A Sea of Colour: Tirol’s Best Autumn Walks and Hikes

Last updated 06.10.2020JannisJannis
Hoch über dem Inntal auf dem Goetheweg

Shimmering in a thousand shades of red, orange, yellow and brown, Tirol’s trees are a spectacular sight in autumn. The golden transition from summer to winter is for many the best time of year for walks and hikes, either down in the valley or up in the mountains before the first snows arrive. Here are some of the best autumn adventures, both with and without cable cars, aimed at those who want to head for the heights one final time this year.

Walks & hikes with cable cars

Here are a number of panoramic walks and hikes which can be accessed by cable car.

1. Nauders High Trail – one hike, three countries

The Nauders High Trail winds its way through lush meadows and thin forests above the village of Nauders. Most of the route is at around 2,000 metres above sea level, offering fantastic views of mountains in three countries: Austria, Italy and Switzerland. The starting point of the Nauders High Trail can be accessed quickly and easily using the Bergkastelbahn cable car.

Autumn is the best time of year to enjoy the panorama stretching from the Reschensee lake all the way to the snow-capped Ortler mountain. After stopping for a rest at the Laubaunalm, a hut serving food and drink, it is time to descend past the charming Parditschhof farmstead down to the village of Nauders.

Facts on the Nauder High Trail

Area: Ötztal Alps

Walking time: 5.5 hours

Uphill/downhill: 300 vertical metres uphill; 1,100 vertical metres downhill

Difficulty rating: intermediate (red trails)

Starting point: top of Bergkastelbahn cable car (2,200 metres), leaving from Nauders

Finishing point: Nauders (1,394 metres)

Cable car: Bergkastelbahn

Places along the route serving food and drink:

  • Panoramarestaurant Bergkastel
  • Labaunalm
  • Piengalm
  • Valdafuralm
  • Parditschhof

More information

Section of the Nauders High Trail (c) TVB-Tiroler-Oberland_Daniel-Zangerl

2. Venet Circular Hike – fabulous views in the west of Tirol

I could list all the mountains and massifs visible from the summit of the Venet mountain (also known as the Glanderspitze), but it would take up pretty much all the space I have been given for this short text! In short, the views are phenomenal.

The Venet is the highest point on the Venet Circular Hike, a ridgetop walk of intermediate difficulty starting at the top of the Venetbahn cable car. You can either follow the ridge all the way to the Imsterberger Venetalm hut or, alternatively, descend a little earlier at the Kreuzjoch down towards the Galflunhütte before passing the Goglesalm hut and reaching the starting point at the top of the cable car. I recommend stopping at either the Galflunhütte or the Goglesalm for a hearty meal with wonderful views of the surrounding landscape.

Facts on the Venet Circular Hike

Area: Ötztal Alps

Walking time: 6 hours (4 hours if you leave out the Imsterberger Venetalm)

Uphill: 890 vertical metres

Difficulty rating: intermediate (red trails)

Starting point: top of Venetbahn cable car (2,208 metres), leaving fromt Zams

Finishing point: top of Venetbahn cable car (2,208 metres)

Cable car: Venetbahn

Places along the route serving food and drink:

More information

View from the top of the Venet mountain (2,512 metres). © TVB-Pitztal-Forcher-Christian

3. Serfaus-Möseralm – easy walk perfect for families

This panoramic walking trail above the villages of Serfaus and Fiss is ideal for families with children and older walkers. The trail, which is suitable for pushchairs, leads past many benches, wood recliners and hammocks inviting visitors to stop and enjoy the fantastic views of the Ötztal Alps. At the start and finish of the route there are cable cars into the valley.

