Long-distance hikes are tough and testing, but the rewards are undeniable. There’s the feeling of absolute adventure out among Alpine nature, the chance to escape workaday stresses and the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing one: These five “Great Walks” are remarkably easy on the eye, though not on the body, with rugged and rough terrain and high elevation making them quite challenging. If you’re up for the challenge, lace up your boots and set off on one of these five “great” long-distance footpaths.
1. Lechtal High Trail, 85 Kilometers
Few times in life do hikers get the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful hiking adventure along a high, Alpine ridge in a stunning wilderness area: The all-in-all 85-kilometer long Lechtal High Trail follows the crest of the lofty Lechtal Alps. Experienced hikers take 10 to 19 days to complete the trek. 13 huts and shelters are conveniently spaced along the Lechtal High Trail, where hikers will find hearty meals and cosy beds.. Although it is challenging, certain sections of the trail are unbelievably breathtaking. You will experience sublime scenery in places such as Steinsee, a pristine Alpine lake nestled into a glacier scoured cirque. A word of warning, though: this arduous trail is not for novices. Physical fitness, endurance, experience and sure-footedness are needed for this strenuous high altitude trek.
2. Berlin High Trail, 85 Kilometers
The Berlin High Trail is a must-do high Alpine walking tour right through the heart of the extraordinary Zillertal Alps, visiting one of the crown jewels of Tirol’s Alpinist Association hut system, listed Berliner Hut. Still maintaining most of its original material and style with wood-panelled rooms, a five-meter-high dining hall and chandeliers, Berliner Hut has some historical significance, as the only Alpine hut protected as a memorial site. The terrain is moderate to difficult, the trail is steep in some places and rugged in most and can be done end-to-end or in day trips: The Berlin High Trail is broken up into seven segments with an access point at each mountain hut, making it easily accessible for day hikers along the length of the trail. Keep a pace of roughly 10 kilometers per day, and you’ll complete the 85-kilometer trail in a little over a week.
3. Inntal High Trail, 74 Kilometers
The Inntal High Trail is a rewarding expedition encompassing majestic and mesmerizing scenery that runs along and slightly above the elevation of 2,000 meters: From woods to upland plateaus to jaw-dropping views of Inntal Valley below, it just doesn’t get much better than this. Moreover, the High Trail welcomes hikers with a series of shelters and inns, all serving hearty local fare. However, the Inntal High Trail is not your average hiking trail. It is both exciting and challenging. The whole trail climbs about 4,000 vertical meters and is divided into 6 segments which you can all hike within a day. The highlight of this trek is the section along “Zirbenweg Trail”, lined by Europe’s largest and oldest stone pine populations.
4. Stubai High Trail, 80 Kilometers
Walked in its entirety, the 80-kilometer long route with its elevation gain of roughly 5,000 meters will surely come to be regarded as one of the toughest and yet most varied long distance hiking challenges in the Eastern Alps. The premiere showings along this trek are the glistening white, sprawling, sparkling glaciers on the segments between Dresdner and Bremer Hut. Walkers can as well enjoy tackling individual legs of the Stubai High Trail a section at a time – each of the eight huts along the trail offers access to the valley.
5. Carnic High Trail, 168 Kilometers
Get a taste of history along the 168-kilometer Carnic High Trail in East Tirol: The perfect blend between breathtaking scenery and challenging adventure, it follows the fighting lines of World War I along the Austria-Italy border, consisting largely of military trenches. The scene is enthralling, with historic traces, soaring mountain peaks, endless fields of wildflowers and a stunning array of lakes and ponds. Aloft on airy plains, you’ll stroll along a high ridgeline for eleven days, basking in glorious views of the Dolomites. A number of overnight shelters and inns make for easy logistics: day hikes are easy to arrange, as are food supplies.