The Meraner Höhenweg is one of the most beautiful long-distance hiking trails in the Alps—winding you right around the Texel Group, the beautiful mountain massif in the south of the Ötztal Alps. Over eight stages, you'll hike along the sunny slopes of the Vinschgau, climb through the picturesque Pfossental to Eisjöchl and cross the peaceful Pfelderer Tal. And you'll experience the best this region has to offer, including unique nature found nowhere else in the Alps, sleepy mountain villages, ancient Alpine huts and—above all—the friendly South Tyrolean hospitality.
On the eight stages of the circular route, you'll cover a total distance of 55 miles (90 kilometers) and climb about 16,500 feet (5,000 meters) in altitude. The well-kept paths, good hut infrastructure and moderate distances make the Merano Höhenweg a suitable route for anybody in reasonably good shape, although the fourth stage contains a fairly aggressive climb up to the Eisjöchl. If this proves too difficult for you, join the remaining stages together using an alternative route and skip this ascent altogether.
Since the Merano Höhenweg is a circular trail, you can start at any point. We recommend using the first and seventh stages, however, as you can take the cable car up to the mountain path. Thanks to the good bus network in the surrounding area of Merano, you can also choose just one stage and plan a day's hike instead of completing the whole thing. In this case, we recommend any of the stages in the south of the Texel Group, where several cable cars make the ascent easier.
Except for the high Alpine fourth stage, you can walk the entire Merano Höhenweg from the beginning of May until the first snowfalls in November. The trail over the Eisjöchl can be crossed safely and without snow from the end of May to the end of September. Just remember that most of the accommodation options on the Merano Höhenweg only offer a few rooms, so it's worth booking well in advance.
The first stage of the Meraner Höhenweg is a wonderful introductory hike. You can comfortably drive from Partschins on the Texelbahn up to Giggelberg. The Meraner Höhenweg leads you here through light mountain forests and over wide meadows - always high up on the steep slopes of the Texel Group. The undisputed highlight of the first stage is the gorge of the 1,000 steps. Over countless wooden steps, iron ladders and stone steps, you hike uphill and downhill in the direction of Unterstellhof. On the first day you will be taken care of at several alpine huts.Your hike starts at the valley station of the Texelbahn. Here you climb into the gondola and drive up to Giggelberg. In doing so, you will overcome over 900 meters of altitude. Already at the driveway you can enjoy the magnificent view of the Vinschgau. Once at the top you have the chance, on clear days, to discover the rocky mountain peaks of the Dolomites on the horizon. The Meraner Höhenweg meanders as a well-developed mountain hiking trail along the steep slopes of the Texel Group. Forest and mountain meadows alternate time and again on today's stage. After about four kilometers, you will reach the gorge of the 1,000 steps. The Meraner Höhenweg winds its way through two narrow, deeply cut side valleys. On stairs and bridges you walk through the wild and romantic landscape. After you have crossed the gorges, you wander with beautiful views on a comfortable trail on to the intermediate goal Unterstellhof.The Texelbahn runs every 30 minutes from March to October every 30 minutes. A one-way ticket costs 9.40 euros for adults and 4 euros for children. Users of the cable car park free of charge in the large parking lot next to the valley station. If you are traveling for several days on the Meraner Höhenweg and want to leave your car in the car park, let the staff at the cash register know. More information about the cable car at texelbahn.com
On your second leg you leave the Vinschgau and climb over the Schnalstal to the lonely Pfossental. You are still on the southern side of the Texelgruppe and so you will be spoiled in the summer with many hours of sunshine. The Meraner Höhenweg follows narrow, but comfortable hiking trails on the second day. Most of the time it's about pastures and meadows. Thus, intoxicating distance views are guaranteed.The Unterstellhof, starting point of today's stage, is located directly above the valley entrance of the Val Senales in the Val Venosta. The Meraner Höhenweg leads you now into the quiet Schnalstal. High above the valley floor you can enjoy the view of the Ötztal Alps, which tower far above the valley head. In constant alternation of ups and downs the trail meanders along the mountain slopes. Soon you can see the village Katharinaberg on a hill below you. Above Katharinaberg, the Montferthof awaits you for a leisurely break. With fresh energy, you continue hiking and a little later, the trail leads you into the Pfossental. The trail now rises steadily. The valley gets noticeably narrower and you soon reach the Vorderkaser Alm, your destination today.
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The third stage is a real pleasure walk. For about five kilometers, you will hike from Alm to Alm through the breathtaking Pfossental. Allow enough time for today's hike to fully enjoy the idyllic valley and picturesque pastures.The third stage of the Meraner Höhenweg starts at the Vorderkaser Alm. From here you follow a wide dirt road through the impressive Pfossental. The path climbs slowly and leads you with fantastic views to the Mitterkaseralm, the Rableidalm and finally the Eishof Alm. There you can end the day with a hearty meal.This hike is also perfect as a day trip. After a rest at the Eishof Alm, you hike back to the starting point of the tour.
