Rätikon Alps High Trail Circuit - Hut to Hut Hike in Austria and Switzerland

Rätikon High Trail Circuit Hiking Guide, Austria and Switzerland

Rätikon High Trail Circuit – Hut to Hut Hiking Itinerary

The Rätikon Alps straddle the border between Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. This small, but incredibly majestic mountain range might be our favorite hiking destination in Austria to date. With its limestone peaks and sloping pastureland, Rätikon is a splendid place for day hikes, hut to hut hikes, and serious climbing. We hiked five days around the Rätikon Alps, staying 2 nights in Austrian mountain huts and 2 nights in Swiss mountain huts. This route offers incredible variation in terms of culture, scenery, and terrain.

Our 5-day itinerary follows the Rätikon Höhenweg Nord (North Rätikon High Trail) in Vorarlberg, Austria and the Prättigauer Höhenweg (Prättigau High Trail) in Graubünden, Switzerland. The first 3 days of this trek are blissfully easy, while the final 2 days are more strenuous. In this guide, we’ve outlined each day of our hiking itinerary. If you have less time, you can easily shorten this itinerary to a 3-day or 4-day hut-to-hut hike. We’ve included these alternative itinerary options at the end of the guide.

Our route begins and ends in Austria. You could also start the circuit in Switzerland.

Rätikon High Trail Circuit Hut to Hut Hiking Route

  • Day 1: (Brandnertal) – Douglas Hütte – Lünersee – Lindauer Hütte (4 hours, 10 km)
  • Day 2: Lindauer Hütte – Tilisunahütte – Carschinahütte (5 hours, 10.2 km)
  • Day 3: Carschinahütte – Schesaplanahütte (6 hours, 15.8 km)
  • Day 4: Schesaplanahütte – Schesaplana – Mannheimer Hütte (5.5 hours, 7 km)
  • Day 5: Mannheimer Hütte – Südwansteig – Totalphütte – Lünersee – Douglashütte (4.5 hours, 8.2 km)
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Rätikon Alps hut to hut hike - Austria and Switzerland

Rätikon High Trail Circuit Guide Overview

  • Where are the Rätikon Alps
  • Rätikon Hiking Route Map
  • Tips for Hiking Hut to Hut in Austria and Switzerland: discounts, reservations, budget
  • Arrival Day in Brandnertal: Transit, Where to Stay
  • Stages 1 – 5 Explained: stage overview, where to stay
  • Alternative Hiking Routes: shorter routes
  • Alps Hut to Hut Packing List: sleeping bag liner, polarized sunglasses, etc…
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Cicerone’s Walking in Austria

Schesaplana - Rätikon Alps High Trail Circuit - Hut to Hut Hike in Austria and Switzerland

Where are the Rätikon Alps

The Rätkon Alps are a limestone mountain range in the Central Eastern Alps located at the border between Vorarlberg (Austria), Graubünden (Switzerland) and Liechtenstein. The Rätikon Alps are easily accessed from Brandnertal (Brand Valley) and Montafon Valley in Vorarlberg on the Austrian-side. On the Swiss-side, you can access the mountains from the Prättigau valley in Graubünden. The highest mountain in the range is Schesaplana (2,965 m), which can be hiked as part of a hut to hut hike, or as a day trip. 


Rätikon High Trail Hiking Route Map

Rätikon High Trail Circuit Stages
  • Arrival Day
  • Rätikon High Trail Stage 1
  • Rätikon High Trail Stage 2
  • Rätikon High Trail Stage 3
  • Rätikon High Trail Stage 4
  • Rätikon High Trail Stage 5
Lünersee, Rätikon Alps High Trail Circuit - Hut to Hut Hike in Austria and Switzerland

Tips for Hiking Hut to Hut in Austria

Responsible Travel in the Rätikon Alps

  • Respect the habitats of animals and plants. Picking, or removing flowers, plants and rocks is not allowed.
  • Take all garbage back with you down to the valley. Leave no trace.
  • Stay on the designated hiking trail.
  • Do not make loud noises (e.g. playing music loudly).
  • Drones are not permitted.
  • Wild camping is not permitted on the Austrian-side. On this Swiss-side, camping is possible with permission from landowners.
  • Keep a safe distance from livestock. Much of this trekking route traverses pastureland with free roamning cattle. Don’t pet the cows, or try to take a selfie with a cow (yes – people do this and it’s damn right stupid). Alms, or pastures, are enclosed by electric fences. Sometimes you just have to step over the fence. Other times, you have to unhook the fence. As you pass through the electric fence, only touch the handle and make sure to close it behind you.

