Hike to Olpererhütte in the Austrian Alps

4 miles 1969 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Barry Holloway

For a stunning hike high into the Austrian Alps with one of the best views in the Zillertal, the hike from Schlegeisspeicher reservoir to Olpererhütte (Olperer Mountain Hut) is hard to beat! Not only that, a scrumptious meal and beverage await.

Austria’s Zillertal Valley is a spectacular region of the Alps offering a plethora of hiking options. Locals as well as tourism hosts overwhelmingly recommended Olpererhütte! From Mayrhofen, a public transit bus delivers hikers directly to the trailhead. Mayrhofen is a great village to use as home base for a few days, and it’s only 1 1/2 hours, by train, from Innsbruck, 3 from Salzburg.

Catch the first bus of the day at 8:00 to Schelgeisspeicher, bus #4102. Do not wait for it at stops in the village, it will be full; instead go directly to the bus/train station and anticipate a large crowd since numerous buses will depart for many locations up and down the valley. Keep in mind that there is often a disregard for queuing etiquette; prepare to hold your ground. The bus filled quickly, and everyone else, including me, were left standing with the prospect of waiting an hour for the next. Several hikers and I looked at each other and quickly agreed to hire a taxi and split the cost. Just as we were negotiating a price with the driver, an announcement was made that two more buses would arrive shortly. A few minutes later, we were all on our way.

An hour later, the bus ride ended at the last stop, and we all hopped off. Take a moment to confirm the return bus schedule on the board, and plan for the hike to take about 1 1/2 hours each direction. Walk a bit further along the road watching for the trail, route 502, leading up into the woods on your right. From here it’s a steady and somewhat strenuous climb of 600m (1,969ft) to the hut at 2,389m (7,838ft). At first, you’ll be amongst the trees, but it quickly opens to views of the lake and surrounding mountains, some of which have glaciers on their slopes. Continuing up the trail with numerous switchbacks, you’ll see Olpererhütte high above as you make your way above the tree line. The ever expanding view will cause you to stop frequently to take it all in, or maybe it’s the steepness of the trail. You’ll soon lose sight of the lake, but don’t worry, there’s an even better view of it from the top.

Once arriving, you’ll be tempted to immediately stop at Olpererhütte, but before doing so, continue along the trail to pass behind the building and visit the swinging bridge only a few minutes further. From here, the whole valley opens up before you, not to mention the fun photo ops on the bridge. Some hikers continue to Friesenbergalm, another mountain hut, and back to the lake on another trail. I considered it, but it would have extended my hike by several hours. Instead, I returned to Olpererhütte to eat and rest a bit.

It was a beautiful day, so a seat on the deck was a must! At these mountain huts, you’ll often share the table with other hikers. It’s great when we can speak each other’s language, but no such luck this time; I could only nod hello and smile at the others. The waitress didn’t speak English, but I knew enough German to order a hearty helping of Speckknödel and Kraut (bacon dumplings in beef broth with sauerkraut) and a large local bier. Just off of the deck, chickens were eating grass and chasing insects, but they would occasionally appear under the table looking for bread crumbs or anything people would share. After a filling meal and a nice rest, I calculated it was time to head down to catch the 3:00 bus.

It took longer planned, but once to the bottom I had about 2 minutes to sprint to the bus stop. I arrived in time, but there was no bus, nor were there others waiting. Did it leave early? Did I read the bus schedule on the sign correctly? The answer to one of those questions is “no”. The bus runs at the top of each hour, EXCEPT 3:00. Not wanting to hang out for an hour, I began walking through the parking lot asking if anyone would give me a lift to Mayrhofen for €20. Since that’s the only direction the road went, it was only a matter of minutes before a nice couple agreed. We recognized each other at about the same time; they had me take their photo on the swinging bridge at the top of the trail! They refused my money when I got out at Mayrhofen. What an incredibly fun day, much like all the other days as I explored Austria. 

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🥇Top Contributor

about 1 month ago

A Lovely Hike By Possibly Ruined by Instagram?

Over the last few years, the hanging bridge near the Olpererhütte has become famous on social media. This once beautiful hike has now turned into a highway of underprepared hikers. Unfortunately, don't be surprised if you find yourselves waiting in line on the trails behind people hiking up in sandals who want to stand in line to get a photo on the bridge. Be prepared, dress appropriately for hiking in alpine terrain, take plenty of water, snacks and sun protection.

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