Brixen's hiking butterfly
Practical tips for the main circuit routes
All the routes outlined here can be tackled when the weather is good, without any difficulty, and without any major experience of being in the mountains. Please do however be aware that in the event of storms and treacherous weather dangers many present themselves in the high mountains. In the event of incident, good mobile telephone reception is available throughout the hiking area. Always carry a little hiking first-aid kit with you. Mountaineering shoes are recommended for all four main circuits, particularly for the downhill sections. Mountain and hiking poles can also be a great help, they take the strain off your knees especially on the descent. All the times quoted are for a comfortable hiking pace.
Enjoy the wonderful view to the Schneckgasse, " Brixen’s balcony"! Coming from the town centre you get a short, somewhat steeper trail, into the so-called ‘Schneckgasse’. On this atmospheric section of the route, heading past ancient trees and meadows filled with flowers, it is not just the village which is in your line of sight. All of the upper part of Brixental, from Kirchberg to the Ice Age terraces in Westendorf, spread out in front of you. The information boards provide you with interesting information about the people and the state – where could be more lovely to get an initial impression of your holiday destination than right here, on ‘Brixen’s balcony’? Hazel, hawthorn and many other branches create bower-like passages, above the Lesestein walls on the mountain side, mountain pastures filled with flowers are at eye level. On the valley side mighty ash trees line the route, many of which have been hollowed out by the decaying of the heart wood. From Lauterbach the route proceeds at the bottom of the valley to the hamlet of Feuring, which has still retained a great deal of its original rural character. Extensive forests of spruce and fir trees accompany you on the shadiest section of the route. Away from the trail, you can also enjoy walking silently and softly on the cushiony moss underfoot and let the herbal aroma of mosses and ferns wash over you. Before you approach the village again, heading along Brixental‘s Ache, you pass the ‘Werkstatt Natur’. As part of the by-pass and restoration of the village, a section of pastureland is being replenished to blend in with the natural surroundings. Alders and pastures create a green corridor above the stream, through which the sunlight shines now and then. In the warm seasons the swimming pool and the bathing lake tempt you take a refreshing dip. The centre of the village of Brixen is characterised by its double-towered church. It is one of the most beautiful classicist sacred buildings in Tirol. The relatively young age of the church is deceptive, since beneath it lie the foundations of no fewer than four previous churches, the deepest wall remains provide evidence of a (presumably Roman) secular building from the late antiquity! This remarkable fact was discovered from archaoelogical digs in 1978. You will also come across a small document in the rear section of the church. Of all the towns in Brixental, Brixen is the one which is mentioned in by far the oldest documents, in the Indiculus Arnonis of 788 (one of the oldest goods list in the world of its kind) – signed by Karl the Great. You also wouldn’t have guessed that in such a small village, even a few years after the invention of the art of book printing, there are still printed books which are still in very good condition. The majestic vicarage, with the church and the courtyard, provide a characterful ensemble. This area is the starting point for the Antlaßritt, a procession on horses.
Easy hike predominantly on woodland and pasture trails. Not suitable for prams due to the short, steep sections in the Schneckgasse and Hofer Wald areas.
|Starting point||Town centre|
|Walking time||2 - 3 hours|
|Stop-off options||Gasthof Brixnerwirt, Restaurant Reitlwirt, Winkelstüberl, Fischerstadl|
Some 500 metres to the west of the town centre, the road branches off to the Sonnberg. Hike on a moderate incline, passing typical Brixental farmsteads, and the meadows on the Sonnberg which are filled with flowers. You get to the start section of the Brixner Gangl via a turn-off to the left, proceeding to Unterguggenhausen on Sonnbergstraße. Those of you who would like to save a bit of time and energy can tackle this first ascent on the gondola; while those of you who want to get your heart rate up can provide to Filzalmsee via a steeper route through Gugg-Graben. In this case, take a left turn around 500 metres after Sonnbergstraße and proceed to Untertreichl. Take another left here, away from the road, pass the Graben on a narrow trail and get to the other side on an old, steep trail heading for the Hohe Salve. There is another interesting detour from Untertreichl. Those who want to continue on this road will get to Hof Obertreichl in around 15 minutes, where you can gaze in wonder and study the extensive educational herb garden. (Guided tours available when there are five or more people. To register telephone 05334-8429). Whatever route you have opted for, you now arrive at Brixen’s ‘highest level recovery area’, Filzalmsee. One of the biggest reservoirs in Austria has been set up here to provide artificial snow-cover for the ski pistes. Thanks to its wonderful rural location and make-up, it has become a visitor magnet for guests and locals alike.
