Across the Eastern Alps: E5
The E5 from Lake Constance to Verona
From Lake Constance in Germany, this guidebook describes walking the E5 trek that runs 600km through a remarkable kaleidoscope of landscapes and culture in Switzerland, Austria and Italy, to its destination at Verona. It traverses the Allgauer, Lechtaler and Ötztaler Alps. There is a good network of alpine refuges and guesthouses on the route.
SeasonsSummer to avoid snow on high passes. Accommodation open late June through to late September.
CentresLake Constance, Bozen, Verona, Oberstdorf, Sölden, Moos, Levico Terme, Carbonare
Difficulty600km route over 30 days. High-altitude alpine walking and simpler hill-walking. 21,000m height gain and 23,000m height loss.
Must SeeSpectacular geological sites and First World War remains; varied traditional mountain cultures; stunning alpine and glacial scenery
Launched on the shores of beautiful Lake Constance, this well-established long-distance European pathway (600km) takes 30 days to make its way through a remarkable kaleidoscope of landscapes and culture spanning rural alpine regions in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy.
Passes as high as 2900m above sea level are crossed en route to the northern Italian city of Bolzano. Gentler gradients follow as the E5 bears south parallel to the mighty Adige river through the Lagorai, Pasubio and Lessini groups. The final destination is marvellous Verona, romantic city par excellence.
A well-organised network of alpine refuges and cosy guesthouses welcome walkers along the route, and convenient transport links make it possible to join or leave the trek at virtually every stage to fit in with individual holiday needs.
- Traverses the Allgauer, Lechtaler and Ötztaler Alps
- Visits spectacular geological sites and First World War remains
- Can be easily split into shorter stages
Summary of the E5
Walking the E5
Highlights for Shorter Holidays
When to Go
To and From the E5
How to Use this Guidebook
Dos and Don'ts
What to Take
Food and Drink
Part One Lake Constance to Bozen
Stage 1 Constance to Arbon
Stage 2 Arbon to Rheineck
Stage 3 Rheineck to Lingenau
Stage 4 Lingenau to Staufnerhaus
Stage 5 Staufnerhaus to Gunzesried
Stage 6 Gunzesried to Kemptnerhütte
Stage 7 Kemptnerhütte to Memmingerhütte
Stage 8 Memmingerhütte to Zams
Stage 9 Zams to Mittelberg
Stage 10 Mittelberg to Zwieselstein
Stage 11 Zwieselstein to Moos in Passeier
Stage 12 Moos in Passeier to Pfandleralm
Stage 13 Pfandleralm to Hirzerhütte
Stage 14 Hirzerhütte to Meranerhütte
Stage 15 Meranerhütte to Bozen
Part Two Bozen to Verona
Stage 16 Bozen to Wastlhof
Stage 17 Wastlhof to Gfrill
Stage 18 Gfrill to Cembra
Stage 19 Cembra to Palù di Fersina
Stage 20 Palù di Fersina to Levico Terme
Stage 21 Levico Terme to Carbonare
Stage 22 Carbonare to Passo Coe
Stage 23 Passo Coe to Rifugio Lancia
Stage 24 Rifugio Lancia to Pian delle Fugazze
Stage 25 Pian delle Fugazze to Rifugio Campogrosso
Stage 26 Rifugio Campogrosso to Giazza
Stage 27 Giazza to Erbezzo
Stage 28 Erbezzo to Montecchio
Stage 29 Montecchio to Verona
Appendix 1 Tourist Information
Appendix 2 German–English Glossary
Appendix 3 Italian–English Glossary
Simplified sketch maps and route profiles detailing each stage are included in this guide. Their purpose is to give a rough idea of the route, and to describe facilities walkers can expect to find. However, it is essential to take with you the relevant published maps.
Kompass (www.kompass.at) publish two useful maps covering the whole of the E5. ‘Wanderkarte Europäischer Fernwanderweg E5‘ sheet 120 is ‘Teil Nord’ (northern part), which corresponds to Stages 1–9, while sheet 121 ‘Teil Süd’ covers Stages 10–29. At a 1:50,000 scale, they consist of strip sections of larger maps, and in combination with this guide are perfectly adequate for following the E5. Their disadvantages are occasional innaccuracies and lack of detail, and the fact that they only show the immediate area around the route; it can be frustrating not being able to identify more distant mountains.
Walkers who intend to cover a short part of the route may prefer purchasing more detailed maps. Apart from Kompass, other possibilities are listed below, though there are some gaps. Leading map sellers and outdoor stores in the UK, USA and Australia generally keep these in stock. For the UK try Stanfords (www.stanfords.co.uk).
Stages 1–3 1:60,000 sheet Bodensee/ Lake Constance by Kummerly+ Frey (Constance to Bregenz) www.swissmaps.ch.
Stages 6–7 Alpenvereinskarte 1:25,000 sheet 2/1 Allgäuer-Lechtaler Alpen, West (Oberstdorf to Holzgau only). Published by the Austrian Alpine Club; members can order the map at www.alpenverein.at/karten.