Facts on the Serfaus-Möseralm trail

Area: Samnaun Mountains

Walking time: 1.5-2 hours

Uphill/downhill: 150 vertical metres uphill; 300 vertical metres downhill

Difficulty rating: easy (blue trails)

Starting point: mid-way station of the Komperdellbahn and Lazidbahn cable cars (1,956 metres), leaving from Serfaus

Finishing point: top station of the Möseralmbahn cable car (1,820 metres), leaving from Fiss

Cable cars:

Places along the route serving food and drink:

  • Möseralm
  • Schalber Alm

More information

One of the stops along the trail above Serfaus and Fiss (c) Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis www.foto-mueller.com

4. Hochzeiger Panorama Trail – see the Ötztal Alps from their most spectacular side

This adventure begins with a ride on the Hochzeigerbahn cable car from the village of Jerzens at the start of the Pitztal Valley up to the starting point of the hiking trail leading up to the summit of the Hochzeiger mountain. The terrain is generally easy, though there are also a few sections where walkers must be sure-footed. The first section heads past the Kalbenalm hut to the gently rolling slopes of the Sechszeiger mountain. Hikers then pass a small lake before starting the final section along the ridge to the top of the Hochzeiger. The descent leads down via the Zollkreuz mountain back to the top of the cable car. Throughout the walk there are spectacular views of the Ötztal Alps and along the Inn Valley.

Facts on the Hochzeiger Panorama Trail

Area: Ötztal Alps

Walking time: 5 hours

Uphill: 580 vertical metres

Difficulty rating: intermediate (red trails)

Starting point: mid-way station of the Hochzeiger-Gondelbahn cable car, leaving from Jerzens-Liss

Finishing point: mid-way station of the Hochzeiger-Gondelbahn cable car

Cable car: Hochzeiger Gondelbahn

Places along the route serving food and drink:

  • Zeigerrestaurant (mid-way station of cable car)
  • Kalbenalm

More information

The lake between the Sechszeiger and Hochzeiger mountains (c) fotokunst.biz

5. Three-Lakes Circular Hike – hundreds of peaks and three mountain lakes

The first section of this hike is dominated by spectacular views of the Allgäu Alps and the Lechtal Alps, stretching all the way to the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain. The second part gives the walk its name, taking hikers past three beautiful mountain lakes. The starting point can be accessed quickly and easily using the eight-person Gondelbahn Neunerköpfle. Most of the walking is flat, with a short climb to the top of the Schochenspitze mountain.

The views are fantastic throughout, but the best vista awaits on top of the Schochenspitze. Below you will see all three of the lakes, Lache, Traualpsee and Vilsalpsee, which you will pass on the way back down to Tannheim.

Facts on the Three-Lakes Circular Hike

Area: Allgäu Alps

Walking time: 5 hours

Uphill/downhill: 400 vertical metres uphill; 1,100 vertical metres downhill

Difficulty rating: intermediate (red trails)

Starting point: top station of the Gondelbahn Neunerköpfle cable car (1.791 metres), leaving from Tannheim

Finishing point: Vilsalpsee lak (bus to Tannheim) or Tannheim (1,097 metres)

Cable car: Neunerköpfle Gondelbahn

Places along the route serving food and drink:

More information

The Traualpsee in autumn (c) TVB Tannheimer Tal/Achim Meurer

6. From the Kreuzjoch to the Starkenburger Hütte via the Stubai Seven Summits

The Stubai Seven Summits are, as the name suggests, seven of the most beautiful mountains in the Stubai Valley south of Innsbruck. The most famous are probably the Serles, which can be seen from almost everywhere in the regional capital, and the snow-capped Habicht on the other side of the valley. Further south, near the Italian border, lies the Stubai Glacier with its many 3,000-metre-high giants. This hike takes walkers along the Stubai Seven Summits to the Starkenburger Hütte and offers some of the most spectacular views anywhere in Tirol.

From the top of the Kreuzjochbahn cable car, follow the “Panoramaweg” trail to the Sennjochhütte. There, you have several options to choose from. Whichever one you opt for, things get a little more challenging on the approach to the Starkenberger Hütte. Ambitious adventurers can even scale one of the Seven Summits en route to the hut.

