Absolute silence, lofty mountain peaks as far as the eye can see, and the picturesque Ötztal valley at your feet. Covering a length of 65 kilometres (40 miles), the valley is a manageable distance. The Ötztal Trek runs through impressive mountain landscapes to extend your hike to 227 kilometres (141 miles). This long-distance alpine hiking trail should be on the bucket list of all experienced mountain lovers.
Starting from the historic Ötztal train station, you hike up to lofty heights straight away. Following the eastern side of the valley and in the footsteps of Ötzi, you hike to Sölden municipality in the heart of the valley. From there, a bus takes you to Obergurgl where you explore the Ötztal Nature Park before hiking north again on the western side of the valley, the so-called Geigenkamm. Darting ibexes, fantastic glaciers, and views that would once have been enjoyed by the hot air balloon pioneer Auguste Piccard accompany you back to the starting point.
Over 22 stages, you cover an impressive 15,000 metres (49,200 feet) in altitude and visit many magnificent natural spectacles. The route takes you over notches, ridges, summits, and even glacier ice. This is a unique experience, but you should have adequate alpine experience and the right equipment for glacier crossings.
You hike through this marvelous landscape from hut to hut. Provided you plan your Tour correctly and reserve in advance, you can look forward to delicious hut specialties and a cosy bed every evening. The 22 stages are divided into six routes. So if you only want to complete one section, you can simply descend into the valley at the respective endpoints, and sometimes also in between. Of course, you can also leave yourself more time for the individual stages if you wish.
Stage 1 of the Ötztal Trek is also part of the first route. It is the route for beginners, requires good physical condition, but can be mastered with a little practice. For stages 4 and 5 you need a little more experience, but everything in sequence.Today you start your adventure first. And that over a length of proud 20 kilometers. From the Ötztal train station it goes first through a beautiful forest up to a hamlet and a little later to the picturesque Brandsee. Always in the direction of “Sattele” you walk to Marlstein or Mareil, where you can already stay overnight. If you still have enough strength left, you follow the Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Weg and tackle a crisp 200 meters up to the first stage destination, the Dortmunder Hut.
Stage 2 of the Ötztal Trek is a little more relaxed, at least as far as the kilometers to be mastered are concerned. But there are some vertical meters on the program. But you can do it with your left hand, because on the way there are again some natural highlights, at the end then a warm bed in the Schweinfurter hut.It starts at yesterday's stage destination, the Dortmunder Hut. From the beginning of Kühtai you follow a meadow path up to the Finstertal reservoir. At the top of the dam, the path leads you to the 2,777-meter-high Finstertaler Scharte, from which you can once again enjoy a fantastic view of the glittering turquoise of the lake, but also of North Tyrol's highest mountain, the Wildspitze. Then you march through lush green alpine terrain and accompanied by a picturesque brook down to the Schweinfurter Hut, your destination for today.
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At the Schweinfurter Hütte, yesterday's stage destination, the wonderful Horlachtal meets the delightful Zwieselbachtal. You can explore the latter today - it's a total of almost ten and a half kilometers in the direction of the Winnebachseehütte.You start right outside the door of your quarter and march into the Zwieselbachtal. Passing the Zwieselbacher Sennhütte, where you can try a few self-produced delicacies if you wish, you are already going uphill.The road, which is still quite wide, soon leads to a steep path and leads over a large field of scree. Here it says: "Open your eyes", because the path is difficult to see. The Zwieselbachjoch, which you reach only a few steps further in midsummer without ice and snow, rewards you twice: Here you can enjoy unique views of the Zwieselbachferner and the Grießkogel glacier. Then it's quickly downhill - through the Winnebachkar to your stage destination, the Winnebachsee hut.
