The Tirol in Austria is a region where the remarkable mountain scenery really comes into its own when you are out enjoying one of the glorious walking routes. You don’t need to be a super fit mountaineer committed to tackling a multi-day epic to enjoy walking here: there are plenty of shorter options available. Here are seven brilliant day walks that open up the finest the Tirol has to offer….
In Alpbachtal they handily keep the six-seater Wiedersbergerhorn cable car open right through summer, even after the skiing is over. This means that you don’t need to hike hundreds of metres in altitude to reach the soaring 2,127m peak. Indeed, if you’re feeling fit, you can make it from the top cable car station in under an hour with just 3km distance to cover in total. You can descend via the Hornalm, then back to the Wiedersbergerhorn top station along a panoramic path. There are a couple of mountain huts where you can congratulate yourself on ‘conquering’ this high mountain, as well as various options to make a longer day of it.
The Innsbruck area is home to a number of great day walks. The Zirbenweg (pine tree path) at Patscherkofel mountain is a classic short high-Alpine route that opens up views of hundreds of mountain peaks, as well as sweeping vistas of the Inntal Valley. Adding extra spice and fragrance en route are the swathe of trees that lend the trail its name. The area is home to Europe’s largest and oldest stone pine populations (‘Zirbe’ in German). Staggeringly some of these trees are hundreds of years old, with the Ampass Basin sporting what is thought to be the oldest tree in the Austrian Tirol, dating back more than 700 years. Gracing the trail and adding more fragrance still are the alpine roses. You can take the easy way on the cable car from Igls village, before a two-hour walk through the ancient pine forests to Glungezer mountain hut. Here you can fuel up on delicious local cuisine before catching the chair lift to Tulfes, where you can hop on the hikers’ shuttle bus back to Igls.
That is exactly what you can enjoy on Ötztal’s ‘Four Lakes Hike'. This testing challenge provides a sweeping panorama of hulking mountains and emerald Alpine lakes as you take on some of the finest landscapes in the Ötztal Valley region. In total you climb around 1,500m, with the walk normally taking around 8-10 hours. It kicks off at Lehn in Längenfeld before venturing beyond the treeline with the snow-topped glacier peaks of Stubaital valley framing the scene, with perhaps an eagle soaring against the blue skies or a cute marmot. Each of the lakes has its own charms. A quartet of mountain huts also tempts with food and drink charms of their own. On 12 August 2019, the local tourist office are organising a guided group walk on the route.
The St. Anton am Arlberg region is home to a walking wonder. Literally. The seriously family-friendly Wonder Walking Trail awaits by Sennhütte Hut, offering a taste of flora and fauna at an altitude of 1,500m. It’s a striking start: from July, 20,000 edelweiss grow here in the shape of a gigantic flower. You can just relax in a wooden lounger taking it in before setting off on the easy self-guided trail loop, which is packed with things to see and do. Interactive terminals help the family learn all about the dramatic local trees and the ‘drunken forest’, with the chance to explore a herb garden too. You may not be testing yourself on a hard hike up an Alpine peak, but it's ideal if you have little ones in tow.
You cannot miss the epic presence of this towering mountain when you are in the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena. You can start your adventure by using the handy Ehrwalder Alm cable car, which gives you access to a trail across the meadows to the Ehrwalder Alm. From here you can push past Pestkapelle and stay on the path to the Fledernjöchl, which takes you lower to 2,041m. The Plattsteig offers the challenge of scree to negotiate en route to the Knorr Hut. The approach to the peak sees a section of via ferrata too. This is a serious mountaineering route, and as with all the tougher Alpine routes, a guide is recommended. The effort is massively worthwhile for some of the finest views in the Alps and the most spectacular hiking.
If it’s lush pastures and grass covered slopes you are after, you will be in your element in the Wildschönau. Your adventure starts when you zip up the Markbachjoch Mountain to 1,500m high on the cable car. The walk may only be five miles long and can be tackled in a few hours, but the views opened en route will linger with you forever. This glorious hike climbs via Halsgatterl at a height of 1,562m to the top of Rosskopf, which soars up to 1,731m. After you have soaked up the views you can slip down and enjoy walking through those picture postcard perfect Alpine meadows. There are mountain huts here for you to savour too.
Right here in Zillertal in Tirol you are in the land of myths and legends, which are all too easy to believe when the thunderstorms sweep in. At Torsee lake, for instance, it's said a monster lurks that only comes out during a storm. You can hike to this mysterious place by first taking the Eggalm Cable Car, from Tux-Lanersbach, vaulting up to a height of 2,000m. Then there is the challenge of hiking up the Grüblspitze, whose summit sits at 2,395m. You are going higher still on a path that whirls you up towering Ramsjoch, at 2,508m. That is when you see the mountain above its glittering lake, which you will reach after a short descent. From here you can link up with a path that drops to Nasse Tux Alm at 1,843m and then journeys along the forest road back to the Eggalm Cable Car valley station in Tux-Lanersbach. You can discover more Zillertal day walks on their site.