Maria Blut Hermitage: A Place of Peaceful Energy
Stage 1 of the Koasa Trail starts at the Tourist Office in St. Johann in Tirol. While walking past beautiful farmhouses towards Landcafé Hinterkaiser (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays), you can already see the Wilder Kaiser range and the Niederkaiserkamm ridge.
A gnarly forest trail opens up to a clearing at 856 meters above sea level where the Weeping Mary hermitage, a kind of chapel with pretty turrets made from wood shingles, is situated. The hermitage has been inhabited continuously for over 300 years. The nun who lives there currently lovingly tends to the gardens where she grows flowers, herbs and vegetables. The rustic wooden bench below the wayside cross beckons to sit and enjoy the peace and quiet of this place.
A Rock Chapel & a Polite Forest
After a relaxed break you enter the forest on your right and continue along a steep trail with wooden steps. With some luck you will be able to see chamois scrambling across the slopes. After a few switchbacks you will reach the high baroque Gmail Chapel (917 m) – a popular photo motif for its unique setting.
Box: Good to Know
The name Gmail derives from the German word for painting (Gemälde) that once adorned the chapel. Not to be confused with the email service provided by the Internet giant Google!
The trail continues through a beautiful mixed forest that is just sparse enough to let some sun filter through and reveal scenic views of Leukental valley below.
Box: Photo points along the trail
Weeping Mary Hermitage (856 m)
Gmail Chapel (917 m)
Schatterkopf (1274 m)
Bacheralm (977 m)
Charming Herb Chalet
At 1274 meters above sea level, Schatterkopf is the highest point of this stage. From the top a narrow trail leads down to Gasteig. On the way you will walk past Metzgeralm and Bacheralm. The latter, which features dark green shutters that are very typical of Tirol, is inhabited by a couple in the summer.
The wooden stairs to the chalet’s entrance are decorated with flower pots. The air is permeated with the scent of herbs which the couple grow and process into all kinds of things. Officially, the chalet does not serve food or beverages, but most of the time hungry and thirsty hikers will be offered a bite to eat and a herbal infusion. By the time you reach Gasteig you will have walked around 3.5 hours and you will probably start to feel your legs.
A Last Climb & Rewarding Views
After a relaxing break, continue down to the valley along the edge of Gasteig. Once there keep your eyes open for the BBQ site of Gut Kramerhof Hotel. At the BBQ site, take the trail that leads into a small side valley. The last climb is along a steep but short forest road that ends in a fairytale-like forest.
After having walked for about 5.5 hours it’s time for the next rewarding view. After a last steep climb you will reach an open pasture, which affords magnificent views of the majestic Wilder Kaiser range. From the pasture it’s an easy a 30-minute walk down to Griesenau. Congratulations! You have finished Stage1 of the Koasa Trail!
Bärnstetten St. Johann in Tirol