Hiking in Austria’s Hochschwab Mountains
Hochschwab is a mountain in Upper Styria and the highest point in the Hochschwab mountain range in the Northern Limestone Alps of Austria. The dome-shaped mountain is a fantastic hiking destination for those seeking beautiful mountain scenery, wildlife viewings, and delicious cuisine. If you’re based in Vienna, this is a perfect weekend getaway. We recommend hiking in this region for two days and overnighting in Schiestlhaus, the highest refuge in the Hochschwab group. This circuit hike also offers culinary delights, making this one of our favorite culinary hiking destinations close to Vienna.
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Hochschwab – Schiestlhaus Trail Summary
- Type of Trail: Circuit
- Trailhead: Alpengasthof Bodenbauer
- Trail Route: Alpengasthof Bodenbauer (guesthouse), Trawiesalm (meadow), G’hackte (easy via ferrata), Fleischer Biwackschachtel (shelter) – Hochschwab (mountain peak) – Schiestlhaus (mountain hut) – Fleischer Biwackschachtel (shelter) – Häuslalm (mountain hut) – Alpengasthof Bodenbauer
- Destination: Schiestlhaus Mountain Hut (open: mid-May to mid-October )
- Lowest Elevation: 884 m
- Highest Elevation: 2,277 m
- Total Elevation Gain: 1,400 m
- Total Distance: 20 km
- Total Hiking Time: 11 hours
Day 1: Bodenbauer – Trawiesalm – Hochschwab – Schiestlhaus
There are several different routes that lead to Schiestlhaus and Hochschwab. We decided to start the hike at Alpengasthof Bodenbauer, an alpine guesthouse and restaurant. To reach Bodenbauer, you’ll need a car. The drive from Vienna takes 2 hours. If you don’t have access to a car, you can start the hike in Seewiesen, which is accessible by public transit.
From Alpengasthof Bodenbauer, you have two choices. You can either hike to Hochschwab via the mountain hut Häuslalm, or you can hike to the summit via the meadow Trawiesalm. We recommend hiking via Trawiesalm, because the ascent is shorter and there’s an easy via ferrata (Klettersteig in German) section that is easier to go up than down. (You don’t need any gear for this section.)
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The trail is very well marked. Just follow the signs to Hochschwabgipfel (839). It takes 4.5 hours to reach the Hochschwab summit and another 30 minutes to reach the mountain hut Schiestlhaus. The first segment of the trail is flat and easy. It takes 1 hr to reach Trawiesalm, which is an idyllic meadow with incredible mountain vistas. On a sunny day, the mountains look violet. After passing through a stunted pine forest, the trail begins to climb. You might see grazing chamois (Gämse in German) as you gain elevation.
There’s a steep part called G’hackte, which is an easy via ferrata segment (Klettersteig) with fixed ladders, rails and ropes. This Klettersteig doesn’t require any equipment. While it’s not difficult, it lasts a bit longer than you might think.
After the G’hackte, the trail slowly ascends to the top of Hochschwab, elevation 2,277 m, marked by a giant cross. At the top, you can see the peaks of Austria’s most famous mountains.
The descent to Schiestlhaus takes 30 minutes. This mountain hut is situated on a summit plateau, elevation 2,154 m, directly below Hochschwab. From a distance, Schiestlhaus looks like a box, albeit a sexy box. Large windows and a sunny terrace complement the sleek building shape.
The hut is designed to accommodate overnight guests. You can sleep in a dormitory, or a private room. Definitely make a reservation in advance by calling the hut +43 (0) 699 108 121 99. Overnight stays cost between 10 EUR and 27 EUR, depending on the room and whether you have an alpine association membership (e.g. Österreichischer Touristenklub (ÖTK), Österreichischer Alpenverein, Slovenian Tourist Club (PZS), etc…). To find out whether your alpine club membership gets you a discount, you can review the list on their website (which isn’t complete), or reach out to the hut and ask. Note: pillows, comforters and sheets are provided, but you’ll need to bring a sleeping bag liner for your overnight stay.
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Meals aren’t included in the hut price. In the evening, you can order dinner at any time before 8:00 p.m. We were really satisfied with the goulash soup, sweet potato curry, and spaghetti bolognese. Other menu offerings include Griesschmarrn mit Kompott (a sweet dish consisting of scrambled and baked semolina dough and sugar), Würstl (sausage), Nudl Gröstl (Noodles), Ravioli & Zucchini Erbsen Ragout (vegetable stew), Hirschragout mit Knödel (deer stew with dumplings). Schiestlhaus also serves beer, wine, and schnapps along with non-alcohol beverages. The breakfast buffet costs an additional 15 EUR per person and is laid out at 7:00 a.m. It includes sliced cheeses, meats and bread, scrambled eggs, bacon, and different spreads, as well as coffee, tea, water, and orange juice.
The interior dining space is bright and colorful. Tibetan flags, rainbow flags, plants, and animal skulls add to the overall hip and cheerful ascetic. The outside terrace is a perfect place to soak up the last rays of sunlight. We watched the fat yellow sun dip into a sea of pink, before returning to our table for a final treat (cake for Sabrina, tea with rum for Kati). Overall, we loved our experience here.
Day 2: Schiestlhaus – Häuslalm – Bodenbauer
After breakfast, we started the 4-hour hike to Häuslalm. We saw ibex (Steinböcke) grazing on the alpine plateau as well as chamois (Gämse) sitting on snow patches.
Häuslalm is a welcoming hut serving traditional Austrian fair. We ordered their Kaspressknödel (cheese dumpling) soup, Käsespätzle (egg noodles smothered in cheese and fried onions) and house-made smoked sausage. We decided to dine inside to enjoy the hut’s charming and warm interior. However, Häuslalm’s outside deck offers plenty of al fresco dining.
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Stuffed and satisfied, we started the final stretch to Alpengasthof Bodenbauer. This final section takes about 1.5 hours. The hike traverses forest as well as meadows, revealing the sun-kissed limestone alps.
For more information on this hike, check out Bergwelten’s two-day hiking route.
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