The Eagle's Way across the Austrian Tyrol
By Mike Wells
Comprehensive guidebook to walking the Adlerweg, or Eagle's Way across the Austrian Tyrol. The 300km (186 mile) waymarked trekking route from St Johann to St Anton follows established mountain and valley tracks. 6 low-level alternative stages and a challenging 8 stage variant are included, with suggestions for a 15 day and 21 day itinerary.
Seasonsfrom late June to mid September; the best time is August, but popular mountain refuges can be busy
Centresfrom St Johann in Tirol near Kitzbuhel to St Johann am Arlberg, passing through Kufstein, Pertisau/Maurach on Achensee, Innsbruck and Ehrwald
DifficultyAll stages of the path are graded white (easy), red (medium) or black (challenging); most are red and require a reasonable level of fitness, surefootedness and some experience of mountain walking; the 4 black stages can be avoided using signposted variants; no special equipment is required
Must Seecrosses Austria’s Tyrol from east to west through a series of mountain ranges, Wilder Kaiser, Rofan and Karwendel, passing beneath Zugspitze and through Lechtaler Alpen; also drops into the Inn Valley, Leutasch and Lechtal
The Adlerweg or Eagle’s Way is a well maintained and waymarked 300km path traversing the length of the Austrian Tyrol from St Johann in the east to St Anton in the west.
The Adlerweg is a summer walk with a season from mid-June to early October, although after heavy winter snowfall significant snow may remain at higher altitudes until mid-July.
It is possible to walk the entire route in 15 days, but this requires an average of seven hours walking every day, covering 20km, mostly above 1000m. If you wish to take it more gently, five hours walking, covering 14km per day will enable you to complete the trek in three weeks.
This guidebook describes six easier variant stages that avoid the more airy parts, and eight more difficult ‘Alpine’ Stages that provide an alternative high-level trek through the Lechtaler Alps.
- the first English-language guide to the route
- variants make it as easy or challenging as desired
- fit walkers could complete the route in two weeks
National parks and protected areas
Food and drink
Amenities and services
The natural environment
What to take
About this guide
SECTION 1 Kaisergebirge
Stage 1 St Johann in Tirol to Gaudeamushutte
Stage 2 Gaudeamushutte to Hintersteinersee
Stage 3 Hintersteinersee to Kufstein
SECTION 2 Brandenberger Alpen and Rofangebirge
Stage 4 Langkampfen to Buchackeralm
Stage 5 Buchackeralm to Kaiserhaus
Stage 6 Kaiserhaus to Steinberg am Rofan
Stage 7 Steinberg am Rofan to Mauritzalm
Stage U6 Kaiserhaus to Bayreutherhutte
Stage U7 Bayreutherhutte to Mauritzalm
SECTION 3 Karwendelgebirge
Stage 8 Maurach to Lamsenjochhutte
Stage 9 Lamsenjochhutte to Falkenhutte
Stage 10 Falkenhutte to Karwendelhaus
Stage 11 Karwendelhaus to Hallerangerhaus
Stage 12 Hallerangerhaus to Hafelekarhaus
Stage U9 Lamsenjochhutte to Vomperberg
Stage U10 Vomperberg to Absam
Stage U11 Absam to Pfeishutte
SECTION 4 Innsbruck and Patscherkofel
Stage 12a Innsbruck city tour
Stage 13 Patscherkofelhaus to Tulfeinalm
Stage 14 Hochzirl to Solsteinhaus
SECTION 5 Wettersteingebirge and Miemingergebirge
Stage 15 Solsteinhaus to Leutasch
Stage 16 Leutasch to Ehrwald
Stage 17 Ehrwald to Schloss Fernstein castle
SECTION 6 Lechtal and Valluga
Stage 18 Schloss Fernstein castle to Anhalterhutte
Stage 19 Anhalterhutte to Haselgehr
Stage 20 Haselgehr to Steeg
Stage 21 Steeg to Stuttgarterhutte
Stage 22 Stuttgarterhutte to Ulmerhutte
Stage 23 Ulmerhutte to St Anton am Arlberg
Stage U22 Steeg to Leutkircherhutte
SECTION 7 Lechtaler Alpen Hohenweg
Stage A17 Schloss Fernstein castle to Loreahutte
Stage A18 Loreahutte to Anhalterhutte
Stage A19 Anhalterhutte to Hanauerhutte
Stage A20 Hanauerhutte to Wurttembergerhaus
Stage A21 Wurttembergerhaus to Memmingerhutte
Stage A22 Memmingerhutte to Ansbacherhutte
Stage A23 Ansbacherhutte to Kaiserjochhaus
Stage A24 Kaiserjochhaus to St Anton am Arlberg
Appendix A Distances and timings
Appendix B Suggested 15-day and 21-day schedules
Appendix C Tourist offices
Appendix D AUseful contacts
Appendix E Glossary of German geographic terms
This guide is not intended for use on its own. It is essential to have walking maps at a scale of 1:50,000 or 1:25,000. Maps from three publishers cover the route, and sheet numbers are shown for each stage. However, there are differences between the published maps in terms of scale, coverage and accuracy, as well as when information was researched.
