The first Alpine area to be awarded the Austrian Hiking Seal of Quality for its high standard of hiking paths, signage and hiking information, the Wilder Kaiser holiday region boasts some of Austria’s most dramatic and inspiring walks - all under the watchful gaze of the awesome rocky pinnacles of the "Wild Emperor" mountains.
You have two choices here: head for more challenging hiking paths which lead through mountain forests, Alpine meadows and fields dotted with mountain pine, to the base of steep rock faces and deep, narrow passages in the mountainside; or, on the opposite side of the valley, pick an altogether easier route, featuring the gently rolling grass hills of the northern Kitzbüheler Alps, with gondola lifts to lend you a helpful hand and panoramic paths that will simply take your breath away. Whichever you choose, several times a week experienced hiking guides are on hand from the local tourist office to lead you to some of the region's loveliest mountain huts.
In the Wilder Kaiser region, you will find many hiking paths aimed at walkers of all skills and abilities, but the one we are focusing on is the six-day hut hike along the Kaiserkrone - or "Emperor’s crown" in English. Taking you right around the splendour of the Wilder Kaiser, this is one of the finest multi-day hikes anywhere in the Tirol region.
Day one follows the Eagle's Trail to the Baumgartnerkopf, ending at the highest hut in the whole of the Wilder Kaiser, the Gruttenhütte, where you can sample traditional Schweinsbraten (roast pork) from the wood oven.
Day two with the sun on your back, the Wilder-Kaiser-Steig leads along the foot of the Treffauer and Tuxeck to the romantic Kaiser Hochalm. Enjoy a rest at the Steiner Hochalm where Peter, the landlord, often accompanies the drinks he serves with a tune on the harp. On reaching the day’s goal, the Hintersteinersee, you can either walk around it or take a dip in the turquoise waters.
Day three leads to the Stöfflhütte. Don’t miss their homemade beer and cheese. Crossing Alpine meadows, the path continues up to the cross on Hochegg and along the ridge down to the Kaindlhütte, set in gently rolling grass hills, where the chamois graze in the evening against a backdrop of the Zettenkaiser and Scheffauer peaks.
Day four from the Kaindlhütte over the well-secured Bettlersteig and two hours down into the Kaiser valley, where the Anton-Karg-Haus in Hinterbärenbad lies in a hollow. A footpath leads along streams and steps uphill to the Hans-Berger-Haus, with its organic mountain kitchen and summit library. The path then leads along bands of mountain pines, steeply climbing to the Stripsenjochhaus. The viewing saddle at the foot of the legendary climbing crags of Totenkirchl and Fleichbank is overwhelmed by the stone walls several metres high.
Day five and a sunrise of luminescent colours is the prelude to a day full of highlights. On the way to the Feldberg in the north, plan a stop at the Stripsenkopf, which rewards you with a fantastic panorama of the Zugspitze in the west and Zahme Kaiser in the north. Overnight at Gasthof Griesenau, known for its excellent trout and romantic water-lily pond.
Day six and you can finally stop for a moment, to marvel at the elite sport climbers tackling highly graded ascents up the very face of the "Wild Emperor" itself.