Make Reservations for Mountain Huts

  • It’s important to make reservations for overnight stays at least 2 weeks in advance.
  • For most huts, you can choose between sleeping in a shared-dormitory (“lager”) or a private room.
  • You can make reservations for these Rätikon huts online, with the exception of Mannheimer Hütte.

Here’s the contact information for the mountain huts along the route.

Become a member of an Alpine Club

  • You’ll get a significant discount on your overnight stay if you present your alpine club membership card. There are tons of alpine clubs throughout Europe, so just confirm with the hut owner whether your alpine club is accepted.
  • We’re members of the Österreichischen Alpenverein (Austrian Alpine Club), and so we received discounts on all mountain huts in the Rätikon.

Buy a Hiking Map

  • You can purchase a map in the huts.

Follow the Waymarks

  • You’ll see several different trail markers throughout the trek. Most of the hike is marked with white and red stripes, indicating a moderate trail. Some of the trek is marked with blue and white stripes, signifying a difficult trail.

Bring enough Cash and Budget for 60 EUR per person per day

Note: budget an additional 20 EUR per day if you don’t have an alpine club membership card. In the Swiss huts, you can pay with Euro. It’s obviously better if you have Swiss Francs (because of the “poor” exchange rate given in the huts), but it’s hassle-free if you only have Euro. The Swiss huts are more expensive than the Austrian huts.

  • Dormitory Mattress (Lager): 10 – 13 EUR with Alpine Club Membership. 20 – 23 EUR without Alpine Club Membership.
  • Private room (2-beds): 22 EUR per person with Alpine Club Membership. 33 EUR per person without Alpine Club Membership.
  • Breakfast Buffet: 10 – 14 EUR per person
  • Half Board (Dinner & Breakfast): 25 EUR – 32 EUR per person.
  • Beer & Wine: 4.50 EUR+

Bring Snacks

We recommend bringing several snacks with you (trail mix, energy bars, crackers etc…). At the huts, you can purchase packed lunches. Here are your lunch options each day of the trek:

Day 1: Eat at Douglashütte, at the start of the trek.

Day 2: Eat at Tilisunahütte.

Day 3: Bring a snack with you, or purchase a packed lunch from Carschinahütte.

Day 4: Bring a snack with you, or purchase a packed lunch from Schesaplannahütte.

Day 5: You can eat lunch at Totalphütte. Don’t miss out on their homemade Apfelstrudel.

Trek around the Rätikon Alps, Switzerland

Arrival Day in Brandnertal, Vorarlberg, Austria

How to get to Brandnertal (Brandner Valley), Austria

Brandnertal is a valley in Vorarlberg at the base of the Rätikon mountains. It’s easy to reach Brandnertal by public transit from Austria’s major cities. From Innsbruck, Linz, Salzburg, and Vienna, take a direct train to Bludenz. From Bludenz, take bus line 81 to Brandnertal (direction: Lünersee). The bus station in Bludenz is located directly outside the train station.

Where to Stay in Brandnertal

Your journey to Brandnertal in Vorarlberg will likely be a long one. For example, it’s a 7-hour-long train ride if you’re coming from Vienna. We recommend staying 1 to 2 nights in Brandnertal, before starting the hike, so you’re fully rested.

While Bludenz serves as a main transit hub for the region, the town is too far from the start of the trek. We suggest basing yourself in the town of Brand in Brandnertal, or on the high alpine plateau Tschengla, which overlooks Brandernertal.

Stay at the Schillerkopf Alpine Resort

We highly recommend staying in Schillerkopf Alpine Resort, located on Tschengla Plateau. This 4-star hotel offers you a vacation from your vacation. We all need one, right?

Schillerkopf has mastered the art of hospitality. From the moment you arrive, you feel extremely welcome and that your stay matters. From the managers to the servers, each staff member contributes to your overall experience.

