A heavily-bolstered trail, made up of many boardwalks and footbridges, leads through the deep canyon. Cascading waterfalls feed the crystal clear Ötscherbach stream, which flows through the canyon floor.
If you want to hike the full length of the canyon out-and-back, it takes nearly 7 hours. However, you don’t necessarily need to. We recommend hiking to Ötscherhias hut, which marks the halfway point. From Ötscherhias, you can decide how much further you want to go.
The first time we hiked Ötschergräben was in mid-September: that time of year when summer courteously gives way to fall and the colors begin to change. The second time we hiked the canyon trail was in July during a heat weave. Our experience was far better in September, when the temperature was cooler.
During that first trip, we hiked from Ötschergräben to Gemeindealpe and overnighted in Schutzhaus Vorderötscher hut along the way. Recently, we returned and hiked the whole trail (Ötscher-Basis Nature Park Center to Gemeindealpe) as a day hike. The Schutzhaus Vorderötscher to Gemeindealpe stretch was underwhelming. So, we decided to re-write this guide as an out-and-back day hike, as opposed to a 2-day hike.
Ötschergräben Canyon Hike in Ötscher-Tormäuer Nature Park, Lower Austria
- Trailhead: Ötscher-Basis Nature Park Center Car Park | Google Maps
- Distance: 17 km out-and-back
- Time Needed: 6:40 hours
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 323 meters
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Minimum Elevation: 796 meters
- Maximum Elevation: 617 meters
- Recommended Trail Map: Ötscherland WK 031 1:50000 (Freytag + Berndt)
- Where to Stay in Wienerbruck: Urlaub am Bahnhof (midrange)
- Where to Stay in Mitterbach am Erlaufsee: Berliner Ecke (budget), R&R Residenzen Hotel (midrange), or meinHimmelschlüsse (luxury)
- Where to Stay in Lunz am See: Refugium Lunz (luxury)
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Ötschergräben Hiking Map
The Ötschergräben canyon hike starts at the Ötscher-Basis Nature Park Center in Wienerbruck.
To reach the trailhead with public transit from Vienna, take a train to St. Pölten (30 min) and then the regional Mariazeller Bahn to Wienerbruck-Josefsberg Bahnhof (another 1:50 hours). Buy your train ticket to Wienerbruck-Josefsberg Bahnhof.
There are two paid car parks near the trailhead.
When we last visited, the parking fees were:
Up to 1 hour | 1 EUR
Up to 2 hours | 2 EUR
Day Ticket | 5 EUR
Payment is accepted in cash, or by card.
If you have trouble with the parking machine, you can purchase your parking ticket inside the Ötscher-Basis Nature Park Center.
Ötschergräben Entrance Fee
There is an entrance fee to enter Ötschergräben Canyon: 4 EUR for adults and 2 EUR for children.
Pay the entrance fee inside the Ötscher-Basis Nature Park Center, which is open between May and October.
The entrance fee is free for Wilde Wunder Card holders. Regional accommodations distribute this tourist card to their overnight guests at check in.
Ötschergräben Canyon Trail Description
Naturparkzentrum Ötscher-Basis to Kraftwerk Power Station (35 minutes)
First head to the Ötscher-Basis Nature Park Center, which houses a gift shop and café, which is only open on Fridays through Sundays (11 am – 6 pm).
If you don’t have a Wilde Wunder Card, purchase your entrance ticket inside.
The trail starts behind the Ötscher-Basis Nature Park Center. Follow signs to Ötschergräben and Ötscherhias (snack hut).
Follow the paved road along the reservoir and then bear left on the gravel path to the “Eingang Ötschergräben” (Ötschergräben entrance).
The path leads southwest into a lush forest. The path is reinforced with boardwalks and handrails.
After crossing the bridge over the Lassingbach stream, the trail clings to the west, and later northern bank (right side). At this point, the stream bed looks like a giant flower pot overflowing with flora.
Follow the boardwalk ledge.
After seeing the Kienfall waterfall, the trail crosses the stream again. The trail leads through mixed forest to a viewpoint overlooking the canyon.
From here, the path drops down a few stairs and then passes through natural arches.
This stretch of path is more rugged, because of the slippery terrain.
Continue to descend to the power station, housed in a yellow building.
Kraftwerk Power Station to Ötscherhias (1 hour)
Cross the bridge, located just beyond the power station, and turn left.
The path leads along the stream bed of Erlauf and soon the Ötscher Bach stream. As you progress, the canyon narrows and the walls are more and more impressive.
There are a few more bridge crossings, before reaching the Ötscher Hias snack station.
