Europe

Hiking in the Austrian Alps

When you think of the country Austria, probably mountains, classic music, Julia Andrews skipping through meadows and picturesque hillside towns comes to mind.

This is pretty much what you get, the lush green countryside and mountains is the reason why its one of my favorite countries in the world

My boyfriend and I decided to spend several weeks during the summer hiking through the Kitzbühel Alps, these are a mountain range of the Central Eastern Alps surrounding the town of Kitzbühel in Tyrol, Austria.

Truly a beautiful spot, we had booked the KAT walk a 6 day hiking trip, 106 km in distance with guest house accommodation. Its great value for money with breakfast and dinner included, and the option for a shuttle service for your luggage we decided to carry our rucksacks with everything needed for the week. Although I found I packed way too much and literally wore the same thing each day.

The range of hikes on offer is versatile and ranges from easy hikes in the valley, to hikes using the cable cars as support, right the way through to mountain tours to isolated summits.

Day one of the CAT walk started from the town Hopfgarten to the southern Kelchsau tributary, farmhouses, mountain farms and houses, almost from a different period in time, await you on the 17.5 kilometre day.

After some confusion on the start point, walking passed the sign post, we eventually set off and enjoyed the days hiking, the weather was lovely despite being quite hot, especially when carrying a rucksack but the scenery was beautiful and distracted me.

It was a great feeling reaching the highest point of the day, perfectly situated by an farm house which had a tub full of drinks for hikers. An apfelshorle never tasted so good.

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When we finally made it to the end point, It was nice to take our walking boots off and enjoy some dinner. The accommodation was decent, Gasthof Traube , it provided us with a nice spacious bedroom, the food was good and the balcony views were incredible.

The second day  of the KAT Walk takes you into a world away from any civilization. Narrow paths, great views and insights into an almost untouched nature with a fantastic 360° panorama. We even had the luck of meeting the famous dialect poet, Sepp Kahn, on the “Unteren Lärchenbergalm Farm” – he enjoys talking about his life as a mountain dairy farmer. He even let us drink some of his water.

This day definitely had the highest incline, reaching the highest point of 1923 m, On the Lodon summit, this provides fantastic panoramic views (the valley crossing between Pinzgau and Zillertal), Rofan mountains, Guffert Spitz, Mangfall and Sonnwend mountains, Hohe Salve, Wilder Kaiser and the renowned Big Rettenstein.

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Markus all set for the next day.

Reaching the Summit of Lodon.

Even though it was hard trekking in the heat the views were totally worth it.

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Reaching the Summit of Lodon.

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I was taking away by the sheer beauty.

The descent was quite gradual, leading into the forest which gave us some decent shade, we passed a dutch couple who also were doing the hike, it made us feel good that we had picked up the paste as we knew they had set off early that morning. After no more than an hour of hiking through the forest, it directly lead us to our next place to stay the Steinberghaus.

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 The view from our balcony

Here we also were offered a nice spacious bedroom with two double beds and a lovely balcony area, that evening we enjoyed a BBQ dinner, after a long day hiking it was perfect.

The third day of the KAT-Walk gives you lots of space and time to enjoy the feeling of absolute freedom. The impressive “Almrosen Lake”, set in the picturesque, gentle rolling grassy mountains, with culinary delights await the long-distance walkers on this 19 km stage of the trail.

Within moments of setting off, we made a wrong turn and ended up at a dead end. Becoming quite frustrated as where to go, after wandering around and following the guided map we eventually made it to the right turning. By this point Markus had been suffering from blisters quite badly, and both of us on the verge of wanting to give up, the combination of a rucksack + incline +hot weather = hard work. Still we decided not to give up and made the climb, this part was slightly less scenic than other parts and felt long.

It was nice stop for some shade and lunch

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I was also greeted by this lovely lady 

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After a short rest and filling our stomachs with food we set off, heading towards the Hintenkar Hochalm (the higher pastures, 1,722m). Then along the track to the Hintenkar Niederalm (the lower pastures, 1,546m). We were confronted with a lot of cows which made us wall along a verged as they didn’t want to move.

The views were just incredible. 

As we descended towards Labalm, the weather turned for the worse, thunder in the distance and a light shower of rain, it was perfect timing that we came across Alpengasthof Labalm which provides lovely meals and refreshments.