Stages 7–8 Alpenvereinskarte 1:25,000 sheet 3/3 Lechtaler Alpen, Parseierspitze (Holzgau
to Zams only). Published by
the Austrian Alpine Club;
members can order the map at www.alpenverein.at/karten.
Stage 10 Alpenvereinskarte 1:25,000 sheet 30/5 Ötztaler Alpen, Geigenkamm (Mittelberg to Zwieselstein). Published by
the Austrian Alpine Club;
members can order the map at www.alpenverein.at/karten.
Stages 11–13 Tabacco 1:25,000 sheet 039 ‘Val Passiria/Passeiertal’ (Zwieselstein to Hirzerhütte).
Stage 14 Tabacco 1:25,000 sheet 011 ‘Merano e dintorni/Meran und Umgebung’ (Hirzerhütte to Meranerhütte).
Stage 15–16 Tabacco 1:25,000
sheet 034 ‘Bolzano-Renon-Tschögglberg’ (St Jakob to Deutschnofen only).
Stage 16 Tabacco 1:25,000 sheet 029 ‘Sciliar/Schlern’ (Bozen to Oberraden).
Stages 23–24 Sezioni Vicentine del CAI 1:25,000 sheet 2 (foglio nord) ‘Sentieri Pasubio Carega’ (Passo Coe to Pian delle Fugazze).
Stages 25–27 Sezioni Vicentine del CAI 1:25,000 sheet 1 (foglio sud) ‘Sentieri Pasubio Carega’ (Pian delle Fugazze to Maregge only).
Stage 29 Provincia di Verona-Comune di Verona 1:20,000 ‘Carta dei Sentieri Sulle Colline di Verona’ (Montecchio to Verona).
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There's been an increase in cases of TBE (tick-borne encephalitis) across Europe, Italy included. Walkers should be aware that they may pick up ticks while walking through grass and woodland up to approx 1500 metres altitude. Not all ticks carry the disease but better safe than sorry. Simple precautions and plenty of useful information is available on the website: https://ecdc.europa.eu/en/tick-borne-encephalitis. Vaccination is also an option.
Thanks to John Young
'The trek was wonderful. Certainly comparable in my view to the Swiss Alpine Pass Route and the GR5. An entirely logical crossing of the Eastern Alps at their widest point. Constantly varied both environmentally and culturally and (apart from the first few days) not crowded. The E5 is clearly well-known in Germany and deserves to be a lot better known in the UK.'
So far as I could tell the E5 is now signposted locally over the Rettenbachjoch rather than the Pitztaler Jochl, as shown on the Kompass map – or at least if there were E5 signs to the Pitztaler Jochl I didn’t see them. There is still snow to descend on the other side!
On page 77 the route is now (rather pointlessly in my view) signposted via Hochfirst before descending to the valley, as shown on the Kompass map. (I accidentally followed the direct route in the Guide and was glad I had done so - it saved some time!)
Local waymarking and the Kompass map both avoid the centre of St Leonhard (I think in order to go via the museum). Again that seemed a shame - I followed the Guide through the village centre and had a pleasant stop at a cafe in the square.
On page 114 the route from Passo del Redibus to Palu del Fersina (not Palu "di" Fersina) is signposted via a route that rises from the pass and then descends to the village rather than just following the road, as shown on the Kompass map.
I just walked down the road per the Guide - the diversion seemed to be an attempt to add unnecessary "interest" to a short and purely functional stretch at the expense of unwelcome height gain.
Contrary to what a previous Website update suggested, the routing via Passo Portella and Monte Gronlait is still waymarked on fairly new signs and seems to be the principal approved route.
Navigation from Levico through Quaere to the start of the ascent to Baita Cangi was devilish in the extreme. I didn't see some of the signage mentioned in the Guide - it may have gone. The trick was to bear almost continuously right on a generally easterly heading after the T junction at Quaere. However until (with relief) I found my first signpost to Baita Cangi after a sharp right turn I wasn't sure if I was in the right place at all. The Kompass map shows the route accurately.
Confusingly, from Baita Cangi until close to Verona there are occasional E7 signs nailed to posts - the route coincides with the E5 for a stretch
For some reason the Kompass map takes a wholly different (and much longer) route from Carbonare to Passo Coe, coinciding with the Guide's route only at Forte Cherle. I can’t see why it does this. Waymarking on the ground (albeit very sparse in places) is per the Guide.
Waymarking on the ground now goes OVER Cima Palon, as shown on the Kompass map, along to the pass at the end of the ridge, then drops to Rif Papa (i.e. avoiding Seletta Comando).