In the surrounding terrain young and not-so-young visitors alike will come across all sorts of interesting and educational things here. Where a giant rises out of the water – a section of moor at eye level; a giant eye watching over the pasture and the lake and young and old legs wade through the knee-deep moor mud – you’ll be inspired! A wooden building from the 16th century is home to state-of-the-art seminar technology and is a great place for exhibitions, alpine festivals and other events. Filzalmsee is a hub for several big circuit hikes. Continuing to Söll, the Wappenweg trail splits into two sections, the Großer and the Kleiner Riesenweg trails. In keeping with the theme and their names, visitors will come across several well-known things in giant format in the upper section of the route (Großer Riesenweg) – on a tree-lined terrace above the lake, a giant eye enables you to get right up close and see how this sensory organ works; at Frankalm a giant hand stretches out its fingers to us and in a little copse you get to play a giant xylophone. In the district of Söll you get to a giant trail and a section which branches off to Silleralm and a little giant path. At the trough is a giant cow with translucent innards, which provide the visitor with an insight into the interior workings of this beast. Another trail back to Filzalmsee provides plenty of variety and proceeds through mountian forest areas and woodland pastures, streams tempt little ones to play with water, sand and stones. The Kleiner and Großer Riesenweg (up to the branch-off section) is a circuit which can be comfortably completed in two hours. If you would like to continue on the Großer Riesenweg you can get to Hochsöll and the famous ‘Hexenwasser’.
Those of you who want to tackle more than a thousand metres altitude on a circuit hike, can climb from Hochsöll on the suitably steep path to the summit; you could of course take a more leisurely option and head up on the gondola. When visibility is good you can enjoy an unforgettable view from the Hohe Salve, from Bavaria’s Alpine foothills, across Salzburg’s limestone alps, the Hohe Tauern and Zillertaler Alpen to the Karwendel. The mountain panorama drifts past from the revolving terrace at the summit restaurant, as you sample typical Tirol dishes. The highest located pilgrimage church in Austria, the Salvenkirchlein, can no longer cope with people coming to masses on the mountain, which means that church services, e.g. ‚Annatag‘, are celebrated at an altar in front of the church. During the descent, the route passes a section where you can observe marmots and their activities. In the height of summer, orchid vanilla, a small, very rare orchid which has a vanilla scent, spreads out to the left and right of the trail (only in the uppermost area of the peak of the Salve!). It is of course protected by strict conservation protection orders. On reaching the flatter alpine pastures of the Kalbeisalve, you pass Jordan chapel, where there are images of the baptism of Jesus. According to old popular belief, the water from the spring at Jordan chapel is beneficial for your eyes. Filzalmsee will soon be behind you, where, after an extensive hike, you get to do something nice for your feet - in Watteich, you get to enjoy a ‘leg massage’ by doing a few circuits of the moormud tread pool, or you could use the vibrating plate. You can either bring your hike to a close by taking the gondola or hike down via the Salvenbergstraße. Cross Gugg-Graben first of all on a trail and you will then reach a mountain farm of the same name on Salvenbergstraße. From here you get to enjoy a really wonderful view to Brixen, across upper Brixental and to the Kitzbüheler mountains. Somewhat further down you will come across one of the most beautiful and also one of the oldest mountain farms. ‚Washing down‘(brushes with soap and ashes) not only makes the wood of these buildings resilient, it also gives it a silvery, grey-brown shade, the like of which you will never have seen. The route proceeds downhill in wide loops; at Hof Unterkaslach you have the option of taking a shorter route through the ditches to get to Sonnbergstraße. Stay on the road and you will get back to the town of Hof and then to Brixen.
