Rocky crags, 3,000-metre (9,840 feet) high peaks, turquoise mountain lakes and rustic huts – the Wiener Höhenweg (Vienna High Altitude Trail) offers spectacular high alpine hiking. Six scenic stages lie between the Iselsberg Pass near the town of Lienz and the Glocknerhaus mountain inn on the flank of Austria’s highest mountain, the Grossglockner. 49 kilometres (30 miles) and a lot of altitude metres through gigantic landscapes await on the Wiener Höhenweg as you trace the border between the Austrian regions of Carinthia and East Tyrol. In the heart of the Hohe Tauern National Park, you cross the lonely Schober Group mountains before reaching the famous Glockner Group on the last kilometres of the long-distance trail. With some high crossings over 2,500 metres (8,200 feet), the trail is characterised by spectacular panoramas.
The first stage from the Iselsberg Pass to the Winklerner Hütte mountain inn is a perfect ‘break in’. On day 2, you already reach high alpine heights with sections along partly rope-secured passages. After a night on the shore of the crystal clear Wangenitzsee, you hike along exposed sections, with wide views over embrasures and scree fields, to the Adolf Nossberger Hut. The fourth stage demands a lot from you in terms of sure-footedness and a head for heights as you hike to spectacular heights at the Horn col.
On the penultimate day of the Wiener Höhenweg, you can already see the summit of the Großglockner in the distance which accompanies you on your Tour to the Glorer Hut. The final stage shows you once again all the beauty of the Glockner Group. You pass the stone Salmhütte mountain inn and the fairytale Margaritzenstausee lake on your way to the Glocknerhaus, the official destination of the Wiener Höhenweg.
The Wiener Höhenweg is a high-alpine long-distance hike through steep terrain that requires alpine experience. You have to master partially exposed, rope secured passages, steep descents over boulder dumps and short scrambles. Since you reach heights of up to 3,000 metres (9,842 feet), I recommend that you carefully analyse the weather conditions beforehand and bring the necessary equipment such as waterproof clothing, helmet, hiking poles and possibly your via ferrata set. There is a particularly demanding crossing between the Adolf Nossberger Hut and the Elberfelder Hut.
You spend each of the five nights in rustic huts, but don’t forget to reserve a place to sleep in advance. You can reach the starting point at the Iselsberg Pass with the 942 bus from Lienz train station. In summer, the 5108 bus runs from your destination at the Glocknerhaus on the High Alpine Road to Heiligenblut. If you want to immerse yourself in wonderful, remote mountain landscapes, then the Wiener Höhenweg is for you!
The first stage of the Wiener Höhenweg is just seven kilometers and is the perfect introduction to your long-distance hike. The starting point is at the top of the pass at Iselsberg. If you want, you can arrive the day before and spend the night at Hotel Defreggerhof, which you can reach by bus line 942.From the Großglocknerstraße you turn left at the next possibility into a narrower street and from there it goes on the wonderful hiking trail. Through dense forest you climb up to the Lugger Alm, where there is an unmanaged hut and a drinking fountain. Enjoy the wonderful view of the valley and fill up your drinking bottle. You march there directly on the border between East Tyrol and Carinthia, switching between the edge of the forest and alpine pastures.On the Virger Alm you will meet grazing horses in summer, who relax and enjoy the fresh mountain air. Then continue on a wide gravel road to the Winklerner Hütte at 1,907 meters, which is your destination for today. From the sun terrace you can look over your snack on the Strasskopf, one of the Seven Summits in the Hohe Tauern National Park.
After a night in the Winklerner Hütte in Carinthia, you start hiking on the second day and after just a few steps you are in East Tyrol. The Wiener Höhenweg leads you through the forest to the rustic Roaner Alm, which is known for its delicious dishes. A trip to a strudel certainly can't hurt.Along the tree line you continue to the northwest, with the summit of the Strasskopf watching over you. Without any significant gradient, you hike on a narrow path through a wonderfully green mountain landscape, which is dotted with flowers in summer. After you have crossed the rushing Dietenbach, the Wiener Höhenweg begins to climb gently.The closer you get to the Obere Seescharte, the rockier and steeper the path becomes - watch your steps here and enjoy the view of the Wangenitzsee. At the 2,603 meter high saddle you reach the highest point of the second stage and can already see your destination, the Wangenitzseehütte.The descent leads steeply over scree and boulders down to the lake shore, shortly before reaching it you will master an insured passage. At the end you hike relaxed between Kreuzsee and Wangenitzsee through the rocky plateau to the Wangenitzseehütte. The hut, clad with wooden shingles, is already waiting for you with a delicious goulash soup and a cozy place to sleep.