Stage 16: the E5 has reportedly been rerouted via Laneralm to the Bletterbach Visitor Centre then the botttom of the gorge and up the other side.
p113 Locanda dello Scalco has been transformed into self-catering apartments
p114 Regnana - the pizzeria has rooms
Centrale di Bedolle - B&B La Laita www.beblaita.it tel 333 6853285
p118 the E5 has reportedly been rerouted via Val Cava. It joins a road after 40min then after 4km reaches La Bassa and the route described in the guide - see p120.
p120 Rifugio Malga Masi is open with accommodation and meals www.malgamasi.it tel 340 4988781
(Thanks to Sally Forwood)
Kompass now has a single map for the E5 - n.2558
(Thanks to James Keen)
Thanks to Matt & Cathie Glover, Aug 2013: 'Pity you can’t wean the Brits off the TMB - this is a much more challenging route and not commercialised.'
- Stage 4: Between Lingenau and the German border there is little mention of E5. If using a high level route to the Staufner Haus there is a Jausen station, Johannis Alm, at the junction of paths 164 (starts at the toll) and 163 (to Platten Alm).
- Stage 5: Stuiben–Steineberg section has the most serious technical vf stretches. There is now a ca. 10m vertical ladder descent direct from the Steineberg cross to pick up the E5 route. This saves doubling back to the junction at the true summit, but could be a bit daunting. Alternatively there is a path S. From the cross past Grathofle Alpe to a vehicle track which rejoins the E5 just above Durrenhorn.
- Stage 6: There is now a bus service from Oberstdorf Station to Spielsmannsau.
- Stage 8: Oberloch Alm is basic but functions. 45 minutes later the Unterloch Alm is also in business and very popular.
- Stage 9: There is now an ultra-modern hut with accommodation + meals at the top of the Venetbahn www.venet.at tel (43) 5442 62663.
- Stage 10: The frequent Rettenbach bus service will stop at the Rettenbachalm allowing a swift descent down the awful Rettenbachtal.
- Stage 11: Both Moos and Pfandleralm can get fully booked. Rabenstein and Hasselstaude (Stage 12) provide an alternative combination.
- Stage 12: Jausen Pfeiftal now offers accommodation tel 0473 641288 www.pfeiftal.it. A short descent away is Gasthof Haselstaude www.haselstaude.it tel 0473 641248.
- Stage 16: Wolfstal Alm is no longer a Jausenstation.
- Stage 18: apart from Rifugio Potzmauer at the pass, there are no other refuges until Lago Santo.
- Stage 19: The W end of Faver has a new road, roundabout, flyover and tunnel, plus a left turn to Ponciach. Avoid them all by sticking to the right edge and go through Faver as before to the left turn to Ponciach.
- Stage 21: Carbonare: Albergo Cornetto only functions as a bar. Hotel Trentino tel 0464 765350 www.hoteltrentino.it
- Stage 22: This area was hit by a localised tornado and the paths have not been fully restored.Stage 24: A summer bus from Pian delle Fugazze goes to Rifugio Campogrosso.
(With thanks to Colin Widdup)
p114 Palù di Fersina: Albergo Lagorai is now closed - replacement Rosa Alpina (Tolleri 68) tel 0461 550075
p152 suggested extra hotel for Verona: Hotel Siena www.hotelsiena-verona.it tel 045 8003074
Thanks to Sue and Martin Banfield:
p103 Wastlhof only rents out apartments these days - alas, no meals
p107 at Passo del Potz Mauer is new Rifugio Potzmauer tel 333 7771211
www.rifugiopotzmauer.it open 20/6-20/9 and weekends
Page 116: Rifugio Lago Erdemolo is closed at present.
Page 35: Susan's Guestroom has now closed
'This is the first detailed guide in English to a relatively unknown European long-distance route. Beginning at Lake Constance in Germany, the trail passes through low-level Switzerland and rural Bavaria before traversing Austria's Otztaler Alps and heading south to Italy's mountainous Trentino region, finishing at Verona.
Despite a total height gain of 21,000m, it is a route suitable for walkers at every level. And the scenery is beautiful.'
(Walking World Ireland / July - August 2007)
'This is the first English-language guide to a north/south trans-alpine route and is a logical extension for Gillian Price to her excellent series of guidebooks to the Dolomites and Northern Italy. Essentially, it is an alpine route, though it includes suitable walking for all abilities. The excellent introduction provides general background information, a selection of shorter trips and it lists support facilities including maps, transport and accommodation websites.
The book, in its protective cover, fits neatly into a pocket. It is a wonderful guide which I enjoyed reading and picturing myself back in parts of this splendid walking area.'
(Irish Mountain Log / Winter 2007)
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Gillian Price has trekked throughout Asia and the Himalayas, but now lives in Venice and is exploring the mountains and flatter bits of Italy. Starting in the Italian Dolomites, Gillian has written outstanding Cicerone guides to walking all over Italy as well as Corsica and Corfu. An adamant promoter of public transport to minimise environmental impact, Gillian belongs to Mountain Wilderness and is an active member of the Venice branch of CAI, the Italian Alpine Club.View Articles and Books by Gillian Price
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