The Eisenwurzen Trail (long-distance hiking trail 08) takes you from the northernmost to the southernmost point of Austria revealing wonderful landscapes in the three federal states of Lower Austria, Styria and Carinthia. Across 28 stages, you hike from Rottal on the Czech border to the Seebergsattel on Slovenian border.
Your adventure gets off to a relaxed start as the first stages only gain a few meters in altitude. The further south you go, the more mountainous and scenic the sections become. The 341-mile (550-km) trail begins at the northernmost point of Austria in the middle of the forest near Rottal. Next, the trail leads over the gentle hills and granite blocks of the mystical Waldviertel before heading down the Danube and Ybbs valleys. You can cool off in numerous brooks, lakes and ponds on the way. Or, take a break in a medieval town like Weitra and Waidhofen an der Ybbs with beautiful architecture. At Persenbeug, you cross the gushing Danube.
From the Ybbs Valley the Eisenwurzen Trail leads to the Stumpfmauer in the border triangle of Lower Austria/Upper Austria/Styria. At the end of stage 15, you can look forward to your first overnight stay at the Ennstaler Hut. Then, you’ll hike through the fascinating mountain world of the Gesaeuse National Park into the Trieben and Mur valleys.
At 2,396 metres (7,860 feet), the Zirbitzkogel offers incomparable views whilst the Saulpe peaks will also spoil you with spectacular panoramas. At Voelkermarkt, you hike along the shimmering River Drau before spending the last night of the Eisenwurzen Trail in the eastern Karawanken mountains at the Eisenkappler Hut. On the last stage, you will visit the romantic Troegerner Gorge before arriving at your final destination, the Seebergsattel on the Austrian-Slovenian border.
You need good stamina and surefootedness to walk the Eisenwurzen Trail, but you do not need alpine experience. The respective stages end in villages or towns or directly at mountain huts – I recommend booking your accommodation in advance. If you don't want to walk the Eisenwurzen Trail in one go, you will find good rail connections in Amstetten (stage 10) or Judenburg (stage 19).
Your long-distance hiking adventure starts at the northernmost point of Austria near Rottal on the border with the Czech Republic. At twelve kilometers, the first stage is comparatively short and offers you a relaxed start. On secondary roads it goes to Haugschlag and from there without any notable height differences past meadows and fields further south. On the last section, the Eisenwurzenweg takes you along the idyllic Herrensee. In the seaside resort Litschau you can relax and jump into the refreshing water before moving into your accommodation in the beautiful climatic health resort Litschau.
The second stage starts on the southern shore of the Herrensee in Litschau. Through the landscape characterized by colorful fields it goes into the forest, where you meet striking granite blocks like the Höllstein. You hike along the course of the Föhrenbach, pass small ponds and can enjoy a lot of rest. On the way there are smaller places like Gopprechts and Brand, where you can take a break.On the second stage, the Waldviertel lives up to its name, because most of the time you walk south on scenic forest trails. A particularly beautiful section awaits you at Großeibenstein: Different themed paths lead through the Blockheide, you can marvel at distinctive wobble stones, climb a lookout tower and strengthen yourself in the cozy snack station. Then it is only a short distance to your destination in Gmünd, which has a beautiful town square and a castle to offer.
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The third day of hiking starts in Gmünd and the route leads you through a wonderful forest and lake area. If you want to shorten the 28-kilometer stage, you can take the train to Weitra from Gmünd. The Eisenwurzenweg alternately runs through shady forest and across extensive arable land.You walk up and down and reach Weitra, whose historic old town is surrounded by a city wall. The Renaissance castle with its museums is also worth a detour. Afterwards you follow the run of the babbling Lainsitz and the Wultschaubach through a picturesque valley. Treat yourself to complete relaxation with an overnight stay in the Harbach moor spa. Alternatively, the Pension Nebelstein near Maißen offers you a cozy bed for this night.