The Wappenweg trail takes a full day. For the Hohe Salve you should opt to go on a day when visibility is good; it's worth paying a visit to Filzalmsee even if the weather isn't great. Filzalmsee village square: 450 metres altitude/ 1.5 hours Filzalmsee – Hohe Salve: 550 metres altitude/1.5 hours
|Walking time||Day hike|
|Altitude difference||Min. 100 metres altitude / max. 950 metres altitude|
|Difficulty level||Moderately difficult|
|Stop-off options||Berggasthof Nieding, SkiWelt Hütte, Filzalm, Frankalm, Silleralm, Hochsöll, Gipfelrestaurant Hohe Salve|
You can do the first section of the route Filzalmsee as outlined for the Wappenweg trail, there is however another option - via Schneckgasse and route No. 97 you get to Kaufmann and Rotschwendt farms on a moderately steep route. Continue via Sonnbergstraße to Berggasthof Nieding, where, on a sharp right bend, the road branches off to Filzalmsee. From here it takes around half an hour to get to the mountain station for the gondola. It is a five minute walk straight from here to Filzalmsee, the forest road branches off to Holzalm and Jochstubn. After around 20 minutes hiking on this road, you reach a little quarry, a few hundred metres after the branch off for Berggasthof Brantlalm. You don’t have to look for long to discover the deep blue and green coloured stones. These are the copper ores azurite and malachite. Less noticeable are the disseminated pencil-grey pockets of fahlerz ores, which contain a great deal of silver. In earlier centuries, silver mining was enjoying its heyday here, the copper mine in Brixen might even date back to the pre-historic era. The route continues across flat and wide alpine pastures, which provide an ideal terrain for skiing in the winter. Thanks to the route being well-connected, there is a flourishing alpine landscape in Brixental, which not only helps keep the animals healthy but also ensures that the quality of the agricultural produce is good too. Having reached the altitude ridge of the Holzalm, the route splits – straight ahead it is a few hundred metres uphill to Holzalmjoch, to the right the alpine road branches off to Jochstubn and Jochstub‘n-See, a wonderful excursion destination for all the family. You can continue from here to Brandstadl (and the big ‘Kaiserwelt’ play area) or to the Hartkaser (‘Ellmi’s Zauberwelt’).
If you go cross-country for a bit from the flat section of the road, heading east, a beautiful alpine moor in a flat sink will be in front of you. When the weather is good, the little moor pond glistens like sapphires, which – and this characteristic of alpine moors – did not even become grown over in the course of the centuries, if the climate remains unchanged. Alpine moors are sensitive ecosystems and cannot tolerate much footfall, so a request and a tip at the same time – if you have an interest in natural history, and want to walk on the moor, please do so in bare feet! You will not damage the moor and you will also enjoy a very special kind of hiking experience. The descent from Längmoos proceed through tranquil mountain woodland which have lots of bilberry bushes and it may be the case on occasion that you will be startled suddenly by a large bird noisily taking flight right in front of you since this is the real of the timid capercaillie. As a nature-loving hiker you should therefore avoid making any excessive noise and other disturbances. Below this forest, you pass idyllic alpine lodges on a forest road and via Obing-Alm get back to the picturesque location of the mountain farms. In front of Hof Seiblschwendt a shorter route branches off sharply to the right through Ragging-Graben; the route via the road is somewhat longer, but its views are much more open and all-encompassing. Before you get to the town of Brixen again, to finish off there is a big circuit on an atmospheric section of the route, the Lindenweg trail. It proceeds between the mountain slope and an Ice Age terrace which has beautiful ‘hanging’ moors – in spring and early summer there are proper orchid gardens which have some rare species.
Filzalmsee village square: 450 metres altitude/1.5 hours; Filzalmsee – Jochstub‘n: 350 metres altitude/ 1.5 hours or the village square – Guggenhauser-Alm via Kaufmann: 650 metres altitude/ 2 hours, Guggenhauser-Alm – Jochstub‘n: 200 metres altitude/ 1 hour; Descent: Jochstub‘n – centre of the village via Obing: 800 metres altitude / 2.5 hours
|Starting point||Town centre|
|Walking time||5 - 6 hours|
|Altitude difference||850 metres altitude|
|Difficulty level||Moderately difficult|
|Stop-off options||Berggasthof Nieding, SkiWelt Hütte, Brantlalm, Jochstub'n|
A road runs from the town of Lauterbach to Brixenbachtal. Before the bridge, via Brixenbach, the path, which proceeds on the west slope of the Gaisberg to Brixenbachalm branches off. There is another crossroads here, at whose recently restored stations so many pious pilgrims prayed on their way to Harlaßangerkirche. You get to experience even more natural idylls in Brixental across the Gaisberg; at this point we should mention their special significance for Brixen. Brixen’s drinking water comes from its drainage area; the water has a high level of purity and quality – thanks to the special geological conditions which are present here. If you take established mineral water as a standard of comparison, (with the exception of the sulfation) you are drinking quality which no other water which is available to purchase has. In a purity which is seldom found. Above Brixenbachalm the path proceeds relatively steeply upwards; those of you who would prefer to take things a little easier can also take the forest road. The closer the Kalkgestein road comes to the Gaisberg, the more frequent are the mountain pines and the dwarf mountain pines. The cones and needles of this type of pine are very similar to their arboreal relatives, but their growth is very different. Instead of a straight main stem, there are lots of flexible branches and brushwood which is close to the ground, which neither avalanche nor falling rocks can affect. On this side of the mountain you always come across larches, which provide the mountain woodland with magical colours in the autumn.
