Most of the highest mountain huts closed their doors last weekend (including many in the Lech Valley Alps) but the season lasts a little longer in the Karwendel. Here, most cabins stay open until the 7th of October and continue to welcome guests during the colourful autumn days.
One of my favourite routes leads from Scharnitz, through Hinterautal to the Hallerangerhaus – a cottage which sits in one of the Karwendel’s most beautiful valleys. Lodge hosts Kerstin and Thomas Lener know the area like the back of their hands. As head of the Scharnitz Mountain Rescue Centre, Thomas is a fantastic source of information and is particularly knowledgeable about the climbing routes below the Speckkarspitze (2621m) and the Great Lafatscher (2696m).
For a fantastic day of hiking, follow Section 12 of the Eagle Walk over the Lafatscher and Stempeljoch saddle to Pfeis hut and continue to the Nordkettenbahn mountain station. It takes just half an hour to reach the centre of Innsbruck by cable car; from here, Scharnitz can be reached by train in around three quarters of an hour.
Alternatively, descend the Lafatscherjoch saddle through the Halltal Valley to the pilgrimage site at Absam. Here, you’ll encounter more than 700 years-worth of remains from the salt mining industry, from tunnels to former houses, which once served this small area of the Inn Valley. From Absam, a bus leaves every half hour for Innsbruck.