Hiking in the Kaisertal – a beautiful two-day trek in Austria
It’s a misty Friday morning when I open up the curtains of our hotel in Kufstein. Today we’ll start a short hut-tour in Austria, which means that sunny weather is always better than mist. We get dressed, pack our last gear and head over downstairs for breakfast. At 09.00 we are being picked up at reception by our guide Harold, also known as Hiking Harry, who will take us on a two day trek in Austria’s Kaisertal, a great hiking tour for hikers new to this sort of trekkings and those who have minimal mountain hiking experience.
The Kaisertal is a relatively unknown valley in Austria. When I mention Kufstein or Der Wilder Kaiser those names may ring a a bell. The Kaisertal is located at the north face of the Kaiser Mountains, one of Austria’s finest mountain ranges if you ask me. Our trek starts in the village of Kufstein, just across the border with Germany. After we said good morning to Harry, it’s time to check out of the hotel and walk over to the Kaiserlift. This recently renovated gondola will take us up to 1.200 meters, making the way up a bit easier than walking. By now, the sun is trying to take over the mist and once we arrive at the mountain station of the Kaiserlift we can see the Kaiser Mountains right in front of us. Most of the peaks are still in the clouds but it’s impressive nonetheless. The highest peak of this range is the Ellmauerhalt at 2.344 meters, which Martijn climbed with his a friends a couple of years before, you can see their movie here.
This weekend is however not about climbing, but about hiking through Austria’s nature. From the Kaiserlift we will head for today’s first destination: the Gamskogel. The hike over takes us mostly through the woods. The trail goes up and down and in the mean while Harry tells us that he has been coming here since he was a kid and that it’s one of the best hikes in the area. Lucky us! Along the way we can hear the familiar sound of the cow bells. Ever since I was a little kid, we went to Austria with our family and hearing those cow bells reminds me of the good times we had.
After about one and a half hours of walking, we reach the 1.499 meter high Gamskogel. There is a big wooden cross and a few benches to sit down and enjoy the view. It turns out we are not the only ones here and are amazed by the stunning views. Ahead of us we can see the Zahmer Kaiser and behind us we can see the Wilder Kaiser, still mostly covered in a veil of clouds. We take a couple of photos, eat some Kaiserbread and then decide to move on. From here on the trail is called Bettlersteig and we just have to hike down. Now in Austria that always sounds easier than it actually is because walking down in Austria is never on a well paved trail. We cross various mountain meadows and hear those cow bells everywhere.
Not much later we pass the Brandkogel and then we reach the spot where our descend really begins. From here we’ll walk to Anton Karghaus, our place for the night. As I said, hiking down in Austria is seldom easy and so we come across steep stair, iron steps and sometimes even chains to hold on to. We run into another Dutch couple that is hiking up and I wonder how they can enjoy that in such a heat. They love it however and after a short chat, they move on as they still want to catch the latest ride of the Kaiserlift back down to Kufstein.
By now it has gotten pretty warm and so walking through the woods is very welcome. Sometimes we cross a meadow but most of the time, it’s hiking in the woods. Harry tells us that the trail has been changed in various places, some spots actually look different than he recalls and some spots have been outfitted with iron steps and/or cables to make the hike a bit easier. The way down is fairly long and halfway during the afternoon we reach Anton Karg Haus, also known as Hinterbärenbad. Their terrace is full and looks inviting. We settle down and probably won’t get up anymore for the rest of the afternoon.
According to Harry, they have incredible good Hausgemachter Kuchen here. That’s something you should never tell me twice and we order a round of cakes. They taste delicious and for a split second I hesitate if I should order another piece, but then decide not to. Soon after I take off my hiking boots and put on my sandals. My phone is charging in the sun, so that gives me some time to explore the area around the hut. In the meadow in front of Anton Karg Haus there are some wooden chairs overlooking the peaks of the Kaiser Mountains. By now, most of the clouds have cleared up and so I settle down and enjoy the view. While Martijn and Harry discuss photography on the terrace, I lay down and enjoy this beautiful piece of nature right in front of me.
Not much later it’s time for dinner. They don’t have a set menu here but we can choose from a menu with a lot of options. We both decide to take the burger as we have never had a burger in a mountain hut before. The burger is however not really a burger, just a few slices of pork, but it tastes very good anyway. Hiking in the Kaisertal is like hiking anywhere in the world: it makes you hungry!
As I settle back down on my wooden chair, Harry suggests to take a short evening hike to see the sun set in the mountains. With a bit of luck, we’ll be able to see the rocks change color as the sun disappears behind the horizon. It sounds like a good plan and we hike a bit further up. First to Hans Berger Haus en then we take the trail to Ellmauer Halt. After about ten minutes on this track, we get to the rocks and settle down to admire the sunset from here. While we a are being stung by mosquitos and black flies (bring your repellent!) the sun starts to set and the mountains become orange, red and eventually a bit purple. It’s a very special moment to end our first day of hiking in the Kaisertal. For now, it’s time to go to bed, there will be another day tomorrow!
Want to read more about the hiking in the Kaisertal or other place in Austria? You may also like these posts:
– Pretty Kaisertal in pictures
– Winter hiking in Zell am See
– Hiking to the Coburger Hütte
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Thanks for sharing!