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Adlerweg (Eagle's Trail) Tirol

The stages 1 - 3 lead from St. Johann in Tirol over the Kaiser mountains to Kufstein

Long distance hike: Adlerweg (Eagle's Trail) Tirol
Long distance hike: Adlerweg (Eagle's Trail) Tirol

The eagle, symbol for freedom and independence, vastness and strength circles majestically over the Tyrolean mountains. Those wishing to discover the Adlerweg Tirol, the main hiking path across Tyrol will have a similar sublime feeling. The stages 1-3 lead from St. Johann over the Wilder Kaiser to Kufstein. The route starts from St. Johann passing through the beautiful holiday region of Wilder Kaiser in the Tyrolean lowlands, over the Karwendel mountains and Innsbruck on to St. Anton am Arlberg. The stages of the Adlerweg lead to the most stunning countryside in the loveliest walking territory where you can discover: alpine villages & ice caves; summit crosses & chapels; chamois & marmots; maple woods and alpine gardens. From Kufstein fortress through the mellow countryside in the lower Inn valley, along the Laliderer rockfaces in the Karwendel Alpenpark along the well-known Zirbenweg (Pine Path) high above Innsbruck, through the alpine pasture paradise of the Gais valley, past Schloss Fernstein along the old roman road through the 'Natura 2000'-region Lechauen and up to the massif on the border between Tyrol and Vorarlberg to St. Anton am Arlberg.

Imperial Start - Stage 1 of the Adlerweg Tirol

The Wilder Kaiser has enough challenges for extreme climbers but is also well enough developed and secured that hikers can also conquer the rugged territory from all sides. The path from St. Johann to the Gaudeamushütte is richly varied and does not need any special technical ability. The hiking route passes the lush green landscape of the valley around St Johann, mixed forest, rugged climbing rocks and ends up at the Gaudeamushütte, a popular destination for day-trippers. The first fascinating passage leads through the "Diebsöfen" (Thieves' ovens) where once upon a time smugglers stored their forbidden wares in the caverns of the the dark rock cliffs. The climb leads through the wide open rock caves and along the wooded hillsides to the Schleierwasserfälle. Here water bubbles out of the stone and falls over the rock overhang like a thin veil (Schleier). Climbers take the vertical route behind the veil of water; on a summer weekend over a hundred sport climbers can be seen scrambling down. Arriving at the upper Regalm, you are confronted with the majestic Kaiser jagged rock tips of the Ackerl- and Maukspitze in front of you. This is what the walking guides call a "Hot Spot" as there are such fabulous photo opportunities. After the highest point of the hike the descent down to the Gaudemushütte starts at the "teacher's grave" of Weiser Much. The Gaudemushütte (1263 m) built in 1899, is a great place to watch the chamois through binoculars as they cross the snow fields of the Wilder Kaiser.

En-route in the "Wilder Kaiser range"

The gentle and rugged sides of the Wilder Kaiser, from the Gaudeamushütte to Hintersteinersee. Surefootedness is recommended, as there are interchanging sections of ascent and gentle descent. It is a leisurely descent from the Gaudeamushütte to the Wochenbrunner Alm, followed by a steep climb to the Grüttenhütte. An option for experienced hikes is the direct link from the Gaudeamushütte to the Gruttenhütte which is uphill all the way through a chimney-like section which is accessed on fixed iron rungs. The Gruttenhütte lives up to the image that mountain hikers have of a an alpine hut - in typical alpine style, stone walls, weatherboarded facade and red window shutters. The hut is the best viewing point of this stage with views of the Kitzbüheler Alpen, from Saalbach as far as Wildschönau, with the magnificent Ellmauer Halt and Kopftörlgrat behind. It is not uncommon to be surprised by the boldness of the otherwise very shy chamois. A local joke is that they have a grazing competition with the numerous sheep here! The Wilde-Kaiser-Steig leads along the foot of the Tuxeck and Treffauer before opening out into the romantic area around the Kaiser-Hoch-Alm with dwarf pines and flower filled meadows.With a bit of luck the landlord at the Steiner Alm will break out into spontaneous harp playing. Either way it's well worth having a break here before starting on the descent down to the Hintersteinersee. About 1.5 km before the end of the stage the Gasthof Bärnstatt is a welcoming stop before reaching the idyllic Hintersteinersee with its tingling cold waters.

In the alpine pasture paradise above Kufstein - Stage 3 of the Adlerweg Tirol

A safe, leisurely walk across alpine pastures with lovely viewing points and resting places. This is the perfect place for children to run off any of their spare energy. From the Hintersteinersee it is signposted to the Walleralm, the route goes up through the forest partly on a timber trail and partly on stone steps. The Alpengasthaus Walleralm lies bedded between high plains of lush grazing pastures and is a very popular destination for hikers and bikers. The path to the next station, the Kaindlhütte heads up to the Hochegg Saddle at 1470m. The summit cross is right next to the path and is a wonderful viewing point. The Kaindlhütte lies in a dip and is a good place to stop for refreshments. This popular and well-run hut is the starting point for numerous mountain tours of every degree of difficulty to the nearby Kaiser summits. Those wishing to spend a night in one of the lovely panelled rooms of this traditional hut should book in good time. A forest road leads down a little before heading up to the Brentenjoch, nearby is the lift station. The best way down is on the chair lift which protects the knees and provides the perfect opportunity to admire the Inn valley and adjacent mountains as well as the town of Kufstein from above.