the peaks of the Bundesland and down the Inn Valley. You won’t be disappointed.
Things get interesting as soon as you’re back behind the wheel. The drive across the top of Hahntenjoch is carved out of the rock face, which means there’s a series of almost continuous 90-degree turns, half of them blind. Don’t let this put you off: the road is tight but there’s always room for two vehicles, not to mention the protection offered by the rickety wooden guard rails. If you get a reasonably traffic free run across the top, it’s a seriously rewarding piece of blacktop.
As the elevation drops and the vegetation returns, the road slowly uncoils, giving you more opportunity to unwind between turns (keep in mind that because a lot of the corners tend to be partially blind, there’s still a lot of braking to be done).
After 29 kilometres of immersive driving across Hahntenjoch, both you and your brakes will probably need a bit of time to recover in Imst. If you’re done motoring for the day, we recommend the Starkenburg Brewery self-guided tour that comes with free beer sampling at the end.