Tappenkarsee is a mountain lake nestled in the Radstädter Tauern Mountains of Salzburg, Austria. Situated at an elevation of 1763 meters, Tappenkarsee is one of the highest mountain lakes in the Eastern Alps.
This Salzburg lake is a satisfying hiking destination, because it’s surrounded by striking, rugged mountains and home to the rustic Tappenkarsee Alm (alpine pasture hut) and charming Tappenkarseehütte (mountain hut). These managed huts are usually open from early June until mid/late September.
Lake Tappenkarsee is only accessible by foot. To start the hike, drive or take a bus to Lake Jägersee in Kleinarl Valley. Jägersee is 4 km south of Kleinarl and 11.6 km south of Wagrain. If the toll road is open, continue driving 3.6 km to Schwabalm car park. If the toll road is closed, park at the Jägersee Car Park.
After climbing up to Tappenkarsee, we recommend extending the hike to the Draugsteintörl saddle. This extended circuit is the highlight of the tour, because it affords wonderful and ever-changing vistas of the lake.
There’s no technical difficulty along this route. It’s moderate throughout. However, the Tappenkarsee hut – Draugsteintörl – Tappenkarsee Alm trail can be dangerously slippery after rainfall.
Jägersee to Tappenkarsee Hiking Guide
- Trailhead: Jägersee Car Park / Jägersee Bus Stop | Google Maps
- Distance: 19.9 km lollipop-circuit
- Time Needed: 6:50 hours
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 985 meters
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Minimum Elevation: 1099 meters
- Maximum Elevation: 2078 meters
- Route: Jägersee – Schwabalm car park – Tappenkarsee – Tappenkarsee Alm – Tappenkarseehütte – Draugsteintörl – Tappenkarsee Alm – Schwabalm car park – Jägersee
- Where to Stay in Kleinarl: Privatzimmer/Apartments Schwarzenbacher (budget) or Hotel Ennskraxblick (midrange)
- Where to Stay in Wagrain: Wanderhotel Erika (midrange) or The MATTHEW – Copper Lodge (luxury)
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Tappenkarsee Trail Map
Where to Start the Tappenkarsee Hike
Schwabalm Car Park
The Schwabalm Car Park is located between Jägersee and Tappenkarsee. It’s accessible by a toll road, which is only open from early June until early/mid October.
For exact dates, please reach out to the Wagrain-Kleinarl tourist office: [email protected]
If the toll road is open, start the hike at the Schwabalm Car Park. This will shorten the hike by 7.2 km (2 hours total).
Toll Road Operating Times |
- June & July: 6 am – 9 pm
- August: 6 am – 8 pm
- September & October: 7 am – 7 pm
Toll Fee | 6 EUR per vehicle
Toll Payment | Cash Only
Location | Google Maps
If the toll road is closed, park at the Jägersee Car Park.
Location | Google Maps
If you’re arriving by public transit, the closest bus stop to Tappenkarsee is at Jägersee. Use postbus.at to look of bus timeables.
Jägersee – Tappenkarsee – Draugsteintörl Trail Description
Jägersee to Schwabalm Car Park (1 hour)
The hike from Jägersee (1099 m) to Schwabalm (1205 m) mostly follows the toll road.
Pass the toll booth and barrier gate and follow the road south along the eastern shore of Jägersee.
Beyond the lake, a trail branches off the road and runs parallel to the Kleinarlbach stream. Follow signs to Schwabalm and Tappenkarsee (trail 722).
The hiking path rejoins the toll road and continues up Kleinarl Valley to the Schwabalm car park.
Schwabalm Car Park to Tappenkarsee (1:45 – 2 hours)
The forest trail continues up the valley. After crossing a streambed, the trail climbs up a series of serpentines through a mixed forest of birch, beech, spruce and larch.
As you gain elevation, views open up to Kleinarl Valley and Jägersee.
Towards the end of the ascent, the trail steepens and is bolstered with wooden railings and timber steps.
