Key information: The Dachstein
- The grand cliffs and spires of the mighty Dachstein, the eastern bastion of the Northern Limestone Alps, make a magnificent heart of an outstanding walking area.
- A wide selection of walks, from multi-day circuits and traverses to high paths just below the summit cliffs to gentle valley-bottom wanders.
- You can easily spend a week in the area.
Walkopedia rating(Top 100)
- Walkopedia rating89
- Natural interest17
- Human interest3
- Negative points0
- Total rating89
- Length: Your choice
- Maximum Altitude: 2,734m (higher on via farratas)
- Level of Difficulty: Variable
The mighty Dachstein, the eastern bastion of the Northern Limestone Alps, are a sheer crown of dramatic jagged peaks and cliffs rising to almost 3,000m on its south-western rim, with a classic broken limestone plateau known as “Auf dem Stein” at its heart, a dry and rough area with some remarkable limestone pavements. The massif slopes down from the high south-western peaks to its (relatively) lower but still thoroughly dramatic north. A ridge of superb peaks and spires, the Gosaukamm, marches westward from the main massif, containing perhaps the most inspiring scenery of the whole range, although not the highest; some call it the Salzburg Dolomites.
The high Dachstein peaks harbour the 8 easternmost glaciers of the Alps, although these are now diminished and a bit melancholy – and a bit grubby.
The lower slopes are everything you could hope for from limestone mountains – gorgeous flower-packed meadows, shrublands and mixed and beautiful forests between the cliffs and outcrops, in lush contrast to the often harsh drama of the peaks and screes above. The Dachstein are well watered, so there are plenty of streams and waterfalls to cheer things up, although (with some noble exceptions) not many lakes.
The Dachstein are well loved, and well walked, so this won’t generally feel like a wilderness, although you can get away.
Wildlife includes deer, marmots, some ibex and chamois on the high ground, mountain hares and red squirrels: birds include eagles and other raptors, nutcrackers, characterful choughs; you can also see capercaille and grouse on mid ground.
Both the highlands and the town of Hallstatt to the north are World Heritage Sites.
Dachstein visitors usually base themselves around the Ramsau plateau and Filzmoos to the immediate south (and this is where you can access high peaks by cablecar), or in the area of historic Hallstatt or Gosau to the north. Grobming to the south-east is a pleasant town, and Schladming, deep in the Enns Valley to the south, is a busy winter ski centre.
There is a plethora of great walks here, from short potters to well-known multi-dayers. They are full of walking pleasures, and much less well-known to boot. While the Schladminger Tauern to the south of the deep Enns valley are a very distinct range from the Dachstein, it will be a great shame not to spend at least one day there while in the Dachstein area, not least to take in more distant, complete views of the majesty of the full Dachstein.
Gosaukamm Circuit: this is the “longer” Dachstein walk that Walkopedia most covets: a two day circuit around the magnificent Salzburg Dolomites which is the region’s best-known route. There are huge views away from the range throughout, and of course close-up inspection of the rocky drama that is the Gosaukamm, including the famous spires that are known as the Bishofsmütze. Given that this route plies the northern and southern slopes of the range, it can be started from the Filzmoos or the Gosausee areas, the latter having the benefit of a cable car to the high ground.
For a circuit approaching from the north:
- You could gain height using the cable car from Obertraun on the Halstätter See, then swing hut to hut around the northern slopes of the range before returning to the Halstätter See from the west.
- Or from Hinterer Gosausee, you can cross the high plateau to the north-east on Route 813 to reach the Hallstatter See in a splendid day’s walking. Or head on up to the highest Dachstein peaks via the Adamekhutte.
There is a 12-day Dachstein Hiking Tour around the range. We don’t yet have much info on this – all contribution welcome!
The Panoramaweg 100 is an easyish 116km 7-stage tour of the southern Dachstein and northern Schladminger Tauern slopes. Superb views, and of course a welcome in the huts along the way. You can slack pack – your luggage can be carried for you. Perhaps better to speand a few days on the Schladminger Tauern side.
There are other multi-dayers, and you can create your own marvel to suit your taste from the options described here, or the many other fine route we don’t have space for. There are firms which will organize them for you if you want. See below.
Day walks (or more) from/in the south
The peaks and high plateau
The main peak area, accessible from the south by the Dachstein cablecar, has limited walking but you will want to go there anyway for its drama and tatty but still exciting glaciers. While there, you can climb the Kleine Gjaidstein peak (2,734m) near the cablecar top for stunning views of the area – a fun climb, but you won’t be alone – or walk on the glacier round to the Seethaler mountain hut on the ridge not far to the west.
More seriously, you can walk round from the peaks eastward on the plateau, or on route 618, which winds behind the high Dachstein crest for many kilometers, to the Guttenberghaus at the head of a great descent on the Anton-Baum Weg (see below) to the Ramsau plateau, or indeed onward and eastward; or you can head westward across the glaciers to the Hohes Kreuz ridge and the Adamekhutte and onward, although these are not straightforward routes.
There are other ways to/from the high ground, including the steep route 672 above the Austria-Hutte near the cable car base station and above the Silberkarklamm and Anton-Baum Weg (see below). And kleottersteigs (via fevvatas) galore.
