(Adlerweg) Wooden chalets en route to Ehrwald

The Adlerweg: A guide to the trek

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Introduction

The Austrian Tyrol is the large region centred on Innsbruck, the most Westerly in Austria apart from the small Vorarlberg on the German and Swiss border. Many short treks are established in Austria but historically nothing has been as widely known as the Tour du Mont Blanc or other famous Alpine treks.

The Adlerweg is a new route planned by the local Tyrolean authorities to show the best of the region. The name Adlerweg means Eagle's Way, an Adler being an Eagle... and see many hotels and inns named Schwarzer Adler or Black Eagle. The naming is due to the shape of the route resembling an eagle, wings outstretched.


The lie of the land

Austria is relatively low compared to the Western Alps of the Haute Savoie and Savoie regions of France, or the Bernese Oberland and Valais of Switzerland. Peaks reach 3,000m+ insead of 4,000m+. For trekkers, the range is in the 2,000 metres. Practically, the various massifs are divided by deep valleys carrying roads and railways, making getting about quite simple. This is a well-connected area, not too remote.

The Adlerweg takes to a series of massifs, starting with the Wilder Kaiser before Kufstein, then the Karwendel mountains to Innsbruck, and the Lechtaler range to St. Anton. Larger valley towns come every 2-4 days, with huts or smaller villages in between.

Best bits

After Pinegg the Adlerweg takes to higher mountains and uses paths of a type familiar to Tour du Mont Blanc trekkers: rocky steps and hard-packed earth. We reach the Erfurterhuette and drop - with optional cable car - to Maurach. Straight away we climb again into the hills, to the Lamsenjochhuette, before dropping on easy paths to Schwaz. We enjoy this stretch and it forms a good short taste of the Adlerweg.

In the valley, the Lechtal is spectacularly sweet in its villages and painted houses. Views over the valley are beautiful from the low heights that the path reaches on this stage.

Photos from trips: Adlerweg


Is it for me?

The Adlerweg will appeal as a way to see the Tyrol from a long-distance trail; the sense of moving through the country is very strong, especially after the relatively short and intricate first 3 stages. At some points on the route, progress is fast by any Alpine standards as the route adopts wide and smooth tracks that cut through deep valleys... the day to Pinegg being a particular example.

While the bulk of the Adlerweg's distance is on easy terrain, a head for heights is needed on the second day beyond Innsbruck (falling under the Adlerweg West) because of unusually steep and loose scree slopes either side of the pass above the Solsteinhaus. This pass is the Eppzirlerscharte and it can be missed by retracing steps from the hut and taking a train or buses to the next village.

Well-experienced trekkers with excellent balance on scree, who are also happy to blast along forest tracks, will enjoy all of the Adlerweg, but this adaptability is not for everyone! By missing the Eppzirlerscharte the overall difficulty of the Adlerweg falls to that of the Tour du Mont Blanc roughly, though with longer distances than the TMB on straightforward tracks.




Super Austrian-style signpost and chalet
Super Austrian-style signpost and chalet



Can I manage it?
Without the Eppzirlerscharte and its difficult scree slopes either side, the Adlerweg is a trek open to walkers with solid experience but without need for super-human reserves of energy or agility. The sheer length of the whole route, 19 stages by our approach, is quite a feat in itself and it's essential to be used to multi-day trekking in some form. The lifestyle of moving on each day becomes a habit but is not for everyone.

What's it like underfoot?
Higher slopes are crossed by classic mountain paths with rock steps and hard-packed ground. Forest paths can be steep, wet and rooty, even muddy. Fast miles go along vehicle tracks, whether in forests or on open moorland. On occasion, grassy open areas make the path on the ground hard to spot. Down in the valley, some country lanes are used to link the hills, giving a view of Austrian agriculture in action.




On the way to Ehrwald and Lermoos, chalets
On the way to Ehrwald and Lermoos, chalets



Are the routes obvious?
The paths in the Tyrol are aided by fairly frequent waymarking. This means a mix of red paint flashes on rocks and trees, plus the classic Alpine symbol of white-red-white stripes. Some paths and tracks that have been adopted by the Adlerweg are less well used by general walkers, however, and waymarking can be more sparse.

The presence of a waymark of course only tells the walker that they are on a path - not which path it is! It can help to look for the eagle symbol of the Adlerweg. Most junctions have some form of direction signpost, typically yellow-painted metal finger posts with the Adlerweg symbol appearing against that option. Estimated timings are often given on signposts.

However, it is essential for all parties in the Tyrol to have at least one competent navigator with a map and compass, for those situations where the route is not marked at a turning or where the clouds have closed in. Our routecards, notes and maps give you all you need to complete the trek under your own steam.

During each summer season, snow falls on typically two or three or more occasions. It tends to go away equally quickly and tends not to be deep at the altitude of our Adlerweg route, but for the time that it remains it can make navigation quite challenging. Under a cover of snow, ground features are hidden and reliance on map and compass skills is key.

Is the walking technically difficult?
Our Adlerweg route is a walk, not containing any climbs or via ferrata routes. There is no glacier walking and no rock climbing.

