No cell phone reception, no e-mails and no power for nine days. Far away from roads and cars, this hike leads you from the Steinernes Meer (the Rocky Lake) in Bavaria, into the middle of the Hohe Tauern National Park and to places that can only be reached on foot. Between snowfields and grey peaks, you will experience the inhospitableness of the Eastern Alps’ highest peaks and be afforded the opportunity to find a new peace deep within yourself.
The popularity of the E5 route between Oberstdorf and Merano has produced the need for an alternative Alpine crossing. Quieter, with a varied landscape and covering nine exciting stages, this route might be the perfect one for you, winding 130 kilometres (80 miles) through the Alps from Königssee in Bavaria to Lienz in Tyrol. The grey karst landscape of the Rocky Lake, the green slopes of the Pinzgau grass-mountains and the glaciated peaks of the Hohe Tauern offer incredible Alpine panoramas along every stage of the hike. And although the route is relatively easy to follow, the trail has no official signposts and instead follows other paths in its various sections, such as the Wiener Höhenweg.
The hike doesn’t take you across any glaciers and keeps you on only well developed hiking trails. That being said, however, you should still only attempt this route if you’re in very good physical condition as each stage incorporates relatively long ascents and descents. Apart from a short bus ride on the fourth day, you will complete the whole route on foot, spending almost all of your time in the great outdoors. You will spend your nights in the numerous mountain huts along the way, which we recommend you book well in advance—especially during the busier summer months. As soon as you know you’re good to go, there’s nothing else to it: Just grab your pack, tie up your boots and go—and enjoy one the most beautiful hiking routes in the Alps.
Grandiose moments await you on your first stage. At the beginning it goes by boat from Schönau over the Königssee. It's worth starting early, then you do not have to share the lake with too many people.Your destination today is the Kärlingerhaus, which lies just under 1,000 meters above the lake. The trail first leads along the lakeshore and then meanders through the forest towards Saugasse. The mountains on both sides of your path are getting steeper and more difficult, and the path continues upwards in serpentines.At the highest point, you can already see the Funtensee and the Kärlingerhaus in front of you. The last section takes you across meadows into the valley to the refuge.The rail connections between Lienz and Schönau am Königssee are very time-consuming, so it does not make sense to leave your car in Schönau or Berchtesgaden. Rather, it is worth planning both arrival and departure completely by public transport. From Berchtesgaden train station you can take buses 841 and 842 to Schönau and Königssee. The boat timetable and the bus schedule can be found under the following links: seenschifffahrt.de/koenigssee/fahrplan/fahrplan-und-fahrbetrieb and rvo-bus.de/oberbayernbus/view/index .shtml
The second stage takes you over the spectacular plateau of the Stone Sea. After your start at the Kärlingerhaus it goes through a last piece of forest before you reach the tree line.In the rugged karst landscape of the Stone Sea you will hardly be able to discover vegetation. There are no trees or bushes in the harsh environment, only a few areas are covered by barren green. The path leads slowly uphill through this incredible landscape to Riemannhaus. There it is advisable to take a break before going on the long descent.The path from the Riemannhaus starts at the beginning along the steep mountainsides and steel cables provide extra security. Take enough breaks on your descent. Do not underestimate the effort for your knees, especially with your luggage for a multi-day mountain hike on your back.When you arrive in Maria Alm, you can choose a cozy guesthouse or a comfortable hotel to regain your strength for the next day. Lying in bed, you can feel your legs and arrange the impressions of the first two days.
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As befits a hearty alpine crossing, so on the third day, a brisk climb awaits you. After you have increased your supplies in Maria Alm, it goes up to the Pinzgauer grass mountains. The lush green slopes are populated by cows, goats and sheep, who spend their summers in the mountain air.After enjoying the view from the summit of the Schwalbenwand, continue along the ridge at the Schönwieskopf to Hundstein. Up there on the summit you'll find the Statzerhaus, your destination for the day.There is no rest stop between Maria Alm and the Statzerhaus, so plan enough provisions and breaks for the hike.
