Intimate ice is what this two day trek of intermediate difficulty is all about. Easily one of the most rewarding hikes in the area, it is filled with diverse delights and you will find many natural wonders along the way. From Mandarfen, ride Riffelseebahn Gondola to its top. Slightly beneath the top terminal is where you will find the glacier-fed Rifflsee Lake. The vibrantly robin-egg blue coloured water of the largest lake in the Ötztal Alps will take your breath away. It's the glacial till in the water that lends the lake its otherworldly color. Set high in a basin, the lake is framed by verdant meadows carpeted in a mosaic of brilliant wildflowers and showcasing striking, white glistening glaciers as its backdrop. Follow the path from Taschachhaus Lodge (elev. 2,434m) to the scoured world of the Taschachferner Glacier. From along a steep heap of lateral moraine, stare down into a cavernous abyss of ice and compacted snow. Rushing and cascading waters contrast well with the velvety green meadows and pastures on day two. From the level valley end that is carpeted in vivid greenery and brimming with wildflowers, you’ll climb up to Braunschweiger Hut from Mittelberg, flanked by exposed cliffs where cascades of Pitze River tumble down shiny rock ledges. The hut is situated at an elevation of 2,759 meters and the final stretch of this trek crosses verdant and picturesque Rettenbachtal Valley. You'll need endurance, sure-footedness, and a good head for heights to safely navigate this route.
St. Leonhard im Pitztal, Riffelseebahn Gondola Top Terminal (2,300m)
Toll Gate (2,050m)
- Wheelchair-accessible Hiking Route
- Circular hike
intermediate (red mountain trails)
Elevation uphill 1,780m
Vertical metres downhill 2,018m
Best time of year
* These are approximate values and recommendations. Please take your personal fitness level, technical ability and the current weather conditions into account. Tirol Werbung cannot guarantee that the information provided is correct and accepts no liability.
Day 1: Mandarfen – Mittelberg
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 400/950 meters | Hiking Time: 6½ hours | Distance: 16 kilometers | Highest Elevation: 2,535 meters | Trail Rating: Moderate (red)
Take a ride on the Rifflsee Gondola from Mandarfen. From there, follow signs for “Fuldaer Höhenweg” High Altitude Trail and walk down along a dirt road to the southern shores of Rifflsee Lake at the Grubenkopfbahn. Cross Seebach Brook and follow the slightly ascending trail (“Fuldaer Höhenweg”). The route runs along Fuldaer Höhenweg High Altitude Trail until Taschachhaus Lodge and leads into the valley across the tussock slopes northwest of Taschachtal Valley (gentle climb with one short downhill section). Having crossed Vorderer Eiskastenbach Brook, the trail takes you through a short, steep and rugged section that is assisted by a fixed anchoring system of cables. Continue in the same direction (a bypass trail branches off to the right). After this section, the trail takes you downhill, crosses Hinterer Eiskastenbach Brook and the slope down to the valley floor. Go over the bridge and walk up to Taschachhaus Lodge. From there, proceed downhill and out of the valley, walking along the glacier’s lateral moraine. The trail later crosses the brook and takes you out of the valley. When reaching the base terminal of the material ropeway, change to the right bank of Taschachbach Brook. Follow the slightly descending dirt road in unwooded Taschachtal Valley, walking along the brook until the bridge right below the serviced Taschalm Pasture Hut. Take the trail on the right towards “Mittelberg”, which leads you through groves over and then down to “Berghof Steinbock” Mountain Inn in Mittelberg. Cross the brook to get to the road.
Day 2: Mittelberg – Sölden
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 1,290/950 meters | Hiking Time: 6 hours | Distance: 12 kilometers | Highest Elevation: 2,996 meters | Trail Rating: Moderate (red)
From the end of the Pitztal Valley Road in Mittelberg (nearby Steinbock Mountain Inn), walk along the very slightly ascending forest/dirt road next to Pitze River across the open Alpine meadows into the valley. The dirt road passes by Gletscherstübele Mountain Inn and leads to the base of a material ropeway, which is the trailhead of two trails; take the one on the right (which runs across more scenic landscape). The trail travels along the valley floor before it reaches the valley end from where it vigorously zigzags up through steep and rugged terrain in many switchbacks, sections of it passing by the frothing white torrents of Pitze River as you approach the glacier snout. The trail joins the alternative route at about 2400 meters above sea level; continue walking uphill. In this section the trail leads off the brook and travels steeply up the green and flowery slope over rough and smooth terrain (many steps made of stone). The last portion of the trail even crosses rock piles and ledges before you reach Braunschweiger Hut. Follow the signs for “Pitztaler Jöchl” and “Sölden”, walk down a few meters and continue across the steep tussock slope uphill (past the fork towards the new route of Mainzer Höhenweg High Altitude Trail). Proceed along a short section with scree slopes that is assisted by a fixed anchoring system of cables to gain Pitztaler Jöchl Col. On the rocky descent from the col to the left you will pass towering rock cliffs and glacial fields. On your way to the car park of the Ötztal Glacier Road, you will go past the fork towards the old route of Mainzer Höhenweg High Altitude Trail. From the car park walk down the road and pass the base and the fork branching off to Tiefenbach Glacier. Right after the fork, turn right onto the trail to “Rettenbachalm” (take a shortcut on the trail which crosses the switchbacks of the road and leads past the chapel). The path now travels out of Rettenbach Valley on a descending slope, joins the valley floor and eventually crosses Rettenbach River. Stay on the right bank of the brook, following a dirt road down through the unwooded valley. Finally, walk a few meters along the road towards the bus stop at the toll gate, where you’ll catch a bus down to the village center of Sölden.