Welcome to beautiful Upper Austria in the hinterland of Mozart’s city of Salzburg. The beauty of the area embraced by the Dachstein Mountains and the Hallstattersee is truly inspirational especially in the crisp, stable weather that this region often acquires during the period of this 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 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. The next walk takes you via the flanks of Mount Plassen to perhaps the real gem of the tour, for two nights at the ancient town of Hallstatt. This 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. The local museums and churches are certainly worth a visit. The charnel house in the graveyard contains bones, including painted skulls, of the local dead whose graves were dug up after 12 years to make room for new clients. 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.
We grade this tour as moderate - challenging; anyone used to hill walking with a daily height gain/loss of up to 3,300 feet (1100 metres) should find the tour within their capability. Most days are easier than this. You will find some steep, stony trails and maybe an element of exposure on a couple of occasions. Walkers, who want to avoid the ‘challenging’ walks, can use public transport to travel between centers: Good train and/or postbus system. Day Stages: Average duration of walking per day is about 6 hours. Some of the walks may be shortened if desired by the use of cablecars/funiculars or local postbuses.
Fly to Vienna/Salzburg/Linz/Graz and take the airport shuttle buses, then trains to Bad Goisern. There are trains more or less hourly throughout the day. Settle into your hotel and maybe stretch your legs strolling along the riverside path.
Accommodation: Moserwirt Guesthouse - a warm welcome awaits you at our 3 star hotel, picturesquely located near the centre of town. It is a comfortable hotel located easily within walking distance of the railway station and the start or finish of quite a few of the walks. Rooms have regional character and there is a great bar/restaurant and terrace for outdoor dining. It is a good place to enjoy the feeling of getting away from it all!
There are different options today. If you are up for a bit of a challenge, take the train to the Spa town of Bad Ischl (15 minutes) and take the 19 km / 11 mile walk back to Bad Goisern involving a climb up to the craggy peak of Predigstuhl 1278m (some steps & cables to summit but you can bypass the summit). There are great vistas towards the Dachstein group, which still looks quite far off at this point and over the Halstattersee. A steep descent takes you along the Ewige Wand rock band before doubling back through some old salt workings bringing you out into the forest above Bad Goisern.
An alternative is a shorter walk steeply up a forested rock ridge called the ‘The Jochwand,’ 9 km / 5.5 miles approx. There are great views over the region before the path drops downhill to Bad Goisern. For a more relaxing day, walk along both sides of the river bank and explore the coffee shops of Bad Goisern.
The path climbs past the Goiserer Hutte 1598m. Hardened walkers may wish to spend an extra half hour or so climbing up to the peak of Kalmberg 1833m. It is then downhill to Gosau heading steeply through attractive Alps and then through forests and walk into the spread out village of Gosau.
Accommodation: Hotel Restaurant Gosauerhof - We use an attractive modern 3 star hotel in the great rural setting of the broad Gosau Valley. Lovely mountain views over to the Gosaukaum Mountains from the dining room and south facing bedrooms and great forest and village views in other directions. Once again you have friendly and attentive service and lovely meals. They also have a drying room.
You have the choice of either a full day or half day walk.
Take the local postbus to Gosaursee and gain the ridge high above with a funicular car up to the ‘Gablonzer Hutte,’ 1522m (probably closed September / October) and then from there follow a pretty path back down again to Gosau called the ‘Herrenweg’ (The Man’s Walk). On this 7 km / 4 mile walk there are normally great views of the Gosaukamm Mountains.
You can also take the postbus up to the Gosausee and then walk the trail to the Hintere Gosausee, which is the smaller higher second lake, ascent and descent is about 300m. This trip takes about 4 hours and on a good day you will get some very dramatic reflections of the mountains in the waters.
From Gosau you can walk to Hallstatt (literally ‘Salt City’) maybe with the assistance of local transport to shorten routes. Walking, the route follows the valley before climbing up through forest and alpine pastures liberally watered by mountain streams reaching the flanks of Mount Plassen. Here is a short steep section to descend, before a more gentle undulating general descent via the mines of Salzburg where you will find a salt mine where guided visits are possible depending on when you arrive. Finally drop down to Hallstatt. If it is wet or if a storm beckons a little funicular will get you down.
Accommodation: Hotel Seewirt Zauner - Our 3 star hotel has recently undergone refurbishment but still retains its character. Bedrooms have modern comforts in a house which is deeply rooted in the life and tradition of Hallstatt. The marvelous view from the balconies over the rooftops of perhaps the most romantic lake-village in the world is like a glimpse into a small paradise. The hotel is set back from the Halstattersee, but many of the rooms do have balconies.
Time is well spent utilizing cable cars and the Obertrauner Hohenweg to visit an ‘Ice cave,’ the ‘Mammoth cave’ and Mount Krippenstein, with more walking opportunities and views to the Dachsteins and their glaciers. Alternatively from the town a steep gradient leads you up to the salt mine, which originally gave the town its wealth. (If you have not visited this yesterday on the way down from the walk). You could avoid the climb by using the little funicular railway instead. High above there are great views of the Hallstattersee and the high peaks. You can walk back on the ‘Soleweg’ path. Spend some time in Hallstatt, looking around for instance, the old graveyard where bones and skulls have been piled up in the bone house, many painted with floral motifs. You could also take the ferry across the Hallstattersee for a mini cruise. Photographers will certainly appreciate the different vistas of the town from the water!
The walk leads off northerly from above Hallstatt along the ‘Solweg’ the path by which they have pumped brine (liquid salt) towards Bad Ischl for a few hundred years. Originally the brine was piped via a wooden piping and is claimed to be the oldest commercial pipeline. Hopefully if the weather is clear and still you will get some beautiful reflections in the waters. You can take a detour down to the lake at a place called Gosaumuhle where you may like to take a swim on a warm day. You then carry on into Bad Goisern and back to your first hotel. Alternatively you can catch the ferry across to the railway station in the morning and walk round the eastern side of the lake to Bad Goisern. For the most challenging walk of the week you can opt to cross the lake and walk via the summit of Sarstein back to Bad Goisern.
After breakfast make your way to the train station for your onward journey.
We had a terrific time, the weather was good, everyone was friendly. Enjoyed the walks over passes from hotel to hotel and mountain scenery. As an Engineer I enjoyed the Hallstatt Museum, history and walk along the Brine Route.
R. Hollis, Herts, UK, 25 Jul 2016
The Walk from Gossau to Hallstatt past mountain huts, cows with bells, spectacular views.
S. Harris, Camberwell, VIC. Australia, 29 Jun 2015
Per Person, Twin Share