The further south you hike, the more mountainous the landscape becomes and on the fourth day you climb the first summit on the Eisenwurzenweg. After a relaxing night in the Harbach moor spa, the ascent to the Nebelstein begins. Once you reach the top, you break the 1,000-meter mark and look forward to a breathtaking view. Below the summit is the Nebelsteinhütte, which provides you with a decent mountain snack.Strengthened you hike back down into the valley and meet once again at the Lainsitz known from the previous day. Briefly cool your feet and hiking is easier again. The path leads you through Bad Großpertholz and on to the 848 meter high Sonnleiten. On curved paths it goes to your destination in Langschlag today. A special experience is the ride on the narrow-gauge railway that connects Langschlag with Litschau. If you want to ride a part of the tourist train, you can find more information here: waldviertlerbahn.at/wvbahn2006/de/fahrplaene/fahrplanMI.htm
Through the hilly landscape at the beginning of the fifth stage you go east from Langschlag to Groß Gerungs. If your feet are a bit tired, you can alternatively take the train. Forests, meadows and small villages characterize today and you can take a break at the idyllic Klauskapelle. A lot of nature surrounds you along the way and you can let your mind wander. Again and again you cross rippling streams and roam shady forests. Your destination is in Arbesbach, where you can visit the romantic castle ruins at the end of the day.
After a night in Arbesbach you hike over gentle hills and through forests interspersed with mighty granite cliffs. Again and again you come across heaped boulders, in the spaces between which small caves have formed. You march past impressive square courtyards and cross clear brooks. You can rest at the Dürnbergteich and enjoy the enchanting view. Towards the end of the sixth stage, the Eisenwurzenweg rises again and takes you to Bärnkopf, your today's destination.
Today you start in Bärnkopf and hike south on the high plateau of the Weinsberg forest. The majority of this stage is in the shady forest on soft paths. You can cool off at the numerous ponds and streams that lie along the way. The highlight of the day is the romantic Ysper Gorge: over stairs, footbridges and bridges you march along the Great Ysper, which forms waterfalls in many places. At the southern end of the gorge you can stop at the trout farm and try delicious fish. The path then runs over a plain characterized by farms and small villages to your destination in Laimbach am Ostrong today.
The eighth stage begins with the ascent from Laimbach to the Small and Large Peilstein. From the peaks you have a wonderful view over the colorful mosaic of forests, meadows and fields. At the so-called Peilsteiner Sonnenplatzl you can rest and eat your provisions. From a height of just over 1,000 meters, you hike downhill through quiet forest and pass the Kaiserstein.After a few kilometers, the rows of trees near Eben clear and you have an impressive view of the blue Danube. Your destination is Persenbeug, which is known for Austria's oldest Danube power plant. You can end the day on the beautiful Danube land.
Passing the impressive Persenbeug Castle, the route begins at the beginning of the ninth stage via the well-known Persenbeug-Ybbs power station. The Danube Cycle Path also passes here, so it can get a little busy on beautiful summer days. If you are interested in hydropower generation, I recommend taking a tour.On the southern bank, it then goes up to Hengstberg, where you can have a second breakfast in the rustic Hengstberghütte. The Eisenwurzenweg takes you west over partly wooded hills and you can enjoy views of the Danube again and again. You have reached your destination in Kollmitzberg, a small village that the Jakobsweg also leads past.
Stage 10 starts in Kollmitzberg and leads you past colorful fields to Viehdorf. There you cross the West Autobahn and reach Amstetten a short time later. The main square with its many cafés, restaurants and shops is particularly worth seeing. Via the train station it goes to the Mühlbach, which takes you to the banks of the Ybbs. Meadows and gravel areas invite you to rest and cool off before you cross the river. You leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind and immerse yourself in the Mostviertel: At the Mostheurigen Seppelbauer you can try tasty must, different brandies and delicious sheep's cheese. You have reached your milestone in Euratsfeld.
After a night in Euratsfeld you hike through a landscape typical of the Mostviertel: a colorful mix of forest, meadows and fields surrounds you. After half of today's stage you come to St. Leonhard am Walde, where you will find a beautiful church and a cozy inn. Strengthened, we continue westwards, again and again you come to beautiful viewpoints.The goal of the eleventh stage is at the summit of the Sonntagberg and on the way there you will pass the artistically painted Turkish fountain. Via a promising Kreuzweg you reach the impressive pilgrimage church on Sonntagberg - you enjoy a 360 degree panorama and can spend the night in the nearby Gasthaus Lagler.