Oesterreichischer Alpenverein (AV) maps cover almost 90% of the route at 1:25,000. There is no coverage of the walk-in from St Johann, and the Brandenberger Stages 4, 5 and part of Stages 6 and U6, with Stage 13 covered only at 1:50,000. These maps give the most comprehensive coverage of the Adlerweg, but 14 sheets are required (13 AV plus one from another publisher for the Brandenberger Alpen). They have been revised from original OeAV maps to update land use, path networks and settlements, and do show the Adlerweg. Contours are at 20m intervals overlaid with black hairline depiction of rock features. The maps are GPS compatible with UTM grid. Sheets required are: 8, 6, 5/3, 5/2, 5/1, 4/3, 4/2, 4/1, 3/4, 3/3, 3/2 and 2/2 (all 1:25,000) and 31/5 (1:50,000) plus Kompass 28.
A DVD is available of all OeAV maps. From this you can print your own strip maps of the route, at an enhanced scale (1:10,000), with considerable weight and space saving compared with carrying printed maps.
Freytag and Berndt (FB) cover the route in six sheets at 1:50,000. In addition, there is a 1:25,000 map of Karwendel that can be used instead of the 1:50,000. Maps come with an enclosed booklet (in German) of tourist information, path and walking routes, mountain refuges and guesthouses, and GPS details of key points shown on the maps. All sheets are updated regularly, using satellite photography plus information from tourist offices and alpine clubs, and are reissued at three-year intervals. Contours are at 100m intervals. Maps are GPS compatible with UTM grid. Sheets required are: 301, 321, 322, 241, 352 and 351. Sheet 5322 (1:25,000) can be used instead of 322.
Kompass (K) cover the route, either with two maps at 1:25,000, two maps at 1:35,000 and three maps at 1:50,000; or with six maps all at 1:50,000. The maps come with a booklet giving details of towns, villages, mountain paths and accommodation. Contours are at 40m intervals, and the maps are GPS compatible with UTM grid. Details and path markings are clearer than on Freytag and Berndt maps. The larger scale maps are simply enlargements of the 1:50,000, making them easier to read but with no greater detail.
The Adlerweg is shown on all sheets. Sheets required are: 9, 28, 26, 36, 5 and 24 (all 1:50,000); or 09 and 026 (1:25,000), 027 and 036 (1:35,000) and 28, 5 and 24 (1:50,000).
Tourist office maps: in addition to the published maps, Kompass have produced maps for some of the local tourist organisations, with a 1:50,000 map on one side and a local map or panorama on the reverse. These are available free from local tourist offices. Kompass maps are also used by Tirol Werbung for their strip maps of each stage, and these can be downloaded free from www.adlerweg.tirol.at. Local tourist offices also produce street maps of the towns and villages passed through.
All the maps are available from leading map shops, including Stanfords and The Map Shop, and are widely available in Austria. OeAV maps and the DVD can also be obtained from either OeAV in Innsbruck or OeAV Britannia Section at www.aacuk.org.uk at a discounted price for AV members.
Recommended maps to cover the entire Adlerweg route
- AV 8, 6, 5/3, 5/2, 5/1, 4/3, 4/2, 4/1, 3/4, 3/3, 3/2 and 2/2
- AV 31/5, Kompass 28
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p53/54 the path between Diebshofen caves and Schleierwasserfall has been blocked by a rockfall. Local diversions follow a forest track contouring across the forested hillside at a lower altitude to rejoin the main route west of the falls
p63 Kaiserlift chairlift has be refurbished with new equipment and reopened in 2016 after being closed for 3 years
p71 The descent from Hundsalmjoch to Daxerkreuz has been waymarked. Waymarks follow a route down through the forest on an alignment east of that described (ie heading N rather than NW).
p72 Gasthof Buchacker was not open during 2016. It is not known if it will be open in 2017.
p85 Accommodation and refreshments in Pinegg; Gasthof Gwercherwirt, Pinegg 64, private, 05331 5213.
p86/87 The route between Anderl and Hochleger has been diverted away from the 4wd track along the grassy ridge parallel on the R.
p156 Grubigalm chairlift was not operating during summer 2016; requiring a diversion in order to reach Grubigalm. From top of Grubigsteinbahn I cablecar you can either continue uphill on Grubigsteinbahn II cablecar to Grubighutte (which takes you 300m higher than you need to go) then descend on 4wd track to Grubigalm or you can walk ahead following a track that zigzags up through the woods to the L of the chairlift route. Both diversions will add between 45mins and 1hr to the journey time. It is not known if the chairlift will be working in 2017
p165 Washed out path past Untere Plotzigalm has been reinstated to keep R of river, no longer requiring diversion across river and back again lower down.