Stage 4 of the Ötztal Trek requires glacier experience and appropriate equipment for the first time. A mountain guide can also be helpful here. Because it goes high and once across a further. If you do not trust yourself, you can also hike from the Winnebachseehütte back into the valley.From the Winnebachseehütte you walk past the Ernst-Riml -spitze and over a steep moraine cone up to the Bachfallenferner. This is crossed - provided you have appropriate experience and equipment. At first it's relatively flat, then soon steeper. Over the Gaislehnscharte, for which you also need to have climbing skills, and through the cabinet you then descend into the Hintere Sulztal. Your overnight accommodation awaits you here: the Amberger Hut.
High alpine experience is also required for stage 5 of the Ötztal Trek. There is again a further crossing. For this you should of course also bring the appropriate equipment and possibly even a mountain guide. This is sure to turn into an unforgettable adventure - in a positive sense.From the Amberger hut you first walk south through the flat valley floor of the Sulze. Then it soon goes up the slope and over the western edge moraine to the Sulztalferner. Roping up is the order of the day! Because on the way to the foot of the Wilde Leck and the Wütenkarsattel there are crevasses.While you then march in the direction of the Wütenkarferner, you will pass a small, picturesque lake. Finally, the path joins the approach route from Sölden to the Hochstubaihütte. Over a ridge you still master the last 100 meters of altitude and then sink contentedly into your bed in Austria's third highest shelter.
Stage 6 marks the start of Route 2 of the Ötztal Trek. With its course along old smugglers' trails around the Windachtal natural forest reserve east of Sölden and over many proud peaks, it is a classic for mountaineers. You should therefore have the appropriate experience and equipment for them. And if you even get on the Ötztal Trek here, you can climb from Sölden to the Hochstubaihütte.Because this is where the stage starts. From the hut there is a direct route to the so-called Himmelsleiter, a section of the path with ropes and stone stairs. Then the path leads you downhill - to the two picturesque Seekarseen.A crisp ascent is still ahead of you: After the marshy foothills of the goods cart, it's uphill to the saddle on the Windachferner. This is followed by a descent onto the glacier and the path continues past the ski area towards the Gaiskarferner. To the southeast of it you will soon reach a rocky ridge, from which it is not too far to your stage destination, the Hildesheimer Hütte.
Stage 7 only requires five and a half kilometers and a good 300 meters of altitude from you. It also leads you into the territory of the Zuckerhütl, the highest mountain in the Stubai Alps. But it starts at the door of your night quarters first. Along the ascent to the hut, you march down through the Windachtal and on to the Gaiskarbach.This is where it gets particularly exciting: You cross the moraine of the impressive Pfaffenferner - a section that demands surefootedness and experience from you. So also the part that comes after: It goes over blockwork and rope-secured passages up to Gamsplatzl. Already on the ascent, but at the latest when you are standing at the top, you can enjoy wonderful views of the Zuckerhütl and the proud peaks of the Ötztal Alps. Then it's steep downhill to the Triebenkarsee and over a relatively flat path to the Siegerlandhütte, your destination for today.
Stage 8 of the Ötztal Trek lets you loosen up your legs in between. You leave the dizzying heights for now and hike a little further down the valley. But resting is not the order of the day here either - it goes quite long and sometimes steeply downhill.But before that, starting from your night quarters and over old smugglers' paths, you have to master a short ascent to the 2,846 meter high Windachscharte. Here you pass the green border to Italy and immediately walk slightly downhill to Timmler Schwarzsee and a little later to the dreamy Timmelsalm. It's not far from there to your stage destination: The Gasthof Hochfirst awaits you right on the popular Timmelsjoch High Alpine Road, which connects North and South Tyrol. Here you spend the night and prepare for the last part of Route 2 of the Ötztal Trek.Tip: If you want to extend this stage, you can turn off at Timmler Schwarzsee towards Schneeberghaus and sniff a little South Tyrolean mining history there.
