With an area covering 727 square kilometres, the Karwendel Nature Park encompasses almost the whole Karwendel mountain range. It is the largest protected region in the Tyrol and Austria’s largest Nature Park. The Karwendel area is one of the largest untouched landscapes in central Europe with a predominantly alpine character in unique harmony with centuries of farming culture.
The wind outside is howling, carrying with it the caws of alpine choughs (crows). Huge screes crawl over the craggy mountain flanks. The terrain drops steeply and far below in the wide Inn Valley the many rooftops of Innsbruck come into view. The upper station of the Nordkette Cable Railways is the gateway to the high alpine terrain of the Karwendel. The Hafelekar Peak (2,334m) can be easily reached in just 10 minutes via an easily negotiated path. When you reach the top, take in all the majestic mountain peaks as far as the eye can see. The view from the city up to the Nordkette is fantastic, but it is a different story when you are on the top of the mountain looking down. You just cannot compare it. The hustle and bustle of everyday life seems very far away.
The Goethe Trail starts at the Hafelekar Station, following the Nordkette ridge with several ascents and descents and ending at the Pfeishütte (1,992m). The trail is relatively flat at the beginning as you walk below the Hafelekar, Gleirsch and Mandl peaks. Then a short ascent leads to the Mandlscharte. From this point the trail begins to wind down to the Pfeishütte. The hut is open for overnight stays from mid-June to mid-October.
The same route can be used to return to the Hafelekar but there is an alternative: It is possible to make your way down via the Arzler Scharte and the Arzler Riese, or you can take the trail via the Kreuzjöchl to Vitlalm and on to Rumeralm before getting back to the Hungerburg (Nordkette Cable Railways Lower Station). It is also possible to make your way down from the Pfeishütte via the Hall Valley.
The view to the north
Looking to the north from the Hafelekar Viewing Point, one can see the far-reaching and untapped nature of the Karwendel on the horizon. Only forestry workers, mountain hut operators, hikers or nature lovers have set foot in the Karwendel. The hamlet of Hinteriss is home to 47 people and is the only permanent settlement in the park.
The Karwendel is the oldest nature reserve in the Tyrol and, together with the Bavarian section which accounts for one quarter of the reserve, it covers a total area of 930 square kilometres; 12 times the size of the Chiemsee lake.
As the alpine choughs (crows) perform bold swoops and circle, carried by the updraft in the silence and vastness of the countless mountain peaks, the hustle and bustle of everyday life suddenly seems foreign. The short hike to the Hafelekar peak really is a unique experience and can be a journey of self-discovery.
Tall or short, young or old, there is something for every hiker at the Nordkette. From short, flat circular hiking trails to longer tours from the Hungerburg into the Karwendel Nature Park, here you will find hikes and walks for every level of ability.
Innsbruck and the Karwendel View
Urban life and wild nature, just minutes apart. The Nordkette makes this unique experience possible. It is not just a viewing point, a hiking paradise or ski resort, but also the mountain in the city.