Facts on the trail from the Kreuzjoch to the Starkenberger Hütte

Area: Stubai Alps

Walking time: 2.5-4 hours (depending on the route taken)

Uphill: 500 vertical metres (including ascent of Hoher Burgstall mountain)

Difficulty rating: intermediate (red trails)

Starting point: top of cable car Schlick 2000/Kreuzjochbahn (2,100 metres), leaving from Fulpmes

Finishing point: top of cable car Schlick 2000/Kreuzjochbahn (2,100 metres), Kreuzjoch (return route possible via Kaserstattalm and Galtalalm to Fulpmes)

Cable car: Kreuzjochbahn

Places along the route serving food and drink:

More information

Aerial view of the Hoher Burgstall mountain showing the area near the Kreuzjoch mountain (far left). (c) TVB Stubai

7. Goethe Trail – between nature park and city life

A walk along the Goethe Trail from the top of the Hafelekarbahn cable car to the Pfeishütte hut is one of the classic must-do activities in Tirol. The juxtaposition between the alpine terrain of the Karwendel Nature Park on the one side and the densely populated Inn Valley on the other make this adventure a harmony of contrasts. Autumn, with its crisp and clear air, is the best time of the year for long-distance views along the Main Alpine Ridge. On misty days the weather is often clear in the mountains, with the individual towns and villages of the Inn Valley slowly appearing one after the other from the fog below.

One of the best things about this route is that is can be adapted for all ages and fitness levels. The easiest option is to take the cable car up to the top, walk along the ridge and then stay the night at the Pfeishütte hut before walking back the same way the next day. Alternatively, fit walkers can complete the whole route in just one day. Or, finally, there is the option of walking to the hut and then descending on foot into the valley.

Facts about the Goethe Trail

Area: Karwendel Mountains

Walking time: 4.5 hours to the Pfeishütte hut, 8 hours to the bottom of the Hungerburgbahn cable car

Uphill/downhill: 720 vertical metres uphill and downhill (to Pfeishütte hut and back)

Difficulty rating: intermediate (red trails)

Starting point: top of Hafelekarbahn cable car (2,256 metres), leaving from Innsbruck

Finishing point: top of Hafelekarbahn cable car or bottom of Hungerburgbahn cable car

Cable cars: Innsbrucker Nordkettenbahn

Places along the route serving food and drink:

  • Pfeishütte
  • Arzler Alm
  • Restaurant Seegrube (at Seegrube station of Nordkettenbahn cable car)
  • Café Pension Alpina and Hitt & Söhne (at Innsbruck-Hungerburg station of Nordkettenbahn cable car)

More information

Hiking along the Goethe Trail above Innsbruck.

8. Zirbenweg trail – ancient pine trees and fabulous panoramic views

With Innsbruck far below giving way to the craggy peaks of the Karwendel Mountains high above, the views along the Zirbenweg trail are a mix of urban and alpine. This walking trail to the south of the regional capital is another one of thos must-do walks around Innsbruck, especially in autumn.

Walkers can access the starting point quickly and easily using the Patscherkofelbahn cable car leading up to almost 2,000 metres above sea level. The route itself, which translates as “Pine Trail, is more or less flat and leads in an easterly direction across to the top of another cable car, the Glungezerbahn. En route there are a number of huts serving local food and, of course, schnapps made from Stone pine wood.

Facts on the Zirbenweg trail

Area: Tux Alps

Walking time: 2.5 hours to the top of the Glungezerbahn cable car, 4-5 hours to Patscherkofelbahn cable car and back

Uphill/downhill: 190 vertical metres uphill, 90 vertical metres downhill (to Glungezerbahn cable car)

Difficulty rating: intermediate (red trails)

Starting point: top of Patscherkofelbahn cable car (1,952 metres), leaving from Igls

Finishing point: Tulfes (bus to Patscherkofelbahn) or top of Patscherkofelbahn cable car

Cable cars: Patscherkofelbahn and Glungezerbahn

Places along the route serving food and drink:

  • Schutzhaus Patscherkofel
  • Alpengasthof Boscheben
  • Tulfeinalm

More information

The Zirbenweg trail high above Innsbruck.

9. Panoramaweg Wiedersberger Horn – a great day out for all the family

The Wiedersbergerhorn mountain at the start of the Alpbachtal Valley is known for its views and for its large outdoor adventure play area at the top of the Wiedersbergerhornbahn cable car. This makes it a popular place for family days out. There is a two-hour walk around the mountain, including the option of climbing to the top. Kids and the young-at-heart with energy left to burn will enjoy the Lauserland play area next to the top station of the cable car.