The fourth stage is by far the most adventurous hike on the entire Meraner Höhenweg. On steep, rocky mountain paths, it goes up to the Eisjöchl. At an altitude of 2,879 meters, you are at the highest point of the Meraner Höhenweg. From there, the mountain trail leads you over the Szczecin Hut and Lazins Alm down to the mountain village Zeppichl.You say goodbye to the idyllic ice yard and start your hike in the early morning. First, you follow the wide gravel road, but it is increasingly narrow and rocky. After leaving the last trees behind you, the trail meanders in countless hairpin bends up to the Eisjöchl. The landscape is getting more and more sparse, and at the top you have a fantastic view of a dramatic high mountain landscape. Take a breather before you start the long descent. Only a few meters away from the Eisjöchl, the Szczecin Hut awaits you for a well deserved stop. Strengthened you follow the Meraner Höhenweg then down into the green Pfelderer valley. In bends, you walk down the rocky slopes of the big game and enjoy the view of the valley below and the surrounding mountains with every step. Arrived at the Lazins Alm, the landscape becomes friendlier and greener again. From here you hike on a comfortable, broad hiking trail to the destination Zeppichl.
On the fifth stage of the Meraner Höhenweg you hike from the picturesque Pfelderer Tal to the Passeiertal. It goes most of the time leisurely downhill. So you can recover well from the demanding tour the day before.Rested, you start your fifth day on the Meraner Höhenweg in the mountain village Zeppichl. You follow the wide dirt road down to the nearby Pfelders. Here the trail leads you over the Pfelderer Bach. On a narrow, comfortable trail, it goes along the shore. The view of the surrounding mountains and especially of the lovely valley accompanies you with every step. You cross the brook again at the Gasthaus Bergkristall. The Meraner Höhenweg now climbs gently along the slope. Soon, the trail leads you into a light mountain forest. After leaving the forest, you pass isolated farms and uncultivated pastures. Woods and meadows alternate on this section before you reach the Almdorf Christl. The village is located high above the Passeiertal and with a rest in the inn you can look at the wide view on you. Then you follow the trail above the Passeiertal south towards your stage destination Matatz.
On your sixth stage is again a decent height difference on the program. At the same time you reach in the Kalmbachtal the lowest point of the Meraner Höhenweg. All in all, many shorter ascents and descents await you on this stage, and you hike on well-maintained hiking trails.Your sixth stage on the Meraner Höhenweg begins in Almdorf Matatz. The path runs downhill and leads you into the Kalmbachtal. The small side valley of the Passeiertals is flowed through by a lively torrent and is densely wooded. After the crossing you walk steadily uphill. At the end of the ascent you will reach the cozy alpine village Magdfeld. Even if the breakfast is not too long ago, worth a detour to the same mountain inn. Today you will always wander through the open mountain forests, which will give you cool shade, especially in summer. On the open pastures between the woods you walk along many romantic mountain farms. Most of them have no restaurant, but just before the end of the stage you can let yourself be pampered in the Longfallhaus. After a last ascent, you finally reach the Berggasthof Hochmuth, your destination today. At dinner on the terrace you will enjoy the great view of Meran and the Vinschgau.
After the long sixth stage, a short mountain walk awaits you on the seventh day. Just five kilometers are starting point and milestone apart. Nevertheless, on this short distance about 500 vertical meters are covered in the ascent.Take some time today at breakfast before you start your tour. Well recovered, you finally make yourself on the way. The first section to the Leiteralm runs on the Hans-Frieden-Felsenweg. The path is quite exposed, but also offers a fantastic view. The narrowest places are additionally secured with wire ropes. Nevertheless, you should be free from giddiness and sure-footed for this way. At the Leiteralm you can treat yourself to a break before you continue hiking through the forest. From this point, the path climbs steeply and leads you up to the stage destination, the high-rise building.If you still have enough energy, you can easily fold the seventh and eighth stages.
The eighth is also the last stage on the Meraner Höhenweg. Here, the Vinschgau once again shows its best side: Silent mountain forests, fragrant mountain meadows, warm sunshine and always fantastic views of Merano and the surrounding mountains. Since the stage is quite short and only relatively few meters are overcome, you can take it easy. So there is enough time to say goodbye.From the high-rise building you follow the Meraner Höhenweg into a peaceful, clear mountain forest. The path leads downhill and you enjoy the cool shade. After a short climb you are standing on the Hohen Wiege. The small summit is located in front of the Texelgruppe and offers a fantastic panoramic view. It goes downhill and soon you reach the Tablander Alm. After a long break you continue hiking. The Meraner Höhenweg meanders along the steep slopes of the Texel Group. In a narrow side valley you will find the cozy refuge Nassereith. Again, you will be spoiled with South Tyrolean delicacies. Now follows the last section to the stage goal Giggelberg. You wander through a forest here, but time and again the trees give you a view of the valley and the mountains.Satisfied and happy you finally reach the top station of the Texelbahn. While you are floating in the direction of the valley by the cable car, you will reflect on your experiences and impressions. Your clear conclusion: You can not get any closer to nature and the people of South Tyrol than on the eight stages of the Meraner Höhenweg.