Tyrolean : Hut-to-Hut Trekking in the Alps

  |  Gorp.com

Trekking through the Alps offers spectacular scenery, and none of the logistical hassles or health risks associated with Asian trekking venues. Trekking in the Alps without a guide is also very easy; this can't be said about the Himalayas. While commercial programs in the Alps have concentrated on Switzerland (Bernese Oberland), and France (Chamonix Haute Route), Austria would be our first choice for an Alpine trek. Compared to Switzerland or France, the people are friendlier, the prices are lower, and the huts will be less crowded in the summer—a vital consideration.
The range of hiking options is enormous. Many huts can be reached on short day hikes from ridges served by cable cars or ski lifts. Although many huts are just a few hours in from the nearest road, hiking in the Alps does require good conditioning. Most of the trails are located above 6,000 feet, and you may have to climb 2,500 feet or more to reach your destination. Adventurous trekkers will want to sample the Weitwanderweg—a 750-mile pathway traversing all of Austria from one end to the other. Not all of the Weitwanderweg is appropriate for trekking, but the section from Innsbruck passes south through the Stubai, Zillertal, and Gross Venediger Alps, all premier trekking locales.

Practically Speaking
The Austrian hut system is remarkable. There are over 500 huts in the Tyrol region alone, ranging from deluxe to bare bones. All provide blankets and mattresses, and food is served at most of the facilities. The cost is a reasonable $18 to $25 per night. Compared to huts in Switzerland and France, the Austrian "huttes" are definitely the most comfortable. Some are even lavish, and Austrian hospitality is legendary. Even the largest huts can get very busy, however, particularly during summer weekends in August.

Published: 8 Jul 2005 | Last Updated: 4 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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