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Guide summer Kaprun Mountains

Kaprun lies in the Kaprunertal (Kaprun valley) which stretches south into the Hohe Tauern mountain range.  The Hohe Tauern National Park established in 1981 and covers a landscape of high mountains, deep valleys and lakes more than 1800 km2 .   We love our holidays in Kaprun. The village is peaceful, making it a fantastic  place to “tune-out”, rest and rejuvenate.  There are also many summer activities on offer.  I found the eight top things to do in Kaprun (see my post on the  Ultimate Guide to Summer Adventures ) and in this post , we will explore Kaprun’s Mountains.  I will take you up the Maiskogel, along the Kapruner Ache River, to the mountain reservoirs and up the majestic Kitzsteinhorn.           All locations can be reached from the centre of Kaprun in under 30 minutes by car or alternatively, by bus 660.

Hike the Maiskogel – Kaprun’s Mountain

The Maiskogel (1675m) valley station is located in the heart of Kaprun.  At the base of the mountain is the Maisflitzer Alpine Coaster and the Maisi-Alm Restaurant (see the Ultimate Guide for further info).

The  Maiskogel is starting point for a number of hiking routes– from leisurely to a full scale ascent of the Maiskogel or Kitzsteinhorn.  There is also a Shuttle bus that departs every hour (9am-4pm) from the Baumbar parking lot near the Maisflitzer which will transport you up to 1540 m above sea level to the Maiskogel Alm Ranch.

We decided to take the Mais Hut Path (route #25) which starts at the Maiskogel Alm Ranch and takes a leisurely walk along level paths to Unterbergalm.  This hike is great for those that do not want a strenuous walk or for parents with young children.

The Unterbergalm Hut is open from June- September (Closed on Wednesdays).  The Dürlinger family has owned the hut since 1830 and the 214 hectares are still actively used for grazing.  Try to spot the cattle perched somewhat precariously on the slopes!   This is a perfect place to rest on the sunny terrace enjoying the views to the village of Piesendorf.

Unterbergalm Hut

Lovely place to stop for refreshments and Brettljause at the Unterbergalm Hut

I would highly recommend a snack of a typical Pinzgauer Brettljause with a mug of beer, schnäpse or a mug of fresh milk or buttermilk.  The Brettljause is akin to a British “ploughman’s lunch”, named after the wooden board on which it is traditionally served.  Our brettljause came with a delicious selection of smoked meats, dry sausages, bacon, gherkins, homemade cheeses, spreads and farmer’s bread.

Brettljause

A typical Pinzguer Brettljause- the traditional snack of the farmers.

The Dürlinger family make their own cheeses, butter and buttermilk from their 10 cows – which if you are lucky you can meet.  The homemade butter was to die for.  Make sure you buy some to take home!

From Unterbergalm we took the path leading through the larch forest. It was a beautiful sunny summer day and we were rewarded with the most spectacular views of the Glockner Mountain Group.

Glocknerblick

The path lead toward the Alpengasthaus Glocknerblick (open from end of July- end September; Closed Mondays).  Unfortunately, the Gasthaus was closed on the day we went hiking but the patio had fantastic panoramic views extending from the Watzmann in the Bavarian Alps to the Groβglockner.

View to the Kitzsteinhorn and the Groβglockner

View to the Kitzsteinhorn and the Groβglockner

A short walk from the Glocknerblick and you arrive back to the Maiskogel Alm Ranch (1545 m).  The sunny terrace has views from the Steinernes Meer range to the Hohe Tauern Mountains.  The kids will also love the petting zoo with its resident sheep, hens, donkey and goats.  The Maiskogel Alm Ranch serves traditional Austrian cuisine – make sure you try the delicious Kaiserschmarrn!  From the Maiskogel Alm Ranch you can take the Maisi Hiking Trail (route #35) descending the mountain or take the hiking bus back to the valley (the last bus leaves at 4:30 pm).

Sigmund Thun Klamm

While I was researching on what to do during our holidays in Kaprun, I always came across spectacular Instagram and Pinterest posts of the Sigmund Thun Klamm (Gorge).  And..the Sigmund Thun Klamm lived up to its reputation, even impressing our 14 year old!

Around 14,000 years ago, a retreating glacier carved a 32 meter deep and 320 m long gorge in the valley.  What it left behind are striking rock formations, waterfalls, eddies and whirlpools.

A series of timber boardwalks and bridges leads over rushing glacial waters of the Kapruner Ache River and through the narrow Sigmund-Thun Gorge.   Directly after the entrance,  you have your first view of the waterfall and only a few steps later we crossed a stone bridge which gave glimpses into the gorge.

