Follow us on Instagram @moonhoneytravelers for hiking and travel inspiration!

Emperor’s Crown (Kaiserkrone) Trail in Wilder Kaiser, Tyrol, Austria

The Emperor’s Crown Trail (Kaiserkrone in German) is a 65-km trail that circuits the Wilder Kaiser massif in Tirol, Austria. The route traverses active mountain pastures, beech, birch and spruce forests, and rolling ridges.

The Kaiserkrone Trail is traditionally hiked in 5 stages. Each stage ends at either a mountain hut, or a village with several accommodation options.

This is one of the most enjoyable and leisurely treks we’ve hiked in Austria because of the superb quality of the mountain huts, the comfort of the valley accommodations, and the easy-moderate difficulty of the trails.

The Emperor’s Crown is the best trek to do if you’re new to multi-day hiking in the mountains. The entire circuit follows red trails (intermediate), steering clear of highly-exposed and technically-difficult pathways.

We wrote this Emperor’s Crown trekking guide based on our personal experience. Keep in mind that things can change over time: trail difficulty, accessibility, and routing (due to rock falls, landslides, and avalanches) and hut management (reservation system, hospitality, payment, food quality, etc…). Please do your due diligence before tackling these routes.

Update | We recently received feedback from a few readers that this trail was more difficult than expected. Having personally hiked many hut-to-hut routes in Austria including Karwendel High Trail, Eagle Walk – Lechtal Alps, Berlin High Trail, Venediger High Trail, and the Schladminger Tauern High Trail, the Kaiserkrone is moderate by comparison.

Compared to well-groomed trails like the Tour du Mont Blanc, the Kaiserkrone is more technically difficult (narrow trails, secured paths, some rugged terrain), though not as conditionally demanding. If you have minimal hiking experience in the Alps, consider this trail moderately difficult. If you’re concerned about the trail difficulty, please reach out to the Wilder Kaiser tourist office.

Kaiserkrone, Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Emperor’s Crown Trekking Map

KAISERKRONE TREK STAGES

Where to Stay

Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3

Alternative Stage 4

Stage 4

Stage 5


Emperor’s Crown Trail Itineraries


Traditional Kaiserkrone Route

Stage 1 | Going/Hüttling – Gruttenhütte (8 km, 5 hours)

Stage 2 | Gruttenhütte – Hintersteinersee (12.7 km, 6 hours)

Stage 3 | Hintersteinersee – Stripsenjochhaus (15.5 km, 7:30 hours)

Stage 4 | Stripsenjochhaus – Gasteig (16.1 km, 6 hours)

Stage 5 | Gasteig – Going/Hüttling (11.5 km, 6 hours)


Suggested Kaiserkrone Route if You’re Traveling by Public Transit

Stage 1 | Kufstein – Kaiserlift – Kaindlhütte – Stripsenjochhaus (12.3 km, 5:30 hours)

Stage 2 | Stripsenjochhaus – Gasteig (16.1 km, 6 hours)

Stage 3 | Gasteig – Gruttenhütte (12.8 km, 6 hours)

Stage 4 | Gruttenhütte – Hintersteinersee (12.7 km, 6 hours)

Stage 5 | Hintersteinersee – Kaiserlift – Kufstein (8.9 km, 3:30 hours)


Our Kaiserkrone Route

We started in Kufstein, because of the direct train connection from Vienna. Our intention was to follow the entire circuit, but we had to amend the route because of the weather. 

From Gruttenhütte, we hiked to Walleralm via the Jägersteig, instead of descending to Hintersteinersee. We decided to end our trek a day early, because of the weather and the forecast. 

Stage 1 | Kufstein – Kaiserlift – Kaindlhütte – Stripsenjochhaus (12.3 km, 5:30 hours)

Stage 2 | Stripsenjochhaus – Gasteig (16.1 km, 6 hours)

Stage 3 | Gasteig – Gruttenhütte (12.8 km, 6 hours)

Stage 4 | Gruttenhütte – Jägersteig – Kaindlhütte – Kaiserlift (16.5 km, 6:30 hours)

Kaiserkrone Trail, Wilder Kaiser, Austria

How to Book the Emperor’s Crown / Kaiserkrone

All accommodations along the Kaiserkrone must be booked individually.

It’s important to make reservations for huts and accommodations along the Kaiserkrone several months in advance. You may be able to book more short-term, if you have a flexible start date. 

You can book the Kaiserkrone mountain huts using the Alpsonline online reservation platform.

For more information about booking huts, read our guide to visiting Austrian Mountain Huts. For information about pricing, hut etiquette, joining the Austrian Alpine Club, helpful German phrases to know for hiking in Austria, read hut to hut hiking in Austria.

