Admittedly, getting two kids (1.5 and 3.5 years old) all geared up to go outside can be a major headache. Tears and tantrums can make even a quick trip to the mountains seem like a monumental task, not to mention the large loads you’ll have to carry and the all-terrain stroller you have to push (which tends to be off-road and trail-capable but not so manoeuvrable). And when the older one pulls the “I can’t take another step” trick you’ll be squeezing him into the stroller as well. That said, I really love being outdoors, but pushing two kids/40kg up the hill is tough…they’re heavy! Not exactly my idea of a fun day out.
Fortunately, you can ride a gondola or chair lift for scenic views and fun without the exertion at many places—it’s your ticket to mountain adventure with little ones. Here’s my top three around Innsbruck:
The gondola speeds you and your kids to your Alpine summer adventure at Mutterer Alm Mountain. Once you reach the top, hike along a groomed forest road for some 100 metres to get to the water park. My big one usually leads the way on his balance bike and rides ahead to view cows (they often drink water from the fountain at the entrance and, honestly, this is one of the highlights!).
The kids are then enjoying a day’s worth of play on various interpretive trails. Now and again they find water flumes to zoom through on their run bike. And they can divert the water, dam it up, play with the water wheels and, in between, pick some wild blueberries to gather new strength. The playground at the end of the “Magic Water” area is a wonderful playing experience for children of all ages. They simply love to play in the sandpit—and when water pours in, it helps to create a fair amount of wet sand and mud… The only downside is that the playground has no shade so please bring sunscreen and hats for protection from the sun. If the kids have had enough splashing around, walk back to the gondola’s top terminal and enjoy some tasty treats at “Erlebnisrestaurant Muttereralm”: Don’t miss out on trying their extremely delicate 70s ice cream and “Moosbeernocken” (wild-growing mountain blueberries in a pancake-like form, sprinkled with powdered sugar). Up to now, I was not able to try out their latest attraction, the mountain carts. As I’m only one adult with two little boys it is not manageable to cruise down the twisting and turning track. But this summer, we will definitely hop on a cart, promised!
Gondola Hours of Operation are 8:30am – 5:00pm, Wednesdays to Sundays from June 26 to September 07, and Saturday and Sunday from September 13 to October 26 | www.muttereralm.at
The best way to access Bärenbachl Water Adventure World with little ones is by riding the gondola to the top. It’s like a bird’s eye view—in flight and the views of daredevil mountain bikers careening down the mountain are exciting—and kind of wild, which is perfect for my wild ones.
Once at the top, the boys don’t know where to head to first—there’s so much to do, and so much fun doing all of it! There’s a merry-go-round, a nest swing and kids can raft on a small pond right at the beginning.
Interactive children’s playground areas keep children entertained along a slope, making you climb the mountain from one fantastic feature to the next: Ball track, water filled sluices to dam up the water, balancing obstacles, climbing structure, zip line, bear den and bee tent… and finally you have arrived up at “Bärenfalle” Restaurant. There are two basins with ankle deep water to splash about and catching newts. From there, an interpretive walk circles the reservoir through stands of forest and delights the kids with even more interactive play terminals. But, honestly speaking: We never made it there. Our hike consists of the ½ kilometre to Bärenfalle Restaurant that takes a whole day
Gondola Hours of Operation are 9:00am – 5:00pm daily, June 19 to September 14
Kugelwald Adventure World on Glungezer Mountain
Those who appreciate the simple things in life, just like I do, will love Kugelwald, literally “Ball Forest”, on Glungezer Mountain. There is no pomp, no dramatics – simple materials were used in the construction of this wonderful playing experience for children of all ages: Situated right next to the top terminal of “Halsmarter” Chair Lift, local carpenters have erected a beautiful and cleverly designed wooden ball track and adventure playground on a 7,000 square meter play area during many hours of voluntary work—completely built on site from locally sourced stone pinewood, an evergreen conifer. While I immerse myself in tranquillity and relax and chill in these amazing stone pine surroundings, the kids are playing all day at interactive play terminals like “Boomerang”, “Bowl Lift”, “Tree House” and “Wind Chimes”. Oversized wood balls wind their way down wide, curving tracks with sharp turns, various obstacles, flip gates, and rotating circle gates. Click-clack the balls drop down! And while it may be hard to prise any child out of this playscape, there’s no need to: They are romping about the woods while enjoying the constitutional and calming properties of the stone pine, also known as the “Queen of the Alps”.
I love the characteristic smell of the stone pine! The only drawback here is that Kugelwald is accessed by a chair lift – and this means each child needs an adult to assist them with loading, riding and unloading from the lift.
Nevertheless, a visit to the “Ball Forest” is strongly recommended. Grab a cup of coffee from adjacent “Gasthaus Halsmarter” Inn – just around the corner. Kids can roam about the playground of the inn. Throw in a merry-go-round, trampoline and sandpit and you can sit back and leave them to it. (This is my holy moment!)
Chair Lift Hours of Operation are early June through early October: Mondays to Fridays 9:00am – 12:00 noon and 12:45pm – 4:30pm; Saturdays and Sundays 9:00am – 12:00 noon and 12:45pm – 5:00pm | http://www.kugelwald.at/en