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Seebachtal – easy scenic hiking in the Austrian Alps

© by Arnold Weisz

The 8-9 km hike in Seebachtal, Carinthia is one of the easiest, but also among the most beautiful nature experiences we have had in the Alps. Perfect for families with small children and those who are not as steady on their feet as they used to.

Hiking in the Alps is not only about narrow and steep trails high up in the mountains. There are also plenty of great trails for those who simply want a leisurely hike or bring small children. Moreover, even though the walk takes you along a small gravel road in relatively flat terrain, the surrounding nature is spectacular. We found a lovely, easy-going hiking trail through a scenic valley in northern Carinthia.

Majestic Alpine Landscape

The Seebachtal valley is located at 1270 meters above sea level is rather narrow and becomes narrower the farther in you venture. It’s surrounded by mountains rising to 3300 meters, and offers stunning views to hikers. During the nearly eight-kilometer-long walk, we were greeted by big and small waterfalls. Some of them easy to reach if you want a closer look. Moreover, along the route, you find benches where you can sit down and take some time to enjoy the landscape. Part of the route takes you along a river with crystal clear and cold water, perfect for a refreshing dip on hot summer days.

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Wildlife, and not so wild life

The hike passes through pastures used by the local farmers. At the beginning of the route, we passed through the portal and cattle guard at Lake Stappitz and were walking in the company of grazing cows, horses, and sheep. If you are lucky, you can also observe some of the wildlife in the valley. Seebachtal is not only the oldest wildlife reserve in the Hohe Tauern National Park, but also a paradise for those who want to see wildlife. Stappitzer See (lake) at the beginning of the valley, is a unique highlands steppe lake and a resting place for migratory birds. Furthermore, keep your eyes on the sky. There are several eagles in the area, and if you are lucky you can see these magnificent birds as they circulate over the valley looking for prey.

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Picnic in nature

From the parking lot by the Ankogelbahn cable car station and to Schwussnerhütte (farmers cottage) it’s approx. 3.9 kilometers. Moreover, it is not possible to get lost if you just follow the gravel road all the way. You can either get something to eat and drink at the mountain restaurant at the end of the road, or bring your own. We opted for a picnic along the way. There are some lovely places next to the road, where you find benches. Perfect for a picnic and to enjoy nature. Nonetheless, the Schwussnerhütte serves food and drink, if you didn’t bring anything. There are signposts by the car park and at the portal with the opening hours.

Learning trail

You can also take a slightly longer route and get away from the gravel road, by following the Naturlehrweg Seebachtal (Nature learning trail). It is a marked trail on the other side of the river (south side), which is a bit rougher and follows the terrain, but not difficult to walk. Along the trail, there are info plaquettes explaining the nature around you. We suggest you take the nature trail inwards to Schwussnerhütte and follow the gravel road back to the parking lot.

Up and into the mountains

Although the gravel road ends shortly after the Schwussnerhütte, there are also several opportunities for hikes up in the mountains. For those looking for a longer hike up into the mountains, a trail leads to Hannoverhaus (2566 m / 8418 ft above sea level). This is a hike for advanced hikers and has an incline of almost 1000 m / 3280 ft for the first 2.7 kilometers. However, there is an easier way up to Hannoverhaus. You can pick up the Angelkogelbahn cable car, which takes you there in two stages. The cable car station is located at the start of Seebachtal.

Mallnitz

A few kilometers before Seebachtal you reach Mallnitz. It is a lovely small village with about 450 inhabitants, and is well worth a stop. Moreover, the village offers plenty of accommodation, eateries, shops and banks. Mallnitz is a popular starting point for longer and more difficult hikes. From here, you can hike to mountain peaks such as Ankogel 3252 m and Säuleck 3086 m. Furthermore, during the winter (December – April) you can enjoy great skiing at Angelkogel. The cable car is just a few kilometers from Mallnitz.

Autoschleuse Tauernbahn

If you want to drop either often heavy traffic on the Tauern Autobahn (A10) or long detours (188 km versus 147 km), the Autoschleuse Tauernbahn is a gem. Travel quickly and comfortably by train from Mallnitz, Carinthia through the Alps to Bad Gastein, Salzburg in just 12 minutes for € 17 (car + passengers). The train travels the 8.3 km long tunnel once every hour. You drive your own car onboard (just like on a ferry) and seat yourself in the passenger car. We tested this on our way north and had a nice trip up to Salzburg via Bad Gastein and got lovely trip through the Pongau region as well.

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Written by Ana Lucia Marcos

Ana Lucia Marcos

Ana Lucia has traveled the world, but fell completely in love with Austria. She loves the dramatic mountain landscape, the phototastiske lakes and the captivating castles. Moreover, a real Wienerschnitzel is always on the menu when she explores the alpine country.