The fourth stage of the day we have divided you into two sections, as between section 04A and 04B is a short ride on the bus. Without a bus ride today would be about 40 kilometers in front of you, which runs to a greater extent along a country road. Thanks to the bus ride you can expect only 23 kilometers on beautiful hiking trails.The first section of the fourth day begins with the descent from the Statzerhaus. Here it is worth getting up really early: the sunrise is a unique and formative experience on the Hundstein.From there it goes on a comfortable and well-developed trail evenly down to Bruck. The Zeller See and the surrounding valley offer a wonderful panorama. Once again in Bruck you have the opportunity to buy additional provisions before continuing on the bus to Ferleiten - Wildpark.You can look up the bus timetable here: grossglockner.at/grossglockner/2-routenplaner/buslinie-650-zell-am-see---ferleiten.pdf
From the Ferleiten - Wildpark stop, you will cycle through the Käfertal towards the stage destination Trauneralm.High mountains rise on both sides of the green and sweeping valley and at the southern end you can already see the mountain ranges of the Hohe Tauern National Park. The ascent to the Trauneralm is relatively short with just under 400 vertical meters. After the demanding descent from the Statzerhaus in the first part of the stage, you are nevertheless satisfied and happy to have reached your goal today.
On the fifth day you go up to the Hohe Tauern National Park, which stretches across the provinces of Tyrol, Salzburg and Carinthia. The main ridge of the Hohe Tauern also includes the Grossglockner, Austria's highest mountain.From the Trauneralm it goes on a serpentine path steeply up to the Pfandlscharte. From the Pfandlscharte you have a great view back to Käfertal and above all to the towering peaks of the national park. Take a break in this incredible mountain landscape to enjoy the outdoors and gather enough strength for the rest of the way.From there it is leisurely downhill to the stage destination Glocknerhaus. In short distance to the Glocknerhaus and directly at the Grossglockner high alpine road is a large supermarket. Here it is worth refreshing the stocks, because your next stages are only within the National Park.
On your sixth stage, it's right in the middle of the Hohe Tauern and the wild and romantic mountain landscape. First, the trail follows the river Möll, which flows out of the Margaritzen reservoir and rushes down into the valley. You have a clear view of the green valley, which offers you a perfect alpine panorama.At the mouth of the Leiterbach in the Möll you leave the Mölltal towards Leitertal. Along the Leiterbach the trail leads you through the impressive valley up to the stage destination Glorer Hütte. The ascent through the ladder valley is on good hiking trails, but you should not underestimate the altitude difference.Also on this stage there is no rest stop on the way. Prepare yourself with enough water and provisions so that you can get enough energy to the Glorer Hütte.
On this day a real high altitude tour awaits you. About summits and passes you collect 900 meters in altitude and almost 1,600 meters in descent. Fortunately, right in the middle is the Elberfelder Hut, where you can regain your strength during a long rest.Starting from the Glorer hut, you first cross the summit of the Kastenegg, which rewards you with a great view. After a short descent, the path climbs directly up the Viennese mountain trail to the Kesselkees saddle. There is a small bivouac box, which is used by mountaineers as a starting point for an ascent of the evil woman.From here you follow the Wiener Höhenweg down to the Elberfelder Hütte. After crossing the Gößnitzscharte in another ascent, you descend to the stage destination Lienzer Hütte.
After the demanding stages, a real pleasure trip awaits you today. For a short walk you will hike from the Lienzer Hütte above the Debanttal to the Wangenitzsee and the hut of the same name.After the relaxed hike, you will have enough time to enjoy this unique panorama and to circle the lake. Then you can relax at the hut and regain your strength.This rest is also necessary, because on the last stage you expect almost 2,000 meters in descent to Lienz. If you prefer to extend the eighth stage and thus shorten the descent on the last day, you can hike for another eight kilometers to the Winklerner Hut. From there on the last stage to Lienz on a distance of about 16 kilometers, there are only 1,300 vertical meters in descent.
Your last stage awaits you again with fantastic panoramic views and a challenging descent. Plan enough rest for your knees, then you're on the safe side.Almost the entire trail leads downhill and you can clearly see how the landscape around you is changing. From the rough high mountain landscape again green meadows and later the trail leads you through light forests. Lienz is famous for its many hours of sunshine and you can expect warm temperatures in summer.Passing numerous vantage points, from which you can overlook the valley and admire the Lienz Dolomites, the trail runs down through the small towns of Iselsberg, Göriach and Debant.When you reach the Mediterranean Lienz, you can tap the dust of 130 kilometers and nearly 8,000 vertical meters in ascent and descent of your hiking boots. While the tourists stroll the streets, you revel in the unforgettable memories of the last nine days with newly won tranquility.