Schillerkopf Alpine Resort, Vorarlberg

We were impressed by the thoughtful details and overall concept of Schillerkopf. Your room rate includes all your meals (breakfast, lunch, afternoon cake and dinner), fabulous wellness facilities (4 saunas, outdoor pool, indoor pool, resting rooms), garden access, and a library. All your needs are met. 

Schillerkopf Alpine Resort bedroom - where to stay before trekking Rätikon

We loved that Schillerkopf provides a spa bag with bathrobes and towels in your room. We also loved that there’s a pillow menu. A PILLOW MENU! You can order special pillows for the night, free of charge. And, each morning, you’ll find a “Schillerkopf Journal” waiting for you on your breakfast table. The daily journey contains suggested hiking trails, a daily quote and riddle, activities in the region, as well as a time table for “Bergbahnen” (gondolas), etc…  The list really goes on.

So, if you’re looking for the perfect place to start, or end this hike, look no further than Schillerkopf Alpine Resort. You’ll feel restored and pampered.

Schillerkopf Alpine Resort indoor pool, Vorarlberg
Hiking around the Rätikon Alps - Hut to hut Hike in Austria and Switzerland

Getting to the Trailhead

Getting to the Trailhead

From Schillerkopf Hotel (Bürserberg, Tschengla bus stop), you’ll take the summer bus line 81 to Lünerseebahn. The hotel staff will print out the summer bus schedule (“Sommerfahrplan”) for you, effective July 1st – September 15th, and answer any transit questions you have. There are only a few buses that depart from Tschengla to Lünerseebahn during the day, but as long as you plan ahead, you’ll have a seamless journey to the trailhead.

Riding the Lünerseebahn

Lünerseebahn is an aerial cableway to Lüner Lake, high above Brandner Valley. Our trekking route begins at the lake. You can walk from the base of the cableway station to the lake, but we suggest taking the Lünerseebahn. Because it’s Austria, the Lünerseebahn is naturally closed for lunch (between 12:20 – 13:10).

Roundtrip Prices (as of Summer 2019): 14.60 for Adults; 13.90 for Seniors; 8.80 for Children.

Ascent Prices: 9.50 for Adults; 9.10 for Seniors; 5.70 for Children.

Note: Roundtrip tickets are good for 6 days. So, you’ll be able to use your roundtrip ticket to descend to Brandnertal after completing the circuit.

Lünersee, Hut to Hut Hike around the Rätikon Alps in Austria and Switzerland

Rätikon High Trail Circuit Stage 1

Day 1: Lünersee / Douglas Hütte (1,976 m) – Schweizer Tor – Öfapass (2,291 m) – Obere Spora Alpe (1,739 m) – Lindauer Hütte (1,744 m)

  • Distance: 10 km
  • Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
  • Altitude Difference: 631 m ascending, 864 m descending 
  • Time Needed: 4 hours

Your hike begins at Lünersee, one of the most beautiful lakes in Austria. If you’re hungry, definitely grab lunch at Douglas Hütte, the excellently-run mountain hut located at Lünerseebahn. They make a superb “Bauern Salat” (Farmer’s Salad).

From the hut, continue left over the reservoir wall. Follow the circuit path (Lünersee Rundwanderweg) to the opposite side of the lake (~40 minutes). Shortly before the Lünersee Alpe, there’s a trail leading off to the left in the direction of Lindauer Hütte. You can take this trail, or hike a few more minutes to Lünersee Alpe, and then follow the trail to Lindauer Hütte. From here, it’s approximately 3 hours to the hut.

After crossing the Alpe, the trail soon divides. You’ll want to stay to the left, and then cross the stream. If you continue straight, you’ll end up at Gafalljoch (Cavelljoch) ridge. After the water crossing, the trail ascends 320 meters up grassy slopes to the saddle below Kirchlispitzen. White limestone boulders accent the green meadows and cotton grass line the river below.

Schweizer Tor, Rätikon Alps, Austria - Hut to Hut Hike

From the saddle, you’ll then descend to an old stone shelter called Altes Zollhaus, which is located at the Schweizer Tor (Swiss Gate). As you head down in the afternoon, the Schweizer Tor shimmers with the midday sunlight. The “gate pillars” jut out of the soft green earth dramatically. It’s a fantastic site and a great place for a break! When you get to Altes Zollhaus (not used), you’ll look through the gate into Switzerland.