Today the last stage of Route 2 of the Ötztal Trek is on the program. It lets you master a lot of altitude again, but also rewards you with unique nature and impressive mountain peaks. You start at your destination yesterday, the Gasthof Hochfirst.From here you hike up to the rest house on Timmelsjoch and pass some small, pretty lakes and an old pay house. You cross the Wannenkar, the Röten- and the Wietenkar, then the path leads you through rocky terrain up to the Wannenkarsattel. Over the ridge you get to the highest point of the tour, the Wild Rötespitz. A moment when you can give yourself a strong pat on the shoulder. Because from here it’s only downhill to your today's destination, the Brunnenkogelhaus.You can stay here overnight. But if you still have enough energy, you can start the descent to Sölden directly. Because that's where you have to go if you want to continue with stage 10 tomorrow. The path number 171 takes you down to Fiegl’s hut in around two hours. From there a bus will first take you to Sölden, then on to Obergurgl, where stage 10 of the Ötztal Trek starts. You can search for a suitable connection in advance using this link: oetztal.com/de/sommer/wandern-bergstieg/sommerbahnen-aufstiegshilfen/wanderbus.html
Ready for Route 3 of the Ötztal Trek? It leads to the rear of the Ötztal and lets you hike in the footsteps of the balloon pioneer Auguste Piccard and the glacier man Ötzi. It also invites you to discover the wonderful world of glaciers near Vent. You will also make a detour to South Tyrol on the way. But first things first.You start the route - and stage 10 - in the lively center of Obergurgl. From here you first walk into the valley to finally turn into the stone pine forest at the height of David's hut. You reach the Langtal and the moraine of the Gurgler Ferners. From here, parallel to the glacier, you climb up to the Hochwildehaus.It's not quite over with the ups and downs of this tour. After a possible stop at the Hochwildehaus, it's now back downhill to Gurgler Ferner. Despite iron steps and markings that show you where you can safely cross the glacier, extreme caution is required! Then it's one last steep uphill to your destination, the Ramolhaus am Köpfle.
Around 12 kilometers through a unique mountain world await you on the eleventh stage of the Ötztal Trek. Woke up at yesterday's stage destination and well strengthened from breakfast, so you no longer wait long, but start straight away - with the ascent to Ramoljoch. It goes over rock slabs and scree. Fixed ropes and steel bars will help you, but surefootedness and a head for heights are an absolute must here!Once at the top, the path next to the Spiegelferner leads down to a crossroads. Your destination, the Martin-Busch-Hütte, is already written down here. It goes through high alpine alpine pastures, past one or the other sheep and then once across the slopes above the Niedertal. You cross the Diembach and the Niedertalbach and then let yourself be guided by a wide driveway to your destination.
Well rested and full of vigor, you get ready for stage 12 of the Ötztal trek. Your companion today (in addition to a well-filled backpack and alpine equipment)? The glacier man Ötzi, also known as the “Mummy of Similaun”. The Similaunhütte, which sits enthroned at over 3,000 meters above sea level on the Niederjoch on the South Tyrolean side, is your destination today.From the Martin-Busch-Hütte it goes first through the Niedertal and always beautifully along the Niederjochbach. You will soon begin to march upwards over moraine slopes. You will bypass the Niederjochferner on a somewhat “leisurely” hiking trail, but still enjoy wonderful views of it. West above the distant a marked path will bring you to your destination.Tip: If that wasn't enough for you and you want to climb the Similaun, you definitely need appropriate glacier equipment and alpine experience! You also have to be free from giddiness here.
