The Kalkalpen National Park is incredibly rich – giant rocks tower above green alpine meadows covered with wildflowers, rare flora and fauna blankets moorland and steep ascents and descents reveal unforgettable panoramas. With 170 kilometres (105.6 miles) of distance and 8,000 metres (26,250 feet) of elevation gain, the 11 stages of the Kalkalpen Trail are a magnificent adventure.
In this Collection, you hike to the most beautiful spots in and around the Kalkalpen National Park within the Northern Limestone Alps mountain range in Upper Austria. The long-distance Kalkalpen Trail leads from the municipality of Reichraming in the Enns Valley to the Tote Gebirge mountains near Hinterstoder municipality. It heads over the Sengsengebirge mountains to Windischgarsten municipality and via Spital am Pyhrn municipality to the Wurzeralm winter sports destination. Finally, the trail leads to Hinterstoder municipality and the Flötzersteig before arriving in Sankt Pankraz municipality.
The themed trails immerse you in the geological history of the region and information boards en route teach you about the formation of the mighty limestone mountains. Following gentle forest trails and rocky paths, you pass mystical lakes and experience pristine nature and ultimate relaxation with every step. You also trace the tracks of the Trift, which was once used to transport wood down into the valley. On the way, there are many opportunities to stop for refreshments and enjoy a delicious meal.
Each of the stages ends either at a mountain hut or in a village with numerous accommodation options. I recommend booking your overnight stays in advance to guarantee a cosy place to sleep. Both the starting point in Enns and the endpoint in Sankt Pankraz are connected to the railway network.
You can also easily shorten some of the stages by taking the cable car to save yourself some metres of ascent or descent. I’ve included details about this in each of the stage descriptions. Some legs of the journey include long distances and a lot of climbing so good fitness and surefootedness are essential for this long-distance hike. Hiking poles, sun protection and sufficient drinking water are also recommended. You can combine the stages as you wish or simply walk one stage as a day Tour. Look forward to unforgettable days in the Limestone Alps National Park in Upper Austria!
The first stage on your long-distance hiking adventure Kalkalpenweg starts relaxed at the train station in Großraming. Your today's destination is the cozy Ennser Hütte, which you will reach after a sporty 17.2 kilometers and 1,290 meters of altitude. Ascending across meadows and forests, you first hike to the Bamacher car park.It continues on the forest path a little steeper uphill to a forest road. Now it is time to grit your teeth for a moment because it is a short stretch here that is really steep. Soon you will reach a first vantage point: the 837 meter high Rotstein. Let your gaze wander briefly over the valley and allow yourself a rest. More than 500 meters of altitude are still ahead of you. The last ascent leads in serpentines through the forest until you can see the Ennser Hütte through the trees - the first stage destination is soon reached.From here you have a fantastic panoramic view of the Haller Walls, the Reichraminger Hintergebirge and the Sengsengebirge to the Dead Mountains and the Alpine foothills. How about a detour to watch the sunset on the 1,513 meter high Almkogel? For the ascent you would have to motivate your tired legs for another 45 minutes. You definitely deserve your delicious dinner at the hut.
The second stage takes you from the Ennser Hütte over the Gamsstein to the Gschwendt-Alm and on via Brunnbach to the Anlaufalm in the Kalkalpen National Park. After a hearty breakfast, it starts at the Ennser Hütte on the Danzersteig in the direction of Gamsstein. The first ascent for today begins below the Gamsstein. In serpentines it is about half an hour steeply uphill through the forest, at the end also with rope insurance.Take a quick breath and let your gaze wander: A magnificent panorama opens up in front of you of the Reichraminger Hintergebirge, the Sengsengebirge, the Haller Mauern, the Gesäuseberge and on the other side to the Schieferstein, the Alpine foothills and far into Lower Austria.We continue down to an alpine pasture where the 300-year-old Gschwendtalm is located at 954 meters. Are you already hungry? Then treat yourself to steamed noodles or roast pork from the wood-fired oven. With easy steps it goes further downhill until you arrive in the small village of Brunnbach. Take a quick look around the town. The listed church is definitely worth a visit. After about three more kilometers, your tour is halftime - and it's uphill again.Slightly uphill, you hike at a brisk pace to your destination today - the Anlaufalm. A few hundred meters from the Alm, you could take a detour to the 1,157-meter-high Hochkogel. The detour only costs you about 20 minutes and once again reveals wonderful views. Satisfied and happy, you make yourself comfortable on the Alm afterwards.