p167 Path from Bshlabs to the Ort de Stille now starts from L of church.
p183 At the top of Pazielfernerscharte the path is now waymarked along the top of the ridge to the R before descending steeply down a rock rib to Vallugagrat cable car station.
p184 Official Adlerweg waymarks now fork R after passing reservoir, leading to middle station of Vallugagrat cablecar; which is then used to descend into St Anton. The route described in the book (forking L on path sp St Anton descending down Steissbachtal valley) is still walkable (indeed preferable) and is a nice walk down avoiding the cablecar.
Following comments from a reader and correspondence with Tirol Werbung, there is an alteration on p72, as Gasthaus Buchacker at the end of stage 4, has closed.
My recommended alternative is to leave Langkampfen (beginning of stage 4) early so as to be able to continue walking on the next stage (Stage 5), an easy downhill walk on good forestry 4wd tracks, taking 3hrs to reach GH Kaiserhaus. If time is at a premium, ignore the challenging part of stage 4 over Koghorndl and Hundsalmjoch, instead take the alternative walkers route from Hohlensteinhaus to Daxerkreuz as shown on the map (p68) and described on p70. As the restaurant at Kaiserhaus is primarily aimed at day visitors and is only open until 18.00 (Sat/Sun 19.00), to get dinner walkers will need to arrive by about 17.30 on weekdays. Moreover it is closed on Tuesdays in May/Jun and Sep/Oct. If Kaiserhaus is closed, it is an easy 45min walk along an asphalt road to GH Gwercherwirt in Pinegg (just off stage U6) (+43(0)5331 5213).
Another option (recommended by Tirol Werbung, but not by Mike Wells) is to follow the vehicular access track from Buchackeralm down to Angerberg (1hr 45min walk) and spend the night there (they recommend GH Schlossblick, but there are other places too). In the morning a free shuttle service is offered to take walkers to GH Kaiserblick in Schonau (not the same place as Kaiserhaus) from where a 1hr 30min uphill waymarked route takes walkers back to the Adlerweg. This option requires 900m of descent from Buchackeralm then 900m of ascent the next morning to regain the route.
The private refuge at Ehrwalder Alm (page 153) has been rebuilt without accommodation. It is now called Tiroler Haus at Ehrwalder Alm (1502m) private, no accommodation, meals/refreshments, open when cable car running, tel 05673 2468 180
‘… this pocket-sized volume is useful information in abundance.
Wells, a real aficionado of long distance trails, gives a detailed description of the Adlerweg in 23 stages with six lower alternative stages and the ‘challenging’ high level variant over the Lechtaler Alps. To aid planning he breaks the route down into 12-day and 21-day schedules. If you can swing the time, I would recommend the latter. This is not only beautiful walking country but it is also culturally and gastronomically rich, rushing by would do the Adlerweg an injustice. Nor would you have time to absorb all of Wells’s asides on, for example, alpine dairy farming, Karst country or why you should not wear jewellery at the Zereinersee (a fairy story).
Publishers Cicerone have done a service in adding ‘The Adlerweg’ to their stable of Austrian walking guides. Clearly presented and packed with all the necessary facts for day-to-day negotiation of the trail, as well as a store of background information and those fascinating asides, it is well worth adding to your pack.’
Austrian Alpine Club Newsletter, Summer 2012
The Adlerweg or ‘Eagle’s Way’ is a 300km waymarked path crossing the Austrian Tyrol from St Johann in the east to St Anton in the west. The guidebook provides schedules for completing the walk in 15 or 21 days using the plentiful accommodation available.
Six alternative low-level stages are included along with an eight stage variant through the high Lechtal Alps.
As usual with Cicerone guidebooks, the introductiory sections include all the basic information needed for planning a trip. Opened in 2005, the Adlerweg provides a good way of exploring this popular area. This, the first English guide to the route, will be a very useful companion.
Strider (LDWA), April 2012
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Mike Wells is an author of both walking and cycling guides. He has been walking long-distance footpaths for 25 years, after a holiday in New Zealand gave him the long-distance walking bug. Mike has also been a keen cyclist for over 20 years. After completing various UK Sustrans routes, such as Lon Las Cymru in Wales and the C2C route across northern England, he then moved on to cycling long-distance routes in continental Europe and beyond. These include cycling both the Camino and Ruta de la Plata to Santiago de la Compostela, a traverse of Cuba from end to end, a circumnavigation of Iceland and a trip across Lapland to the North Cape. He has written a series of cycling guides for Cicerone following the great rivers of Europe.View Articles and Books by Mike Wells