No matter what you’re looking for from your hike, you're bound to find it in Wildschönau, Austria. Here are 6 walks for you to try...
With a name that literally means wild and beautiful, the high valley of Wildschönau makes for a fitting location to enjoy a relaxing walking holiday in the heart of Austrian Tirol. There’s more than 300km of well-tended pathways and plenty of themed trails to find, and here we highlight just a few…
Easy walks are found mostly in the valley, in the shape of village circuits or those in the lovely Kundl Gorge. ‘On the Wildschönau Krautinger Trail’ is an easy walk from Niederau to Oberau that leads along St Francis' Path. A series of nine sculpted bronze statues can be admired along this 2.5km route and at the half-way point there’s a chance to call into the Z'Bach Mountain Farming Museum - a weekly craft fair is also held here every Thursday throughout the summer. At the end of the path you come to the Steinerhof Farm where you can try the locally distilled Krautinger Schnapps which has been made here for more than 250 years.
Connecting the Wildschönau valley with the village of Kundl (in Inn Valley) is the Kundl Gorge; considered to be one of the most beautiful in Austria and only accessible in the warmer months (between 17 May – 20 September). Embark on the easy-going 3.5km Gorge Walk and you’ll have 200m cliffs towering high above you and the rush of the white-water river pounding below. This gorge is bound to leave a lasting impression, so much so that perhaps you’ll believe the local legends that it was split by a dragon many years ago?
Intermediate routes go to the alms and higher pastures sitting at 1,500m. For example, the dedicated ‘Alm to Alm Walk’ takes in four pastures along its 12km; the Cheese, Feld, Breitegg and Schönanger pastures. The tinkling of cow bells accompanies you all the way. Alternatively, why not ride to the top of the Schatzberg Mountain on a cable car and start a walk at 1903m to make for the top of Joelspitze. It’s a moderate 7.7km trek with grand views that look down onto the Alpbach and Inn Valleys.
The Healing Herbs Trail was established just last year and can be found on the Auenweg Path from Niederau. It makes for a very pleasant stroll, easily done in under an hour, with information boards that share the local flora’s characteristics and healing properties and all set beside a babbling stream. If this route leaves you pining for more, pay a visit to the Herb Garden at Salcherhof Farm, above the village of Auffach.
Advanced hikes make for longer climbs and the highest peaks found around the 2,000m mark. The Feldalphorn Mountain stands at 1920m; ride the Markbachjoch cable car to the top and walk via the Holz Alm or Cheese Farm, past the tiny Horler Stiege Chapel and you can find yourself on its steep path to the top. Tarns and moors lay on the plateaus of this route and the final ascent demands a certain amount of sure-footed determination, but the far-reaching views are worth the effort. Alternately, why not try and take on the tallest peak of the region, the Grosser Beil towering at 2309m.
Wildschönau also has seven ‘Walking for Enjoyment’ routes, each with a culinary theme and giving prominence to Tirolean specialties, made from local ingredients, fresh from the farms. ‘On the cheese trail’ is a 13km hike but has plenty of stopping points along the way where you can sample some delectable dairy products. Alternatively, there’s the ‘Panorama Walk’ to the Achental Alm, where the scent of freshly made doughnuts fills the alpine air if you make for the hut here.
Hospitality and tradition play a big part of local life in Wildschönau and in the summer, the cable cars, farming museum, guided walks and more are all free with the Wildschönau Card.
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