The third section of the ‘Schönberg’ alpine variation traverses the rugged karst plateau of the western Tote Gebirge Mountains. The path is narrow and rocky at the beginning. Later an actual trail isn’t even recognisable with only the Austrian ground markers along the rock slabs indicating the direction. This route absolutely demands sure-footedness and a head for heights and should only be accessed during stable weather conditions. Because of its sometimes unclear terrain, confusion is very likely during foggy or snowy conditions.
From the Hochkogelhaus Hut to the Rinner Hut (5 to 6 hours)
From the hut, the trail begins along path No. 611 in the direction of the Schönberg Mountain and after a short time arrives at a junction between the ‘Vorderer’ and ‘Hinterer’ Rauhenkogel Peaks. The route heads left along path No. 630 through mountain pines into the broad Feuertal Valley. A short and light ascent to the right leads to the entrance of an ice cave.
Our route ascends to the left and continues to another junction. The trail to the right leads over the Wehrkogel Peak and the Ostgrat Ridge to ascend the Schönberg Mountain. However, our route heads left over fairly level terrain with beautiful views of the impressive rock formation of the Hangender Kogel to finally arrive at a trail marker. At this point, the direct trail from the Schönberg to the Wildensee Lake arrives from the right. This marked path comes from the Ostgrat Ridge, where the trail is secured by cables and shortens the ‘Schönberg’ variation by a day.
The route now heads through sections of limestone pavement, passing numerous sinkhole shafts to arrive at the Great Scheiblingkogel Mountain, whose peak is circumvented to the south. The trail then reaches a junction north of the Lesser Rinnerkogel Peak. From this point, hikers can go left across the meadow slopes to ascend the summit of the Rinnerkogel Mountain. These efforts are rewarded with a breath-taking view of the surrounding karst landscape. Back at the junction marker, our route continues to descend in the direction of the Rinner Hut.
Just before reaching the Rinnerboden Valley, the trail again arrives at a junction. Hikers can either continue straight ahead to the Rinner Hut or descend right to the gorgeous Wildensee Lake (swimming opportunity). From the lake, the trail goes along level terrain to the Rinner Hut. This option will increase the trail time by 30 minutes.
At the Rinner Hut, our trail meets Stage 18 of the Salzkammergut BergeSeen Trail.
Many prominent figures have explored this region: nobles like Archduke Johann and Empress Elisabeth, scientists such as Friedrich Simony, poets and authors like Nikolaus Lenau, painters like Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, musicians and composers such as Johannes Brahms. Did they ever think that hiking in the Salzkammergut might have no end? That they could tramp from one lake to the next and then onward to yet another? Day by day along the shores of crystal-clear waters? Week-long excursions through quiet valley forests, over sunny alpine meadows and up mountains fuelled by the anticipation of the next destination? Further information…
Safety Tips for Hikers
Admittedly, the landscape of the UNESCO World Heritage region of Hallstatt Dachstein Salzkammergut is the absolute pinnacle for hiking fans, mountain enthusiasts and nature lovers—unforgettable tours to incredibly beautiful mountain lodges and meadows, panorama views as far as the eye can see and cherished moments that will last a lifetime! However, you should remember that while hiking you might find yourself in high-alpine terrain. We’ve put together some resources to assist you: how to best prepare for your tour, recommended items for your backpack and steps to take in an emergency situation. Remember to always play it safe and enjoy your hiking adventure in the Salzkammergut!