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On the third stage it gets historic, because it goes deep into the Kalkalpen National Park and you hike in the footsteps of the former Trift economy. Your destination for the day is the cozy Ebenforstalm after just 15.5 kilometers and an altitude of 660 meters. You can also relax a little on the way today - you definitely have time for that. Along the Großer Bach you hike comfortably on the Hintergebirgsradweg down the stream to the Großer Klaushütte at 488 meters above sea level. The Große Klaushütte was once the quarter of the woodcutters in the Hintergebirge and is now a popular place to stop for refreshments.After refreshment in the Große Klaushütte you will reach a tunnel after a few minutes' walk. Left before the tunnel you go to the "Kleine Klaushütte", from where you can also take a look at the former Große Klause. Immediately after the tunnel, a few steps lead down to the former Great Hermitage. Since the Middle Ages, the wood has been brought from the Hintergebirge with the help of the Holztrift on the rivers to Reichraming. Wooden clauses (dams) were built at various points and the wood was then drifted with the meltwater in spring.Now it goes through a second tunnel further down the stream until you hike steadily uphill on the Begsteigersteig to the Ebenforstalm, your destination for the day. In front of the hut, however, the themed trail “Cotton grass, alpine pastures and water shrimp” awaits you, on which you can discover the special features of the alpine landscape. You walk on a wooden footbridge directly above the forest and alpine floor and in late spring you can discover globeflowers, peat moss, cotton grass, sundew and a wide variety of orchids such as broad-leaved orchids, mosquitos and orchids. Happy and satisfied, you move into your room on the Alm and are already dreaming of the next stage.
The fourth stage leads from the Ebenforstalm in the Kalkalpen National Park via the Bodinggraben and Steyrsteg to the Wurbauerkogel and to Windischgarsten. The tour has it all: At 25.7 kilometers and more than 1,300 meters in altitude, it is one of the longer stages of the tour. First it goes through dense forest to the small settlement of Bodinggraben at an altitude of 641 meters. Here you will also meet the Jägeralm for a first stop. After ten kilometers, a refreshing splash of elderberry works wonders.Now it is becoming increasingly alpine. The valley narrows, the mountain slopes become steeper and rockier. Soon you will find yourself in the Krumme Steyrling gorge, one of the most beautiful breakthrough valleys in the foothills of the Alps in the middle of the Kalkalpen National Park. A little later you will come across high concrete walls - a relic from the 1960s, when a power plant storage facility was to be built here. The project was never completed.You leave the concrete walls behind and the valley floor widens a little. Crystal clear water pools invite you to take a refreshing swim. Shortly afterwards you cross a concrete bridge and reach the National Park campsite Steyrsteg. In spring and summer, the alpine flora transforms the valley floor into a colorful sea of flowers. You can see globeflowers, the Turk's Association and red cabbage roses.You get a first view of the Windischgarstnertal on the summit of the Kleinerberg at 1,287 meters, which you can reach via the Leitersteig. The extra parameters are worthwhile for the spectacular panorama: Ennstal Alps, parts of the Niedere Tauern, Warscheneck and Priel groups, Höllengebirge, Kasberg, Traunstein, Sengsengebirge, Hintergebirge and Hengstpass area.We continue to the National Park Panorama Tower. From the tower you have a view of 21 two-thousanders. If your knees are already weak here, you can either take the chairlift or the summer toboggan run to Windischgarsten. All the others now start the descent. When you arrive in town, you can look forward to a nice snack, a cool drink and lots of relaxation.
