Austria is probably the best country in Central Europe to go hiking with kids. It offers astonishing high mountain trails with easy access and wide, well-established paths, some of which can even be done with a stroller. Yes, we’ve seen moms taking the ski lift with their babies and then pushing the stroller around a pretty alpine lake.
The ski resorts of the Austrian Alps become hiking centers in the summer. Lots of ski lifts or cable cars operate, countless mountain huts and restaurants are open. Are you with a kid who can’t conquer 1000+ meters elevation change? Are you carrying a kid and so you can’t easily conquer 1000+ meters elevation change? That was our case with 11 months old Tomi. We were happy to use those ski lifts and cabins to start our hikes above the forest line.
As we’ve written about family-friendly hiking in Austria in this article, the advantage is that you’re not out in the wild, and the disadvantage is the same. It’s not that you can’t find trails which take you into the wilderness, but we’re talking about family-friendly trails here. We strongly believe you can travel and hike with kids, but that doesn’t mean you’re going on an adventure to conquer Mont Blanc with a toddler.
So in this post we collected some trails that we’ve done with our baby – and lots of other families did them, too, with strollers, toddlers or older kids. They are family-friendly and offer amazing insight into the wonders of the Austrian Alps at the same time.
The 6 lakes of Tauplitz, Tauplitzalm, Styria
Probably the most magical family-friendly hiking trail in Styria is the 6(!) Tauplitz lakes loop. The full loop is relatively long (I mean to do it with small kids) and somewhat more strenuous at places, but you can easily shorten it and choose to include only some of the lakes.
The trailhead is Bergstation Tauplitzalm, the upper station of the Tauplitz ski lift. You can either use the ski lift or drive there on Tauplitzalm-Alpenstrasse, a toll road that starts at the lower terminal. You need to buy the ticket at the gate when entering the road. We preferred the toll road to the ski lift, because it was cheaper (ski lift tickets are issued per person, the ticket for Tauplitzalm-Alpenstrasse is per car), and we were in no hurry to catch the last descent of the ski lift.
From Bergstation Tauplitzalm we started with the eastern part of the loop trail: Tauplitzsee – Steirersee – Schwarzensee. Tauplitzsee is rather a small pond in the midst of a lush green alpine meadow, and it’s very easy to access. Steirersee is further and getting to its shore requires a steep descent, but it was our favorite! It doesn’t only offer magical colors and peak views, but we found a nice beach, too. Then we ascended again to reach Schwarzensee, another typically beautiful alpine lake, backed up by a giant rock wall. On our way back we took the panorama trail that didn’t take us down to Steirersee but offered fabulous views of it as we passed by. It was narrow and somewhat steep from time to time, but since we carried Tomi, it was not a problem. He had plenty of space to crawl around on the lakeshores.
If you’d like to shorten the hike, your option is to head back to the trailhead from Tauplitzsee. However, we decided to see the other three lakes, so we continued towards Großsee and started the loop of the three western lakes: Großsee – Märchensee – Krallersee. Großsee means Big Lake, and it’s the largest of the three, Märchensee is the smallest, but it has the most incredible color, and Krallersee is similar to Tauplitzsee.
Some sections are wide and smooth, you can even use a stroller there, but the full loop can’t be done with a stroller. We put Tomi in our carrier backpack, because he didn’t walk yet, but lots of sections are safe for toddlers and small kids to walk on their own.
Krimml Waterfalls, Salzburg
Thundering Krimml Waterfalls with 380 metres drop over the three stages of falls is one of the most popular natural attractions in Austria – and it’s family-friendly, too! The Waterfall Trail is a wide, well-maintained gravel path with several viewing platforms on the way. It takes about two hours to reach the end of it: the crossing of the Krimmler Ache stream above the uppermost waterfall.
We made it a loop trail by returning to the visitor parking on Alte Tauernweg. It’s still a relatively easy hiking path, but it’s not a gravel road, and it has less waterfall viewpoints than the Waterfall Trail.
Fee is charged both for parking and visiting the Waterfall Trail. (But you get them for free with the Hohe Tauern card.) The lowest waterfall is even disabled accessible, and we’ve seen lots of people with strollers on the Waterfall Trail. It ascends though, so it’s harder to push the stroller, but doable. We did it with Tomi in the carrier backpack, just like on other trails. And it was amazing all the way! Really, it deserves the hype, we’ve seen such thundering waterfalls nowhere else in Europe (except Iceland, of course, but that’s not mainland Europe).
