Trek Notes - Austria

Leutasch Valley Walking

This independent walking week is based in the tiny hamlet of Kirchplaztl, in the heart of the Leutasch Valley. Tucked away next to the onion-domed village church is the family-run Hotel Xander. The oldest inn in the valley, it has been sensitively modernised to incorporate all the luxuries you would expect of a **** establishment. The huge bedrooms are more like apartments, with your own lounge area and tea/coffee-making facilities, and the bathrooms have both a bath and a shower. There is a heated indoor swimming pool, two saunas, steam bath, whirlpool bath and solarium (pay locally), fitness studio, boot room, and if you want to spoil yourself, beauty treatments and massages at extra cost. For children, there's an indoor play area and games room, with table tennis, pool, table football, darts and pinball.

Breakfast is an enormous hot and cold buffet and picnic lunches are provided for all walking days. Evening meals are served in the hotel's elegant dining room - gorgeous mountain views. Hubert Kobinger has been the hotel's chef for the last 31 years and his menu is an interesting blend of Tyrolean specialities and international dishes.

Below is a suggested week of walks. There is also a full programme of walks along flat valley trails and using mountain lifts to gain altitude. Leutasch tourist office offers free guided walks on most days.

Sporthotel Xander, Leutasch. Kirchplatzl is at the heart of the Leutasch valley, with doorstep access to some of the best walking in the area. Tucked away next door to the onion-domed village church is our hotel, owned by the Ennemoser family.

The oldest inn in the valley, it has been sensitively modernised to incorporate all the luxuries you would expect of a four star establishment. The bedrooms are large with sofa, easy chair and kitchenette plus bathrooms with bath and shower, and hairdryers are also available. Room upgrades available at this hotel. Extra nights at this hotel can be arranged on request. 


Every Saturday from 23 May - 17 Sep 2011

Day 1 - Arrive at Innsbruck
We pick you up at Innsbruck station for the 40-minute drive to the hotel in time for dinner.

Day 2 - Hochmoos Orientation Walk 14km/9mi/5hr
This circular route from the hotel starts gently past the Weidachsee (trout hatchery and fly fishing) to the Kreith chairlift, which whisks you up to the sunny terrace at the Katzenkopf restaurant (1363m). A shady forest path winds up to 1540m and a succession of dramatic viewpoints in a wonderful geography lesson: the bare-topped Zugspitze, sweeping Leutasch valley and neighbouring Seefeld, backed by the jagged Karwendel mountains.

Day 3 - Frenchman's Climb and the Leutaschklamm Gorge 13km/8mi/5.5hr
A taxi (included) takes you to Leutaschklamm Gorge, on the outskirts of Mittenwald, which you can explore along a board walk, above the ice-blue waters, to a thundering 23m waterfall. A short climb returns you to the Leutasch Valley from where you follow the steep Frenchmans' Climb. This is the route Napoleon took to invade Tyrol in 1805. You walk through cool forest along a broad ridge with wonderful views to the north. After perhaps a leisurely lunch at a mountain restaurant you descend back into Bavaria to catch the train home from Mittenwald. Back at the hotel enjoy a swim in the pool and the afternoon sun on the terrace.

Day 4 - Gaistal Balcony Walk 17km/11mi/5.5hr
This dead-end valley, closed to vehicles, is a Tyrolean idyll of lush Alpine meadows, pretty wooden chalets and burbling brooks, topped by jagged grey mountain peaks. Starting from the hotel, there's a steep climb then a marvellous treat of constant views from benches along an easy balcony walk: not only the Leutasch valley and familiar mountains, but over to the spiky snowbound line of the Stubai Alps beyond Innsbruck.

Day 5 - Free Day
Why not spend the day in Innsbruck, just 40 minutes away? The romantic mediaeval Altstadt is the best starting point, but the whole city centre, small enough to explore on foot, is a jumble of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings. There's excellent shopping too. Alternatively you could book a day trip to the top of the Zugspitze (2962m) by cable car.

Day 6 - Walk on the Wild Side 11km/7mi/3hr or 13km/8mi/4hr
You take the bus and train to Scharnitz to begin today's walk which follows part of the E4 Gibraltar-Crete long distance footpath. It feels like a really wild walk although you are still close to civilisation. The climb through the mixed woodland - we saw roe deer and a lone chamois grazing in the lunar landscape of the Kastental cliffs - takes you to the grassy High Saddle (1495m). From this wonderful picnic spot you descend by a choice of routes directly back to the hotel for a relaxing sauna and swim.

Day 7 - Seefeld High Mountain Walk 12km/8mi/3.5hr
Today you get a taste of ‘high mountain' walking, along straightforward paths and using mountain lifts to cut out the hard work. From the top of the Seefelder Joch (2074m) you have a magnificent 360º panorama, and you can see the routes of all your walks. The Gaistal, dominated by the Zugspitze, looks magnificent! After dinner at the hotel, perhaps celebrate your last night with a fun Tyrolean music evening in a local bar.

Day 8 - Return home

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