Hiking in front of the Dachstein’s rugged mountain back is one of the most satisfying outdoor experiences in the Salzkammergut region. The dramatic glacier relief makes you feel like a daring alpinist, while the relatively gentle trails are easy enough for hobbyists with good shoes. The Dachstein Nature Trail in particular delivers on Alpine thrills, while giving you plenty of scenic spots to sit, observe, and maybe order some Austrian comfort food.
Distance: 5 miles (8 km)
Time: 6 hours
Elevation gain: 1,540 feet (470 m)
Your hike begins at the Gjaid Alm, a charming mountain hut near the eponymous cable car station. The Gjaid Alm is run by young couple Patrick and Mikela, who left their busy lives in the city to take care of visitors in the mountains. If you arrive hungry, grab a quick bite, otherwise embark on the marked Dachstein Nature Trail towards Wiesberghaus. On the way you have more than just the Dachstein glacier to admire: signposts along the path explain special features of the karst formation, fauna, and flora.
From Wiesberghaus, continue further up towards Simonyhütte, which sits another 1.5 hours along the mountain. At this point you’ll be near the Dachstein’s glacier, and able to enjoy some pretty spectacular views. Visit the small chapel next to the hut and refuel with traditional Alpine food before making the descent, back to Gjaid Alm.
If a six hour hike sounds daunting to you, there are plenty of non-strenuous walks and other outdoor experiences waiting near the Dachstein. Many of the region’s most magnificent view points like the World Heritage Spiral and the Five Fingers platform are just a short walk from the Krippenstein cable car.