From here, it’s another soft ascent to Öfapass (30 min). From the pass, the trail makes a final descent to the valley below (signed 1 hour 15 min to Lindauer Hütte). You’ll see the Obere Spora Alpe and Lindauer mountain hut from here. On the valley floor, follow the flat gravel road to the Obere Spora Alpe, a running alpine dairy farm. You can purchase fresh dairy products from the farm, including Keese (cheese), Milch (milk) and Buttermilch (buttermilk), as well as Kuchen (cake). As you walk through the Alpe, it feels like walking into a 19th-century pastoral landscape painting.

Reading room in Lindauer Hütte, Rätikon Alps, Austria

Stay in Lindauer Hütte

  • Showers: 2 EUR for a 4 min shower
  • Drinking Water: Tap is safe to drink
  • Electronic Charging Stations: You’ll find outlets in your bedroom.
  • Payment: Credit Cards and Cash
  • Food: Excellent.
  • Half Board or à la carte: Both available. You can decide at dinner.
  • Rooms: Private rooms and dormitory-style rooms (lager) available.

Lindauer Hütte is a modern, well-run mountain hut. Surrounded by pine trees and with views of the Drei Türme (Three Towers), this is a lovely place to relax, read and eat. Definitely order their Kaiserschmarrn. There’s even a quiet room for reading. The staff was friendly and fast. Overall, we had a great experience here. If you can, avoid coming here on weekends. It’s a popular hut for families with children – loud, screaming, jumping children ;).

Tilisunasee, Rätikon Alps Hut to Hut Hike

Berlin High Trail Stage 2

Day 2: Lindauer Hütte (1,744 m) – Bilkengrat (2,006 m) – Schwarze Scharte (2,346 m) – Tilisunahütte (2,211 m) – Carschinahütte (2,236 m)

  • Distance: 10.2 km
  • Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
  • Altitude Difference: 1065 meters ascending, 575 meters descending
  • Time Needed: 5 hours

From the entrance of the hut, follow the sign in the direction of Tilisunahütte – Bilkengrat (signed 3 hours 15 min). You’ll initially head down the gravel road from the hut. A narrow trail cuts right from the gravel path. You’ll descend gently through pine forest, cross a meadow and then reach a signed intersection at Tramrosa (1,684 m). Take the left trail to Bilkengrat and cross a stream. You’ll ascend quickly, following a steep hairpin trail. The Drei Türme and Sulzenfluh peaks light up fantastically in the morning.

Ascent to Bilkengrat, Sulzenfluh and Drei Türme View, Rätikon

When you reach Bilkengrat, it’s a bit underwhelming. It’s like a landing area, granting you space and time to take a breath, before continuing the 340 m ascent to Schwarze Scharte (45 min). There are a few ropes securing your passage to the Scharte. From here, you’ll walk along an easy, flat balcony path for about 70 meters. The view of Tilisunasee lake is one of the most memorable views during the trek. Next, you’ll walk down to Tilisunahütte – your lunch stop. They accept payment in credit cards and cash.

From Tilisuna mountain hut, the trail continues into Switzerland. At the border, you’ll dip into a bowl of limestone (best way to explain it). Surrounded by walls of stone and hiking to the sound of bell-wearing cows, it feels like you’re in a singing bowl. You’ll eventually ascend out of the “bowl” and slowly progress in the direction of Sulzenfluh. From the Swiss side, Sulzenfluh looks like a lumpy thumb – a very impressive lumpy thumb.

Sulzenfluh, Rätikon Alps, Switzerland

You’ll continue along a mostly flat and easy balcony trail that hugs the side of the mountain. You’ll see Partunsee below, a pool of teal waters. The trail divides. Take the upper trail to Carschinahütte, not to the lake. The trail crosses more pastures and you’ll hear more cowbells than people. The final stretch brings you across a field of limestone boulders to Carschinahütte.