Facts on the Panoramaweg Wiedersberger Horn

Area: Kitzbühel Alps

Walking time: 2 hours (+45 minutes for summit ascent)

Uphill: 220 vertical metres (without summit ascent), 300 vertical metres (with summit ascent)

Difficulty rating: intermediate (red trails)

Starting point: top station of Wiedersbergerhornbahn cable car (1,850 metres), leaving from Alpbach

Finishing point: top station of Wiedersbergerhornbahn cable car (1,850 metres)

Cable car: Wiedersbergerhornbahn

Places along the route serving food and drink:

  • Dauerstoaalm

More information

Walks & hikes without cable cars

These walks and hikes are generally more challenging than those listed above, with all of the vertical metres uphill and downhill completed on foot, but the advantage is that they are generally less busy and therefore more peaceful. Here are five of the best spots in Tirol for autumnal walks without the help of lifts and cable cars. Several require walkers and hikers to be sure-footed and have a head for heights.

1. Wilder Kaiser Trail – views fit for an emperor

The Wilder Kaiser Trail runs along the southern foot of the Wilder Kaiser Mountains. Hikers planning to complete the full route will need two days, with the Gruttenhütte en route a good place to stay the night. The terrain is exposed in places. A number of sections have steel footholds and handholds as well as steel ropes anchored into the rock for safety. Hikers must be sure-footed and have a good head for heights.

Instead of completing the whole trail from start to finish, it is also possible to do sections. In that case I would recommend parking at the Wochenbrunner Alm and taking the Steinkreisrundweg and the Gruttenweg trails up to the Gruttenhütte. From there, take the challenging Jubiläumssteig (via ferrata climbing set recommended for certain sections) and the Much-Wieser-Steig as far as Brennender Palven. From there, continue via the Gaudeamushütte back to the starting point at the Wochenbrunner Alm. The views of the Kitzbühel Alps and the Hohe Tauern Mountains in the distance are fantastic.

Those in search of something a little less challenging can take on the Jägersteig above the Hintersteiner See on the route from the Stöfflhütte to the Steiner Hochalm. In this case, the starting and finishing point is the car park next to the Hintersteiner See lake.

Facts on the Wilder Kaiser Trail

Area: Kaiser Mountains

Walking time: 18 hours in total (spread over 2 days), Wochenbrunner Alm-Gruttenhütte-Brennender Palven-Wochenbrunner Alm: 5 hours, Hintersteiner See-Jägersteig: 4 hours

Uphill/downhill: 2,100 vertical metres uphill and downhill in total

Difficulty rating: difficult (black trails); Jägersteig trail = intermediate (red trails)

Starting point: Gasteig, Wochenbrunner Alm, Hintersteiner See

Finishing point: Kufstein (Egerbach), Wochenbrunner Alm, Hintersteiner See

Places along the route serving food and drink:

More information about the following trails: Wilder Kaiser Steig,Jubiläumssteig, Jägersteig

En route to the Gruttenhütte hut. (c) TVB Wilder Kaiser / Chris Thomas

2. Kaunerberg Panorama Trail – wild alpine terrain in the Kaunergrat Nature Park

This walking trail on the Kaunerberg mountain is more or less flat. It leads from the Aifneralm to the Falkaunsalm, offering wonderful views of the Kaunergrat ridge along the way including the summits of many mountains: Gsallkopf, Rofelewand, Verpeilspitze, Schwabenkopf and Watzespitze. The adventure takes 3-4 hours from the starting point next to the to the Falkaunsalm hut. I recommend stopping at the Aifner Alm hut before returning along the way you came.

Facts on the Kaunerberg Panorama Trail

Area: Ötztal Alps

Walking time: 3-4 hours (there and back)

Uphill/downhill: 250 vertical metres uphill and downhill

Difficulty rating: intermediate (red trails)

Starting point: car park below the Falkaunsalm hut (plenty of parking spots alnog the road from Kauns to Pillerhöhe for those who want to start the walk at the Aifneralm hut), bus stop: Naturparkhaus Kaunergrat

Finishing point: car park below the Falkaunsalm hut

Places along the route serving food and drink:

  • Aifner Alm
  • Falkaunsalm

More information

Landscape near the Aifner Alm hut.

