Over five stages and 43.5 miles (70 km), the Kaunergrat Circular takes you through the heart of the spectacular Kaunergrat Nature Park in Tyrol in western Austria. With striking rock formations and 11 peaks towering over 9,800 feet (3,000 m), this region is a dream for experienced mountaineers. This circular hike takes you along the impressive Kaunergrat mountain ridge, a northern spur of the Ötztal Alps. With almost 16,500 feet (5,000 m) to climb, this is a demanding long-distance hike.
The Kaunergrat circular hike leads into the middle of this wild mountain landscape. You hike over the Steinbockjoch, Verpiljoch and Madatschjoch peaks, walking from hut to hut, with towering high mountains as your backdrop. Your adventure begins from the Nature Park House at the "Gachener Blick" on Piller Höhe mountain. Before setting off, you can learn more about the nature park and its unique flora and fauna here. On your hike, you will explore the Kaunertal and Pitztal valleys. On a clear day, you can also see the glaciated peaks of the Kaunergrat and the Ötztal Alps.
The Kaunergrat circular is very diverse: you follow alpine paths, hike up alpine climbs, navigate glaciers and walk across the Kaunergrat ridge. The route mostly follows black-rated high alpine paths. Each stage ends at a hut or village where you can stay the night. Ascent and descent is also possible on every stage, making it easy to customise your adventure.
If you are taking on the entire circular at once, you should have a good level of fitness. You can expect to hike up to nine hours in one day. Sure-footedness and mountaineering equipment are also a must. This includes sturdy shoes, hiking poles, waterproof clothing, gloves, and a warm jacket. Come prepared and you will be rewarded with solitary paths through unspoilt nature as you visit clear mountain lakes, luscious wild meadows and rustic huts with warm Tyrolean hospitality. You can also choose between the three or seven day variant of the hike – all options go via the Kaunergrat hut.
The start and finish point at the Nature Park Office at Gachener Blick is easy to reach by train. You can take the nature park bus from Landeck and Pitztal stations. For more information (in German), visit: kaunergrat.at/de/naturpark/anreise/sanfte-an-und-abreise
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
Stage 3 is rather moderate with 14.9 kilometers and 520 vertical meters in the ascent - but the descent with 1,390 vertical meters is tough. You hike along the Pitztaler Almenweg up to the Steinbockjoch, further to the Mittelberglesee, to Neururer Berg, to Arzler Alm and to Tiefentalalm. The tour is very entertaining despite the long way downhill. If you are lucky, you will see a few stately examples of the namesake in the region around the Steinbockjoch.
Stage 5 is the last stage on the Kaunergrat circuit and is once again very demanding. You start after a delicious breakfast on the Söllbergalm and hike up a steep path to the south to two lonely lakes: the Brechsee and then to the Krummen See at 2,584 meters. The lakes are incredibly beautiful waypoints where it is worth taking a break - even if you haven't been around for long.