Stay in Carschinahütte

  • Showers: None
  • Drinking Water: Water available in a canister at the entrance, free of charge.
  • Electronic Charging Stations: In the Gaststube (Dining Area)
  • Payment: Cash Only. They accept payment in EUR and Swiss Francs.
  • Food: Excellent! All ingredients served in the hut are sourced from Swiss farms.
  • Half Board or à la carte: Only Half Board Available
  • Rooms: Lager Only.

Prättigauer Höhenweg, Rätikon Circuit, SwitzerlandThis was our favorite mountain hut in the Rätikon. Facing the mighty square-shaped Drusenfluh on one side and more mountains than can be named on all other sides, Carschinahütte is the ultimate destination for a godly sunrise and sunset. We are so impressed by the food and service at Carschinahütte. The hut management is changing end of summer 2019. Hopefully, the new management follows closely in their predecessors’ footsteps.

Rätikon High Trail, Switzerland

Berlin High Trail Stage 3

Day 3: Carschinahütte (2,236 m) – Cavelljoch (2,239 m) – Schesaplanahütte (1,908 m)

  • Distance: 15.8 km
  • Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
  • Altitude Difference:  372 meters ascending, 692 meters descending
  • Time Needed: 6 hours

The route on Day 3 of the Rätikon Circuit follows the Prättigauer Höhenweg. As you hike on the Swiss-side of the Rätikon range, you’ll see the Schweizer Tor (Swiss Gate) from a new perspective. But, Drusenfluh is the showstopper today.

Drusenfluh, Rätikon Alps, Switzerland

From Carshinahütte, follow the gravel road down a few meters to the signed intersection. You’ll head right, passing through the electric fence. As you walk along an easy, flat path, the sun slowly washes the meadows and mountains in warm light. It’s pure magic.

After about 2 hours, you’ll reach an intersection, where you can head right to the Schweizer Tor or left to Scheseplanahütte. Continue left. The trail dips and then ascends in earnest, reminding you that you’re indeed on a hike. Once the trail plateaus, you’ll follow a level path to Cavelljoch (also spelled Gafalljoch), the ridge between Austria and Switzerland. You’ll see Lünersee from here. (Note: If you wanted to do a 3-day tour of the Rätikon, this is where you’d descend to Lünersee).

From Cavelljoch, it’s 1 hour 45 minutes to Schesaplanahütte. The trail to the hut is mostly straight and characterized by pastures and a river valley below. It drags on.

Prättigauer Höhenweg, Rätikon Alps, Switzerland

Stay in Schesaplanahütte

  • Showers: 5 Swiss Francs for a 3 Minute Shower
  • Drinking Water: Tap water safe to drink
  • Electronic Charging Stations: There’s a charging in the hallway of the main hut.
  • Payment: Cash only
  • Food: Good
  • Half Board or à la carte: Half Board Only. If you have dietary restrictions (vegetarian, etc…), let them know when you make your reservation, or a week in advance. This hut isn’t flexible when it comes to accommodating dietary needs at short notice.
  • Rooms: Rooms and dormitory-rooms (lager) available. They will show you where to sleep (not first come first serve).
View from Mannheimer Hütte, Rätikon Alps, Austria

Berlin High Trail Stage 4

Day 4: Schesaplanahütte  (1,908 m) – Schesaplanasattel (2,739 m) – Schesaplana (2,965 m) – Schafloch Sattel – Brandner Gletcher – Mannheimer Hütte (2,679 m)

  • Distance: 7 km
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Altitude Difference: 1,133 meters ascending, 276 meters descending 
  • Time Needed: 5.5 hours. You have plenty of time today to get to your destination. The light is better in the afternoon, so really no need to rush.

Marked with the blue and white waymarks, the trail to Schesaplana from the Swiss-side is a no-bullshit hike. It’s steep and requires a head for heights. It’s also a lot of fun. You’ll ascend over 1000 meters in 3 hours. This is definitely not something you want to do in bad weather when there are slippery conditions and poor visibility. Honestly, the waymarking could be a lot better. The blue/white stripes can be hard to spot, and you’ll need a bit of trail intuition to figure out where to go.

