Stride through the clouds on these high-altitude treks in Austria, one of the most breath-taking ways to experience the Alps - literally
1. Großer Galtenberg, Alpbachtal
Towering at 2,424m high, Großer Galtenberg
is the highest mountain in Austria’s Kufstein District and one of Alpbachtal’s most magnificent peaks. From almost anywhere in the region you can spot this spiky pyramid soaring up into the heavens, an alluring sight for experienced hiking in the area. Großer Galtenberg’s top is sometimes covered in mist, but on a clear day you can drink in 360° views from its summit. Summit of Großer Galtenberg (alpbachtal.at)
Trekking up this monster is a difficult feat, with steep, challenging paths lining the route. That said, it’s not reserved just for the climbing elite – intermediate walkers will find this hardy but not impossible. The hike takes on average around nine hours to complete, and there are one or two rest stops on the way that are appropriate for a breather.
2. High-alpine flower hike, St Anton
A range of plants and flowers in St. Anton am Arlberg can only be found at certain altitudes, so walkers will need to strap on their hiking boots in order to go and find them. This flower hike
takes on the Kapall high-altitude path, up to Leutkircher Hut for a pit-stop for lunch at just under 2,300m above sea level, then back down to St Anton. It takes around 10 hours and is recommended for walkers with a good level of alpine experience. St. Anton am Arlberg in August (Shutterstock)
Best completed in August when the flowers are blooming in full force, on this hike you’ll pass by alpine roses, daffodils, varieties of anemones, orchids (of which 25 are found in the area), arnica and more. The landscape explodes with colour in the summer months – a beautiful spectacle to behold on a challenging walk.
3. Alpine lodge hike, Kitzbüheler Alpen
Spend three days hiking in the spectacular Kaiser Mountains in Austria’s Kitzbüheler Alpen. This multi-day trek
hops from alpine hut to alpine hut, trailing up and down an altitude of around 2,650m. Some sections of this walk are straightforward, but others – most notably the second day when you scramble 1,600m uphill – will take a good level of fitness to overcome. Kaiser Mountains (Shutterstock)
That said, the stunning summer scenery should keep you going. This guided walk runs between May and October, when buckets of sunshine fall over Austria and the lush green fields come out in all their glory. The huts make relaxing, authentic overnight stops after long days of trekking.
4. Grosser Beil, Wildschönau
Grosser Beil is the highest mountain in Wildschönau, so the route to its summit
is the Holy Grail of hikes in this region. The peak towers at 2,309m high, and from its lofty heights you can see for miles and miles, across the jagged Alps and swooping hillsides. Start from the end of the valley at Schönangeralm (where, in summer, you can buy fresh cheese to fortify you for the journey ahead) and follow the well-marked trail upwards to the summit. Hut on Grosser Beil (wildschoenau.com)
This hike can be tricky and calls for a good amount of fitness to complete. It’s not unfeasible for intermediate hikers, but the ascent can take some time. Fortunately, there are a couple of huts on the way that make for perfect places to sit down to rest your feet for a while.
5. Hut-to-hut hikes, Kitzbühel
Hut-to-hut hiking is a big deal in Austria. The traditional alpine huts that are dotted all over the hills create ideal breaks between trails – especially on high-altitude treks when R&R between walking days is essential. Kitzbühel is full of these establishments
, offering comfortable places to stay and hearty refreshments to refuel you. Staying in these huts connects you with authentic alpine culture and Austria’s traditional food and drink. Oberaigen mountain hut (kitzbuehel.com)
These kinds of hikes range in length – anything from just a night or two up to a couple of weeks – and it’s advised that you book a guide to take you through them. These experts know the mountains and high-altitude routes like the backs of their hands, giving you more time to concentrate on the beautiful scenery. Schedule your hike any time from June to September to take advantage of the warm weather; it’ll make these high-alt treks far more bearable. Main image: Kaiser Mountains (Shutterstock)