Key information: Stubai Alps
- The Stubai is a vast and complex horseshoe of high, spectacular, glacier-bearing mountains around the central and lovely Stubaital, due south of Innsbruck and with its back to the Italian border.
- There are endless great walks here, from short explorations to multi-dayers.
- Walkopedia rating91
- Natural interest17
- Human interest6
- Negative points0
- Total rating91
- Length: Your choice
- Maximum Altitude: 3,413m
- Level of Difficulty: Variable
The Stubai is a vast and complex horseshoe (or perhaps, risking bathos, a curling tadpole with its head to the north-west) of high, dark, spectacular, glacier-bearing mountains around the central and lovely Stubaital valley system, due south of Innsbruck and with its back to the Italian border. It is more complicated than that, though: valleys wind into the mass from west and east, many with outstanding walking. The mountains around the head of the Stubaital are some of the most impressive in the Austrian Alps.
The scenery is spectacular, with superb views of snowy peaks, mountain lakes, shimmering glaciers and typical “Alpine” meadows massed with flowers. Far-reaching views from the highest points, from the Swiss Alps to the Dolomites. A variety of wildlife can be seen, including the lovable marmot, chamois, ibex and various raptors and vultures.
There are endless great walks here, from short explorations to multi-dayers. The Stubai are well loved, so the main paths won’t generally feel like you have got remote, although you can get away.
Its mountain huts are one of Austria’s glories, and there are plenty of them in this area (14 in the central Stubai alone), usually in superb or at the least very pretty and charming locations. The Cicerone describes the Stubai as “the ultimate district for multi-day hut-to-hut tours”. There are some superb multi-day hut-to-hut walks, and you can devise your own, to suit your tastes and capacities. You just need to look at maps and guidebooks and salivate. Note, though, that you do need to book ahead.
Höhenweg/Runde Tour/Rucksack route: one of Austria’s finest walks: this magnificent trek follows a horseshoe of excellent huts around the high Stubai mountains. Superb views and drama once you are “up”. Walkopedia covets this walk. Up to 9 days, although it can be shortened into a 6-7 day route by starting at the Nürenberger Hut. Shorter versions of this walk, still magnificent but needing less time-commitment include:
The Nurenberger Hut to the Dresdner Hut: climb the Langenthal valley to the Nurenberger Hut, then cross the high ridges at the heart of the great bowl at the head of the Stubaital on days 4 and 5 of the Höhenweg, on to the Sulzenau Hut via Mairspitze, then on to the Dresdner Hut, thence back to the roadhead by path or by cable car.
Dresdner Hut to Starkenberger Hut: take the cable car to near the Dresdner Hut, then make a classic 3½ day walk on days 6 to 9 of the Hohenweg, via the Neue Regensberger Hut and the Franz Senn Hut.
Stubai Glacier Tour: this high, tough, magnificent hut-to-hut trek crosses high passes and a number of glaciers. Only for the experienced or well guided! 6-7 days.
North-west loop: an easier but still interesting and beautiful route is the 4 day loop south from Kühtai into the mountains above the Nedertal and Sulztal, finishing back at Gries im Sellrain.
North-central day walking and bases: The most famous walking (but the most popular) is approached from the north.
The Sellraintal/Lünsenstal: a long valley system in the north of the range which leads deep into the biggest mass of mountains in the range, with a road enabling you to get well in and up in before you start a-walking. The Cicerone guide lists 7 exciting walks in the area, but there are many more to be made. Village base: Gries im Sellrain. The Lüsens gasthof at its head is a fine base for high day-walking or start point for multi-day adventures.
The Stubaital is the longest of the area’s valleys, burrowing, with its main tributaries, deep into the high clustering of mountains on the Italian border, in amongst crags and cracked ridges. With outstanding drama and beauty, it is the most populated and visited of the valleys, but it is also exceptionally walk-rich. The two main tributaries have wonderful valleys, the Pinnistal and the Oberbergtal. You can base yourself in the now pretty developed valley-bottom villages, or in high huts, and explore for days. Or you can create your own multi-dayer, even joining part of the Höhenweg.
The well-known walk up the eastern Pinnistal takes you in 4.5 hrs (10km or so) from Neder in the valley floor to the Innsbrucker Hut, superbly sited on a high pass at 2,370m, a long, demanding climb of some 1,400m (which can be shortened by taking a ride to the Pinnisalm). This is a wonderful ascent up a really lovely valley surrounded by cliffs and peaks, albeit much of the way on a vehicle track. You could return in a very long day, or stay in the hut and explore the highlands. This walk is the main starter day on the Höhenweg.