Shortly before reaching Lake Tappenkarsee, the path levels out. Cross the footbridge over Kleinarlbach stream and walk to the Tappenkarsee lakeshore.
Tappenkarsee – Tappenkarsee Alm – Tappenkarsee Hut (35 minutes)
The narrow path leads along the western shore to Tappenkarsee Alm (1768 m).
The lake views get increasingly better as you near the alpine pasture hut.
Pass the alpine pasture hut and continue following the lake path to Tappenkarseehütte, signed 30 minutes.
The hut stands on a hillside 50 meters above the lake. Tappenkarseehütte is an Austrian Alpine Club mountain hut.
Day visitors can order food and drinks at the hut during the day. Payment: cash only.
Tappenkarsee Hut to Draugsteintörl (45 minutes – 1 hour)
At the Tappenkarsee Hut junction (1820 m), head right in the direction of Draugsteintörl, signed 1 hour.
The trail ascends to another signed junction. Turn right again in the direction of Draugsteintörl – Hüttschlag (trail 702A).
Trail 702A runs in a northwest direction across tussock slopes and meadows. Throughout the traverse, there are wonderful, ever-changing views of Tappenkarsee, backed by Rothorn, Wildkarhöhe, Wildkarkopf, Weissgrubenkopf.
It’s important to follow the short timber poles, so you don’t end up on an animal path.
Eventually, the trail crosses a basin, where views of the lake are obstructed by a rise/natural incline.
At the signed junction, either detour 10 minutes to the Draugsteintörl mountain saddle (2077 m) or head straight down to Tappenkarsee Alm.
Draugsteintörl to Tappenkarsee Alm (45 minutes)
Trail 87 descends across grassy slopes and meadows towards the lake, steepening with time.
A dilapidated railing and a few timber steps steer you down to a stream.
Follow the stream to the Tappenkarsee Alm and lakeshore.
Tappenkarsee Alm to Jägersee (2 hours)
Follow the same route down to Schwabalm Car Park and Jägersee.
Where to Stay near Tappenkarsee
There are two towns in Kleinarl Valley: Kleinarl and Wagrain. Both are well-positioned for excursions to Jägersee, Tappenkarsee, Liechtensteinklamm Gorge, and the Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave in Werfen. Every guest in Wagrain-Kleinarl receives the Salzburger Sportwelt Card (guest card) free of charge upon arrival. This card grants you free admission to the Wagrain Water World every day.
Budget | Privatzimmer/Apartments Schwarzenbacher is a no-frills guesthouse in Kleinarl with various rooms and apartments. Breakfast is included for guests staying in rooms.
Midrange | Hotel Ennskraxblick is a welcoming, family-friendly hotel with rooms and apartments. Guests can book breakfast-only or half board (breakfast and dinner). Children have access to a playground, ping pong table, trampoline, badminton, and more.
Look for accommodation in Kleinarl.
Midrange | Wanderhotel Erika is an excellent, family-friendly hotel which caters to hikers with an on-site restaurant, bar, and two saunas (Finnish and bio). Guests praise the staff, cuisine (breakfast and dinner), and location.
Luxury | The MATTHEW – Copper Lodge is a new and modern 4-star hotel in Wagrain which is frequently described as “flawless,” “exceptional,” and “perfect.” The hotel’s wellness area comprises a heated indoor-outdoor pool, swimming pond and garden, sauna area (textile and nude), relaxation room, and vitamin bar. The hotel bar is a bustling meeting place serving innovative cocktails and wine, open daily from 4 pm until midnight.
Look for accommodation in Wagrain.
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Austria Trip Planning Essentials
Use our Austria Travel Guide and Austria blog archive to plan a unique and memorable trip to Austria.
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:
- 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 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.
- Bathe in thermal pools of an Austrian Therme like Aqua Dome in Tirol, Rogner Bad Blumau in Styria, or EurothermenResort Bad Ischl in Upper Austria.
- Hike to a mountain lake like 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.