Backpacking in Austria: Tips & Trails

Ultralight Backpacking in Austria: A hiker looking at an Austrian mountain valley

In this post, we'll take a look at:

Backpacking in Austria is a breeze, as the country offers trails for outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels, marked by the SAC-Wanderskala. It’s a thrilling place with amazing mountains and spread across 6 national parks.

Prime backpacking areas include the Hohe Tauern National Park, Stubai Alps, and Ötztal Alps.

In this post, we’ll delve deeper into the world of ultralight backpacking in Austria and provide you with important details for your next adventure.

Plus, we’ll highlight the TOP 5 trails in two groups: day hikes (under 30 miles) and longer trips with resupply options every two days.

Key Tips for Backpacking in Austria

  • What to expect: Be prepared for steep ascents, rapidly changing weather, and limited cash/ATM access in remote areas. Many huts and inns only accept cash.
  • Essential gear: Consider packing a lightweight sleeping bag liner as blankets provided in mountain huts may not be washed often. A headlamp is also useful for alpine start times.
  • Wildlife: In Austria, there are some animals that could be risky. Bears, wolves, and lynxes are among them, and they tend to live in the far-off mountainous areas of the country. While it’s not common for them to attack people, it can happen if these animals feel in danger or if their babies are at risk.
  • Wild camping: Wild camping in Austria is legally complex and generally not allowed. The Austrian Forest Act prohibits camping in forests without owner consent. Above the tree line, regulations vary; Carinthia, Lower Austria, and Tyrol strictly forbid it. Austria has legal mountain huts, and unplanned alpine emergency camps are allowed nationwide. Regional clarification is advisable.
  • Best times to go: The optimal backpacking seasons in Austria are summer from July to September when the trails are snow-free and mountain huts are open, and September through October for fewer crowds, reliably nice weather, and autumn foliage in the Alps. Winter backpacking is also possible in Austria but requires proper avalanche safety training and gear.

Top 5 Day Hikes (Under 30 Miles)

Discover these excellent day hikes to enhance your adventures using ultralight gear:

  1. Friesenberghaus – Olperer Hut (8.6 miles).
    See AllTrails.
  2. Krimml Waterfall Trail and Old Tauernweg (5.1 miles).
    See AllTrails.
  3. Vorderer and Hinterer Gosausee (8.1 miles).
    See AllTrails.
  4. Untersberg (6.8 miles).
    See AllTrails.
  5. Schlegeisspeicher Olperer Hut (4.3 miles).
    See AllTrails.

Top 5 Multi-Day Trips

Austria offers fantastic multi-day trails with resupply points available every two days:

  1. Stubai Highroute (56.8 miles).
    See AllTrails.
  2. Lamsenspitze (33.5 miles).
    See AllTrails.
  3. Kaiserkrone (Fernwanderweg) (38.4 miles).
    See AllTrails.
  4. Karwendel High Trail (49.5 miles).
    See AllTrails.
  5. Großglockner Loop (66.8 miles).
    See AllTrails.

Annual Weather Averages

Austria experiences a varied climate throughout the year, and the weather for backpacking depends on the specific time and region you plan to visit. Here’s a general overview:

  • Spring (March to May): Milder temperatures with occasional rain.
  • Summer (June to August): Popular for warm weather, but watch out for afternoon thunderstorms.
  • Fall (September to November): Cooler temperatures and colorful landscapes.
  • Winter (December to February): Cold and snowy, requiring specialized equipment.

Before choosing your gear, check the weather forecast for Austria (Vienna):

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High °F384251626976808070594839
Low °F272834425056605952433629
Rain/Snow (D*)979798987789
Note: This table is approximate; weather can change with altitude.
D* – Days of rain or snow.

FAQ

Can I have a campfire while backpacking in Austria?

Campfires are extremely restricted when backpacking in Austria and require advance planning and permits. Fires are prohibited in many alpine and forest areas due to high risk of uncontrolled spread. Research specific regulations which vary across states and national parks. Obtain required permits well before your trip if fires are conditionally allowed only in designated campfire rings. Since campfires can damage fragile alpine vegetation, use camp stoves instead.

What are some safety tips for backpacking in Austria?

When hiking in Austria, prepare for rapidly changing alpine conditions by packing proper gear including insulation layers, raingear, navigation tools, sun protection, and emergency supplies. Check conditions and avoid trekking during storms or high avalanche risk. Stay on marked trails when hiking above treeline or near glaciers. Research and obtain permits required for certain protected areas. Learn basic German phrases if needed. Tell others your plans and hike with a partner when possible. Take caution near steep drop-offs and unstable terrain. Watch for falling rocks and wildlife like mountain goats.

How to deal with wildlife encounters while backpacking in Austria?

When hiking in Austria, be alert and make noise to avoid surprising wildlife. Give animals like chamois, marmots, mountain goats, and alpine salamanders a wide berth. Do not approach, feed, or touch wild creatures. Watch your step around marmot burrows on trails. Wear insect repellent and check for ticks after hiking. Back away slowly if encountered by protective sheepdogs. Leave farm fences intact and avoid disturbing grazing livestock. Promptly seek medical care for any animal bites or scratches.

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