The western Oberbergtal is long and lovely, with the popular Franz Senn Hut high up the valley an excellent place for further exploration. It is some 3km / 1.5hrs from the road (which must be reached by minibus). Fantastic walks from the hut include: a climb to the famously sited Rinnensee lake on the western ridge, and, for the keen, on to the 3,000m+ Rinnenspitze; the Franz-Senn-Weg along the northern ridge back to the Starkenburger Hut high above Neustift (part of the Höhenweg); and the 2,677m Vorderer Sommerwand on the high ridge rising to the south of the hut, a reasonably easy 500m climb.
The central main valley, the Unterbergtal, ends in a (fortunately limited) spoilt ski area, a blot on the area’s otherwise special beauty, but one which can be avoided. It is the valley which gets the furthest into the heart of the range, closest to the Italian border. It is around this valley that several days of the grand horseshoe of the Stubaier Höhenweg swing. There are several wonderfully-sited huts high above.
You can take a trail south up the Langental to the Nürnberger Hut (also on the Höhenweg) at 2,278m in 3 hrs+. It is a great place to stay, again, with plenty to explore – see our Above the Nürnberger Hut page. The most famous local walks are the thrilling if at times exposed climbs along a stretch of the Höhenweg from the Nürnberger Hut over a ridge to the west to the outstandingly sited Grünausee, the northern of them taking in the Mairspitze Summit at 2,750m, and the long, climb to the 3,413m Wilder Freiger on the Italian border.
The Sulzenau Hut (a Höhenweg overnight) is beautifully sited in the heart of the great bowl of mountains, with exceptional views up to the waterfalls and dark craggy peaks and shimmering glaciers above (what’s left of them) and several top-notch walking option. The Stubaier Höhenweg comes through here, with alternative routes onward, to the Nürnberger Hut to the east, including a stiff climb to the view-dazzling Mairspitze (2,780m); and westward with alternative ways of crossing the high ridge on the way to the Dresdner Hut. You can also walk on the Lübecker Weg up the valley above the hut, to the base of the great Fernerstube glacier. And (with the right kit), one of the Stubai's easiest-climbed major peaks on the high border ridge with Italy, 3,419m Wilder Freiger.
The Dresdner Hut sits below the glaciers at the valley head: while the area around it is ski-scarred, it is a great starting-point for unforgettable shorter hut-to-hut walks (west-north, or east) along the Höhenweg, as there is summer cable car access to nearly, thus bypassing the need for the 600m climb from the road-head at Mutterberg.
Western day walking and bases:
The Windachtal winds to a very impressive terminus right by the Italian border. Several good walks, the best probably being the climb to the Seekarsee above Gasthof Fiegl.
The Sulztal leads up to the heart of the range, with the village of Gries at its heart and Längenfeld at its base. A wonderful base for walking, and a good start to multi-dayers. The steep climb (3hrs+ one way) to the Winnebachsee Hut, which is superbly sited, is worthwhile, and you can base yourself at the hut and make several marvellous walks from there. Even better is the pleasant track up the upper Sulztal to the Amberger Hut, which is set in the wide, richly meadowed upper valley (for instance to view the Sulztalferner glacier) and is itself surrounded by major peaks, including the 3,497 Schrankogl directly above it. Further walks can be made on up the valley or onto surrounding high ground for gorgeous views. Oddly, given its position at the heart of the range, there are no “normal” walks across the high range to the Stubaital valleys.
The Horlachtal nestles the lovely village of Niederthai at the roadhead and has the fine Gubener Schweinfurter Hut at its head, from which you can explore the lovely highlands or head on elsewhere in the range.
The northernmost valley of Nedertal also has some fine walking, although perhaps not in the same league as the others.
Längenfeld (at the base of Sulztal) and Sölden (at the foot of Windachtal) are good western-flank bases in the Ötztal, from which you can explore these valleys.
This can be tough walking in remote mountains with uncertain weather, where altitude can cause problems. Come fully prepared.
Have a look at TripAdvisor – there are tens of millions of reviews, so you may get good, current views on the area and its facilities.
Walking in Austria – Kev Reynolds for Cicerone: more than 100 walks in the Austrian Alps, including 10 in the Stubai Alps. As usual, an inspiring book (indeed Walkopedia was alerted to many of these walks by the Cicerone), packed with valuable information. Recommended. Also, Trekking in the Stubai Alps – Alan Hartley/Cicerone, about the Hohenweg (Rucksack Route/Runde Tour) and the Glacier Tour. THE book on these trails, with all the detail and care you would expect.
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