Sigmund Thun Klamm

Stone bridge at the Sigmund Thun Klamm

As we followed the boardwalk through the gorge we were rewarded with amazing views at every turn.

Sigmund Thun Klamm

Luckily, throughout the boardwalk there are small huts with covered roofs to protect you from the drizzle.

Already in 1893 the Sigmund-Thun Gorge was opened to tourism but was closed in 1938 when the hydroelectric plant was built and the boardwalk was condemned.  The walkway was reopened in 1992.

The boardwalk and stairs are well maintained, but I would recommend suitable shoes and a waterproof coat as you can imagine the walkway gets a little wet.  The walk through the gorge is relatively easy so it is suitable for families.

At the top of the gorge, the exploration trail continues around the tranquil Klammsee.  At the southern end of the lake there is a kiosk,  playground and a bus stop that will take you back to Kaprun.  The circular path returns to the info-centre of the Sigmund Thun Klamm.  The entire round trip around the Klammsee is approximately 2.8km.

 

Klammsee

The Klammsee

Back at the info centre, there are also interesting displays in the exhibition centre at the Kaprun hydroelectric power plant.

How to get there:

The Sigmund Thun Klamm is approximately 4km from Kaprun.

By car: Follow Umfahrungsstraße and follow the signs- free parking available.                                                                                                         By Bus:  Bus #660 stop Tauernplatz. From there, it is just a short walk from the bus stop.

Kaprun’s Mountain Reservoirs.

After our tour of the Sigmund Thun Klamm, we headed further along Kesselfallstaβe, past the Kitzteinhorn Valley Station, to visit the impressive Kaprun High Mountain Reservoirs Hochgebirgsstauseen). Every year more than 100,000 tourists visit the Kaprun high mountain reservoirs.

After a short drive through the Kapruner valley we arrived at the Kesselfall-Alpenhaus (9 km from Kaprun). From here we boarded a bus that took us through the Lärchwand Tunnel. Next you take the famous Lärchwand inclined lift, Europe’s largest open lift, up an incline of 431 metres.  As you slowly ascend the mountain, you can both marvel at the amazing feat of engineering as well as experiencing wonderful views of the Kaprun Valley.

Lärchwand lift

The Lärchwand lift, Europe’s largest open lift

A second bus waits, to take you through stone tunnels along the road clinging to the alpine reservoirs past the Wasserfallboden to the Mooserboden reservoir (there is an option of stopping at the Fürthermoaralm). The entire journey to the reservoirs takes about 45 minutes.  Note: the two bus journeys and the lift are included in the ticket price.

Wasserfallboden

The Wasserfallboden. To the left is the Fürthermoaralm.

The High Mountain Reservoirs of Wasserfallboden (1672 m) and Mooserboden (2036 m) seem like fjjords with their turquoise waters surrounded by 3000m peaks.

Mooserboden

The Mooserboden reservoir.

The Wassserfallboden dam wall is 120 meters high and 357 meters wide and the upper Mooserboden dam wall is 107 m high and almost 500 m long.   When the snow melts in spring, the dams are filled from the water, the majority of which comes from the Pasterzen Glacier of the Groβglockner.  The dams produce a considerable percentage of Austria electricity a year.

Mooserboden Fountain

A lovely fountain- Just to remind you that this majestic scenery is all about the power of water

The Bergrestaurant Mooserboden offers not only a view of the mountains from the sun terrace but also traditional Austrian cuisine (open end of May to mid-October).

A walk along the Mooserboden dam wall puts into perspective the size and magnitude of these mountain reservoirs.   The “Power and Ice Adventure World“, located at the end of the Mooserboden dam, has information on the history of dam construction and their operation.

Mooserboden wall


The Mooserboden dam wall at 107 m tall and 500 m wide.

Hikes around the Reservoirs:

There are a number of High Mountain trails which offer sweeping views of the Mooserboden and Wasserfallboden dams and surrounding Alpine peaks.  It is possible to hike to the Mooserboden from the Kesselfall-Alpenhaus (~4hrs).  The path is open from July.

● The Herb Trail (Kräuterlehrpfad) begins at the Bergrestaurant Mooserboden and leads down to the Fürthermoaralm (Open mid-June to End September). The 45-minute walk, passes along a path through lush meadows while enjoying a stunning view to the surrounding summits of the Hohe Tauern- the Grießkogel, the Hocheiser and the Große Wiesbachhorn.