The fifth stage is almost eleven kilometers and 740 meters in altitude a pleasant walk compared to the previous day. From Windischgarsten you hike to Spital am Pyhrn and on to the Gowilalm. After only a few hundred meters you should stop for a moment and look around: At this point you can enjoy a special panoramic view of Windischgarsten and the beautiful mountain scenery behind it.We continue along an excited bubbling stream to the valley floor of the Fraitgraben. On the forest path into the valley you will soon reach the Ramitscheder Mühle. Further up the stream you will come to Haus Stanglmühle and later to the Dansbacher Chapel. Then you reach Oberweng, a popular starting point for hikes. If you are already in the mood for a stop, then a rest in the Jausnstub'n Singerskogel is recommended. Strengthened, it continues on alpine paths and forest roads.Shortly before your destination for the day you can enjoy another wonderful panoramic view. A little later you will arrive at the Gowilalm. Here at the latest you can catch another magnificent view of the wide valley area of the Garstnertal and the surrounding mountains. Since your hike was relatively short today, you now have enough time to enjoy the sun terrace, eat a Kaiserschmarrn and either just doze off - or read a book. Today it is a matter of gathering strength to tackle the sixth stage with renewed vigor tomorrow.
Up up and down! The sixth day leads from the panoramic Gowilalm over the Dr. Vogelgesang-Klamm in the Abbey of Spital am Pyhrn. After a hearty breakfast, you start with a view of the mighty mountain range and hike down to the Holzeralmboden. We continue to the Hofalmhütte at 1,305 meters above sea level. The hut is located on the west side of the Großer Pyhrgas and invites you to take a rest. After all, on the relatively short tour you are halfway through.From the Hofalmhütte it goes south up to the Hofalmsattel at 1,400 meters. We continue through the forest and pastures on the southern slope of the Großer Pyhrgas with partly beautiful views towards Gesäuseberge and Bosruck to the Rohrauerhaus at the Pyhrgasgatterl. After you have left the Bosruckhütte behind you, you continue down the valley. A special natural spectacle is waiting for you here.You hike through the wild, romantic, water-ridden Dr. Vogelgesang Gorge. It is about one and a half kilometers long. You walk directly along the water on wooden walkways and can feel the spray on your skin. A pleasant refreshment, especially on hot days. Nevertheless, a little caution is required because the wooden planks can be smooth. At the bottom you pass the toll booth and come down the stream past an electrical power plant and the houses in the district of Grünau until you arrive in the center of Spital am Pyhrn. You can spend your afternoon and evening sightseeing and eating ice cream.
On the seventh stage, things are getting stronger again. More than 1,000 vertical meters are on the program today - which you can also skillfully shorten by 600 vertical meters. You hike from Spital am Pyhrn over the highest raised and low moor in the northern Limestone Alps on the Wurzeralm to the Dümlerhütte.After a nice breakfast in the old town of Spital, you leave the popular summer tourist and winter sports location in the south of Upper Austria. At first it only goes up slightly until the path becomes steeper and steeper. You will reach the valley station of the Wurzeralm funicular just in time before the first beads of sweat form on your forehead. If you want to shorten 600 meters in altitude and one and a half hours, this is your alternative to the ascent.Otherwise, you will happily hike south of the valley station in a north-westerly direction up to the Almdorf Wurzeralm at 1,427 meters above sea level. Here you will find several places to stop for a break where you can recharge your energy reserves. Soon you will reach the boggy high valley floor, through which the Teichl flows in a meandering manner, with pine bog and its own flora. A lake is said to have been located here around 7,000 years ago. On the “2 million years in 2 hours” themed trail you will learn a lot more about the geological history of the region.From the idyllic Filzmoos-Almen at the foot of the steep face of the Stubwieswipfel, which are managed in summer, your path now leads you towards Halssattel at 1,600 meters. From here you can enjoy a beautiful view of the striking mountain profile of the Stubwieswipfel. Now it goes slightly downhill again until you finally reach your destination for the day - the Dümlerhütte. Look forward to a delicious dinner and a restful night.