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Views from Alpengashof Labalm

The descent down was pleasant, following a road along the river into the town of Aschau we had reached our next place for the night Landgasthof Falkenstein.

We decided to have a early dinner and reclined to our room where we watched ‘Into the wild’ on my tiny iphone screen.

The next morning after a good hearty breakfast, we set off in the direction of Kitzbühel although looking on the map it was only a short drive away we were facing a lovely steep incline, this part of the KAT walk wanders over the tracks of the legendary Hahnenkamm-Downhill Race. You get a taste of the World-Cup atmosphere: Signposts along the “Streif Downhill Race Track” explain the various stages of the course. This day’s destination is the town centre of the legendary Alpine sports city: Kitzbühel! 

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Getting friendly with the locals.

This part of the hike we passed many other hikers and mountain bikers, The route continues steadily uphill through the mountain pastures and past the “Kleinmoos Niederalm” (1,624m).

The route runs along the mountain ridge above the “Pengelstein” summit (3h from Aschau, we decided to stop for an refreshment at the top. This was pretty crowded with people, which was a complete surprise from the previous days, majority of the public had driven up on the track roads.

Views from the top 

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Even the cows had a pretty sweet view.

For those who still have enough stamina to continue on foot, but there is the option to catch the cable cart straight down to Kitzbühel, we decided to hike down via the ski area in the direction of “Seidlalm”. Walking immediately alongside the world-famous “Streif” downhill race course.

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Quick selfie on the “Streif”

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The views going down were so impressive, it gives your such a great view down to Kitzbühel and consistently provides stunning views of the surrounding mountains as far as the Wilder Kaiser.

In Kitzbühel, the world-famous Alpine town, we were provided excellent accommodation at the Hotel Reisch situated in the centre of this historical town, where VIPs are also known to frequent quite often. We had yet another delicious meal, which consisted of 3 courses.

Our room for the night, I was so impressed with the bathroom hidden behind this impressive photo of the Wilder Kaiser mountains. The breakfast was out of this world, I mean champagne for breakfast, honey straight from the cone, selections of pastries, I would of been happy with water and cereal. It was incredible, sadly Markus wasn’t hungry to enjoy all this food, so I pretty much ate for us both.

IMG_9027Balcony view from your room. 

Wandering around the town

Day 5 of the KAT walk summit climb to Kitzbühel Horn, this is where fitness and stamina are required, from the “Kitzbühel Horn” to St. Johann and its grandiose summits, Fantastic views, an Alpine flower garden, a waterfall and a spectacular descent from the “Horn” to the “Harschbichl”. Unfortunately we did not do this part, the weather was not so pleasant, and Markus was suffering with his blisters. It was quite disappointing, but we both agreed the weather was too risky and we would not of seen much, a few other couples decided to do this part of the trek, but later said it was quite risky in places and did actually lose the trail in parts because of the low fog.

As an alternative we decided to stay on the flat and follow a pleasant path in the direction of St. Johann in Tyrol, this was around 10 km in distance which we had covered in a few hours.

We had arrived at our next stay for the night Hotel Park , out of all the places we stayed this was the most basic one, it was nice to have a shower and just relax that afternoon, with just a short walk to the centre of the town.

The final Day 6 of the KAT-Walk St Johann in tirol to Fieberbrunn, offers a lovely incline up to 1550m which is the highest point covered very early into the days hike. Due to the conditions of Markus’s feet we decided to take a train back to Hopfgarten to collect our car and drive to the final point.

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Alte Post Hotel

Our final hotel for the trip was a pleasant surprise, offering a wellness and spa area for the guests. We decided to take full advantage as soon as it was opened. It was complete bliss after days hiking in the heat to enjoy some relaxing time.

Private gym which matched my dream desire.

The only disappointment was the food, the restaurant menu was pretty limited, presented with chipped wine glasses, as well as onion soup you don’t expect half a onion floating around in water.

We also decided to have a early night, as we were setting off early, in the direction of Germany.

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Some of the food enjoyed over the week

Overall it was a great hiking trip, beautiful landscape, decent accommodation and food.

If you are considering a hiking trip in the future I would strongly recommend Austria.

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