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Green Lake – The emerald of the Styrian Alps

© by Arnold Weisz

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, its setting is simply 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 manage to visit outside peak vacation times, you can enjoy the lake in peace.

Easily accessible

Besides its beauty, there is a more practical reason why this lake is popular. It is easily accessible and offers good infrastructure. The road to the 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 fully enjoy, not only the lake, but also the surrounding landscape.

< Click on the images to enlarge >

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 in the forest. At a slight elevation above the lake, it gave me a different perspective and some nice angles for photography as well. Nonetheless, you don’t have to stick to the lake only. You could also hike the Marienklamm (gorge), which is about 1-1,5 hours from the Green Lake through the woods. The gorge is small, only about 100 meters long, but still impressive.

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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 that green algae growing in parts of the lake, and you get a fantastic color. The depth of the lake fluctuates with the amount of water flow. It peaks late spring, early summer and then the water level starts to drop 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 is 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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Written by Arnold Weisz

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.