I now live in Vienna for now nearly 16 years and I have to say I find it such a joy. I grew up in Dublin which is a city I love to this day but the quality of life one experiences here is something to be cherished. I totally understand why Vienna consistently scores top marks as one of the best places in the world to live. As with all big cities sometimes we also need to escape metropolitan life for the day in order to breathe some country air into our lungs. I am thrilled to have discovered relatively late in my life a love for hiking or ‘Wandern” as the locals here call it.Within an hour or so drive from Vienna there are many opportunities to find spectacular mountain trails. To find some of these a useful tip is to have a look at www.wandermap.at. I also discovered that, similar to my passion for golf, ‘wandern’ is frowned upon by some my cooler Viennese friends. They don’t know what they are missing and I will convert them!
I found a great trail in the Schneeberg mountains earlier this summer and enjoyed it so much I returned there a week or so ago. I wanted to share this with you on the blog as I think it is a great way to spend the day with family or close friends and particularly on a Sunday when a lot of places are closed in Vienna. My starting point for the trek is at a place called Sonnleiten which is just over an hour’s driving distance from my home in 1070 Wien.
The best way to get there is by car and you can travel on the A2 autobahn, then take the Wiener Neustadt West exit and the village of Sonnleiten lies a further 25 minutes drive on the B26.When you get to Sonnleiten watch out for a sign for ‘Wasserfall’ on the right and there is a car park about 50 meters further where you can leave your car.
One of the many things I love about living in Austria is how everything seems to work efficiently. I feel this is down, in many parts, to the superb organization of the country. Wandern is no different and many wandern routes are marked with signposts and in distinctive colors often found painted on trees and stones along the way to help guide you. The trail I recommend is no different. The easiest way to explain the route is as follows; I start from the carpark in Sonnleiten on a trail marked in black walking in the direction of ‘Mamauwiese’ and after about 1hour /1 hour 15 mins I turn off to another trail marked in red in the direction of ‘Edelweisshuette’. The whole trek takes about 2 hours /2 hours 15 mins and whilst certainly not easy is, I believe, accessible to most people with reasonable fitness. I recently completed it a friend who had 3 hours sleep the night before but she is definitely an exception!
The reason I love this trail is the varieties of terrain and scenery you encounter along the way.It is particularly beautiful at this time of year with all sorts of autumnal colors blooming in every direction.After setting off from the car park about 15 minutes along the way you meet a spectacular waterfall where rock climbers accenting its cliff face.
The trail then twists rather steeply uphill through the forest.I always wear hiking boots but in good weather conditions running shoes will probably suffice. A particular joy awaits me 20 minutes up ahead where I cross a bridge over a stream. I always fill my water bottle with the cool spring water from the stream. It is the perfect excuse to take a break and quench your thirst.
About 15 minutes further the trek turns to a gravel road for a while and if you keep a close lookout for a signpost maybe 1 km down this path you will see the turn for the red trail in the direction of Edelweisshuette.You also know you are in the right place as Mamauwiese is signposted in another direction with an estimated trek duration of 15 minutes.After moving to the red trail this part of the route is the steepest you will encounter but I loved the reward of beautiful views of the mountains below me as I turned a bend and I could often hear the cowbells below in the pasture.
If you find yourself fading in the company of friends with superior fitness ( as tends to happen to me!) I find a useful trick is to implore them to stop and take in the beautiful sights below and around us! Just before the top, the terrain changes into a luscious meadow with some seats upon which to rest.
I have to say towards the end of the trek I am dreaming of a cold drink with some hot food and I think I have found a gem of a place! It’s called Almreserlhaus which is a Gasthaus with lovely home cooked food run by a fella called Franzi.
On my first trek to Edelweisshuette, we tried another place further up beside the cable car(Bergstation) but I have to say this Gasthaus is far superior and judging by the throngs of locals visiting it is something of a ‘Geheimtipp’.Their draft beer is Puntigamer and is just the tonic for tired legs when you reach the top.I love a place also that celebrates local produce and they had Schneeberggamsgulasch on the menu last time and a really tasty Puchberger Bratwurst suppe the time before.The Almreserlhaus is a little tricky to find as it looks like a pretty unassuming farmhouse from the outside.It is located about 300 meters below the cable car on the left-hand side.You enter a gate, walk through a small farmyard and you will see to your left a luscious terrace with spectacular views across the Schneeberg mountains.
There are two choices to descend the mountain; Go back the route traveled on the way up or come out of the Almreserlhaus, turn left in the direction of the cable car (berg station)and after about 100 meters there is a signpost to the left.Follow the signpost in the direction Losenheim and this route is marked in yellow and takes about 40 minutes to get to the bottom.If you of following this route (as I always do) then after you reach Losenheim you will have to walk along the road for about another 1km before you see a path to the left with a sign for ‘Wasserfall’.Follow this path for another 2 km or so and it will bring you back to the car park where you started.Hope you enjoy this trek as much as I have and Happy Wandern.