On the twelfth day of the Eisenwurzenweg you descend from the Sonntagberg into the valley of the Ybbs. You follow the course of the river to Waidhofen an der Ybbs or alternatively take the train if you want to give your feet a break. In Waidhofen, the mighty Rothschild Castle, the remarkable market square and a large selection of places to stop for refreshments await you.You leave the city via the Schillerpark and climb the Buchberg with its chapel. Once again you enjoy a unique view of Waidhofen. It continues uphill through the forest before you reach the highest point of this stage on Reichenwaldberg. Over the Obermitterkogel you descend to Opponitz, your destination, and you are again on the shimmering green of the Ybbs.
With less than 14 kilometers and only 200 meters of altitude, this stage is one of the most relaxed on the Eisenwurzenweg. So you can start the day comfortably and sleep a little longer than usual. From Opponitz you hike back to the banks of the Ybbs and follow their course along today's entire route. You can watch fish in the clear water and relax on the gravel banks in the sun. You cross the village of Walcherbauer and reach Hollenstein, your destination today. Before you move into your quarters, a detour to the baroque Calvary Chapel is worthwhile.
Today it goes up high and there are a few meters of altitude waiting for you: After a hearty breakfast in Hollenstein you tackle the ascent of the Voralpe in the Eisenwurzen Nature Park. On idyllic forest trails it is partly steep uphill, but above you will be rewarded with a gigantic view. Your gaze wanders over the Dead Mountains, the Tauern, the Eisenerzer Alps and the Hochschwab massif.From the 1,770-meter-high summit of the stump wall, you hike over the Kopetzkysteig to the dance floor, which is only a few meters lower. The three federal states of Styria, Lower and Upper Austria meet here. The path leads you across alpine meadows and through forests to your destination in Altenmarkt near St. Gallen, which lies on the glittering Enns.
Today you can look forward to the first night in a mountain hut along the Eisenwurzenweg. From Altenmarkt near St. Gallen you start to the south and cross the rushing Enns. The Großer Billbach initially gives you the way and it goes comfortably through the beautiful valley. The tour takes you to small towns with interesting churches and stately castles such as Kassegg Castle.Then the climb begins through shady forest up to the Ennstaler hut in the Gesäuse National Park. You will be challenged again in the last section, because the path zigzags steeply upwards. You will be rewarded with a fantastic view and homemade delicacies on the terrace of the Ennstalerhütte, the oldest refuge in the Ennstal Alps. Enojy your meal!
After a delicious mountain breakfast at the Ennstalerhütte, this stage takes you through the wonderful mountains of the Gesäuse National Park. You start with the descent into the valley, hike through alpine forest and over idyllic alpine pastures like the Hörantalm. In Gstatterboden on the Enns you can find out more about the flora and fauna of the national park in the futuristic national park pavilion. Here you will also find a catering area that invites you to take a break.The further route takes you along the Enns, which you cross on the Johnsbachsteg. You follow the running of the babbling Johnsbach in the place of the same name, where there is a small church with a mountaineers' cemetery. The Eisenwurzenweg then runs through the forest up to the Mödlinger Hütte. You will spend the night at 1,523 meters and look forward to a unique view.
The day starts with a gigantic view of the rugged limestone mountains in the Gesäuse National Park. From the Mödlinger Hütte you first hike downhill through the forest and then uphill to the quaint Colonel Klinke Hütte. If you get hungry for a second breakfast or a piece of strudel - this is the opportunity.The further way down over gentle alpine meadows to the Sportalm and to Kaiserau Castle. It goes past a lake and along streams to Dietmannsdorf. At Trieben you cross the Pyhrnautobahn and follow the Triebenbach and the parallel Triebener Straße. Your stage goal is at Gasthof Brodjäger (brodjaeger.at) in Triebental, which will spoil you with Kasnock’n and pancakes at the end of this stage.
