Although I travel all around the world and see the prettiest mountains, I try to go back to the mountains that have stolen my heart at least once a year. Those that I have been coming to for years, that I grew up in and those that are actually not that far driving from where I live. I’m talking about the Austrian Alps. One of the best hikes I ever did there was the one to Coburger Hütte, located in the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena. If you are ever in the area, this hike is a total must do!
Also read: the best hikes in Austria – my personal top 10!
Hiking in the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena
A few years ago I stayed just past the German/Austrian border in the small town of Bichlbach. I did some magnificent hiking there! Let me start by saying that there are plenty of hiking options in the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena. When I got a map of the surroundings, it was almost dazzling to see the number of trails. So I just picked a few according to my abilities and that seemed special enough.
Also read: the prettiest mountain lakes in Austria
Hike to the Coburger Hütte
The one I did on my first day after arrival was the hike to the Coburger Hütte. If you’d like to do this hike, it’s wise to get an early start, especially when it promises to get a warm and sunny day. I drove up to Ehrwald and took a ride up with the Ehrwalder-Alm-Bahn. I always enjoy a gondola rides a lot and even though you can easily walk up as well (it’s another 400 meter altitude gain) I preferred, on this particular hike, to save my legs for the rest of the track. The first part of the walk is really easy, just follow directions towards Coburger Hütte. The Alm (mountain meadow) is gorgeous with cows and their ever clinging bells everywhere and fellow hikers wandering and taking pictures.
Where it gets more difficult
After some easy climbing on a wide gravel trail, you will leave the Alm and get to a rocky area, here’s where you take the Ganghofersteig (towards Tajatörl) to the left. Soon you will reach the treeline and enter a massive boulder field. You will climb a bit further, this part is best done quite fast as the boulders are loose and the ares is prone to avalanches.
Then you walk a bit down again to the beautiful Brendlsee which is a perfect spot for a break. Surrounded by the massive Brendlkar this lake is just stunning. By then you will start a sturdy ascent to your highest point for the day: the Tajatörl mountain pass at 2.259 meters. It will certainly leave you breathless and once you’ve reached the prayer flags you should definitely take some more time to soak up the beautiful surroundings you have arrived to.
From here it’s just down really, although it’s a quite a steep descent and one slip can have bad consequences so be careful, it’s not your regular Sunday stroll. Soon enough you will see the Drachensee down below with its magnificent shades of green and blues. Eventually after descending for about an hour and a half you will reach the Coburger Hütte, a perfect place for another rest.
The Coburger Hütte is a perfect place for daytrips as many families and unexperienced hikers take the valley route to reach this hut. You will be taking this one down (unless you are extremely fit and prefer to hike the same way back). But … first take some time to relax and have a beer, or two. Meals here are typical mountain hut style: simple yet tasty.
Back to the gondola
After leaving the hut, there’s a steep half hour descend to the Seebensee and from there it’s an easy stroll back to the gondola station. Of course, you will again be surrounded by cows and their bells, what would a hike in Austria be without them? Make sure you check ahead what the last descending time of the gondola is, I was there just in time to make it back down to the valley. Otherwise, I’d have had to walk a bit further down. Not a problem, but after a long day like this, riding the gondola down with stunning views of the Zugspitz Arena, was just the perfect end of the day.
Good to know before you do this hike to the Coburger Hütte
I like to take breaks, take even more pictures and enjoy where I am, instead of running up and down just for the sake of it… Always make sure you know the weather when setting off in the Alps (or any other mountain range) and be prepared for sudden changes. In the valley it was about 25 degrees Celcius, up at Tajatörle I wore all my layers. The mountains can be great but can also be treacherous. Treat them with respect!
Conclusion and disclaimer
If you are going to the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena, make sure you do this walk. It’s not too difficult for experienced hikers yet it will still make your calves burn. And most important, it will take you to some pristine mountain areas, that you may not find anywhere else around that easily. Also make sure to check out my blog with best hikes in Austria for further hiking inspiration!
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Note that this post was first published in April 2014 and updated in April 2019