Hiking in the Grossarltal:
"Valley of the Mountain Cabins"
The Alpine south of Salzburg is in general a great place for mountaineering, rock climbin, hillwalking and other hiking-related sports. However, some areas are better than others and depending on your specific expectations, not every valley will qualify for a hiking vacation. In this article, we would like to introduce the Großarltal, a valley some 70 kilometres south of Salzburg city that has made great efforts to become one of Austria′s finest destinations for hiking holidays. The article was done in collaboration with Hotel Gratz in Großarl, which has specialised on hiking holidays during the summer season - best enjoyed between early summer (June) and October.
What is special about the Großarltal? The landscape is very dramatic, part of the National Park Hohe Tauern. The valley cuts into the highest mountain range of the Alps and is famous for its scenery. The main village of the valley is Großarl, after which it was named. It has a population of only some 4,000 people. Tourism is a very important sector for the local economy, which has resulted in a highly developed infrastructure to accommodate international visitors throughout the year. During the winter season, it is skiing that draws the crowds; the summer is perfect for hiking.
Großarltal: Hiking Holidays with a Theme
In addition to the scenery and the well-developed facilities for tourism, the Großarltal has one big asset with respect to hiking: The Almen. The German word "Alm" refers to a kind of mountain cabin that was crucial for managing pastures at high altitudes: These huts or cabins served as temporary houses for sheperds during the summer. In September, the cattle and other livestock was taken back to the valley, where it was kept under safer conditions until spring. Agriculture with Almen can be tracked back to Antiquity; it has remained virtually unchanged from the Middle Ages until well into the 20th century. Only then the modernisation of agriculture and the rise of more lucrative businesses has led to a gradual decrease in the number of operated Almen throughout the Alps.
The Großarltal is a bit of an exception: Even though many of the once dozens of Almen are not used any longer, some 40 Almen are still managed until today. They are now more than just base camps for sheperds: Today, every Alm serves rustic foods and drinks to tourists. Cattle is usually still kept, even though the inn-aspects of the Alm might generate more revenues these days than the associated agricultural work. The 40 Almen of the Großarltal - as well as many of these cabins that are not managed as inns - are linked to the valley via a dense network of hiking paths that sum up to some 250 kilometres in the Großarltal alone. They are linked with hotels via cable cars and shuttle services.
Many hiking routes are easy and suitable even for people with no experience in Alpine terrain. For more advanterous hikers, hotels and travel companies offer guided tours at varying degrees of difficulty. Please note that our advertising partner Hotel Gratz offers hiking tours with certified guides. If you prefer to explore the mountain scenery by yourself, you will find plenty of information material: Hiking maps, guide books and suggested tours. See the website of Hiking Hotel Gratz for further information on tours through the Großarltal with certain themes.
Official Website of the Salzburgerland
On family holidays in the Salzburgerland Province