This emerald coloured little gem of a lake is hidden in a cul-de-sac valley in the Styrian Alps. If you are able to visit the Green Lake during spring or early summer, you can enjoy the stunning scenery almost alone.
Green Lake and its setting are stunning — a green emerald surrounded by the Hochschwab Mountains and forests. Consequently, the Green Lake (Grüner See) in Styria has become a very popular destination. During the main central European holiday period, it can be very crowded. Nonetheless, if you visit outside the busiest times in the summer, you can enjoy the lake in peace.
Besides its beauty, there is a more practical reason why this lake is famous. It is easily accessible and offers good infrastructure. The road to Green Lake is well sign-posted, and there is a large car park. Moreover, the gravel road leading up to the lake from the car park can be used by anyone on foot (not for wheelchairs) with normal outdoor shoes. It takes about 1 hour to circumvent the lake. Nonetheless, I was happy to spend at least double. I took ample time to sit down at different places around the lake to enjoy the lake and the surrounding landscape.
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Variety of trails
There are a variety of trails around the lake available both near the water’s edge and through the forest a bit further away. Naturally, most people are drawn to the water, but I also enjoyed the trail through the woods. At a slight elevation above the lake, it gave me a different perspective and some excellent angles for photography as well. Nonetheless, you don’t have to stick to the lake only. You could also hike the Marienklamm (gorge), about 1-1,5 hours by foot from Green Lake through the woods. The canyon is small, about 100 meters long, but still impressive.
Why is the lake green?
Its clear water derives from the snowmelt in the karst mountains and has a temperature of 6-7 °C (43-45 °F). Pure water absorbs red light and therefore appears blue-greenish. Moreover, finely eroded rock suspended in the water reflects above all the blue-green parts of the light. Add to those green algae growing in parts of the lake, and you get a fantastic colour. The depth of the lake fluctuates with the amount of water flow. It peaks in late spring and early summer, and then the water level drops around mid-July, depending on the precipitation.
No water sports
The Grüner See used to be a popular scuba diving spot. However, due to the spike in visitors over the last decade and expected damage to this sensitive environment, the use of this lake for all water sports activities has been prohibited (since 1 January 2016). Swimming is not allowed either. On the other hand, the lake’s prime attraction is its beauty and the surrounding scenery.
For more info: Styria Tourism
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