After 2 hours and 15 minutes of ascending, you’ll land at the Schesaplana saddle. It looks like you’re walking on a volcano. From here, you can head directly to Mannheimer Hütte, saving the Schesaplana summit for the next day. Or, you can continue ascending another 45 min to Schesaplana (recommended). From the saddle, the path to the summit is steep, but the terrain is a lot easier. At the summit, you’ll have epic views of Lünersee and the Rätikon range you just spent the last few days walking around.

Schesaplana, Rätikon Alps

From the summit of Schesaplana, you’ll head back to the saddle from which you came. Follow the blue waymarks and signs to Mannheimer Hütte (signed 1 hour 15 min). You might spot some red/white waymarks and a red-painted “Mannheimer” directing you to go down and right, but ignore those signs. That path is closed.

The terrain is uneven, and you’ll need to look for the waymarks as you head to Schafloch Sattel. The thing is that the trail is really well-marked in the opposite direction, starting in Mannheimer Hütte and heading to the Schesaplana Saddle. It’s like they got lazy, or forgot to paint waymarkers going the other way. Okay, I’m exaggerating (just a bit).

Schesaplana to Mannheimer Hütte, Trek in the Austrian Alps

As you make your way down to the Brandner Gletcher – yes that’s Glacier in English – you’ll encounter a few ropes. These ropes will help you descend a slippery steep snowfield. Once you’ve done that (phew – the hard the part is over!), it’s time to cross the Brandner glacier. In the afternoon, when the glacier “melts” and “softens,” the texture is quite crunchy and it’s super easy to walk across.

Hiking Brander Glacier, Rätikon Alps

You don’t need any special equipment, because the crossing is flat. That being said, when we crossed the glacier the next day – in the morning – it was very icy and freakin slippery. We could only manage the crossing because we had hiking poles. But, we really could have used our crampons.

After you cross the glacier, it’s a quick 15-minute ascent to the hut. If you have energy to burn, you can continue to Wildberg peak.

Stay in Mannheimer Hütte

  • Showers: None
  • Drinking Water: 1.50 EUR for 1 Liter / Tap water isn’t drinking water.
  • Electronic Charging Stations: Sporadic. You’ll find some outlets in the dining area and some in the rooms.
  • Payment: Cash only
  • Food: Okay
  • Half Board or à la carte: When you arrive, you can choose between the Half board menu (meat option, or vegetarian option), or the Bergsteiger meal (a discounted entrée for Alpenverein/Alpine club members).
  • Rooms: Private rooms and Lager rooms available.
Südwansteig, Rätikon Alps

Berlin High Trail Stage 5

Day 5: Mannheimer Hütte (2,679 m) – Schesaplanasattel (2,739 m) – Südwansteig – Totalphütte (2,385 m) – Lünersee / Douglas Hütte (1,976 m)

  • Distance: 8.2 km
  • Difficulty: Difficult 
  • Altitude Difference: 417 meters ascending, 1,122 meters descending
  • Time Needed: 4.5 hours

The final day of your Rätikon trek brings you back to Lünersee in a full circle. From the hut, you’ll descend to the Brander Glacier and cross back to the Schesaplana Saddle. This is the exact same route as yesterday.

From the saddle, follow the signs to “Südwansteig” (South Wall Route) to Totalphütte. This is the alternative route to Totalp mountain hut, if you don’t go to Schesaplana summit. Initially, you’ll follow poles through rocky terrain. Then, you follow several red/yellow waymarks. The trail is very narrow at times along scree slopes, so go slowly. There’s a stretch that’s secured with ropes, easing your passage along the balcony route. Overall, it’s quite manageable.

Eventually, the Südwansteig intersects with the Schesaplana trail on the Austrian-side. Continue descending to Totalphütte. The trail is difficult because of the crumbling terrain. At Totalphütte, enjoy the view and a delicious homemade Apfelstrudel.

View of Lünersee, Schesaplana Path

The trail continues to descend to the lake. Eventually, the trail will split. You can head straight down, or take the left “high” path to Douglashütte, which runs parallel to the circuit trail, just higher (recommended). Eventually, the trail descends down to the main circuit path and it’s a quick flat walk to Douglashütte, just in time for lunch.

Stay in Brandnertal

Head back to Schillerkopf Alpine Resort for a restorative stay after your trek. Here you get pampered with an all-inclusive stay including breakfast, lunch, afternoon cake, and dinner as well as amazing wellness facilities. There’s no better place to reward yourself.

