Ötschergräben is a gorge located in the Ötscher-Tormäuer Nature Park within the Mostviertel of Lower Austria.

Nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of Austria”, Ötschergräben is a perfect destination for outdoor lovers of all fitness levels. It’s also a perfect weekend getaway for those based in Vienna.

You can walk the full length of the gorge via an easy trail that’s supported by a number of boardwalks and footbridges.

Cascading waterfalls feed the crystal clear river, Ötscherbach, that flows through the canyon floor. As the early afternoon light streams into the gorge and illuminates the trail, you feel transported to a magical realm. It’s absolutely breathtaking.

We extended the hike all the way to the Bodenbauer-Express cableway in Mitterbach with an overnight in Schutzhaus Vorderötscher. This two-day point-to-point hike is 16.6 km long.


2-Day Ötschergräben Hike in Lower Austria

Ötscherhias, Hiking Ötschergräben, Austria's Grand Canyon, Lower Austria | Moon & Honey Travel
  • Starting Point: Ötscher base in Wienerbruck. Exact Location: Google Maps
  • Ending Point: Mitterbach
  • Distance: 16.6 km point-to-point
  • Time Needed: 7-9 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 1090 meters
  • Elevation Loss: 588 meters
  • Lowest Elevation: 617 m
  • Highest Elevation: 1618 m
  • Trail Route: Ötscher base in Wienerbruck (park entrance) – Ötscherhias Hut (snack bar) – Schutzhaus Vorderötscher (mountain refuge) – Gemeindealpe (mountain summit) – Mitterbach (town) – Mariazellerbahn (train to Wienerbruck)
  • When to Hike: May – October. We hiked Ötschergräben in mid-September – that time of year when summer courteously gives way to fall and the colors begin to change.
  • Fee: There’s a 4 EUR park entrance fee, which you can pay at the Naturpark Ötscher-Tormäuer park entrance. There’s also a daily 5 EUR parking fee (pay at the machine, coins only). More information about the fees.
  • Where to Stay: Schutzhaus Vorderötscher (887 m)

This post may link 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


Ötschergräben Hiking Map


Where to Start the Ötschergräben Hike

The trail starts at Ötscher base in Wienerbruck (Naturparkzentrum Ötscher-Basis Langseitenrotte 140, 3223 Wienerbruck; Opening hours: May to October 26, daily from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm).

You can park your car here for 5 EUR per day and pay the park entrance fee (4 EUR/Adult) at the tourist information center. To reach the trailhead via public transit from Vienna, take a train to St. Pölten (30 min) and then the regional Mariazeller Bahn to Wienerbruck-Josefsberg Bahnhof (another 1 h 50 min).

Buy your train ticket to Wienerbruck-Josefsberg Bahnhof.


Day 1: Ötschergräben – Ötscherhias – Schutzhaus Vorderötscher

  • Distance: 10.1 km
  • Time needed: 4-5 hours (with breaks)
  • Total climb: 314 m
  • Total descent: 222 m
  • Minimum Elevation: 617 m
  • Maximum Elevation: 886 m
Hiking Ötschergräben, Austria's Grand Canyon, Lower Austria | Moon & Honey Travel
Ötschergräben

The first segment of the trail traverses forest and then hugs the canyon wall. As you follow the crystal-clear Ötscherbach river deep into the gorge, you’ll see a series of waterfalls.

After about 2 hours, you’ll reach a rustic treehouse-like snack bar, called Ötscherhias. Ötscherhias serves various sausages, Frittantensuppe (clear soup with sliced crepes), Selchfleischbrot mit Kren (bread with sliced smoked meat and horseradish), as well as refreshments.

Hiking Ötschergräben, Austria's Grand Canyon, Lower Austria

After lunch at Ötscherhias, we started the trek to our final destination. The trail continues along the river for another 20 minutes to the impressive waterfall Mirafall. After Mirafall, continue following the gorge for an hour to Schleierfall. You’ll see a sign indicating a left-turn towards Schutzhaus Vorderötscher. The last stretch steers away from the river.

Hiking Ötschergräben, Austria's Grand Canyon, Lower Austria
Mirafall

Schutzhaus Vorderötscher (887 m) is a cozy mountain refuge that offers comfortable beds and hearty-Austrian food. You can sleep in private rooms (9 available) or in a dormitory room (20 beds available).

A double room costs 46 EUR/person including breakfast and the Wilde Wunder Card (Free rides with the Chairlift at Mitterbacher Gemeindealpe + 50 % off the Tickets in the Mariazeller Bahn). After a warm shower, we settled in the dining room for the evening. Everything we ate was delicious, including their Kaspressknödelsuppe and Goulash.  

Schutzhaus Vorderötscher, Hiking Ötschergräben, Austria's Grand Canyon, Lower Austria | Moon & Honey Travel
Schutzhaus Vorderötscher


Day 2: Schutzhaus Vorderötscher – Gemeindealpe – Mitterbach

  • Distance: 6.6 km
  • Time needed: 3-4 hours (with breaks)
  • Total climb: 785 m
  • Total descent: 374 m
  • Minimum Elevation: 877 m
  • Maximum Elevation: 1618 m

After breakfast, we started the hike to Gemeindealpe (1626 m), the highest mountain in the Mariazeller Land. We were accompanied by the sound of red deer mating calls (roaring).

September and October mark the breeding season for red deer in Europe. Unlike the first day, the trail on Day 2 gains elevation more quickly and you’ll ascend through the forest to a plateau. Though our views were obstructed by thick fog, we luckily saw several Gämse (chamois, goat-antelope species).

Gemeindealpe, Hiking Ötschergräben, Austria's Grand Canyon, Lower Austria | Moon & Honey Travel

At Gemeindealpe, there are panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and river valleys. A chairlift services the mountain, so you can end your hike here. At the summit, you can also eat lunch at the restaurant Terzerhaus, at 1626 m.

The food was disappointing, though the view (on a clear day) must be sensational.

After lunch, we continued hiking down for an additional 30 minutes to the chairlift “middle station” (Bergstation Bodenbauer-Express). We descended to Mitterbach swiftly via the Gemeindealpe chairlift.

When we arrived in Mitterbach, we grabbed coffee and cake, before catching the Mariazellerbahn regional train back to Wienerbruck-Josefsberg (16 min train ride).

Buy your ticket from Mitterbach to Wienerbruck.


Where to Stay Before the Hike

If you arrive late in the day and need a place to stay before you start the hike, this farm stay is a great option for you. It’s located right at the parking and trailhead.


Where to Stay After the Hike

We recommend staying in Mitterbach am Erlaufsee. Here are some great options:

Budget | Berliner Ecke is an apartment-style accommodation with simple, but clean rooms and well-equipped kitchens. 

Midrange-Luxury | R&R Residenzen Hotel features spacious, modern rooms, a small sauna area with views of the Gemeindealpe, and a fantastic breakfast buffet (included). 

Luxury | meinHimmelschlüssel are two apartments, tastefully designed with great attention to detail. The stylish apartments are outfitted with fully-equipped kitchens, a sun terrace and garden. 

Book your Stay at Mitterbach am Erlaufsee.

Read Next: Best Places to Stay in Austria in Summer


If you thought this post was helpful, follow us on Instagram @moonhoneytravelers


Austria Road Trips:

Hiking in Austria:

Austria Travel Guides: