In ten daily stages, hikers complete a distance of 150 kilometres from the starting point at the bottom of the Krimml Waterfalls to the Schmittenhöhe high above Zell am See. Overnight stays are alternately in the valley or on the mountains.
The trail leads right through the Hohe Tauern National Park region and opens up breathtaking views of Austria’s highest mountains. The use of mountain railways or practical shuttle services at the stage destinations as well as a bookable luggage transfer offer the highest level of comfort.
On the way are natural spectacles, exhibitions that are well worth seeing, well-kept National Park towns and attractive excursion destinations. Europe’s largest waterfalls, ancient glaciers and legendary trade routes. Golden eagles, chamois and a unique deposit of emeralds. Austria’s most mighty mountains, scenic villages and an internationally recognised wilderness area: nature plays all the pieces in the Hohe Tauern National Park, one superlative follows the next.
In Central Europe’s largest nature reserve, there is a fantastic piece of earth to discover, unparalleled in its diversity and unspoiltness. Discovering this region by walking, under your own steam and with a small ecological footprint is a nature and hiking experience of a special kind. The “Hohe Tauern Panorama Trail” makes exactly that possible.
Best marked, it leads along the northern side of the Salzachtal from the westernmost point of the province of Salzburg to Zell am See: the entire route of 150 kilometres is designed for ten sections. Each day, long-distance hikers spend between four and seven hours walking – without rope safety and in a panoramic position between 1,500 and 2,400 metres above sea level. In the low seasons, if the main routes cannot be followed due to weather conditions, such as snow at high altitudes, hikers have alternative routes at their disposal.
The “Hohe Tauern Panorama Trail” starts in Krimml with a gentle introductory hike – but with one of the greatest natural spectacles in SalzburgerLand. The Krimml Waterfalls with a drop of 380 metres are the largest of their kind in Europe.
The trail leads along the “Old Tauern Trail” and the well-known Waterfall Trail in the direction of the Gerlos Pass. Also worth seeing is the interactive exhibition “Water Worlds” at the base of the waterfalls. Also on the way is the heritage-protected Hinterlehengut: The birthplace of the freedom fighter Anton Wallner in Oberkrimml dates back in part to the 16th century. The final stop is the family-run Alpengasthof Filzstein in Hochkrimml, 1,641 metres above sea level.
With over 22 kilometres, the second day’s section is the longest of the entire trail: two real highlights await hikers along the way, the Leitenkammerklamm gorge and the Durlassboden reservoir. The Leitenkammerklamm gorge was formed by the Wildgerlosbach, a roaring glacial stream: it is well developed with viewing platforms and information boards and is the habitat of rare birds such as the water ouzel and the grey wagtail.
The impressive Leitenkammersteig is one of the most challenging parts of the trail, but can be bypassed via an alternative route. There are several places to stop for refreshments along the way, such as the rustic Trisslalm in the Wildgerlostal valley. Another highlight of the day is the picturesque, turquoise-coloured Durlassboden reservoir, which was completed in 1966. The border between Salzburg and Tyrol runs right through the middle of the lake and the highest surfing school in Austria is also located here. From here, the tour continues to Königsleiten in the municipality of Wald im Pinzgau to the source of the Salzach river.
On the third day, there are again over 20 kilometres to cover and today the trail leads up to 2,444 metres above sea level. The highest point of the hike is the rocky double peak of the Kröndlhorn, which stands out against the otherwise gentle grassy mountains of the Kitzbühel Alps.
At its highest point, there is a small memorial chapel instead of a summit cross and hikers enjoy a magnificent view of over 70 three-thousand-metre peaks. The final destination is the Alpengasthof Rechtegg at 1,278 metres above the National Park village of Neukirchen am Großvenediger.
With 1,176 metres of ascent, this stage is one of the most demanding on the trail: it leads from Alpengasthof Rechtegg over the summit of Frühmesser (2,233 m), which offers an incredible distant view of the Großvenediger with its sweeping glacier fields.
Today, hikers reach the “Wildkogel Arena” high above the National Park towns of Neukirchen and Bramberg. The final destination is the mountain station of the Wildkogel cable car. You can either spend the night at lofty heights or take the cable cars down to the valley. Alternatively, you can get off at the middle station of the mountain railway and slide down into the valley on the slide path with its ten stainless steel slides.
The hike starts today at the mountain station of the Wildkogel cable car at over 2,100 metres above sea level: magnificent views of the three-thousand-metre peaks of the Hohe Tauern accompany hikers from the first to the last minute.
Only a good 500 metres of altitude difference are involved in the ascent and about as many in the descent. The 16-kilometre-long trail leads along the rugged southern flanks of the Großer Rettenstein: the 2,366-metre-high peak is the most prominent in the Kitzbühel Alps. Via the Stangenjoch, the trail leads to the stage destination, the Panoramaalm at 1,975 metres above sea level on the Resterhöhe with a magnificent view down into the valley to Hollersbach.
After spending the night on the mountain, the descent to Mittersill takes place today. The trail leads past the mountain station of the Resterkogel panorama cable car, among other places, where a modern extension houses an exciting National Park exhibition that is open to the public free of charge: From here, the majority of the summit world as well as the high mountain landscape of the National Park, which has been preserved in its original state, can be overlooked.
On the way from Pass Thurn to the valley, hikers pass the “Wasenmoos Natural Monument”: this idyllic high moor is the habitat of rare plant and animal species. For example, sundew, butterwort and water hose, all three carnivorous plants native to Austria, can be found here.
On arrival in Mittersill, the spectacular National Park Worlds should definitely be visited: The interactive and award-winning exhibition in the National Park Centre is a 1,800 m² alpine world of experience that extends over three levels. Together with the 360° panorama cinema, it offers unique insights into the habitats of the Hohe Tauern National Park and is an exciting combination of knowledge transfer and experience.
A good two thirds of the “Hohe Tauern Panorama Trail” have now been covered. After a day in Mittersill, it’s back up to the heights on lonely paths.
Nearly 1,300 metres in altitude are covered to the stage destination Bürglhütte (1,699 m) high above the National Park village of Stuhlfelden: The hut is idyllically situated at the foot of the Gaisstein (2,366 m), one of the highest grassy mountains in Europe.
The eighth day’s stage leads from the Bürglhütte on the famous “Pinzgauer Spaziergang” towards the east: around ten kilometres are covered – always just below 2,000 metres above sea level.
The “Pinzgauer Spaziergang” owes its name to its course on a kind of high-altitude terrace with unique views of the Hohe Tauern and the Großglockner, Austria’s highest mountain. From the stage destination, the Hochsonnbergalm in Uttendorf, the shuttle takes you down to the valley for the night.
On the penultimate day, the trail also leads along the “Pinzgauer Spaziergang” towards Schmittenhöhe, Zell’s local mountain. It goes over alpine meadows to the Klammscharte (1,993) and on to the Rohrertörl (1,918 m).
Here the view opens up to the rocky Leoganger and Loferer Steinberge. Up to the Pinzgauer Hütte (1,700 m) with one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the National Park towns of Niedernsill and Piesendorf, just under 15 kilometres are covered at a beautiful altitude without any notable ascents or descents.
Empress Sisi used to hike up to the Schmittenhöhe to enjoy the sunrise from there: an undertaking that you should do in her footsteps.
On the last day, the trail leads from the Pinzgauer Hütte to the summit of the Schmittenhöhe, where the Elisabeth Chapel named after the empress stands. Via the high-altitude promenade and the “Mystic Legend Forest” theme trail, the trail leads down into the valley and all the way to Elisabethpark on the lakeshore, where the end point is reached in Zell am See.
The Hohe Tauern Panorama Trail is aimed at ambitious hikers: the stages are mostly of medium difficulty. Bookings are made via the “Trail Angels” platform: the agency for sustainable tourism takes care of all the concerns of long-distance hikers in advance, but also during their stay.
Overnight categories, length of stay, shuttle services and luggage transfer can be booked individually. The “Hohe Tauern Panorama Trail” is well signposted; when booking, guests receive comprehensive maps and a tour guide with detailed descriptions. The GPS data can be downloaded free of charge.