Mid Dachstein slopes
The Pennerweg - below the Great South Face: a superb high route between the Dachstein Sildwand Hut and the Sulzenhals shoulder. 3 hrs or so.You can make a circuit of this via Bachalm or continue this walk and the Linzer Weg for a marvellous long day below the great line of the high Dachstein cliffs.
Linzer Weg/Sulzenhals: another superb traverse below the great cliffs of the high Dachstein in the uplands between Bischofsmütze and Rötelstein. A fascinating, undulating walk across high pasture and rock of the Rinderfeld, with superb views and drama, round to the high Sulzenhals saddle, for yet more visual magnificence to the east. You can take in the cone of Rötelstein (2,247m) if you have the energy. 14km without Rötelstein. You can join this walk and the Pennerweg for a marvellous long day below the great line of the high Dachstein cliffs.
Rötelstein: this demanding 2,247m outlier of the great southern cliffs has exceptionally exciting views. It can be tackled in its own right or as a superb add-on to both the Pennerweg and the Linzer Weg.
The Anton-Baum Weg (route 616) climbs the whole way from the Ramsau plateau (just east of Ramsau) to the wonderfully sited Guttenburg hut on the high ridge at 2,147m. Tough but gorgeous. 4hrs-ish up.
Silberkarklamm and above: The Silbekar gorge is a spectacular place, a narrow gash separating a wide and grand upper cirque from the lower valley. You can swing back on a high route through lovely mixed forest – or head on up to the high Dachstein and the network of trails and via ferratas on the high ground.
You can wind behind the peaks and back down on one of the other trails, although there could quickly become too much for one day.
Stoderzinken (2,048m) to the east has a peace chapel and superb views.
Kammspitze (2,139m) above Grobming is a steep, direct climb to some excellent views.
The Rittisberg circuit is a good but gentler walk, with good views of the Ramsau plateau, the Enns Valley and the great wall of the Dachstein. It circles around the slopes of Rittisberg, through south-facing pastures dotted with traditional wooden buildings but most of the time through pleasant forests. (Up to 19.5km, 5hrs.)
The Jungfrausteig is a there and back (or circuit to include the Austriahutte) from just west of Ramsan Ort which takes you up to the Steiherne Jungfrauen, some unusual rock formations on the lower slopes. 3.5 hours or so.
The magnificent Notgasse gorge above Grobming has 2,000 year old rock paintings. Above it are the alpine pastures of the Viehbergalm. Beyond is Hochmühleck (1,731m), the highest peak in the area, which has the sort of views you have come to expect.
As Europe’s highest free-standing mountain, Grimming (2,351m) to the east is technically not part of the Dachstein, but is well worth a climb for its 360o views. Not the easiest walk, but a very satisfying one.
South of the Enns valley: Schladminger Tauern
South of the Enns are the Schladminger Tauern, a maze of high peaks at the end of long ridges and valleys leading up from the Enns. They are very different in feel from the Dachstein, so walking here makes for variety from the Dachstein, while keeping them firmly in sight once on high ground.
The Panoramaweg 100 is an easyish 116km 7-stage tour of the southern Dachstein and northern Schladminger Tauern slopes. Superb views, often across to the Dachstein, and of course a welcome in the huts along the way. You can slack pack – your luggage can be carried for you.
Day walks from/in the north
The Gosausee Lakes and valley: lie to the north of the Gosaukamm, and make for fabulous and varied walking. You can walk up the superb valley to the perfect Hinterer Gosausee, for exception views all the way. You can use the cable car to reach the Gablonzer Hutte for a selection of high-level walks, including sections of (or the beginning of!) the Gosaukamm Circuit. A wonderful area to base yourself for a few days’ walking.
Soleleitungsweg/Hallstatter See: A lovely path running above the west shore of the Hallstatter See on this old salt road, through beechwoods and at time high above the lake, with fine views much of the way. Can turned into a circuit round the lake by walking from Steeg-Gosaudown the lake’s pretty eastern shore to a ferry across to Hallstatt, then following the Soleileitungsweg back up the lake to Steeg-Gosau.
You can also use the cable car from Obertraun at the south east of the Hallstatter See to gain height for some fine higher walks – to the east of the Hallstatter See.
Klettersteigs (via ferratas): the massif is famous for having some of the best klettersteigs in Austria, and there are many available. An excellent “Active Adventures” leaflet available in the information centres lists the main ones. The long high ridge route between the cable car top and the Guttenburgerhaus to the east, including Eselstein, is probably the best known ( although the Ramasau one is claimed to be the “ Absolute classic in the Dachstein region”), and an amazing route for those who are up to it. We liked the look of the routes in the Silberkarlamm. Other exceptional ones are the Anna, Johann and Skywalk routes.
These can be tough walking in remote mountains with uncertain weather. Come fully prepared.
Have a look at TripAdvisor – you should get good, current views on places to stay, eat etc in the area.
Walking in Austria – Kev Reynolds for Cicerone: more than 100 walks in the Austrian Alps, including in the Dachstein. As usual, an inspiring book, packed with valuable information, including good detail on the routes. As Austrian maps are good, it has less on each walk that some other Cicerones, but that is fine. Recommended. Find relevant books on Amazon.
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