3. Plansee Panorama Trail – one lake, many different perspectives

This walk around the Plansee lake gives visitors an opportunity to see one of Tirol’s largest lakes from many different perspectives. Instead of long-distance mountain views, you can look forward to turquoise waters at this fjord-like body of water in the Ammergau Alps. On an autumn morning, as the first rays of sun break through the mist and dance on the water’s surface, the atmosphere here is truly magical. In the background stands a green forest with just a few spots of red, orange, yellow and gold.

In summer 2018 the local tourism board installed a number of comfy wooden benches and recliners around the lake, where older walkers and families with children can take a break. From May until October there is also the option of shortening the walk by completing a section across the water by boat. And if you simply can’t get enough aqua action, the nearby Heiterwanger See also has a walking trail around the shore.

Facts on the Plansee Panorama Trail

Area: Ammergau Alps

Walking time: 3.5 hours

Uphill/downhill: 60 vertical metres uphill and downhill

Difficulty rating: easy (blue trails)

Starting point: Hotel Seespitze

Finishing point: Hotel Seespitze

Places along the route serving food and drink:

  • Hotel Seespitze
  • Hotel Forelle
  • Hotel Fischer am See (Heiterwanger See lake)

More information

The Plansee lake in autumn. (c) Naturparkregion Reutte/ Robert Eder

4. Seekarspitze & Seebergspitze – ridgetop hike above Lake Achensee

The hike along the ridge from the Seekarspitze to the Seebergspitze is the most spectacular walking adventure at Lake Achensee. However, exposed sections mean it is only recommended if you are sure-footed and have a good head for heights. The views stretch from the Karwendel Mountains as far as the Zillertal Alps as well as, of course, the deep blue Lake Achensee far below.

This route really is one of the most incredible high-alpine adventures not only in Tirol but in the Alps.

Facts on the ridgetop hike between the Seebergspitze and the Seekarspitze

Area: Karwendel Mountains

Walking time: 6 hours

Uphill/downhill: 1,300 vertical metres uphill and downhill

Difficulty rating: difficult (black trails)

Starting point: Achenkirch, car park at Sixenhof local history museum

Finishing point: Pertisau, car park next to cruise ship stop (return by bus or ship)

More information

Hiking along the ridge above Lake Achensee (c) Achensee Tourismus

5. Freiungen High Trail – alpine adventure above the Inn Valley

The Freiungen High Trail is a long and challenging adventure in the Karwendel Mountains which is recommended only for advanced and expert hikers with good fitness levels, a good head for heights and sure footing even on rocky terrain. It begins with an ascent through the colourful autumnal forest to the Nördlinger Hütte hut, where walkers can look forward to fine views of the Inn Valley and the Reither Spitze mountain. Things continue on the Freiungen High Trail itself, which includes a number of exposed sections with some relatively easy climbing and scrambling. The descent into the valley via the Solsteinhaus and the Solnalm is also beautiful.

If you have time, I recommend taking in the summit of the Kuhljochspitze. The ascent is relatively easy, especially if you consider the difficulty level of the rest of this hike, and is rewarded with the chance to sit down on a wooden bench with some pretty incredible views. Both the starting and finishing point of this hike can be reached quickly and easily by train.

Facts on the Freiungen High Trail

Area: Karwendel Mountains

Walking time: 8 hours

Uphill/downhill: 1,450 vertical metres uphill and downhill

Difficulty rating: difficult (black trails)

Starting point: railway station Reith bei Seefeld

Finishing point: Bahnhof Hochzirl

Places along the route serving food and drink:

More information

Jannis

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” This compelling quote says it all for outdoor lover Jannis Braun. His passion for hiking and mountain biking inspired him to move from Germany to Innsbruck. Finding pleasure in the mountains, Jannis continues to embrace the beauty and culture around him.

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