Rätikon Alps, Vorarlberg, Austria

Alternative Rätikon High Trail Hiking Routes

Rätikon High Trail Circuit 3 Day Route

This is a perfect 3 day route suitable for families and anyone who wants an easy, but tremendously beautiful hike. If you’re new to hut to hut hiking, this is a great place to start. You can follow the itinerary outlined above. On Day 3, you’ll descend down to Lünersee from Gafalljoch/Cavelljoch.

  • Day 1: (Brandnertal) – Douglas Hütte – Lünersee – Lindauer Hütte (4 hours, 10 km)
  • Day 2: Lindauer Hütte – Tilisunahütte – Carschinahütte (5 hours, 10.2 km)
  • Day 3: Carschinahütte – Gafalljoch/Cavelljoch – Lünersee (5 hours, 13.6 km)

Rätikon High Trail Circuit 4 Day Route

This 4 day route follows the exact route outlined in this guide. However, on Day 4, after ascending to Schesaplana, you’ll continue to Totalphütte and down to Lünersee, instead of hiking to Mannheimer Hütte.

  • Day 1: (Brandnertal) – Douglas Hütte – Lünersee – Lindauer Hütte (4 hours, 10 km)
  • Day 2: Lindauer Hütte – Tilisunahütte – Carschinahütte (5 hours, 10.2 km)
  • Day 3: Carschinahütte – Schesaplanahütte (6 hours, 15.8 km)
  • Day 4: Schesaplanahütte – Schesaplana – Totalphütte – Lünersee (9.2 km, 5 hours)
Rätikon Alps, Schesaplana View from Glacier

Austrian Alps Packing List

Pack your Sleeping Bag Liner, Hiking Poles, Polarized Sunglasses and…

Sleeping Bag Liner. Each hut provides sheets, blankets and pillows, but you need to bring a sleeping bag liner.

Polarized Sunglasses. It’s critical to buy polarized glasses that wrap around your head. The limestone reflects light like snow.

1-Liter Reusable Water Bottle. You can refill your reusable water bottles at the mountain huts.

Hiking Pants. When buying hiking pants, we think flexibility and ability to shed water are two important criteria. We both bought two pairs of these Macpac Women’s Hike Tight Pants and we love them. They’re breathable and extremely comfortable in all types of weather. Bonus: you don’t need to wear a belt.

Hiking Boots. If you want to invest in a serious hiking boot that will serve you well in rocky, high alpine terrain, look into buying a pair of Hanwag Tatra Light Lady GTX. These shoes have an extraordinary profile and aren’t rigid like traditional alpine boots.

Merino Wool Hiking Socks. Icebreaker makes the best hiking socks out there. Socks have lifetime warranty.

Sleeping Pants + Shirt

Hiking Poles. Opt for poles with lever locks (flick lock mechanism), as opposed to twisting locks. They’re more durable.

Hiking Backpack + Raincover. Ideal hut to hut trekking backpacks: Osprey Packs Kyte 36 Women’s Backpack or Osprey Packs Kestrel 38 Backpack for Men.

Sun Hat 

Rain Jacket. There’s always a chance of rain in the Alps. It’s essential to always carry a proper rain jacket. Kati’s North Face Venture Rain Jacket is excellent quality and truly waterproof.

Down Vest or Hiking Vest. Everyone has different preferences, but when it comes to keeping your core warm on the trail, but not overheating, vests are your best friend. Sabrina never hikes without her Eddie Bauer StormDown Vest.

Fleece (one for hiking, one for sleeping). It’s always good to have a fleece with you for added warmth. Fleece sweaters are lightweight and dry quickly. Buy a Marmot Norhiem Women’s Sweater Knit Fleece Jacket on Amazon.

Long-sleeve and Short-sleeve quick-dry hiking shirts

Waterproof House Slippers (something you can also shower in). After a day of hiking, it’s so enjoyable to finally take of your boots and slip on a pair of Crocs.

Cash. Credit cards are not accepted in all the mountain huts.

Basic Cosmetics. Soap, Shampoo, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Sun-lotion, Deodorant, Chapstick, Nail Clippers.