Stage 1 | Stripsenjochhaus – Online Reservation via Alpsonline.

Stage 2 | Gasteig Village. We stayed at Hotel Kramerhof. More options: Gasthaus Mitterjager (budget), or Mountain Blast Guesthouse (budget)

Stage 3 | Gruttenhütte – Online Reservation via Alpsonline.

Stage 4 | Hintersteiner See. Book Berggasthof Bärnstatt, or Pension Maier (budget). If those accommodations are booked, you can also stay at Haus Colorado am Gaisberg (budget), located off the trail.

Stage 5 | Stay in Kufstein: Hotel Gisela (budget).Hotel Kufsteinerhof (midrange), arte Hotel Kufstein (midrange), or Boutique Hotel im Auracher Löchl (luxury).

Stripsenjochhaus, Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Emperor’s Crown / Kaiserkrone Trail Difficulty


Moderate

This is not a demanding high-alpine trail like the Berlin High Trail, Venediger High Trail, or Karwendel High Trail.

Nonetheless, you need to be acclimated and fit. Some stages involve very long ascents (e.g. 1400 m ascending), which shouldn’t be underestimated. 

Much of the route progresses below the tree line. If you’re hiking after rainfall, or while it’s raining, you have to be extra careful because the tree roots get very slippery. Hiking poles are absolutely essential for safely navigating forest paths that are veined with thick ropey roots. 

There are some secured sections along the trail.

Hiking Pole Recommendation: Unisex Black Diamond Hiking Poles


Trail Conditions

The Emperor’s Crown Trail is in excellent condition. Any steep or semi-exposed sections are secured with fixed cables, rungs, pegs, and ladders. And, most of these secured sections are relatively easy (for experienced alpine hikers). Often, the cables aren’t even necessary. 


Signage and Waymarks

The Kaiserkrone trail is very well signed and waymarked. We never had difficulty navigating. 

When in doubt, always follow the “Kaiserkrone” sticker, which is pasted on the trail signs.


Safety

The Kaiserkrone trail crosses many mountain pastures with grazing cattle. Please maintain a safe distance from the animals and do not disturb them in any way. Never get in between a mother cow and her calf.

Also, make sure to always close pasture gates after passing through. For more information about alpine pastures and safety tips, read Summer in the Alps.

Rules for Visiting the Kaisergebirge Nature Reserve (Naturschutzgebiet Kaisergebirge)

  • Do not pick flowers.
  • Do not play music or make loud noises.
  • Do not light fires.
  • Do not wild camp.
  • Do not litter.
  • Stay on marked trails. 
  • Keep dogs on leashes. 
Steinbergalm, Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Where to Start the Emperor’s Crown Trail


Going, Hüttling

The traditional Kaiserkrone Trail starts in Going, Hüttling. Please note that you cannot park your car overnight at the trailhead. Read this page about parking and transit. 


Kufstein

If you’re traveling to Wilder Kaiser by public transit, we recommend starting in Kufstein instead, as it’s far more accessible. 

Here are the approximate train travel times from nearby cities to Kufstein:

  • Innsbruck to Kufstein: 36 minutes
  • Salzburg to Kufstein: 1:11 hrs
  • Munich to Kufstein: 1:21 hrs
  • Bolzano to Kufstein: 2:50 hrs
  • Vienna to Kufstein: 3:37 hrs
  • Zurich to Kufstein: 4:11 hrs 
  • Frankfurt to Kufstein: 4:40 hrs 

Kaiserlift Chairlift (I & II)

To start the Emperor’s Crown Trek, take the Kaiserlift Chairlift up into the Wilder Kaiser mountains.

It’s a 25-30 minute walk from the charming Altstadt of Kufstein to the Kaiserlift valley station. 

The Kaiserlift comprises two chairlifts. Purchase a return ticket (ascending and descending) to the Brentenjoch top station (Section I & II). Your descending ticket is valid all summer.

Operating Times | 8:30 am – 4:30 pm

Last Ascent | 4:15 pm 

Last Descent | 4:30 pm

Purchase your ticket at the ticket machine directly at the valley station. There’s also a ticket office, but it’s not always open. 


Where to Stay in Kufstein

You may want to stay in Kufstein before, or after your hike around Wilder Kaiser. Here are the best accommodations in town:

Midrange | Hotel Kufsteinerhof is a traditional Tyrolean hotel with simple, but spacious and clean rooms set in the center of Kufstein. The hotel has an on-site restaurant and café. Breakfast is included.