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The third stage of the Wiener Höhenweg begins with a fantastic view of the Wangenitzsee. From the Wangenitzseehütte at 2,508 meters you first walk flat above the Kreuzsee. Then the path quickly becomes steeper and takes you over rocky steps and past Steinmandln up to the Kreuzseeschartl. Surefootedness and a head for heights are required for the inspection.Your gaze wanders from the saddle over several lakes and the rocky slopes of the Hohe Perschitzkopf - simply gigantic! Afterwards it goes partly exposed down to the Perschitzkar. At the next fork in the road, keep right and zigzag up steeply to the Niedere Gradenscharte. There can still be snow on the ice lake there, even in midsummer, if you need to cool off.Over passages secured by ropes, you continue to climb in the direction of Gradensee, but before that you still have the opportunity to take a detour to the Keeskopf. With enough time and fat in your calves, you shouldn't miss the climb to the 3,081 meter high summit.Otherwise you follow the narrow path over large and small granite slabs to the Adolf-Nossberger-Hütte on the banks of the Gradensee, your stage destination. The absolute highlight at the end of the day is a swim in the Finnish hot tub with a view of the lake - your tired bones will thank you for it.
This short stage awaits you with a crisp ascent and high alpine views. From the Adolf-Nossberger-Hütte on the shores of the idyllic Gradensee, the route initially descends slightly into a depression. The view of the smaller and larger lakes that the Gradenbach forms here are really unique and if you are brave, you can cool off in the cold water.Then you leave the green landscape below the Hornköpf and go one more time to the alpine rocky landscape of the Schobergruppe. The Wiener Höhenweg winds uphill in countless bends and lives up to its name: At the Hornscharte you reach the high point of the fourth stage at 2,958 meters and look down at the Hornkees or what is left of it. The increasingly hot summers make the eternal ice to create.You continue through the incredible scenery on climbs secured by ropes. You cross rubble fields and scramble over loose boulders, while you can look forward to first views of the Großglockner. Then the Elberfelder Hütte appears in front of you, which is romantic and lonely in a core zone of the Hohe Tauern National Park. In the hut with the striped shutters you spend the night and can end the day with a cheese dumpling soup.
After a night in the Elberfelder Hütte you start heading northwest and cross the gurgling Gößnitzbach. Immediately after crossing the stream, the Wiener Höhenweg branches off towards the Glorer Hut. Following this, you first hike moderately uphill and jump over a clear mountain stream again.It is increasingly steeper on the flank of the Tramerkopf up to the Kesselkeessattel: At an altitude of 2,980 meters you cross the border between East Tyrol and Carinthia again. You can enjoy views of the mighty 3,000-meter Böses Weibl as well as Gridenkarkkopf and if the weather doesn't play along, you will find refuge in the Gernot-Röhr bivouac.If you haven't collected enough vertical meters today, you can climb the Böse Weibl from the saddle. Otherwise you descend over Blockwerk to the turquoise Kesselkeessee and then follow the Peischlachbach down to the Peischlachtörl, which marks the transition from the Schober to the Glockner group.Passing the intense green of the high moor meadows, it goes gently uphill to your stage destination, the Glorer Hut. It is enthroned at 2,642 meters on the Berger Törl above the Leitertal.
The last stage of the Wiener Höhenweg has a lot of scenic highlights: After a delicious breakfast at the rustic Glorer Hut, you start towards Oberer Glatzsee. The sight of the reflecting water with the Grossglockner in the background is simply magical.Without major differences in altitude, you hike over wide alpine meadows to the so-called Glatzschneid, a striking edge of the terrain. After a good three kilometers, the Salmhütte is ideal for a cozy stop with strudel and coffee. The Carinthian Grenzweg then takes you past steep meadows and babbling brooks with great views.From the Stockerscharte, the Wiener Höhenweg drops steeply and takes you down to the Margaritzenstausee via cable-insured passages. The intensely turquoise water stands out impressively from the gray rock walls below the Grossglockner High Alpine Road. A piece of it goes along a nature path on the lake shore until you cross the two imposing dam walls.The last section of the Wiener Höhenweg brings you to your destination on the world-famous High Alpine Road: With a wonderful view back to the Margaritzenstausee, you reach the Glocknerhaus, which was opened in 1876. The bus takes you to Heiligenblut or back to the starting point.