Route 4 of the Ötztal Trek starts high up on the dizzying 3,019 meters of the Similaunhütte. It gives you a deep insight into the glacier world around Vent in the Ötztal. Here, too, you will sometimes be accompanied by Ötzi and the correspondingly difficult passages. Without high alpine experience, appropriate equipment such as ice ax and ropes and knowledge of glaciers, this section of the long-distance hiking trail is by no means recommended.But if you can show all of these things, nothing stands in the way of stage 13. From the Similaunhütte you first climb to the Tisenjoch with the help of fixed ropes and over a steep block ridge. Ötzi was discovered up here in 1991. A monument marks the historical location.After the visit, it's another 100 meters up to the Hauslabjoch and then a little way over the Hochjochferner. You will soon reach a mountain climb that comes from the Seilkogel. On it you descend into the Rofental, cross the Hochjochbach once and soon find yourself again at the creek from the Hintereisferner. One last crisp ascent takes you from here to your destination, the Hochjoch Hospice.
Today it goes up again to majestic heights! The Brandenburger Haus, the destination of the fourteenth Ötztal Trek stage, sits enthroned at an impressive 3,277 meters above sea level. Well thought out on a rock above the Kesselwandferner, there are unique views of the glacier.Let's go to yesterday's night quarters. The Kesselwandferner is soon reached from here over a steep meadow slope, then over glacier snow. You then cross the glacier with the help of a pole marking and of course only roped and with the appropriate know-how. After the passage, you make your way over blocks and rocks up to the Brandenburg House.Tip: If you want even more, are sure-footed and have a head for heights, you can climb to the 3,397 meter high Dahmannspitze from here in about 30 additional minutes.
Today it's again going downhill more than uphill. After your night at such dizzying heights, you might even look forward to taking a deep breath a little further down.From the Brandenburger Haus you go down through the blockwork to the Kesselwandferner. This time you cross the glacier in a north-easterly direction towards the Obere Guslarjoch. And from there it is only an ascent of about 150 meters in altitude and you are standing at the wonderful, 3,494 meter high Fluchtkogel viewing summit, the highlight of today's tour. Back at the Obere Guslarjoch you then hike steeply down to the Guslarferner and cross it. Danger! Here it is particularly important to watch out for any crevasses in the glacier. Then you go steadily downhill over a path in the moraine area to your destination, the Vernagt hut.
Today there are almost seven kilometers ahead of you. Technically it won't be too challenging on this stage. But you enjoy spectacular views all the more on the way. Among other things to the Großer Vernagtferner with the Hochvernagtspitze.But let's start at the door of yesterday's quarter. You march down the slope and always beautifully towards the valley of the Vernagtbach. Once you have crossed it, there is another climb waiting on the opposite side - up to the Platteiberg. From here you always stay up high, high above the Rofental. You will pass the Platteikar and Mitterkar (with a unique view of the Ötztal Wildspitze). Then your equally promising destination, the Breslauer Hütte, will soon be reached.
Stage 17 is the culmination of Route 4 of the Ötztal Trek. Starting from the Breslauer Hütte and past the foothills of the Rofenkar, it starts off downhill. After a while you will reach a beautiful high path, which a little later joins a wonderful panorama path. It always leads you beautifully over the Venter Valley to the Tiefenbach restaurant on the Tiefenbach glacier.It's worth taking a break, you need the strength for your next glacier crossing. Then you climb the ski slope to the Seiter Jöchl and hike from there down to the Rettenbachferner. You cross it - again only provided that you have the appropriate knowledge of glaciers. From the Rettenbachjoch a marked path will bring you to your destination, the Braunschweiger Hütte.Variation: You can hike from Restaurant Tiefenbach to the valley station of the Rettenbachferner and on foot up to the top parking lot on Gletscherstraße. From there you climb to the Pitztaler Jöchl. The last few meters lead over a crevice-free glacier field (don't forget your crampons!), Then it goes downhill to the Braunschweiger Hut.
