At the heart of nature in the Alpenpark Karwendel
Hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking in the nature reserve around Innsbruck
80 years into its existence and the Alpenpark Karwendel continues to mesmerize its visitors. Covering an area of 727km² it is not only the Tyrol’s largest nature reserve but also one of the most impressive landscapes of the region stretching all the way to the city borders of Innsbruck.
There are a total of 11 stunning nature reserves in the Alpenpark Karwendel area, among them the Nordkette protected nature reserve, which is the traditional local recreation area for the citizens of Innsbruck and its visitors. Here you will find ample opportunities for hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking; there are also numerous alpine lodges or chalets like Höttinger Alm, Rumer Alm, Thaurer Alm or Enzianhütte, all of which are easily accessible, even with young children, offering a comfortable place to rest and serving tasty local fare. Recently a direct link was added, connecting the Innsbruck city centre with the higher reaches of the Alps. While the Nordkette cableway glides silently up the mountain, the view through the cabin window affords glorious vistas of the city and – as it continues above the tree line – magnificent panoramic views of the surrounding peaks. Once you reach the top, the Hafelekar is a starting point for several rewarding walking tours, hikes or fixed-rope climbing.
In the Alpenpark Karwendel you will stroll through ancient forests, walk alongside pristine creeks, explore gorges and fixed-rope routes. You will be amazed by rare plant species and unique botanical rarities such as orchids, the Eurasian smoketree and the hop-hornbeam. Eagles will soar high above you in the sky and curiosity can often get the better of the local wildlife with chamois and alpine ibexes sometimes venturing very close to hikers. There are also lots of opportunities to witness nature in flight with birds like the common sandpiper or the rock ptarmigan.
A veritable natural gem is the small – but quite unique – nature reserve Martinswand and Fragenstein in the Zirl-Innsbruck area with its fascinating botanical variety. An unusually hot microclimate provides perfect conditions for the so-called “foehn flora”, consisting of thermophile shrubbery and dry grasslands. Another protected nature reserve close to Innsbruck is the Vorberg reserve, situated on the southern edge of the Karwendel range and a hiking region popular with families. A nature trail through the forest, impressive gorges and waterfalls – such as the Fallbach waterfall – along with distinctive rock formations, ensure this reserve provides a breathtaking backdrop for hiking adventures.
Speaking of hiking: The Alpenpark Karwendel is not only ideal for leisurely day trips but also for longer hikes of several days’ duration. The numerous alpine lodges not only offer refreshments but also a place to rest and recuperate in comfort for the night. An absolute ‘classic’ among the Karwendel hikes is undoubtedly the tour from Scharnitz to Pertisau (Achensee lake). The Karwendel also plays host to several long-distance hiking trails, including the Adlerweg, parts of the Via Alpina trail and the route from Munich to Venice.
Of course mountain biking is permitted on all toll roads throughout the Karwendel which are accessible by car; in addition to this a further 14 routes have been opened up to cycling in the Tyrolean sections. The Karwendel is also known as an Eldorado for alpinists and mountain climbers, with pristine peaks that have not been conquered yet.
The Karwendel region is also associated with famous local personalities such as the ‘alpine explorer’ Hermann von Barth, who is said to have climbed as many as 88 peaks in the Karwendel during the summer of 1870, and the famous Alpine geologist, Otto Ampferer. Incidentally it was the cartographers Peter Anich and Blasius Hueber, who were the first to officially use the name Karwendel for the entire region in 1774. The name, of Germanic origin, traces back to Kérwentil, a farmstead in the upper Isar Valley near Scharnitz. As a result the region around it was thereupon called Kerwéndelau, including the surrounding vast mountain ranges.
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