The eighth stage is a bit more leisurely again, but although you only cover eleven kilometers, you are still five hours on the road. You walk past the idyllic Windhagersee near Vorderstoder to the Zellerhütte on the northern slope of the Warscheneck Mountains.From the Dümlerhütte it goes down to the Tommerlalm. There you turn left into the forest road. At the end of this street comes the Weisries, which you cross on a narrow, stony path. After a few switchbacks you will reach the next forest road, which leads to Windhagersee, a very idyllic mountain biotope. Here you can take a leisurely rest.The ascent to the Zellerhütte is tough again. In small curves over hill and dale, the path leads up 500 meters in altitude to your stage destination, the Zellerhütte. From the east side of the hut there is a view of Vorderstoder and the Windischgarstnertal. The seating niches on the upper side of the Zellerhütte provide a wonderful view of the priel group of the Dead Mountains. The highest mountain in the region, the Great Priel, and the striking pointed wall dominate the mountain panorama. Lean back and enjoy your evening.
On the ninth stage, your mountaineering heart will beat a beat faster. Today you can enjoy breathtakingly beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, which with its bright rock stand out from the lush green surroundings. With a view of the most beautiful peaks of the Dead Mountains, you hike over one of the highest mountain villages, Vorderstoder, to the Edtbauernalm on the Hutterer Boden in Hinterstoder.After a promising breakfast at the Zellerhütte, it goes downhill, past the Schafferteich to the Binder cider tavern. You continue to the Schafferteich parking lot, from where you hike up to the Almgasthof Baumschlagerberg. We continue to the rustic alpine hut of the Steyrsbergerreith, which is a wonderful opportunity to stop and rest with alpine specialties.Along the forest road your path leads in slight inclines to the Redlstein. From here on it becomes exhausting again. Once at the top, you will soon see the alpine pastures of the Hutterer Boden. From here it is not far to your stage destination, the Edtbauernalm. Look forward to a nice end to the day with beer and a snack.
The tenth and penultimate stage is on the program today, with an ascent of just 500 meters in altitude really humane. It leads you from the Hutterer Boden over the Weissenbachtal, past Polsterlucke and Schiederweiher to the Ski World Cup location Hinterstoder. After a delicious breakfast you say goodbye to the Edtbauernalm.You follow the hiking trail over the plateau and after a short time you will reach the Lögerhütte and the middle station of the Hinterstoder mountain railways. Here you can decide whether you prefer to shorten the long descent of more than 1,000 meters by train. That way, you'd really miss out on some nice highlights. From now on all pedestrians are allowed to walk 700 meters downhill on a narrow forest path in small serpentines to Ober-Buchebnerreith.Through the Weißenbachtal to the Polsterlucke and the inn of the same name, it then becomes a little flatter again and your knees can recover briefly. It continues to one of the big highlights of your today's tour: the Schiederweiher. Here you should treat yourself to an extensive photo break - you rarely find such a beautiful motif. You reach the stage destination, Hinterstoder, via the Flötzersteig. Your last evening on the Kalkalpenweg is dawning.
The eleventh stage is also your last stage on the Kalkalpenweg. After a leisurely breakfast in Hinterstoder, you hike along the Steyr, past a mill and the Strumboding waterfall and finally to Sankt Pankraz. First you hike on the Flötzersteig. After a short time you will reach the Kneipp area, where you can get your tired hikers' legs on their toes, and a little later the turnoff to the mill.Along the Steyr, your path first leads to the Poppenberg, from which you can enjoy a wonderful view of Hinterstoder and the surrounding mountains. We continue to the mighty waterfall, the Stromboding. Here the small brook shows its wild side. Further downstream, the Kalkalpenweg leaves the banks of the Steyr and navigates you above over meadows and a village road to the Flötzerstubn. It's worth taking a break here.Through the Salmeranger your way leads back to the Steyr, which accompanies you to the Steyrbrücke. When you arrive at the Steyrbrücke, there is not only an inn, but also Europe's unique poaching museum. After a short time you will reach the train station in Hinterstoder from here. Another three kilometers and you have reached your destination in Sankt Pankraz. Eleven eventful and wonderful days are coming to an end. You start your journey home with lots of great memories in your luggage.