Route 5 marks the penultimate section of the Ötztal trek. And here too - you are used to it from the long-distance hiking trail - a lot of experience is required. This route is very demanding, some sections even require a certain level of climbing ability. In return, you can expect some natural highlights and with a little luck you will discover one or the other ibex. So don't forget your binoculars!The route starts with stage 18, a ten-kilometer tour that starts off in a high-alpine and demanding manner. From the Braunschweiger Hütte you walk down below the Pitztaler Jöchl into the Silbergrube. And then it goes up to a couple of proud three-thousanders: first on the Wurmsitzkogel (3,079 meters), then on the Grschrappkogel (3,197 meters) and finally you also master the Wassertalkogel (3,252 meters) with its nine-person bivouac.But the night can also be spent more comfortably, which is why you naturally hike further to your destination. The Rüsselsheimer Hütte awaits you after a few descents over small glacier fields and a challenging climbing passage, as well as the ascent of the Weißmaurachjoch and the Weißmaurachkar. I mentioned it at the beginning: Ten kilometers seem quite harmless - but due to the high demands this tour places on your alpine knowledge, you will have to plan at least eight, if not ten hours. All the more you deserve a delicious meal and a warm bed in the hut.
Hopefully you have recharged your batteries. Because today it won't be much less demanding than on stage 18, yesterday. There are a few crags and a small glacier to overcome. At the end, a self-catering hut awaits you, so you should take care of that. And so much can be said: This stage is one big up and down! But it starts at the Rüsselsheimer Hütte - from here the path first leads you to the Gahwind viewpoint.Through scree you make your way down to Rötkarle, then uphill again to Kapuzinerjöchl. Secured with a rope and through steep terrain, it goes downhill again, followed by another ascent to Breitlehnjöchl and Sandjöchl. You still have to hold out a little: after a fork in the slope you climb steeply to the Luibisscharte, then down again to the crevice-free Hauerferner. The path that leads from here to the Hauerseehütte is closed due to a rock fall - an alternative route leads you after the glacier passage along a rock down to your destination.
Route 5 is over that quickly. At least after today's stage. And they mean it relatively well to you compared to the last two: On almost seven and a half kilometers you hike through beautiful nature and past a few picturesque mountain lakes. The best: There is only one (longer) climb to master.Before yesterday's destination, the Hauerseehütte, you will be greeted by the first glittering lake. You soon leave him behind you and march downhill to find the next deep blue comrade a little later. This time it is the Lower Spitzigsee. The rear Innberg Valley and the slopes above the Felderkar will soon lead you to an ascent and thus up to the White Lake. Then you hike over an insured path through rocky terrain up to the Felderjöchl. And if you go up, you have to go back down: In your case, you go through the Fernerkar and below the Griesköpfe and finally over gentle alpine floors to the Frischmannhütte.
With stage 21 you start on route 6 - the final section of the Ötztal trek. It goes through a beautiful landscape, dotted with wonderful distant views. And today, above all, to one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in Tyrol.From the Frischmannhütte you first hike into the Funduskar and on to the Fundus Feilerrinne. Soon you have to use ropes to overcome two ledges in order to reach the Feilerscharte. From here it's only 150 meters to the 3,079 meter high Fundusfeiler summit. An effort that pays off twice or three times thanks to the wonderful prospects. Back at the saddle, it goes through scree down to the so-called black hole, then over beautiful alpine pastures and finally in serpentines steeply up to the crystal-clear weather lake. It is not far from its bank to your stage destination, the Erlanger Hut.
The time has come: You are at the beginning of the final Ötztal Trek stage. If you want to do this tour in just one day, you can expect a good 2,200 meters of descent. It is therefore advisable to spend the night on the Maisalm. For the time being, let's go to your destination yesterday, the Erlanger Hut.You hike to the farthest Tumpental, then up to the Murmentenkarjoch. The descent takes place on the other side, past the small Forchheim bivouac box and further down the ridge and then past the Hahnenkamm on the east side. From the Vorderen Geigenkamm it goes to the Mutkopf, then on a cart path down to the Maisalm.If you still have strength left, you can descend directly to Roppen and march from there to the starting point of the Ötztal trek, the Ötztal train station. As I said, an overnight stay on the Maisalm is definitely recommended. The descent can happily wait until tomorrow.