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Hike remote paths in the southern Austrian Alps — the Kreuzeck Trail

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Hike remote paths in the southern Austrian Alps — the Kreuzeck Trail

Hiking Collection by Mareike

4-7

days

3-5 h

/ day

38.9 mi

12,625 ft

11,925 ft

Standing on a remote mountain peak, alone amongst the rocky slopes but for the birds sailing on the wind ahead – this is the dream for many mountaineers. Walking the Kreuzeck Trail brings you one step closer to this dream. This hike takes you from east to west across the Kreuzeck mountains, a mountain range in the Central Eastern Alps in Austria. Only a few hikers venture to this region, so you can often enjoy the paths and the occasional rustic mountain hut to yourself.

In 37 miles (60 km) split into five stages, you will explore the main ridge of the Kreuzeck range with one day to ascend and one to descend. Between climbing up several peaks and ridges, you can explore untouched alpine landscapes. The middle of the hike is marked by the highest point of your adventure – the Hochkreuz’s summit at 8,890 feet (2,709 m). For most of the hike, you walk between 6,560 and 8,200 feet (2,000 and 2,500 m) above the treeline.

Panoramic views accompany you as you hike with deep valleys stretching into the horizon. To the north, you can see as far as the High Tauern glaciers along the Austrian-Italian border. To the west, you can spot the snowy peaks of the Lienz Dolomites.

The terrain here is high alpine so the route is only possible from July to September when the huts along the trail are also open. Make sure you book your stay in a hut in advance and be aware of the opening times. The huts here have no more than 50 beds and some have less than 30. I recommend packing plenty of snacks for your trip as you won’t find somewhere to stop for lunch en route, except on the first day.

At first glance, the stages may seem quite easy. The distances and altitudes are relatively gentle and don’t require tip-top fitness. However, the trails are not always simple and you’ll sometimes hike over loose rock and narrow exposed paths. Although ropes will help you along the difficult sections, the second and third stages are still demanding. Exercise caution if you are hiking the route after rain or if there is still snow. However, with steady feet, a head for heights, and a good sense of direction, you’ll spend five wonderful days exploring the alpine heights of the Kreuzeck mountains.

The start and endpoints of this adventure are both easy to reach with public transport: Kolbnitz has good bus and train connections and you can catch a bus to the nearest train station from Winklern. Spittal-Millstätter See, Mallnitz, and Lienz have national and international train links. All that is left, is to spend an exciting and relaxing week hiking in the Alps.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Difficult
    07:09
    10.6 mi
    1.5 mph
    6,175 ft
    2,050 ft
    Expert mountaineering route. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    A tour start with many options - you can adapt the first stage of the Kreuzeck-Höhenweg well to your wishes: Either you just walk in comfortably or you start with a sporting challenge. The path leads through shady forest, over picturesque alpine landscapes and to a rocky summit. So the first stage prepares you well for the coming days in alpine heights.

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  • Intermediate
    04:21
    7.70 mi
    1.8 mph
    2,400 ft
    1,725 ft
    Intermediate mountaineering route. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Today you leave the trees behind. From now on you will move on grass, scree and rock between wide alpine meadows and high peaks until the last stage of the Kreuzeck-Höhenweg. The route becomes more demanding with the terrain. Exposed areas are often secured with ropes. Now and then you need a helping hand on the rock.From the hut …

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  • Intermediate
    03:41
    6.15 mi
    1.7 mph
    2,300 ft
    1,800 ft
    Intermediate mountaineering route. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    A cold bath in the glossy lake is ideal for morning washing. Because today it is important that you are really awake. The third stage is the most demanding day on the Kreuzeck-Höhenweg. Lots of rocks, loose ground and exposed paths await you. With the Hochkreuz you climb the highlight of your hut hike today.From the Hugo-Gerbers-Hütte you start …

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  • Intermediate
    04:25
    8.18 mi
    1.9 mph
    1,750 ft
    2,725 ft
    Intermediate mountaineering route. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    On the fourth stage of the Kreuzeck-Höhenweg, classic uphill and downhill is on the program. The altitude is kept within limits and you can relax and enjoy the view. Immediately after breakfast you climb back up to the west. This is where the hike begins with a wide view of the mountain range that you are walking through today. So you already know roughly what's coming - that increases anticipation.

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  • Intermediate
    03:13
    6.31 mi
    2.0 mph
    25 ft
    3,600 ft
    Intermediate mountaineering route. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    With the fifth stage you say goodbye to the Kreuzeck-Höhenweg. Today it goes downhill by more than 1,000 meters. From the Ederplan you walk northwest to the Zwischenberger Sattel. Enjoy the springy ground again on the narrow forest path.Then you follow the course of the high valley to the northeast. The trees will soon clear up and you will …

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    5
  • Distance
    38.9 mi
  • Duration
    22:48 h
  • Elevation
    12,625 ft11,925 ft

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Hike remote paths in the southern Austrian Alps — the Kreuzeck Trail