Jausenstation Ötscher Hias is located across a bridge on the forested bank of the Ötscher Bach. It looks like a treehouse. This hut is open only in good weather between late April and late October (9 am – 5 pm). Check the exact opening times.
Ötscherhias serves various sausages, Frittatensuppe (clear soup with sliced crepes), Selchfleischbrot mit Kren (bread with smoked meat and horseradish), as well as refreshments.
Ötscherhias – Mirafall – Schleierfall (1:30 hours)
Along the way, the trail passes the Mirafall waterfall. During our last visit, the waterfall was completely dried up.
How far should you go? Go as far as you want.
In summer, the heat can be punishing in the canyon. So, you may want to relax and dip in the pools near Ötscher Hias and then head back.
If it’s a cooler autumn’s day, I’d continue the hike. Keep in mind, if you do hike all the way to the end of the canyon trail, it’s a 17 km out-and-back hike.
Schleierfall – Ötscherhias – Naturparkzentrum Ötscher-Basis (3:20 hours)
Follow the same trail back to Naturparkzentrum Ötscher-Basis.
Where to Stay near Ötschergräben
Mitterbach am Erlaufsee
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.
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Austria Trip Planning Essentials
When to Visit Austria
Summer and early Fall are our favorite seasons in Austria.
Getting around Austria
Austria has an excellent public transit system. We’ve used it extensively to travel throughout the country. We highly recommend using transit if you’re visiting cities (Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Graz, etc…), and/or doing hut-to-hut hikes.
Some areas like Mayrhofen, Schladming and Lech am Arlberg have wonderful seasonal transit systems in place (e.g. summer hiking buses). However, if you’re not visiting during the high season, bus frequencies are significantly reduced and it’s far easier to get around with your own vehicle.
If you’re planning on visiting multiple destinations across Austria, we recommend renting a car.
Use these road trip itineraries for trip planning inspiration:
- 2 Week Austria Road Trip – starting in Vienna
- 1 Week Austria Road Trip – starting in Salzburg, or Munich
- 10-Day Bavarian Alps & Tyrolean Alps Road Trip – starting in Munich
We recommend using the Discovercars.com car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals. This easy-to-use booking platform compares car rental deals from 500+ trusted providers, so that you can choose the best option for your trip.
If you’re driving into Austria from a neighboring country, don’t forget to purchase a vignette at/near the border.
Hiking in Austria
Where to Hike in Austria
Read Austrian Alps Hiking Destinations for an overview of where to hike in Austria, with tips on specific trails and where to stay. Also check out Best Day Hikes in Austria and these region-specific hiking guides:
- Innsbruck Hiking Guide
- Salzburg Hiking Guide
- Filzmoos, Salzburg Hiking Guide
- Schladming, Styria Hiking Guide
- Lech am Arlberg, Vorarlberg Hiking Guide
- Vorarlberg Hiking Guide
- Vienna Mountains Hiking Guide
Hut to Hut Hiking in Austria
Austria is a premier hut-to-hut and long-distance hiking destination. The quality of the mountain huts are superb. We particularly love the high-alpine trails, which are called Höhenwege in German. We’ve summarized our favorite multi-day hikes in Trekking Austria. If you’re new to hut hiking, read this in-depth guide to Hut to Hut Hiking in Austria.
- Day Pack: Osprey Tempest 30 Women’s Backpack / Osprey Talon 33 Men’s Backpack
- Grade B/C high-cut hiking boots: Meindl Schuhe Island Lady (Kati’s Boots), Women’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (Sabrina’s Boots), Men’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (men’s equivalent)
- CAT 4 Sunglasses: Julbo Shield Mountain Sunglasses
- Hiking Poles: Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles
- Backpack Camera Clip: Peak Design Camera Clip
What to See & Do in Austria
- Visit a gorge like the Liechtenstein Gorge in Salzburg, or Wolfsklamm in Tirol.
- Bathe in the thermal pools of an Austrian Therme like Aqua Dome in Tirol.
- Stay in a thermal spa hotel like Rogner Bad Blumau in Styria, EurothermenResort Bad Ischl in Upper Austria, or the Aqua Dome Hotel in Tirol.
- Hike to a mountain lake like Lake Tappenkarsee in Salzburg or Lake Drachensee in Tirol.
- Go Wine Tasting in South Styria.
- Marvel at the culture, music, and architecture of Vienna.
- Eat heartwarming mountain food in an Almhütte at Grosser Ahornboden in Tirol or Ursprungalm in Styria.
- Drive the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Hohe Tauern National Park.
- Visit the castles, monasteries, and wine taverns of the Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.