Mooserboden Herb Trail (Kräuterlehrpfad) to the Fürthermoaralm.

The start of the Herb Trail

Apart from the easy hiking tours, there are a number of high-alpine climbing adventures that commence from the reservoirs.

● The ‘Panoramaweg Sedlgrat’ winds up the narrow flower-rich hillside to the Scharfer Grat viewpoint (2425m).

● From the Mooserboden, there is an approximate 2 hours steep hike (route 718) to the Heinrich Schwaiger Haus, (2802 m) which is a base for many climbs in the Glockner group (overnight stay is possible).

● The tour via the Kaprun Törl to Rudolfshutt (2315m), at the southern end of the Tauernmoosee, requires  alpine experience.

● Those with extensive mountain experience can conquer the summits at the Grießkogel, the Hocheiser or the Große Wiesbachhorn.

The reservoirs are open from the end of May to mid- October (8:00am to 3:30 pm)

Even in the middle of summer, it can be quite windy and cool in the mountains- so dress appropriately.

Round trip family ticket from the Kesselfall-Alpenhaus to Mooserboden: €52,00 (including dam tour)

Hint: If you plan on combining the tour of the Sigmund Thun Klamm and the Mountain reservoirs in one day- as we did, make sure you start early and allow plenty of time to explore the hikes around the reservoirs.

How to get there:

By Car: It is approximately 9 km from Kaprun.  Follow Umfahrungsstraße and continue onto Kesselfallstraße and follow the signs

By Bus:  Bus #660 to Kesselfall Alpenhaus

Note:  The last bus back to the valley from the reservoirs is at 4:45 pm.  If you are taking the bus back to Kaprun, you need to leave the reservoirs on the 4:10 pm bus.

Visit the majestic Kitzsteinhorn- Kaprun’s Mountain

The 3203m Kitzsteinhorn is an impressive, distinctive peak in the Hohe Tauern which dominates the village of Kaprun. The Kitzsteinhorn with its glacier is covered with ice and snow throughout the whole year.  Even in mid-July the upper parts of the Kitzsteinhorn are still covered in snow. From October to mid-July, the pistes are open for summer skiing!

“All are aware that in the high mountains, where the air is clean and thin, one breathes freer, feels physically lighter and spiritually more cheerful.” (Jean-Jacques Rousseau)

The Kitsteinhorn Valley Station on Kesselfallstraβe is located approximately 8 km from Kaprun and is easily accessible car or by bus 660.  When the mercury is tipping 30°C in Kaprun and you want to see  snow- this is the place to go!

Kaprun Kitzsteinhorn

View from the mid-gondola station to the valley below

The Kitzsteinhorn is a summer playground with an overabundance of activities for everyone – ranging from leisurely to adventurous.  Two gondolas will transport you up the craggy mountain; first to the lower station Langwiedboden (1976m) then onto the Alpine Centre (2450 m).

Within the Alpine Centre there is an INTERSPORT Bründl, where you can get any of your hiking or skiing needs.  The shop also rents out ski equipment.

From the Alpine Centre (2450 m) there is a variety of different hikes as well as the starting point of high alpine tours.

Hikes from the Alpine Centre:

Even in the middle of summer, the weather conditions can change quite drastically in the mountains- so ensure that you dress appropriately. 

● The Kitzsteinhorn Explorer Tour leaves from the Alpine Centre and is guided by a national park ranger who on the journey to Langwiedboden (1976m) will take you through four climate zones.  You will learn how glacier ice is formed, about the habitat of the majestic golden eagle and how fauna and flora survive in the high mountains.

The Explorer Tour (free) takes place every Tuesday from 4th July until 10th September 2017. Meet at the Kitzsteinhorn Valley Station at 9.30 am.

● The Glacier Lake Circular Walk starts at the Alpine Centre and leaders to the Gletscherblick across a moraine to the emerald-green glacier lake. Past glacial polish, streams and beautiful viewing points you walk back to the Alpine Centre again. Duration 90 minutes

● The Rettenwand Circular Walk starts at the Alpine Centre and proceeds to the interesting geological stone formations at the foot of the Tristinger and Rettenwand. From here, it continues from the view point at the Graswandkreuz (cross) over the Gletscherblick panorama path and back to the Alpine Centre.

