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Walking the Dachstein Trail in Austria
In all of Austria, the magnificent Salzkammergut region is renowned for its naturally blessed beauty.
Even the locals never cease to wonder at their surroundings, and you can perhaps understand why when you learn that the rivers still provide drinking water. Taking a walk in the Dachstein region of the Salzkammergut is treating yourself very well. At 2995m, the Dachstein massif is the tallest peak in a range of unimaginable beauty.
Rugged, low mountain ranges (average height of 1700 metres) nicely frame the broad valley basin where you can explore the secret valleys, tranquil settlements along the River Traun, mountainsides covered in lush pasture land, romantic high-lying valleys and spectacular rock faces.
Then, there is the fjord-like Lake Hallstatt, and Gosau Lake with its unspoilt shores, idyllic high mountain pastures and dense woodlands. Imagine that as your backdrop during your walks each day.
Walking towards your first site of the village of Hallstatt is one of the great walking holiday moments.
Hallstatt, perhaps the most photographed village in Austria is also the country’s oldest. The beautiful old Baroque wooden architecture nestles into the surrounding mountains seamlessly by the shore of the lake. The houses look like they have naturally risen from the ground, rather than having been built by man. The windows are small, but the sills are filled with flowers.
The Salzkammergut region is also steeped in history. Across many of the villages, the wells still exists and is where people still do their washing. Many of the inhabitants speak their own dialect. Other local time-honoured traditions are still celebrated today, such as Austrian folk music, and wearing a Dirndl (dress with apron) and the Lederhose (leather trousers).
There are a variety of walking trails in the Dachstein region that will suit your fitness and ability but in general the walks here are a little tougher. The trails are well marked, so self guided walking, when provided with good supporting maps and information is very enjoyable so you can tackle the various challenges at your own pace.
Salzkammergut Walking and Hiking Tours
Dachstein Circuit Hiking Tour
The Dachstein massif, southeast of Salzburg, is a small mountain range with dozens of peaks of 2500m or more, typified by its series of glaciers and sharp descents to the valley floor, the limestone mountain contains some of the largest caves in Austria. Take in the awesome views of ice fields and alpine meadows, limestone peaks and dramatic lakes as you trek this exhilarating circuit. At night you stay in atmospheric mountain hotels interspersed with 3 nights in mountain huts high up on the central massif.
Austrian Lakes Walk Tour
The UNESCO World Heritage listed Salzkammergut alpine region of Austria encompasses 76 crystal clear lakes, the Dachstein Glacier, lush summer meadows and impressive rock faces up to 3000 vertical metres high. During this inspiring walk around the lakes, there is ample time to appreciate the natural beauty of the region and the alpine villages of wooden chalets decorated with colourful window boxes while at night you will enjoy the warm hospitality of your hosts. Staying in pensions and small hotels, you can relax and enjoy the satisfying cuisine typical of the region. There will be opportunities to sight fauna including ibex, chamois and marmot along with numerous butterfly species which are endemic to this alpine environment.
Austrian Lake District and Dachstein Alps hiking tour
There are people who claim that once you have walked here you will have experienced the best ‘typical’ alpine hiking in Europe. The tour gets off to a cracking start at Bad Goisern, a small market town lovingly embedded in the Goisertal Valley. You can opt to do a walk onto the high trails of the ‘Goiserer Hohenweg’ with some spectacular viewpoints over the Dachstein peaks before heading to Gosau via the Goiserer Hutte at nearly 1600m below an optional peak called Hoch Kalmberg 1833m.
Gosau has a more pastoral feel to it and the broad valley here attracts thousands of cross-country skiers in the winter. From Gosau a circular walk will take you to the Alpine Lakes of the Gosausee and Hintere Gosausee with some spectacular mountain panoramas to the Gosaukamm mountains, or you can do some walks along the forest edge above the valley.
Hallstatt is a village of some 1,200 people, wonderfully remote, squeezed between the base of Mount Plassen and the waters of Lake Hallstattersee. It grew rich from the ancient and modern trade in salt which is plentiful in the surrounding mountains. The town is almost traffic-free and it is also a UNESCO world Culture and Natural Heritage site. A tiny ferry glides between the nearest train station across the fjord-like lake and drops you off on the town’s storybook square. Clinging to its lakeside ledge under the mountains, Hallstatt seems smaller than it really is; ivy-covered guesthouses and cobbled lanes surround its pint-sized square. Its spectacular setting, at the foot of cliffs and facing the often mist-cloaked Halstättersee, is right out of a picture postcard.
If you get tired of walking here, a funicular can whisk you up to the ‘Salzwerk’, or salt mine in a valley above the town or if you like you can hike up in an hour or so. You may prefer to take the funicular up to the mine and then walk back down to the village after the tour and go on to visit nearby Obertraun for a tour of the ice caves.
Austrian Lakes Hike & Bike Tour
From the enchanting alpine lakes of the Salzkammergut, along quiet cycle paths and mountain trails, this multi-activity adventure delves into the stunning landscapes to ensure a full appreciation of the Austrian Lakes district. Cycle through pastures and alongside magnificent mountain ringed lakes to the World Heritage town of Hallstatt, the town of Mondsee and the old Kaiser town of Bad Ischl. Explore old castles and ancient salt mines, hike forest trails to view striking glaciers and soak up the warm hospitality of carefully handpicked mountain hotels and guesthouses.