Nature operates on a grand scale in the Arlberg region, in Tirol’s western crook, where cow-grazed meadows rise to thick forests and stunning peaks. This is the Austrian Alps at its dramatic best.
Words by Kerry Christiani | Photos by Christoph Schoch and Wolfgang Ehn
Nature operates on a grand scale in the Arlberg region, in Tirol’s western crook, where cow-grazed meadows rise to thick forests and stunning peaks. This is the Austrian Alps at its dramatic best, with the region’s highest peak, Valluga, topping out at 2,811m. Valluga can be reached via cable car but the fabulous backcountry is best explored on foot, through its 300km network of signposted trails – for as the locals say, ‘Der berg ruft’ or ‘The mountain calls’!
Where better to base yourself for such adventures, than in St. Anton am Arlberg. In summer, St. Anton reveals its mellow, more traditional side, swapping skis for walking boots and Europop beats for the clang of cowbells.
St. Anton is wild in more ways than one, and draws hikers and adventure lovers back again and again. The Verwall and Lechtal Alps form an impressive backdrop for some of the country’s finest hiking, not to mention adrenaline-charged pursuits from canyoning and free-climbing to mountain biking and whitewater rafting on the Inn River. Families, too, are catered for, with child-friendly trails and an abundance of summer activities that encourage kids to tune into nature.
Just over an hour’s drive west of Innsbruck, St. Anton not only offers easy access to the great outdoors but its superb infrastructure and characterful centre mean you’re in for a wonderful stay.
St. Anton adventures
- Eagle Walk
Tirol’s famous 280km Adlerweg, or Eagle Walk, finishes in St. Anton am Arlberg. Offering some scrambling challenges, stages 21 to 24 take you high into the surrounding peaks and pastures, with huts providing respite for hikers. Keep an eye out for golden eagles, ibex and chamois en route. Cicerone’s Adlerweg is a useful guide.
- Free summer fun
Stay overnight in St. Anton in summer and you’ll be given the Summer Card which, among other free benefits, entitles you to one day of cable car and lift use, one guided hike, one free green fee at St. Anton am Arlberg golf course, one visit to the wellness centre and an E-bike tour. If you’re staying longer, you can pay to upgrade to the Premium ticket and enjoy unlimited use of the cable cars and wellness centre, plus much more. Visit sommerkarte.at for details.
- The Alpenrosenweg trail
Named after the Alpenrosen, or alpine roses, that make the slopes blush pink in late spring, this moderate 14km, 6-hour trail is a great 1-day hike. It begins at the Rendlbahn base station and heads up to 2,100m, passing through meadows and stopping at the Rendlalm hut, which commands views of the Lechtal and Verwall Alps.
- Adrenaline rushes
Fancy canyoning, tubing, mountain biking or whitewater rafting? St. Anton is a one-stop shop for these heart-quickening activities and more. Family tours include a high-rope adventure course.
- Taste of Tirol
To truly slot into St. Anton’s Alpine groove, plan your walks around the region’s many hospitality huts. You could take hiking trail No.28 from the Nassereinbahn base station up to Putzenalm, a traditional dairy, at 1,745m, and tuck into a traditional Brettljause (cheese, ham and pickle platter). Or take the Wunderwanderweg trail and visit the nearby Sennhütte for live music and special herbal tours.