Alpe Adria Trail: section 12 from Seeboden to Milstätter Alpe
In 2018 I hiked several stages of the Alpe Adria Trail. This trail was praised by National Geographic a few years ago as one of the most beautiful hikes in Europe. I did three stages in Austrian Carinthia and another part in Slovenia. Although I have not done the whole trail, yet I’m very impressed by the beauty of the sections I’ve seen. In this article I will tell you everything about my monster hike from Seeboden to Milstätter Alpe, or stage 12 of the Alpe Adria Trail.
The start of the hike in Seeboden
The last section of the Alpe Adria Trail in Austria, I hike from the tourist village of Seeboden. I drive here from Mallnitz, where I yesterday ended with section 7. Because I’m traveling for my site, I’m presented the three most beautiful stages, which are all very different in character.
In all honesty, Seeboden is quite touristic. Once I’ve arrived at my hotel, Hotel KOLLERs, I get super excited. I have a beautiful room with a fabulous view over the Millstätter See and I really like I’m on riviera in the Mediterranean or something. It’s already at the beginning of the evening when I arrive and after a delicious three-course dinner I decide to go to bed on time. Tomorrow a super long section is planned, from Seeboden on the shores of the the Milstätter See to the Milstätter Alpe and spend the night there in the Alexander Hütte. According to my guidebook the stage is difficult, it takes 8 hours and I have to climb more than 1,650 meters. A monster section if you ask me!
Departure from Seeboden
I get up early because I have a long day ahead of me. The indicated 8 hours are just walking time, but of course I regularly stop to take pictures en route as well as take small brakes for lunch and snacks. I therefore assume that I am on the road for at least 10 hours, if not longer. I leave my most important luggage at the reception of Hotel KOLLERs, carrying a backpack with some things for the night on my back.
It’s hazy when I leave, I hope the sky opens slightly. The first part through the village is relatively flat and altitude gain starts just as I leave the village. Via various ‘back gardens’ I walk up towards the hamlet of Tangern, where I’ll be leaving civilization behind for the time being.
Up across the alm
I don’t believe that I have climbed more than 1.600 meters in one day in my life before so I’m curious how the legs will enjoy it. After Tangern I first hike a part through the forest and then up over the mountain meadows. On the Burgstaller Alm I lose the trail … there is hardly any path here and I haven’t seen any markers in a while. I decide to open the app where the route is indicated via GPS and see that I am slightly below the trail. Via the meadow I climb direcltly upwards, after which I find the right trail again and am back on track!
I climb and I climb …. but my final destination doesn’t seem to get any closer. I pass a few mountain huts and finally rise above the tree line. Deep below me is the Milstätter See, the deepest lake in Carinthia.
Steinerer Tische and Tschiernock
Just above the tree line I arrive at Steinerer Tisch, or the Stone Table, a viewpoint. I take a short break here but decide not to linger too long. It’s quite a humid day in terms of weather and I have been told that there could be a thunder storm later in the day …
A little further I reach Tschiernock, today’s highest point at around 2,088 meters. Most of the climbing is over, but I have to hike a long way across the ridge of the mountain. The trail is stony and in reasonably good condition. I enjoy the wonderful feeling that I am hiking on top of the world, but there is a huge thunderstorm in the distance. Suddenly I’m scared because here on the ridge there is no possibility to hide if the thunderstorm gets nearer.
There is nothing else to do but run. That doesn’t work very well with heavy hiking boots, but I try to make a good pace anyway and continue. I decide not to do any photo stops anymore, the only thing I want now is to arrive at the hut safely. Although the signs indicate that it is still half an hour, it seems hours before I finally see the hut appear under me. After a steep descent over the alm, I arrive at Alexander Hütte.
Overnight in Alexander Hütte at Milstätter Alpe
I report to the counter. The owner speaks with a heavy accent and tells me that no reservation is known nor has availability for tonight. Well that’s nice. I don’t have mobile connection and to be honest, after an enormous journey of about 10 hours, I’d rather cry than smile. Especially since I also don’t understand the man with his enormous accent and he is not very cooperative at first .
Eventually I decide to try to get connection outside and there I seem to have 1 line of mobile network. I quickly call the tourist office of Carinthia who arranged this trip for me and they will arrange it. In the meantime, it stopped raining and I sit down on the terrace with a well-deserved pint of beer. If I have to, I’ll just sleep on the floor tonight.
Not much later the hut warden comes outside. Something had gone wrong, but a room was booked for me. A private room, whoohoo, what a luxury in the mountain hut! I throw down my sleeping bag and take a seat in the restaurant, where I’m served a delicious pan full of delicacies. In the meantime the dark clouds have disappeared and I’m still enjoying a sunset with a view of Lake Milstätter and in the distance the Julian Alps in Slovenia, where I will be doing part of the Alpe Adria Trail later this year. I am already looking forward to it!
Back to Seeboden
The next morning I’m in the luxury position that I only have to hike for half an hour to the next hut: the Schwaiger Hütte. From here I will be picked up and brought back to Seeboden by car. On the one hand, I think it’s a shame because I would have liked to continue hiking. On the other hand, I’m happy because when I open the curtain of my room that morning, everything is covered in a thick fog. I made three wonderful walks in Carinthia, but now it’s time to go home again!
Practical information about this stage of the Alpe Adria Trail
The distance of this section is 22 kilometers, I took about 8 hours excluding breaks. The altitude gain is around 1.670 meters and you descend a total of around 450 meters.
– Along the way there is limited supplies, there are some mountain huts but they were not all open.
– In the mountain huts you can usually only pay in cash, so take enough cash with you.
– Also for this route you do not need an official hiking map. You can use the booklet that you can get for free at most information points. More information about this part of the hike can be found on this page of the Alpe Adria Trail.
– Download the Alpe Adria Trail app. Each stage has its own page, so you have everything you need at hand. It has a GPS function as well as the possibility to make an emergency phone call.
– For help on the road you can call the so-called Trail Angels. The number is in the hiking guide that I mentioned and if you need help on the way in any way, they will gladly help you further. On this stage I had mobile coverage almost everywhere and sometimes even 4G internet.
Conclusion and disclaimer
This section of the Alpe Adria Trail was again pure enjoyment. The highlight was of course the hike across the ridge from Tschiernock to the Alexander Hütte. I made this trip at the invitation of Carinthia Marketing. All opinions given are only mine. This article contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase through one of these links, I may receive a modest commission, of course without extra costs for you!