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Walking across mountains and borders – Austria’s High & Holy Pilgrimage Trail

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Walking across mountains and borders – Austria’s High & Holy Pilgrimage Trail

Hiking Collection by Carola K.

11-23

days

3-6 h

/ day

121 mi

33,700 ft

32,100 ft

Secluded paths, peace and contemplation, idyllic alpine pastures and the most beautiful places of worship that the region has to offer – on the High & Holy Pilgrimage Trail, you can concentrate fully on yourself and the magnificent landscape around you. It’s easy to see how the trail got its name: in addition to typical pilgrimage sites, each of the nine stages takes you high up into the lofty mountain world.

Over 191 kilometres (118 mi), you explore beautiful landscapes on little-used paths. From Lavant, a quiet village south-east of Lienz in Tyrol, you hike through Alta Pusteria in South Tyrol, cross the Austrian-Italian border and continue through the Villgratental, Defereggental and Virgental valleys to the towns of Matrei and Kals on the majestic Großglockner peak. At the end of your pilgrimage, the famous Heiligenblut church awaits.

With 1,000 metres (3,280 ft) of ascent and more than 20 kilometres (12.4 mi) of distance to conquer most days, you should be in good shape. You can also divide some stages into shorter days and stay at one of the mountain huts. Make sure you book in advance if you choose to stop over.

If you follow my stage plan, each day begins and ends at a pilgrimage church in a small village steeped in history. You can find accommodation at each destination. In the Tour descriptions, I’ve pointed out if places to stay are limited.

The easiest way to reach the starting point, Lavant, is to catch the train to Lienz and then take the 941 bus, which leaves every hour and takes you to your starting point within half an hour. Alternatively, you can lace up your hiking boots in Lienz and walk the 8 kilometres (5 mi) to the pilgrimage church of St. Ulrich. After all, your adventure can’t begin soon enough.

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Von Lavant nach Heiligenblut – Pilgerweg Hoch & Heilig

120 mi

33,125 ft

31,450 ft

Last updated: January 11, 2022

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    06:05
    12.6 mi
    2.1 mph
    2,200 ft
    1,875 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The first stage on the pilgrimage route Hoch & Heilig is about to begin. For a good 20 kilometers, it leads you from Lavant in East Tyrol's Drau Valley on promising paths with a few inclines past the shining Tristacher See to the tranquil town of St. Korbinian / Thal. A total of six churches are on the

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    by Carola K.

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  • Difficult
    07:19
    12.2 mi
    1.7 mph
    4,225 ft
    3,250 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    After the start on the pilgrimage route Hoch & Heilig has gotten used to it, the second stage demands a lot more stamina from you. Getting up early for the upcoming kilometers and meters in altitude is worthwhile. Today you hike from the Pustertal to the wonderful plateau of the Leisacher Alm and over

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  • Difficult
    08:16
    15.8 mi
    1.9 mph
    3,750 ft
    3,150 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The third stage on the Hoch & Heilig pilgrimage route is also tough. More than 25 kilometers await you with a decent climb into the beautiful mountains. In return you will be spoiled with peace, seclusion and the most beautiful panoramic views - perfect for a pilgrimage hike and to go completely into

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    by Carola K.

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  • Difficult
    07:26
    15.8 mi
    2.1 mph
    1,925 ft
    2,525 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    After the last two days have really challenged you, there is another long stage today, but it does not demand that many meters of altitude from you. So you can fully concentrate on the beautiful landscape and the numerous impressive churches - after all, there are five of them on this route!

    

    The first

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    by Carola K.

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  • Difficult
    06:43
    9.25 mi
    1.4 mph
    4,550 ft
    3,025 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    After your detour to Italy, it's back to Austria today. Although the route is around ten kilometers shorter today than yesterday, the ascent into the mountains is quite challenging. But you can look forward to unique views and a truly historical place and delicious food high up on the Marchkinkele.

    

    The

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    by Carola K.

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  • Difficult
    07:45
    12.7 mi
    1.6 mph
    3,600 ft
    4,400 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    A rushing waterfall, alpine idyll, fantastic views and beautiful churches - the sixth stage of the pilgrimage route Hoch & Heilig is not stingy with unique highlights. But today you need to be in good physical condition again to master the 20 kilometers with the sweaty ascent to Villgrater Törl. We recommend

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    by Carola K.

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  • Difficult
    08:45
    12.9 mi
    1.5 mph
    4,650 ft
    4,975 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The pilgrimage route Hoch & Heilig is quite rightly named, because even today it leads you high into the world of peaks and the high alpine zone. At the top you can expect not only fantastic views, but also a couple of picturesque mountain lakes, which in summer definitely invite you to take a cool dip

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  • Difficult
    08:49
    15.3 mi
    1.7 mph
    4,425 ft
    4,350 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    In the meantime you have immigrated really well after a week on the pilgrimage route Hoch & Heilig. This is definitely an advantage, because the stages remain challenging and sporty. Look forward to 25 kilometers that lead you through the picturesque Virgental and to a hearty stop at an altitude of 2

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    by Carola K.

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  • Difficult
    09:05
    14.3 mi
    1.6 mph
    4,350 ft
    4,550 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    And there it is, the last stage on your Hoch & Heilig pilgrimage route. Look forward to 23 kilometers of the most beautiful mountain landscapes, fragrant alpine pastures, hearty Tyrolean dishes and a breathtaking panorama over high alpine terrain. At the end of the pilgrimage path, nothing less awaits

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    by Carola K.

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    9
  • Distance
    121 mi
  • Duration
    70:13 h
  • Elevation
    33,700 ft32,100 ft

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Walking across mountains and borders – Austria’s High & Holy Pilgrimage Trail

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