Luxury | Boutique Hotel im Auracher Löchl is a 4-star hotel and historic restaurant (dating back to 1428) on the Inn River in the heart of Kufstein. The hotel sports creatively decorated rooms, a cavernous gin bar (Stollen 1930), and river views. Breakfast is included.

Look for accommodation in Kufstein.

Wilder Kaiser Mountains, Austria

Emperor’s Crown Route Overview


Stage 1: Kufstein – Kaiserlift Mountain Station – Stripsenjochhaus

Distance | 12.3 km

Time Needed | 5:30 hours

Elevation Gain | 968 meters

Elevation Loss | 647 meters

Difficulty | Moderate

Minimum Elevation | 832 meters

Maximum Elevation | 1576 meters

Lunch Options | Kaindlhütte, Anton-Karg Haus, or Hans Berger Haus

Tip | Hike up to Stripsenkopf peak above the Stripsenjoch saddle. It takes about 30-40 minutes to hike one-way to the peak from Stripsenjochhaus.

Learn More: Emperor’s Crown Stage 1 Trail Description


Stage 2: Stripsenjochhaus to Gasteig

Distance | 16.1 km

Time Needed | 6 hours

Elevation Gain | 642 meters

Elevation Loss | 1456 meters

Difficulty | Moderate

Minimum Elevation | 722 meters

Maximum Elevation | 1811 meters

Lunch Option |  We recommend getting a lunch packet from Stripsenjochhaus. There are no places to eat along the way until Griesenau.

Tip | Stay in Hotel Kramerhof, a farm situated directly on the trail.

Learn More: Emperor’s Crown Stage 2 Trail Description


Stage 3: Gasteig to Gruttenhütte

Distance | 12.8 km

Time Needed | 6 hours

Elevation Gain | 1459 meters

Elevation Loss | 597 meters

Difficulty | Moderate – Moderately Difficult due to elevation gain.

Minimum Elevation | 760 meters

Maximum Elevation | 1619 meters

Lunch Option | Obere Regalm is open Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and Holidays from 8:30 am – 5 pm on dry-weather days (please confirm opening times). Another option is Gaudeamushütte. We packed a sandwich during breakfast at Hotel Kramerhof for this stage.

Learn More: Emperor’s Crown Stage 3 Trail Description 


Alternative Stage 4: Gruttenhütte – Jägersteig – Walleralm – Kaiserlift – Kufstein

Distance | 16.5 km

Time Needed | 6:30 hours

Elevation Gain | 635 meters

Elevation Loss | 1000 meters

Difficulty | Moderate

Minimum Elevation | 1131 meters

Maximum Elevation | 1622 meters

Lunch Option | Walleralm or Kaindlhütte



More Hut to Hut Hiking Trails

Austria:

Slovenia:

Italy:

Europe:


Emperor's Crown Trekking Guide, Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Pin this Image for Future Trip Planning!


Stay Connected:

Connect with us on Pinterest.

Follow us on Instagram.

Like us on Facebook.

Sign up for our Newsletter.

Support Us:

If you love reading our content, you can buy us a coffee via Ko-Fi.

Moon & Honey Travel is an independent blog created by two passionate hikers. We are able to provide free content to you, because of ads and affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Happy travels and happy trails, Sabrina and Kati

2 thoughts on “Emperor’s Crown (Kaiserkrone) Trail in Wilder Kaiser, Tyrol, Austria”

  1. Thanks for the great description of this trek! Back in 2021, I already hiked the “Kaiserkrone Kurz” from Going, but we went back this June to hike your 4-day recommendation, starting in Kufstein. It was amazing and the stay in both mountain huts as well as a hotel in Gasteig made it super relaxing, even though it was only a long weekend away from home.

    A tip for fellow hikers who still want to do the trail: our day 4 took somewhat longer than expected, as there were a lot of trees on the paths due to a hailstorm a few days before we started our trek. We finished our lunch at Walleralm at 2pm, and were afraid we would not catch the final chairlift down. So instead of hiking the final part from Walleralm to the Kaiserlift, we opted for the “Wilder Kaiser Steig” (indicated WKS on map + signage) which descents from Walleralm to Kufstein directly in ~2.5hrs. The first hour of descent is quite steep through forest, after that the descent is more gradual and goes over gravel paths mostly. If you go for this option, I recommend eating lunch at the Stöfflhütte, which is located 5 minutes below the Walleralm along the WKS and has better offerings than the Walleralm!

    Reply
    • Hi Anouk,
      Thrilled to hear that you liked this route around the Wilder Kaiser mountains.
      Thank you so much for sharing your experience and insights re: current trail conditions (June 2024).
      Kindly,
      Sabrina

      Reply

Leave a Comment