September is the month of ambitious outdoor endeavours. Highlights include everything from long-distance hikes to the famous Ötztal Bike Marathon. Those who like to take things a little easier can look forward to ceremonial cattle drives accompanied by celebrations with plenty of food, drink and music.
As summer slowly draws to a close but the temperatures remain warm and the skies clear, it is time to pull on your hiking boots and explore Tirol on foot. Cooler than July and August, September is the perfect month for long hikes in the mountains – for example, along some of Tirol’s Great Walks. This collection of long-distance walking and hiking trails has been put together to showcase the very best of the region. Two wheels instead of two legs are the mode of transport of choice for the 4,000 amateur cyclists taking on the Ötztal Bike Marathon each year in early September. Last but not least, September is traditionally the month when the cows grazing on the high mountain pastures are brought back down into the valley for winter. These ceremonial cattle drives are a highlight in their own right and often go hand in hand with local celebrations.
Stretching 420 kilometres from St. Johann in the Kitzbühel Alps to St. Christoph am Arlberg, the Eagle Walk is unsurprisingly known as the king of hiking trails. Walkers who take on the 33 stages can look forward to the whole palette of landscapes Tirol has to offer. The Eagle Walk takes in sections such as the Goethe Trail in the Nordkette mountains high above Innsbruck. Hikers keen to explore other provinces of Tirol can embark on the Carnic High Trail. This eleven-stage walk comprising 168 kilometres leads along the main ridge of the Carnic Alps near the Austrian-Italian border. The section between Sillian in East Tirol and Unterhörl in Carinthia takes hikers past trenches from the First World War.
Mountain huts are not only good places to stay the night during long-distance walks but also serve as important bases for shepherds looking after animals sent up each summer onto the pastures to enjoy the clean air and fresh grass. Tirol is home to around 2,100 such huts with 110,000 cows, 70,000 sheep, 5,500 goats and 2,000 horses. In September the animals are traditionally decorated with flowers and brought back down into the valley ready for winter. These processions, known as ceremonial cattle drives, are accompanied by celebrations with plenty of food, drink, music and laughter. In Kufstein the annual cattle drive takes place this year on 21 September. Celebrations will also be held on 21 and 28 September in Reith im Alpbachtal. Indeed, there are far too many ceremonial cattle drives taking place throughout Tirol to list them all in this blog, so we have put together a list of the most popular ones here.
Fans of “new music” should check out the Klangspuren Schwaz. This music festival taking place from 6 to 22 September will this year be looking at the metaphorical “fractures” in our society.
The Ötztal Bike Marathon is the ultimate challenge for ambitious amateur cyclists. The 4,000 riders must complete 238 kilometres with 5,500 vertical metres of climbing on gradients of up to 18 percent. Depending on their fitness level, participants generally require anywhere between 7 and 14 hours to complete the course, which leads from the village of Sölden in the Ötztal Valley up over the Kühtai ridge and down to Innsbruck before heading south over the Brenner pass into Italy, up over the Jaufenpass and finally over the brutal Timmelsjoch pass back into Austria. The event is already sold out, but those who want to enjoy the atmosphere can stand on the side of the road and cheer on the riders.