● The Alexander Enzinger Path (route 5) takes you over an impressive high path to the Maiskogel.  From the Alpine Centre follow the signs in the direction of the Krefelder hut (2293m) and then further over the Stangenhöhe (2212m) to Schoppachhöhe (2069m) then to Alpengasthaus Glocknerblick (1670m). From here you continue the descent to the Maiskogel Alm Ranch (1545m): where you descend the Maiskogel along the Maisi Hiking Trail (route #35) or m take the hiking bus back to the valley (the last bus leaves at 4:30 pm).

Gipfelwelt 3000

Continuing to the summit of Kitzsteinhorn, the breathtaking Gipfelbahn ride takes in panoramic views whilst floating almost 60 m over the glacial pistes.

Kaprun Kitzsteinhorn

The gondola to the summit

The world’s tallest aerial tramway support pillar at 113.6 m supports the Gipfelbahn.  The Kitzsteinhorn summit station is situated 3029m above sea level and is the highest point comfortably accessible for everyone in the county of Salzburg.

From its position at the edge of the Hohe Tauern National Park, Gipfelwelt 3000 provides majestic views of the Kitzsteinhorn and the Hohe Tauern mountains.

● The Ice Arena Kitzsteinhorn (Open beginning July- end August) offers a snow beach and deck chairs and an opportunity to toboggan down the snowy slope in summer.

Kaprun Kitzsteinhorn

Even in July, the snow is plentiful in the Ice Area.

● The National Park Gallery is entered through a 360 meter mine shaft through the Kitzsteinhorn peak.  The gallery has 5 info stations on crystal treasures, gold, silver as well as the formation of the Alps.  At the end of the tunnel is a spectacular platform facing the Großglockner.

Kitzsteinhorn

The majestic snow covered peaks (in July!) of the Kitzsteinhorn.

● The Top of Salzburg is a skywalk 50 m above the glacier which provides breathtaking views of the sheer endless magnificent mountain ranges.

kittzsteinhorn_top_of_salzburg

Top of Salzburg viewing platform

● The Gipfel Restaurant (open 8:30 am- 4:00 pm) at 3.029m is the highest restaurant in Salzburger Land and serves classical Austrian cuisine with 5 star panoramic views.

For more adventurous, the “My first 3000 m Peak” guided tour you can conquer the Kitzsteinhorn.  The certified mountain guides will assist you in the rope-secured climb of 200m (approximately 1 hour) to reach the summit.  Registration required.

Summer Skiing

Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to try out summer skiing on this trip – but hopefully next time ?

The Kitzsteinhorn glacier is the only place in Salzburger Land where skiing in July is possible.  So grab your skis and hit the slopes in the early morning.  In the afternoon you can enjoy the sun and explore the hikes and other activities on the mountain.

Lift tickets start at  €47,00 a day for adults.                                                      Make sure you check the website for conditions.

Summer skiing until mid July.                                                                           The Autumn ski season commences in October – check the Kitzsteinhorn website for details.

Lift Ticket Information

The summer up and downhill tickets are valid for tourists without ski equipment

Ticket includes cable cars and lifts up to summit station at 3029 m, Gipfelwelt 3000, Nationalpark Gallery, Cinema 3000, p\Panorama-platforms, ICE ARENA (July/August)

Family Price :  Adults €39,00; Children (born 2002-2011)  €19,00;  Youth (born 1999-2001) €28,50

How to get there:

By Car: It is approximately 9 km from Kaprun.  Follow Umfahrungsstraße and continue onto Kesselfallstraße and follow the signs

By Bus:  Bus #660 to Kaprun Kitzsteinhorn Bergbahn Talsation (Mountain valley station)

Ready to plan your trip to Kaprun?

Need a place to stay?

We would love for you to come and stay in our house Chalet Gloria, situated in the heart of Kaprun.   A bus stop is only a 2 minute walk from the house and the village centre is 200 m away.                                           Chalet Gloria is conveniently located only minutes away from the Sigmund Thun Klamm (4km), Kitzsteinhorn valley station (8 km) and the High Mountain Reservoirs (10 km).

Chalet Gloria has 4 large double bedrooms (2 of the upstairs bedrooms feature a balcony with Kitzsteinhorn mountain views); 2 bathrooms; a fully equipped kitchen; lounge room with Flat screen TV and internet and a back garden featuring a BBQ area and outdoor seating.

Ready to plan your trip to Kaprun?

We would love for you to come and stay at our house Chalet Gloria, situated in the heart of Kaprun.

Chalet Gloria has 4 large double bedrooms (2 of the upstairs bedrooms feature a balcony with Kitzsteinhorn mountain views); 2 bathrooms; a fully equipped kitchen; lounge room with Flat screen TV and internet and a back garden featuring a BBQ area and outdoor seating.