Hiking in Austria: Exploring Gratlspitz’s Majesty via Holzalm Path

Today, I wish to share with you the tale of a journey to one of the most splendid summits nestled within the valleys of Wildschönau and Alpbach – the Gratlspitz. Its twin-peaked crown beckons with an enchanting allure. To reach the Gratlspitz summit, there are several routes, stemming from Alpbach or Wildschönau. Today, I shall recount the path that commences from the village of Thierbach, nestled in the Charming Wildschönau valley.

Thierbach itself merits an account. Resting at an elevation of 1153 meters, it stands as Tyrol’s loftiest inhabited settlement. Amidst resplendent peaks and expansive alpine meadows, it imparts a sensation of time’s suspension. Merely a few families reside in Thierbach, yet it houses a charming church and even boasts its own elementary school, where nine children presently study.

In this realm, a handful of B&Bs and guesthouses have found their abode, offering a chance to partake in refreshments on terraces, surrounded by the embrace of mountain vistas.

Thierbach and Gratlspitz
View at Gratlspitz from Thierbach village

It is from this very point that numerous trails set forth, each beckoning with its own allure. However, today, I wish to focus on one such path – the route to Gratlspitz via Holzalm, denoted as trail №10 on local maps.

Upon glimpsing Gratlspitz from a distance, one could almost be convinced that its ascent is possible solely through mountaineering equipment. The steep rocky slopes, nearly vertical cliffs, impart a sense of impregnability.

Nevertheless, the route I am about to narrate is accessible to virtually any trekker with experience navigating mountain paths and a steadiness of foot.

And so, let us embark on our journey. In summer, one can arrive at Thierbach through various avenues. The Wandernbus operates thrice daily, or one could opt for a car journey.

For those choosing the bus, the journey will commence from the village church. Should one travel by car, parking at Klinglerhof shortens the walk by roughly two kilometers. Picture, if you will, that Klinglerhof was once a guesthouse, now transformed into a parking spot. The fee for parking is at your discretion, and a small box on the wall invites coins.

I would like to commence the description of our route at Klinglerhof, as the path from the village traces along a scenic road, devoid of challenges.

Just beyond Klinglerhof awaits the first signpost directing us towards Gratlspitz. The trail initiates along a granite path, which soon forks. We follow the right marker, guiding us to Gratlspitz via Holzalm. The left path leads to the summit as well, but through a more intricate route A27 via Halsberg-Alm and Hösljoch.

Post this junction, the trail descends to a small stream, easily forded. The depth at this point doesn’t exceed 5-10 centimeters.

Subsequently, the trail ascends through the forest to a diminutive chapel, from where we traverse pastures. In about an hour’s time, we reach Holzalm, situated right at the base of the ascent towards Gratlspitz.

Holzalm, Gratlspitz

Holzalm stands as a pivotal intersection for numerous trekking and mountain biking routes, and also a culinary haven. However, let us leave this pleasure for later; our immediate goal is the summit of Gratlspitz!

Directly beyond Holzalm commences the ascent. The trail ascends steeply through the forest, and after half an hour, it transitions into sprawling Alpine pine (latschenkiefer) fields, and the summit draws closer. Further on, the trail leads through a rocky segment, steeper and more exposed. Challenging spots are equipped with steel cables, providing support for both ascent and descent.

Almost before the summit, the trail bifurcates again. To the left, the summit cross stands, while to the right, a convenient bench crafted from a tree trunk offers breathtaking vistas of the Inn Valley, Alpbach and Wildschönau Valleys, and the surrounding summits.

Gratlspitz summit

The descent follows the same route as the ascent.

At a moderate walking pace, the entire journey from Klinglerhof should consume around 2.5 hours. The return path takes a bit under two hours. Before you embark on the return journey, I highly recommend a pause at Holzalm for a refreshing radler and a delectable snack. Holzalm is renowned for its schnitzels – an opportunity not to be missed!

Holzalm, Gratlspitz
Famous Schnitzel at Holzalm

This route is categorized as T2. It implies that the trail never reaches extreme exposure and typically doesn’t require the use of hands for ascent. We assume you possess some mountain experience, are comfortable on narrow and steep paths, and have the endurance to traverse mountain terrain for several hours.

If you want to spend a few days in that part of Austria I highly recommend Wildschönau valley. A beautiful little valley with over 300 km of hiking trails. You will definitely enjoy traditional Tyrollean villages, fresh and crispy air and traditional local kitchen.

You can book your accommodation and explore what’s going on in the valley here.

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