The Wiegalm is not just an impressive area in terms of landscape, you also get to witness and follow in the tracks of a ‚primeval drama‘. The short section of the route from Wiegalm, heading south, runs exactly on a geological boundary line and its plant cover is particularly striking in early summer. On the left there are blossoms of gentian and globularia, hairy alpine rose and mountain-avens – while on the right of the path there is no trace of any of these; there is just the rusty-leaved alp rose, which has darker red leaves and a rust coloured under side. A local geological sensation lies behind this divergence in plant cover. The oldest rocks of the Gaisberg (200 million years old) are immediately next to the old rocks from the surrounding area, which are at least twice as old. As an inselberg, the Gaisberg has comparatively earlier rocks, in the midst of an ancient rock mass from the Paleozoic era. So what is the answer to this puzzle? In the course of the formation of the mountains some 40 million years ago, the stones of the limestone alps were pushed from south to north in wide sections – and the Gaisberg has remained here, as the remains of this huge displacement. So when you cross over a few metres from the left side, to the right, you are crossing a geological period of more than 200 million years!
Before the Wiegalm trail, there are several options. If you feel equipped to tackle the additional 250 metres altitude on the narrow trail, you get to enjoy a wonderful view on the summit of the Gaisberg. A trail proceeds from here, with the option of leaving the trail at Harlaßanger chapel and Kobinger Hütte. You could also settle for the ascent to the first plateau above the Wiegenalm. There is a large rock right in the middle of the alpine terrain here, which attracts the attention of even the untrained eye due to its uniqueness. In contrast to the limestone rocks of the surrounding area, it is filled with lichen. This lichen isn’t actually from here, it ‘travelled’ to the Hohe Tauern in an Ice Age glacier stream, and was deposited here toward the end of the Ice Age by the melting ice. In spring and early summer, you get to hike from this glacial erratic across alpine pastures, through a splendid sea of mountain flowers down to Kobinger Hütte, where you meet the usual connecting trail to the Wiegalm again. Harlaßanger chapel is next to the little Salven church, the second ‘chapel’ in Brixen. Services are also held here. Irrespective of your religious beliefs, you are invited to stay a while in this modest, rural holy place to enjoy a few contemplative moments. In the church the many remembrance images on the walls will catch your attention. These were put here, according to an old tradition, to provide a sanctuary for the dear departed and so they would be remembered by visitors. The route continues on the eastern slope of the Gaisberg down to the mountain station for the Gaisberg lift. Beneath Bärstättalm you cross a ditch which has fossiliferous stone from a sea which was there over 190 million years ago. On this side of the Gaisberg the stones differ to those from the surrounding area; there is also a plentiful supply of beechwood. On the valley side your gaze is drawn back to Spertental, with the impressive summit of the Rettenstein, down below you can see where Brixental opens up into the Kitzbühel area. The Gaisberg lift can take you the final 450 metres altitude of descent but there is of course a lovely footpath to Kirchberg too. From there you can finish your tour at the base of the valley, away from the traffic on comfortable hiking routes, back to Brixen. On the way there you also pass Seestüberl. In days gone by there was a lake here, but it silted up long ago and only a few moor meadows give away its erstwhile location. Before you reach the centre of the village again, take in the hamlet of Feuring and its splendid farmhouses and the tall ‘village lime trees’.
