For hikers and nature lovers alike, Tirol is an absolute dream but not everyone has the experience or expertise to tackle the region’s highest peaks and tricky climbs. With this in mind, I’m going to tell you about three walks, all which include less than 300-metres of total elevation yet provide as much spectacular scenery as any summit hike. Even better, these hikes are perfect for beginner hikers and children over eight, although I’d advise anyone new to mountain environments to read up on mountain safety first.
1. Hike to Obernberger Lake
This idyllic mountain lake was created by a massive landslide after the last ice age, around 10,000 years ago. Here, at 1,400-1,700 metres above sea level, beautiful Alpine plants bloom, and are particularly prolific in June. The Obernbergtal valley is a tributary of the Wipptal River and the walk leads through the beautiful Obernbergtal valley. To reach the start point, take the Nösslach exit on the Brenner motorway and drive into the valley. It takes just half an hour or so to walk up-hill to the lake and, once you arrive, you can either take a rest and enjoy the view (the remnants of the landslide are truly impressive) or walk around the lake, which takes a further hour. Full tour information is available here.
2. Hike to Holzgau suspension bridge, Lechtal Valley
Built around two years ago, this suspension bridge across the spectacular Höhenbachtal gorge is the longest and highest (around 100 metres tall) in Tirol. From the village square in Holzgau, it takes around 35 minutes to walk to the bridge. On the opposite side of the valley is the Schiggenberg plateau and a collection of historic houses. A relatively flat route through wet meadows, you’ll walk partly along boardwalks towards the gorge, before descending again to Holzgau. This route forms part of the newly opened Lech pathway and crosses the European long-distance path E5, which tours across the Alps – so don’t be surprised if you meet many other hikers in the remote mountain villages here. Tour info for this walk is available here.
3. Hike to the high paradise of Gaistal
An absolute classic in the beautiful Leutaschtal valley region. From the car park at Salzbach, which sits at the start of the Gaistals Valley, walk along the Ganghoferweg trail (named after the poet Ludwig Ganghofer), over the Hämmermoosalm and Gaistalalm pastures, and up to the Tillfußalm pasture hut. To return, either follow the same route back or walk through the forest near to the Leutascher Ache tributary. The hike is around 10-kilometres long but only takes in around 200 to 300 metres of altitude, depending on the route you take. Beer lovers, like me, can look forward to a refreshment stop in the Gaistalalm hut, where you can enjoy a delicious glass of Mittenwalder beer from nearby Bavaria. The scenery of Gaistal is absolutely spectacular, with this relatively flat valley surrounded by the rugged peaks of the Mieminger Mountains in the south and the Wettersteingebirge and the Zugspitze in the north – a friend of mine calls it ‘Little Canada’.