The Karwendel Höhenweg (high-altitude trail) showcases the breathtaking Karwendel mountains in six stages. You follow mostly black-rated mountain paths between 1,500 metres (4,920 feet) and 2,000 metres (6,560 feet), climbing 3,400 metres (11,150 feet) in total. Therefore, you need to be an experienced mountaineer to take on this 60-kilometre (37-mile) route. You can walk the path in both directions, from east to west or vice versa. At the end of each hike, you’ll find a hut offering delicious food and regional produce, where you can also stay overnight. These rustic, cozy inns will help motivate you to reach the end of a challenging hike. For those who are willing to take it on, the Karwendel Höhenweg is an all-round alpine mountain experience.
The Karwendel mountains are found in the northern Limestone Alps, the largest nature park in Austria. This mountainous world, which mostly covers Tyrolean soil, has vast and untouched wilderness. You will hike through tranquil high valleys and alpine pastures, cross mountain pine fields and the rubble cirques that are typical in the area. You will climb up rugged summits from which you can admire views over the densely populated Inn Valley. This contrast makes you all the more aware that you are moving away from everyday life on your multi-day hike.
The Karwendel Höhenweg requires fitness and mountaineering skills as some sections are quite difficult. For experienced mountain hikers, however, the six daily stages should be easy to complete. In case you find the route too tough, you can ascend or descend from all huts. You can also shorten the first and third stages by taking a cable car. Your effort will be rewarded, however. At the end of each stage, you can sit on the terrace of a mountain hut, enjoying a beer and elderberry spritzer and watching the sunset over the mountains. Make sure you reserve a hut in advance though, as spaces fill up fast during the high season between June and October.
If these stages don’t challenge you enough, you can collect more altitude metres on small summit excursions around the huts. The Reither Spitze and the Stempeljochspitze, among others, are worth the extra exploring.
It’s worth travelling to the start of this adventure by train as the stages don’t start and finish in the same place. Your adventure begins at the station in Reith in Tirol and ends at the station in Scharnitz. Both stations have regular connections to Munich and Innsbruck.
Important: These are high mountains so inform yourself about the weather and trail conditions before you set off. Heavy rain and thunderstorms can damage the paths and make them impassable. Sure-footedness, personal responsibility, caution and attention are the most important rules in alpine terrain. During the hike, hut keepers will be happy to provide you with information on the weather and current trail conditions. Take care and you can look forward to six wonderful days in beautiful surroundings!
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