The summit of the Gaisberg is really beautiful when you get a clear day; in contrast, fog can make it unpleasant and dangerous due to the difficulties you face trying to get your bearings. Centre of the village – Brixenbachalm: 300 metres altitude / 1.5 hours, Brixenbachalm – Wiegalm: 400 metres altitude/ 1.5 hours, Wiegalm – Gaisberg summit: 250 metres altitude/ 1 hour, or Wiegalm – Gaisberg lift via Harlaßanger: 250 metres altitude descent /1 hours, Gaisberg lift – Kirchberg: 450 metres altitude descent/ 1 hour, hiking trail in the valley from Kirchberg to Brixen / 1.5 hours;
|Starting point||Brixen im Thale train station|
|Walking time||6 - 7 hours|
|Altitude difference||950 metres altitude|
|Difficulty level||Moderately difficult|
|Stop-off options||Wiegalm, Kobinger Hütte, Bärstättalm, Brixenbachalm, Gaisbergstüberl|
Initially hike in the valley along the Brixentaler Ache and then take a left on the woodland road heading for Kandleralm. After some 300 metres you come to a branch-off (left) for Gruberwald; continue on this woodland road until you reach Rechentalalm. Above this wonderfully located alpine inn a newly constructed road branches off to the right, where you can then leave the woodland road and head for Brixen-bachalm. (To this point you may also hike via Brixenbachstraße, as for the Urzeitweg trail.) At the end of this route you come to a somewhat steep alpine trail which proceeds to Talkaseralm. Cross over a ditch and you will then quickly gain altitude on the steep mountain flanks. Close to Talkaseralm the route becomes flatter and the basin-shaped head of the valley opens up in front of you. From the Talkaseralm you can now climb on a direct route to the Einködlscharte, but our route describes a very worthwhile detour. Proceed initially along the bend in the route from Talkaseralm to the other side of the valley; you will come across a branch-off there to a diverse, narrow path heading for Wiegalm. Occasionally in the summer you can hear the call of marmots from the bottom of the alpine pasture, while you ascend on the north slope of the Gampen, under the larch trees and the spruces. Having reached the northerly edge, the route is then varied and proceeds through woodland and glades and finally across an interesting ‘hanging’ moor to the Wiegalm, meeting the ‘Urzeitweg’ trail. From the Wiegalm there are two variants for you to continue on. The most convenient being the alpine trail via Wildenfeldalm to Kreuzjöchlsee. Not long ago this lake was also used to provide snow-making facilities for the pistes; its location and composition definitely ranked it as a natural mountain lake. From here there is not much altitude difference to negotiate to the Einködlscharte and you can enjoy the view to the Windau and further into the Inntal.
Want to go higher? Another 500 metres altitude presents no problem for you? Then crossing the Gampenkogel is the route for you. From the initially outlined route to Kreuzjöchlsee, a steep path branches off to the Gampenkogelspitze (1957 metres). Without exaggerating, in early summer you walk through a sea of alpine roses, and in the areas of the eastern slope where the winter storms cover the vegetation with a thick, protective blanket of snow. From the summit you get to enjoy an impressive view down to Talkaseralm and also a panoramic view to the icy panorama of the Hohe Tauern. On the descent across the wind-exposed west side, you are walking at the site of the alpine rose espaliers which has particularly hardy dwarf shrubs and you continue to go down, coming across altitude-moor troughs – which are characteristic of the rainfall storage system on this side of the mountain. From the Einködlscharte the route proceeds on the eastern side of the Fleiding to the mountain station for the Alpenrosenbahn. Weary hikers have the opportunity to go down on the gondola to Westendorf and from there finish the circuit on the walkway, or take the bus.
The last section of the Almrosenweg trail isn’t to be missed. The mountain station for the Alpenrosenbahn is also the starting point for the ‚Alpinolino‘, where the young and not-so-young alike can put their natural-history knowledge and skills to the test. On a section of this new attraction you learn about the so-called ‘chorus’, on a route taking barely half an hour. From this point all of Brixental, from Wörgl to Kitzbühel, will be in your line of sight. For the descent you can opt for the steeper route across the Santenbach Hochalm and Niederalm, or take the route across the ridge of the mountain and across the forest road to Kandleralm. Due to its north-facing location, Santenbachalm is also an alpine rose paradise in early summer. Through extensive forests of fir and spruce you finally head back down the Brixentaler Ache and back to Brixen.
Mountaineering shoes are recommended for the tour. Crossing the Gampenkogel requires good visibility and if there is a chance that there may be stormy weather, postponing the hike is preferable. Centre of the village – Kandleralm: 350 metres altitude/ 1 hour, Kandleralm – Rechental: hours, Rechental – Brixenbachstraße: 150 metres altitude descent / hours, Brixenbachstraße – Wiegalm via Talkaser: 450 metres altitude / 2 hours, Wiegalm – Kreuzjöchlsee: 200 metres altitude/ 1 hour, Kreuzjöchlsee – Chor via the Alpenrosenbahn mountain station: 200 metres altitude (slightly up and down) / 1.5 hours, Chor – Brixen via Kandleralm: 1000 metres altitude descent via the path / 2.5 hours;
|Starting point||Town centre|
|Walking time||6 - 7 hours|
|Altitude difference||950 metres altitude|
|Difficulty level||Moderately difficult|
|Stop-off options||Wiegalm, Brechhornhaus, Restaurant Talkaser, Panoramarestaurant Choralpe, Berggasthaus Kandleralm|