One of the most important reasons why we chose to visit Austria over all the other amazing European countries was for the Alps. I am absolutely obsessed with mountains and I believe that Scottish-American environmental philosopher and advocate John Muir’s famous saying “The mountains are calling and I must go” is one of my life’s mantras. Hiking is one of my most beloved activities and any opportunity I get to be in the mountains, I will wholeheartedly take.
My last real hike in the Alps was back in the summer of 2012, when my dad and I spent six days trekking in Vanoise National Park in the heart of the French Alps of Savoie. During that hike, we left town and spent the next week hiking hut to hut in the Alps and by the end of the week I felt incredibly refreshed and rejuvenated. It was so amazing to escape modern day life for awhile and spend every minute of the day outside in nature. There were no phones, no internet and nothing to do at the end of a day’s hike but take off your boots and relax with a glass of local wine in hand. I don’t think I ever feel so alive and at peace as I do after a week in the mountains.
For our trip to Austria, we couldn’t escape the entire time to the mountains since we had my two children along, but we could spend as much time as possible doing day hikes. My son could have handled some longer overnight hut to hut hikes but my eleven year old daughter was new to the experience and the last thing I wanted to do was scare her away from my passion. Instead, I had to make sure to select the right amount of hiking to do and be mindful of the distance and difficulty. I would learn that there are three different levels of hiking in Austria: Beginner (mostly flat, wide open paths for all ages and abilities), Intermediate (uphill, high altitude paths that have some steep ascents and decents and narrow paths at points) and Advanced (no way would I bring my daughter on these ones as there are points where you need to grab on to a railing and one slip and you could stumble down very very far). Obviously we stuck to the beginning and intermediate trails but learned on our second hike that proper footwear and hiking poles are an absolute must for intermediate trails and these trails can be a bit scary for a kid who has never hiked way up high).
After a hearty lunch in town at a local Austrian restaurant, it was time for us to get out and do our very first hike in Austria. The sun had finally come out from underneath its hiding place in the clouds and we could finally see the mountains. At first glance of the breathtaking snow-capped peaks of the Austrian Alps, I smiled. I was going to love this place, I could feel it in my bones.
After chatting at length with the friendly and highly knowledgeable tourist office in town, we decided to do a short hike following one of the area’s “Promenade walks“, a themed walk along wide, open trails and appropriate for all abilities and ages, especially kids. We returned briefly back at our hotel to put on our hiking shoes and fill up some water bottles and were off for our first adventure into the woods. We headed out of Seefeld towards the western entrance of town, passing the ski area as well as the giant Olympic Center where we picked up the trailhead (Loop # 2 towards Möserer See). We caught our first glimpse of the beautiful Baroque Seekirchl Church (Seefeld’s most iconic landmark) and then entered a large tunnel that afforded some fun photos.
Once we passed through the tunnel, the hike began. It was technically more like a leisurely walk in nature as opposed to a hike but it was still wonderful. What I loved most is that there were tons and tons of Austrians out there wandern (hiking), many older gray-haired and even white-haired couples hiking hand in hand. It was extraordinary! I saw couples young and old, groups of men, women and families. It felt like everyone was out there wandern and after a week in Austria I realized that it was indeed true. Austrians love to wandern! I found my place.
The trail was wide and paved to begin with and then we went slightly uphill to a gravel path. It was an easy wandern through the forests and open fields of the plateau with sweeping views of the mountains in the background. Per the tourist office, the area has over 650 km of walking, hiking and climbing routes so you can wandern until your heart desires. It is a mountain lover’s paradise.
We reached a series of three hotels (the Kaiserhof, Olympia and Hubertushof hotels) set upon the high plateau overlooking the valley below. If we had more time and energy, we would have loved to continue on down to the neighboring town of Mösern. But the promising views of seeing the lake was moving us forward.
We continued on for a little further and arrived at stunning Lake Möserer See. I couldn’t believe how much it reminded me of one of our lakes back home in Minnesota. I took a few photos of the mountains and clouds reflecting upon the water before we continued on trail 60 back towards Seefeld.
Trail 60 follows the “Ski Trail” promenade walk and has tons of interesting tidbits about Austria’s cross-country and downhill skiers and history. There is even a fun little outdoor playground for the kids and some fitness equipment along the way as well for those who are up for the challenge of a better workout. Seefeld is known for both its nordic and downhill skiing and has over 245 cross-country sky trails in the area. I’m sure it would be an amazing place to cross-country and downhill ski, two sports I also love besides hiking. Perhaps I will have to figure out a way to come back in the winter.
We ended our hike two and a half hours later just in time for dinner. We were famished and were super excited to discover a little mom and pop run pizzeria on the edge of town. We dined with the locals and ate well knowing that the next morning we would be up early for a much bigger hike. It was time for us to explore the high altitude hikes and get a glimpse of our surrounding from high above. I could hardly wait.
For more information:
To find the hike: Starting at the western entrance of town near the Olympia Sport Center, the path takes you slightly uphill towards Mösern over the meadows Möserer Mähder. Turn right at the last fork which brings you past the Kaiserhof, Olympia and Hubertushof hotels (where you can stop and enjoy the glorious view of the valley below) and then continue on to Möserer See lake. After walking around the lake, you follow the trail (#60) that leads back to town. The lake is a wonderful place for a picnic! Total time: Roughly 2.5 hours leisurely walking.
To extend the hike you can do the 3 Lake Circular Walk : Seefeld – Lake Möserer See – Lake Lottensee – Lake Wildmoossee – Seefeld. Total time 4 hours/12.3 km.
Or else you can continue on to a viewing platform on Brunschkoft (1,510 m) for a magnificent overlook of the mountains which adds an additional couple of hours depending on your pace.
The Austrian Regional Tourist office has an incredible website listing all the amazing hikes in the region. www.seefeld.com/en/walking/hikes