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

Emperor’s Crown Hiking Guide, Wilder Kaiser, 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.


When can you hike the Emperor’s Crown?

June until mid-October, depending on snow conditions. 

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Emperor's Crown Trekking Guide, Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Emperor's Crown Hiking Guide Overview

  • Emperor’s Crown Route Map
  • Where to Start the Emperor’s Crown Trail
  • Emperor’s Crown Itinerary Options 
  • Emperor’s Crown Trail Difficulty 
  • Packing List
  • Arrival Day in Kufstein 
  • Overview of Stages 
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Our trek was compensated in part by Wilder Kaiser Tourismusverband. This post links to products and services we love, which we may make a small commission from, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our blog!!  – Sabrina and Kati

Kaiserkrone Trail, Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Emperor's Crown Trail Map

Kaiserkrone Stages
Emperor's Crown Trek (Kaiserkrone Trail) in Wilder Kaiser, Tirol, 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

However, 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 

Book your train ticket to Kufstein.

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). 

  • Operating Times: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm
  • Last entry for 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. 
  • Your descending ticket is valid all summer.
Stripsenjochhaus, Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Emperor's Crown Trail Itineraries

Traditional Kaiserkrone Route

  • Stage 1: Going/Hüttling – Gruttenhütte (8 km, 5 hrs)
  • Stage 2: Gruttenhütte – Hintersteinersee (12.7 km, 6 hrs)
  • Stage 3: Hintersteinersee – Stripsenjochhaus (15.5 km, 7:30 hrs)
  • Stage 4: Stripsenjochhaus – Gasteig (15.6 km, 7 hrs)
  • Stage 5: Gasteig – Going/Hüttling (11.5 km, 6 hrs)

Suggested Kaiserkrone Route if You’re Traveling by Public Transit

  • Stage 1: Kufstein – Kaiserlift – Kaindlhütte – Stripsenjochhaus (12.3 km)
  • Stage 2: Stripsenjochhaus – Gasteig (15.6 km)
  • Stage 3: Gasteig – Gruttenhütte (12.8 km)
  • Stage 4: Gruttenhütte – Hintersteinersee (12.7 km)
  • Stage 5: Hintersteinersee – Kaiserlift – Kufstein (8.9 km)

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. 

 
Steinbergalm, Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Emperor's Crown 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. 


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. 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.
 
Wilder Kaiser Mountains, Austria

Emperor's Crown Packing List

What to pack for the Kaiser Krone Trail

Read our full Hut to Hut Hiking Packing List for a comprehensive list of things to pack for this hike. 


Photography Gear


Overnight Essentials

  • Alpine Club Membership Card (if you have one). Learn more about Alpine Clubs in Hiking in the Alps.
  • Waterproof Slippers: We always bring our crocs.
  • Cosmetics: Soap, Shampoo, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Sun Lotion, Cream, Deo, etc…
  • Microfiber Towel 
  • Kindle: You’ll have some downtime in the huts before/after dinner.

In 2019, the huts in the Kaiser Mountains were infested with bed bugs. The bed bugs have since been professionally exterminated and there are no infestations. 

Understandably, the Wilder Kaiser mountain huts maintain very strict hygienic guidelines. 

When you overnight in Stripsenjochhaus and Gruttenhütte, you must microwave your sleeping bag liner for one minute, before entering the sleeping quarters. Your sleeping bag liner shouldn’t have any zippers. 

At Gruttenhütte, you can request clean sheets in advance (13 EUR per person). 

Note: In 2021, the Austrian Alpine Club mandated new rules for overnighting in huts (e.g. you must bring a lightweight sleeping bag, because all communal blankets will be removed). Obviously, these rules do not apply here, as sleeping bags aren’t allowed. We explained the new rules in our guide to Austrian Mountain Huts

 
Kaiserschmarrn, Gruttenhütte, Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Arrival Day in Kufstein, Tirol

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.

Book your Stay in Kufstein.

 
Stripsenkopf Feldberg Ridge, Kaiser Mountains, Austria

Emperor's Crown Route Overview

Stage 1: Kufstein – Kaiserlift Mountain Station – Stripsenjochhaus

  • Distance: 12.3 km
  • Minimum Elevation: 832 m
  • Maximum Elevation: 1576 m
  • Total ascent: 968 m
  • Total descent: 647 m
  • Time Needed: 5:30 hours without breaks
  • Lunch Options: Kaindlhütte, Anton-Karg Haus, or Hans Berger Haus
  • Stay in Stripsenjochhaus

Insider 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: 15.6 km
  • Minimum Elevation: 722 m
  • Maximum Elevation: 1811 m
  • Total ascent: 549 m
  • Total descent: 1365 m
  • Time Needed: 6:45 – 7 hours without breaks
  • Lunch Option: We recommend getting a lunch packet from Stripsenjochhaus. There are no places to eat along the way until Griesenau. 
  • Stay in the village of Gasteig. We stayed in Hotel Kramerhof, which is situated directly on the trail.

Insider Tip

The trail eventually descends to Kaiserbachtal valley and then to the village of Griesenau. From here, it’s another hour to Gasteig. You can trim off the final hour, by taking bus 4000 from Griesenau to Gasteig. This bus runs 3-6 times per day. Here’s the timetable.

Learn More: Emperor’s Crown Stage 2 Trail Description 


Stage 3: Gasteig to Gruttenhütte

  • Distance: 12.8 km
  • Minimum Elevation: 760 m
  • Maximum Elevation: 1619 m
  • Total ascent: 1459 m
  • Total descent: 597 m
  • Time Needed: 6:30 hours at least
  • Lunch Option: Obere Regalm is open Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and Holidays from 8:30 am – 5 pm on dry-weather days. Obere Regalm was closed when we visited. Another option is Gaudeamushütte. We packed a sandwich during breakfast at Hotel Kramerhof for this stage.
  • Stay in Gruttenhütte

Insider Tip

Opt for half board. The half board dinner comprises 3 dishes (soup, main dish, dessert) and the breakfast buffet includes muesli, yogurt, jams, breads, sliced meats and cheese, coffee, and tea. If you ordered half board, they give you a paper bag at breakfast, so that you can pack up your own lunch (sandwiches).

Learn More: Emperor’s Crown Stage 3 Trail Description 


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

  • Distance: 16.5 km
  • Minimum Elevation: 1131 m
  • Maximum Elevation: 1622 m
  • Total ascent: 635 m
  • Total descent: 1000 m
  • Time Needed: 6 hours
  • Lunch Option: Walleralm or Kaindlhütte
  • Stay in Kufstein, or head home: Boutique Hotel im Auracher Löchl or Hotel Kufsteinerhof
 
Bettlersteig Trail, Emperor's Crown, Kaiserkrone Trail, Wilder Kaiser, Austria

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Kaiserkrone Hiking Guide, Wilder Kaiser, Austria
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