There are however some sections where the path crosses rocky and steep ground including steep scree slopes, plus sections with metal cables as handrails over normal Alpine walking terrain. Some stages cross open, unforgiving terrain without easy escape routes: full days of mountain walking calling for self-reliance especially in wet weather with bad visibility.

Unseasonal weather
The typical summer's day in the Alps brings hot sun, perhaps with occasional rain or afternoon storms, but in any case paths clear of snow. However, fresh snowfalls occur each summer on a handful of occasions. Most often, these leave a coating of an inch or two on higher passes only, and they disappear in a day or two. However, sometimes the snow stays for longer periods and is deeper. While the Adlerweg should be approached as a summer Alpine trek, with Summer snow unlikely, it is wise to know that snow can fall even in summer.




The path to the Leutkircher hut
The path to the Leutkircher hut



When to go?
Our Adlerweg season runs from early July to mid-September.

This short season is imposed by the weather: the chance of late-Spring snow patches remaining into early July across the higher passes, and the chance of the weather deteriorating into late September. Because we can't predict the weather for the coming summer, we have to set these dates in advance.




A wooden chalet beside the track
A wooden chalet beside the track



Where to stay

Austria as a country does hospitality exceedingly well. For the quality of the hotels it is perhaps our favourite in the Alps. Standards are reliably good, the emphasis being on the ease with which a traveler can gain what they need.. plentiful and tasty food and a comfortable bed. The service is carried out in a low-key way.. all this is merely the norm in this very civilised country.

In the valleys, this culture translates to the typical Austrian hotel experience of a good set dinner often being included; on the Adlerweg we try to follow this style, resulting in more dinners included on our Adlerweg treks than others. We love the family-run hotels in towns including Maurach, Hall, Innsbruck, Weidach and Ehrwald. In Steeg as well, expect a real Austrian Tyrolean experience with staff in traditional uniforms - the dirndl of Tyrol and Bavaria - and lots of wood and Alpine themes.

The Austrian huts follow a common Alpine pattern, built and run to cater for big numbers of trekkers in a practical and comfortable way. A few huts are run by the DAV, the German Alpine Club, as outposts in bigger hills than many German regions can boast. Dormitories are common, sometimes private rooms as well. (We will advise on the sleeping arrangements according to your particular schedule.) Showers are available, often with a token system for a small extra payment to the warden. For food, expect a simple menu of large portions and plenty of cake, beer, coffee and soft drinks.

Passing through Innsbruck so many times, indeed making it a base, has given us a choice of hotels to draw from and here more than other places on the Adlerweg we have the option of modern hotels. The emphasis on business travel doesn't detract from the style.. again Austria handles this distinction with its customary poise.. and the decoration and thought given to breakfasts are very high.


(Adlerweg) Munich and the Franciscan church

The Adlerweg in context

The Adlerweg relative to treks in the UK
If familiar with the Coast to Coast, the Adlerweg has broad similarities in its generally flat and smooth terrain punctuated - as in the Lake District sections of the CTC - with short sections of rocky or unclear paths. Added to this, the screes slops either side of the Eppzirlerscharte are above the level of anything on the CTC. This makes it hard to gauge how the Adlerweg will feel. To be ready for anything is ideal, of course, but also to be happy with long and quick sections.

The Adlerweg relative to the TMB and the Walker's Haute Route
The Tour du Mont Blanc is the obvious comparison, with much of the Adlerweg being at a lower level of difficulty underfoot. This is due to the Adlerweg's long miles on wide smooth tracks. The Eppzirlerscharte, if crossed (and it is possible to walk back down to the valley and take the bus to the next village) brings the level up to that of the Walker's Haute Route, but just for this one day. Really, for a morning!

This is our comparison based on our own research: each trek has different possible configurations, each giving a different feel to the route. Please ask us any time for more details; with details of your walking experience we can suggest which trek you might enjoy most.


(Adlerweg) Approaching the Leutkircher hut

Trek the Adlerweg with Alpine Exploratory

Alpine Exploratory offers three self-guided options on the Adlerweg: the East, the West, and the full thing. We also offer our guided trip on the whole route. We're also pleased to book shorter or longer sub-sections of the routes according to your available dates... and a weekend trip can work with care. Please contact us to discuss options. We like to recommend sections of 3 or 4 days; these work nicely.

Our self-guided holidays give you what you need to complete the route under your own steam. We book your accommodation in a mix of huts and hotels and we give you our detailed routecards, the local maps, and lots of notes. Our guided trips are similar but give you the benefit of an Alpine Exploratory leader to show the way.


Guided and self-guided holidays - see our full range


Research 2017

Pete Ellis at Alpine Exploratory Pete Ellis
Pete will lead Alpine Exploratory's 2017 Adlerweg research, in June



Trips 2017

Alpine Exploratory offers the following holidays based on our Adlerweg research:

Adlerweg
Adlerweg (Guided)
Adlerweg East
Adlerweg West



City breaks after trekking

Our Adlerweg holidays come with notes on the following cities, in your info pack:

Munich in Germany
Vienna in Austria
Innsbruck in Austria
Zurich in Switzerland

City breaks after trekking





Map showing the route of Alpine Exploratory's Adlerweg walking holiday







Alpine Exploratory
Alpine Exploratory is a system of knowledge on the best mountain trekking in our areas, giving clients superb holidays based on this exploration.
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