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Almtal – Lakeside tranquility in the Alps

© by Arnold Weisz

Lake Almsee and Almtal could not be more picture perfect. With the Alps as a backdrop, the gorgeous lake is perfect for nature excursions for families, hikers and bikers.

Almtal is a real gem. Not a big secret, but still not discovered by everyone. I guess that there are not any massive ski resorts or other mass tourism facilities in place. However, this does not mean that the area is lacking attractions. On the contrary, I found plenty of activities to keep me busy during my day trip and discovering more during the visit.

Spectacular scenery

Almtal is a popular place for nature lovers who love tranquillity. The valley is a cul-de-sac. Hence, traffic beyond Grünau is limited when travelling up to Lake Almsee. Driving into the valley and up to the lake on a warm summer day with the sun shining from a clear blue sky, gave me a hint of the spectacular scenery that was awaiting me. The lake, smooth as a garden pond, mirroring the mountains that towered up above the greenery was stunning. What a spectacular scenery! Arriving at the large, and nearly empty parking area at the end of the road was a good sign. Ensured that tranquillity would reign, I picked up my small backpack and headed for the lake along the signposted trail.

< Click on the images to enlarge >

Family-friendly lake retreat

A well-laid-out trail encircles the lake and is great for families with strollers. The complete walk around the lake is about 6 km and takes about 1-2 hours at a leisurely pace. All along the gravel trail, there are plenty of viewpoints with benches and a few picnic tables. Along the east side of the lake, there are gravel beaches designated as a swimming areas. Bring your sun chairs, set up camp and enjoy a bath. Just be warned before you jump into the Almsee. The crystal clear water seldom ventures above 15-16 °C even in the height of summer. The maximum 5-meter deep lake is fed by cold-water streams from the mountains.

Nature preserve

Besides a couple of farmhouses and the hotel and restaurant by the parking lot, there isn’t anything in the area around the lake, which also is a nature preserve. Hence, besides swimming from the designated area watersports or fishing is not allowed. Located at 589 m / 1932 ft above sea level it is surrounded by typical mountain vegetation. Moreover, the lake is rich in different species of trout and there is also a small population of bevers at the south end of the lake.

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Hiking

The limestone wall rising above the landscape is called Totes Gebirge (Dead Mountains) and reaches almost 2500 meters / 8200 ft. The mountains got their sinister name, not from morbid occurrences, but because of the scanty vegetation. After relaxing at the lake for a while I went for a 2-hour hike into the valley. There are several marked trails, starting from the parking area, fanning out in the valley, and into the surrounding mountains. However, before you head out for a longer trek, pick up maps and info at the tourist office in Grünau village.

Biking

The next time I will bring mountain boots, some extra clothing and supplies for a longer hike up into the mountains. Furthermore, I met plenty of people on mountain bikes as well. They told me that there are some nice easy rides along gravel roads in the valley, where the terrain is not too steep. As my day trip ends, I am sure that I definitely will come back for more of the spectacular scenery around the Almsee and the Totes Gebirge.

Facilities:

Next to the parking area, there are sanitary facilities, a fast food/snack bar and a restaurant if you did not bring anything to eat or drink.

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Written by Arnold Weisz

Globetrotting multilingual communications specialist born in Vienna, Austria – with passion for scuba diving, golf and culinary delights! 15 years of experience as a scuba- and travel reporter for among others: X-Ray Dive Magazine and Dykking.