Walking in Austria

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With its 40,000 km of well-maintained, way-marked trails, more than a thousand mountain huts, countless attractive villages, hospitable hotels, inns and restaurants, an integrated public transport system, and breathtaking scenery, Austria is one of Europe’s most walker-friendly countries. Of all the European countries blessed with sensational mountain scenery, Austria remains the walker’s favourite. There’s something about the combination of the  Austrian landscape and the Austrian people that’s irresistible to walkers, from absolute beginners to seasoned veterans.

The paths that cross ridges and wind through valleys are beautifully maintained and well marked. There’s a network of inexpensive, welcoming Hütten or mountain inns that British walkers would love. And from April to October the tourist information centres give out walking maps, information, contact details for mountain guides and tips as though every other customer was a hiker in search of a good walk – which in the case of the Vorarlberg and Tirol regions of western Austria is not far from the truth.

The Pinzgau Ridgeway –Pinzgauer Spaziergang or Pinzgauer Höhenweg- is a roughly 25 kilometre long ridgeway in the Kitzbühel Alps in the Austrian federal state of Salzburg.

The ridgeway runs parallel to the Salzach valley at a height of around 2,000 metres along the crest that separates the high Alpine valley from the Glemmtal to the north. The entire route lies  in the region known as the Pinzgau. The mountain trail begins on the 1,965 m AA high Schmittenhöhe, the local mountain for the town of Zell am See, which can be reached by cable car.  From there it runs westwards over the Kettingtörl (1,780 m) to the Kettingkopf (1,865 m), south of which is the Pinzgau Hut (1,700 m), an important base for the Pinzgau Ridgeway. The  ridgeway continues, in places, along the crest itself, but mainly runs just below it on its southern side. Long climbs are rare, the path mainly lying between 1,800 m and2,000 m. En route  there are several refuge huts at crossings such as the 1,993 m high Klammscharte ridge or the 2,059 m high Klingertörl. A number of alpine huts (Almhütten) along the ridgeway offer  overnight accommodation. Several variations of the route enable summits to be ascended, such as those of the Maurerkogel (2,074 m), the Hochkogel (2,249 m), the  Bärensteigkopf   (2,225 m), the Manlitzkogel (2,247 m) or the Leitenkogel (2,015 m). The route then via over the 1,699 m high Bürgl Hutthrough the Mühlbach valley down to  Stuhlfelde  in the Salzach valley.

The Pinzgau Ridgeway is a relatively easy and well-signed hiking trail without any major technical difficulties; only some of the variations over the summits are more challenging. There are no major differences in height to be conquered; in all the route climbs some 500 metres if the cable car to the Schmittenhöhe is taken at the beginning. Although there are several options to tackle the route over several days, experienced hikers can complete it in just one day. Usually though, walkers stop overnight at the Pinzgau Hut or the Sonnbergalm. The Pinzgau Ridgeway is part of Route 02 A, a Austrian long-distance path.The particular attraction of this trail is its constant view of the highest summits ofAustria’s High Tauern and the valley of the River Salzach before them. In the western section the ridgeway has impressive views of the Zillertal Alps. The crest itself is part of the Kitzbühel Alps, whose gently, only rarely rocky slate summits, belong to the greywacke zone. The ridgeway may also be joined from the north from the Glemm valley and its western end can be accesed from the hamlet of Lengau in the municipality of Saalbach-Hinterglemm. If only half the route is walked, there is the option of ascending or descending on the cable car from Saalbach-Hinterglemm to the 2,096 m high Schattberg, about four kilometres north of the Hochkogel.

In addition, there are other connecting routes from the Glemmtal, such as the one via the Streitbergalm (1,350 m).To the south, in the Salzach valley are other short cuts, for example, to Niedernsill.The Pinzgau Ridgeway is part of the 02 A long-distance trail, a variation of the Central Alpine Way (Zentralalpenweg) from Hainburg an der Donau to Feldkirch. A section of this trail runs from the Pinzgau Ridgeway, crossing the Low and High Tauern as well as the Salzburg Slate Alps. To the west a trail continues from the Bürglhaus via the Thurn Pass (1,220 m) and the Zillertal Alps to the New Bamberg Hut.The Pinzgau Ridgeway is also part of the Arno Way (Arnoweg), a circular trail, that runs almost around the entire state of Salzburg. It is joined in the east by another trail that crosses the Dienten Mountains, to the west the trail follows the border with Tyrol as far as the Gerlos Pass, where it swings away to the south.

The Saalach Valley Ridgeway (German: Saalachtaler Höhenweg) is a a roughly five-hour long ridgeway trail in the Salzburg part of the  Kitzbühel Alps   between Leogang and Saalfelden. The way runs along the mountain chain that separates the valley of the Glemmtal in the south from the Leoganger Tal in the north. The marked trail runs from the Asitz Hut near the top station of the Asitzbahn (1,752 m) south of Leogang in a southwestern direction to the 1,914 m high Asitzkopf. It then continues over the 188 m  high  Schabergkogel  and the 1,853 m Geierkogel eastwards to the 1,875 m high Haiderbergkogel. Crossing the 1,764 m high Durchenkopf, the 1,616 m high Weikersbacherköpfl, the  1,541 m  high  Weikersbacher Kopf and the Biberg it carries on to the top station of the Huggenbergalm above Saalfelden. From here the journey to the valley may be made using the cable car or the sommerrodelbahn.A variation of the route starts at the summit station of the Kohlmaisbahn on the Kohlmaiskopf (1,794 m) above Saalbach and runs over the 1,910 m high Wildenkarkogel to the Asitzkopf. This variation takes about an hour longer and is more challenging.

For information on walking, guided tours and mountain trails around Austria See Here

The Arno Trail –Arnoweg- is an approximately 1200-km long-distance trail through the Austrian Alps. The highest point is atop the Sonnblick (3106 m.) near Bad Gastein, and in total the trail has over 57,000 m. of elevation gain. The highest elevations are in the western portion of the trail, in the Kalkberge, Pinzgauer Grasberge and Keesberge. The Arno Trail forms  a loop which passes through such towns as Salzburg, Neukirchen, Bad Gastein and Nußdorf. It runs predominantly through Austria, although two stages pass through Germany’s  Berchtesgaden  Alps and by the Königssee. The trail can be completed in just over 60 stages, many of which end at alpine huts run by the Austrian Alpine Club. It can be shortened by just under a week by crossing from Fuschl immediately to Salzburg in two stages and thus avoiding seven stages in the relatively low-lying foothills.

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