Travel Towel. Opt for a thin, microfiber towel that dries quickly.

Ear Plugs. We always carry several pairs of ear plugs with us when we’re overnighting in mountain huts.


Hiking in the Alps - Resources

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Rätikon Alps High Trail Circuit Trek - Austria and Switzerland
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  • Alta Via 1.  We just finished hiking the Alta Via 1 - a multi-day trek in the Italian Dolomites. And, it was an adventure we’ll never forget.  The first two days of the trek, we hiked in pouring rain. With no mountain views and poor weather conditions, we tried our best to keep our spirits up.  On Day 3, we set off once again in rain. After a few hours on the trail, it started to snow. The smart thing would have been to turn back and secure a taxi to the next rifugio. But, we kept going. As we progressed, it became increasingly more difficult to find the trail. The snow was covering up the trail markers and the wind swept away the footprints of other hikers. We lost the trail several times.  The snow that was floating down ever so gently as first turned into a no-bullshit blizzard. We were soaking wet, increasingly numb, and at a complete loss of where to go. I started crying. With no one in site and no idea where the hut was, we started to freak out.  At this point, we were physically shaking. We took a few me minutes to regroup in a WWI cave. Sheltered from the blowing snow, we could locate where we were on Maps.me.  We found the trail and willed our frozen bodies into motion. When we saw Lagazuoi hut, we felt a tidal wave of relief.  After ringing out everything from our shirts to our underwear and changing into warm clothes, we drank 2 liters of hot tea and then met the most amazing group of women! Thank you Chris, Sigi, Jo and Susie for the wonderful company, conversations, and shared meals.  @susielambie @jored7  Photo: 2 days after the storm.
  • 2 years ago Kati and I visited the Dolomites for the first time.  It was a whirlwind of a trip, as we were relocating from Cologne to Vienna. We drove through Germany’s Black Forest, Switzerland’s Appenzell region, across the Dolomites and finally into Austria.  During our time in the Dolomites, we experienced our very first hut to hut hike. Until that point, multi-day hiking was a vague, intimidating concept. After our short 3-day trek around Sexten, we were hooked. And, looking back, it’s easy to say that that trip really changed our lives.  We’re finally back in the Dolomites. This time we’re here to hike the Alta Via 1.
  • The pearl of the Rätikon.  Our recent hike around the Rätikon Alps started and ended here. During our trek, we saw almost every vantage point of this lake.  We just published our 5-day hiking itinerary (link in bio). We also included suggested 3 and 4-day routes, if you have less time.  https://moonhoneytravel.com/europe/austria/raetikon-high-trail/
  • Rätikon.  This beautiful limestone mountain range straddles the border between Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein.  We just wrapped up a 5 day hike around the range, overnighting in Austrian and Swiss mountain huts along the way.  We’ll be sharing our itinerary on the blog very soon. Until then, happy hiking dear friends.
  • Berliner Höhenweg (Berlin High Trail)  We just finished trekking the Berlin High Trail in Tyrol, Austria.  This gorgeous alpine route showcases the finest mountain and glacier vistas of the Zillertal Alps. It’s an extraordinary adventure replete with challenging ascents and descents, rustic and grand mountain huts, and bell-wearing cows and sheep.  Our trekking experience was filled with indescribable beauty, hearty Austrian food, agonizing and dangerous descents in rain, physical pain (follow our stories for details), and a stolen iPad. 
Some days were extraordinary. Other days were quite good. And one day was utterly miserable. That’s life in a nutshell, right? Cheers to living the good days, the okay days and the bad ones too.
  • I want to share with you one of my favorite German words.  Genießer/Genießerin is a person who delights and takes pleasure in living. It’s someone who enjoys and relishes the present moment completely. It can be applied broadly, whether someone enjoys reading, drinking a cappuccino, hiking, or cycling. The connotation of this type of pleasure is wholly positive.  There is no direct translation in the English language. In English, too much pleasure is perceived as a negative. We use words like glutton, hedonist, libertine to describe people who take (too much) pleasure in certain things. In English, pleasure must be restrained. Without such restraint, pleasure isn’t “good,” but marred with sin.  Would you define yourself as a Genießer/Genießerin?

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