The trail of 3 glacial lakes at Weisssee Glacier World, Uttendorf, Salzburg
A glacial lake at 2300 meters. That’s where we started our day after the cable car ride from the small town of Enzingerboden. We suspected that a place called Weisssee Glacier World would be stunning, but it was even more stunning!
The easiest and most scenic trail for families is probably the trail of the three glacial lakes. It starts at Weisssee and continues down towards the middle station at Grünsee, passing Tauernmoossee on the way. We found turquoise Weisssee and baby blue Tauernmoossee especially impressive! We walked a bit on the shore of each of the lakes, and it made the trail a bit longer – and nicer, too.
It was all downhill, sometimes it got steep, so be cautious and use the ropes for support. But we were surrounded by giant snow-capped peaks and alpine meadows covered with wildflowers. An alpine idyll, without much effort.
Of course, you can hike up from the middle station to the upper one (or from Enzingerboden to all the way up, for that matter), but that won’t match the physical ability of small kids. Besides, if you want to do hard work for great views, hike further from the upper station. Some of the other trails could be suitable even with kids, like an ascending, but relatively short path to Kalser Törl – and to great views from there!
Wildkogel Panoramaweg, Wildkogel Arena, Bramberg am Wildkogel, Salzburg
The Wildkogel Arena is a region between the Kitzbühel Alps and Hohe Tauern National Park, and the ski resort turns into a hiking resort in the summer. Several hiking paths start from the upper terminals of the Wildkogel ski lifts at 2100 meters where we already got breathtaking views of the snow-capped peaks of Hohe Tauern.
We chose Wildkogel Panoramaweg which is a 2 hours long loop trail with minimal elevation change and amazing scenery all the way. It took us up to 2224 Wildkogel peak, then continued through the valleys of Geisl-Hochalm and Ganseralm, with a restaurant (and some grazing cows on the alpine meadows, obviously) on the way.
Right by the ski lift terminal, there’s a playground made out of wood, and some shorter paths can even be done with a stroller (not Wildkogel peak).
Untersulzbachfall, Neukirchen am Großvenediger, Salzburg
This is a very short and lovely loop trail with views of Untersulzbachfall, a 110 meters tall waterfall in lush green Untersulzbach Valley. It’s not far from either the Wildkogel Arena or the Krimml Waterfalls, so it could be a nice addition to any day spent in the region.
We visited it after the Krimml Waterfalls, and even though it couldn’t compete with those, we liked this trail and its countless scenic viewpoints. We even continued the hike further into Untersulzbach Valley and enjoyed the tranquility of the majestic pine forests of Hohe Tauern.
Even though the trail is quite short, it either ascends or descends by the waterfall, so it’s a medium difficulty trail, and we recommend wearing proper hiking shoes to explore it safely.
Venedigerweg in Obersulzbachtal, Neukirchen am Grossvenediger, Salzburg
Another valley that belongs to Neukirchen am Grossvenediger: Obersulzbach Valley – Obersulzbachtal in Austrian. Venedigerweg runs in the valley and it’s actually a family path with fun play areas for kids on the way. However, this dramatic glacial valley with its hidden waterfalls will impress adults, too.
Venedigerweg includes the lower area of Obersulzbach Valley. The trail starts with a hanging bridge, not far from the Hopffeldboden paid parking area and ends at Berndlalm, an alpine valley with snow-capped peaks of the Grossvenediger wilderness in the background. (Of course, you can do lots of hiking in that wilderness that offers 25 summits over 3000 meters, but let’s just stay at family-friendly trails for now.)
The trail runs along a wild mountain stream, and it offers distant waterfall views and viewing platforms for Seebachfall and Gamseckfall waterfalls. It’s a short detour to the platforms, but it’s well worth it.
There’s a playground, a restaurant and a small animal farm at Berndlalm which is an ideal place to rest before turning back. On our way back we took the path on the other side of the valley. It’s not a family themed trail anymore, but it’s a comfortable, wide path where even cars can drive – though it’s closed to the public and can only be used with permission, so don’t worry about traffic.
Once we finished the trail and started our drive back, we stopped at the free parking lot at Gasthof Siggen in the beginning of the valley. There’s a small lake called Blausee nearby, and we reached it in about 10 minutes on foot from the parking lot. As its name indicates it has a magically blue color, especially if the sun shines. We didn’t get sunshine, but we still had a nice picnic on the benches by the lakeshore.
Any of your favorite family-friendly trails in Austria?
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