With a good 28 kilometers, this stage is the longest on the Eisenwurzenweg, so pack up a little more food. You start at the Gasthof Brodjäger in the Triebental and just like the day before, the Triebenbach gives you the direction. Accompanied by the babbling of the stream, you reach the Triebental hut. It goes further and further south through the beautiful Triebental and after eight kilometers on a flat route the ascent to the Kettentörl begins. At 1,864 meters you can enjoy a fantastic view.You walk across colorful alpine meadows and through alpine coniferous forest from the highest point of the day to Ingeringsee. Following the Ingeringbach, you will reach Ingering II, your destination today. If you want to shorten this long stage a bit, you can shorten the first section in the Triebental to the Bergerhube inn (about eight kilometers) by taxi.
The nineteenth stage starts in the village of Ingering II and you can take a detour to Schloss Wasserberg. From there it goes up to the Gaaler Höhe, where there is a nice rest area with a small shelter. This is cultivated on weekends and invites you to take a break. From the Gaaler Höhe, the Eisenwurzenweg leads on quiet forest paths down into the valley to Dietersdorf. Then you cross the Murtal expressway and reach your stage destination in Judenburg. Here you also have access to the rail network. You can end the day in one of the restaurants on the historic main square.
Your day begins in the beautiful town of Judenburg an der Mur. If you want, you can make a detour to Liechtenstein Castle before heading south. You follow the Seetalstraße through a wide forest area and it goes steadily uphill. With the top of the fire bar in view, you will reach a picturesque rest area at the soldier church. In the nearby melting hut you can fortify yourself with regional food for the last ascent of the day. Your stage goal is the cozy Winterleiten hut on the Little Winterleitensee. With a view of the shimmering water, you can end the day on the terrace or jump to cool off in the clear lake.
After a restful night in the Winterleiten hut, the Eisenwurzenweg takes you past the two Winterleit lakes. Shimmering dark green, the waters are framed by alpine meadows in front of you and the road is steadily uphill. You follow the Schreibersteig, which takes you to an altitude of over 2,000 meters. A gigantic view over the Styrian Alps accompanies you and gets even better at the summit of the Zirbitzkogel.A few meters below the summit cross you can stop in the rustic Zirbitzkogel hut and eat a delicious soup. With a view of the Lavantsee, you hike downhill and pass the Fuchskogel and the small Wildsee. Your goal is the small Stoana hut - from the terrace you have a wonderful view of the Lavant valley. You can find an alternative overnight stay a little further south in the St. Martiner Hütte.
Invigorated with a delicious hut breakfast you start from the Stoana hut to the south and you cross the border to Carinthia. On alpine and forest paths you hike past the flower-decorated St. Martiner hut and a little later at the small Feldalm hut. Both huts invite you to stop for a strudel and coffee. The path leads you over the 1,774 meter high Angerlkogel and the summit of the Jägerstube, which is only a few meters lower. Towards the end of this stage it goes uphill again to the Klippitzsee and the Hohenwart hut, which spoils you with delicious home-style food. Via a meadow path you descend to your destination in the village of Klippitztörl.
This stage starts in the village of Klippitztörl and initially runs through shady forest. In the Naturfreundehaus on Klippitztörl, you can have a second breakfast or coffee before climbing the 1,970-meter-high Geierkogel. From the summit you can enjoy a beautiful view and then follow the path across gentle alpine meadows. On the Forstalpe you crack the 2,000-meter mark again and reach the Ladinger Spitz via the Kienberg. You look into the wide Lavanttal and the surrounding peaks like the Sandkogel. You will spend the night in the nearby Wolfsberger hut, where you will enjoy a delicious board snack at the end of the twenty-third stage.
After a relaxing night in the Wolfsberger Hütte, you hike to the promising peaks of the Saualpe. From the Speikkogel you can make a detour to the summit cross of the Großer Sauofens and shortly afterwards you reach the 1,830-meter-high Kleine Sauofen. Then it goes downhill on curved forest paths to the village of Diex. There you have reached your destination today and can visit the impressive fortified church with its two towers.