Kalkalpen Overview

Kalkalpen National Park, situated in the state of Upper Austria, is a pristine natural area that showcases the beauty and diversity of the Austrian Alps. Established in 1997, the park covers an impressive area of approximately 209 square kilometers (about 81 square miles), making it one of the largest protected areas in Austria. Nestled within the Ennstal Alps, Kalkalpen National Park is characterized by its dense forests, rugged mountain peaks, and deep valleys, offering a sanctuary for a wide variety of plant and animal species.

The park is renowned for housing one of the largest forested areas in Central Europe, including extensive stands of beech, fir, and spruce trees. This unbroken expanse of natural forest provides critical habitat for wildlife, including lynx, deer, and more than 80 species of birds, making it a significant area for biodiversity conservation. The park’s efforts in rewilding and natural forest management have contributed to the preservation of these ecosystems, allowing nature to thrive.

Kalkalpen National Park offers a multitude of recreational opportunities for visitors. Its network of hiking and cycling trails allows for exploration of the park’s natural beauty, from serene forest paths to challenging mountain treks. The park also features several thematic trails, such as the Wilderness Trail and the Primeval Forest Trail, which provide insights into the area’s ecology and history.

One of the park’s most striking features is the Reichraminger Hintergebirge, a vast wilderness area that exemplifies the untouched beauty of the Austrian Alps. Additionally, the park’s karst landscapes, including caves and sinkholes, add to its geological interest and diversity.

Kalkalpen National Park serves as a testament to the importance of preserving natural landscapes in Austria. It provides a space for ecological research, environmental education, and sustainable tourism, inviting visitors to experience the tranquility and majesty of the Alps while promoting conservation and awareness of natural habitats.

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Park Map
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Kalkalpen National Park Pictures

Kalkalpen National Park Trails

Grimmingblick Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 10 km with an elevation gain of 500 meters

Description: This trail offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Grimming Mountain.

Hikers will traverse through dense forests, cross crystal-clear streams, and ascend to scenic viewpoints.

The trail provides opportunities for wildlife spotting, including deer and various bird species. It’s a moderately challenging hike suitable for adventurous individuals seeking stunning vistas.

Ötschergräben Trail

Rating: Difficult

Distance and Elevation Gain: 12 km with an elevation gain of 600 meters

Description: Known as the “Grand Canyon of Austria,” this trail winds through dramatic gorges, cascading waterfalls, and lush forests.

Hikers will navigate rugged terrain, including steep ascents and narrow pathways. The trail offers glimpses of rare flora and fauna thriving in the diverse microclimates of the Ötschergräben area.

It’s a challenging yet rewarding adventure for experienced hikers.

Dürrenstein Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 15 km with an elevation gain of 700 meters

Description: This trail leads hikers through the ancient forests of Dürrenstein, offering serene landscapes and tranquil surroundings.

Along the way, hikers will encounter picturesque alpine meadows, pristine mountain lakes, and towering peaks. The trail provides opportunities for wildlife observation, with chances to spot elusive creatures like chamois and marmots.

It’s a moderate hike suitable for nature enthusiasts seeking solitude and natural beauty.

Gosau Lakes Trail

Rating: Easy to Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gian: 8 km with an elevation gain of 300 meters

Description: This scenic trail winds around the picturesque Gosau Lakes, offering stunning views of the Dachstein Massif reflected in the tranquil waters.

Hikers will stroll through lush meadows adorned with wildflowers and shaded forests alive with bird songs.

The trail provides access to pristine swimming spots and opportunities for leisurely picnics amidst breathtaking alpine scenery. It’s a perfect hike for families and casual adventurers.

Ybbstal Alps Trail

Rating: Moderate to Difficult

Distance and Elevation Gain: 20 km with an elevation gain of 900 meters

Description: This challenging trail traverses the rugged terrain of the Ybbstal Alps, offering sweeping vistas of the surrounding mountain ranges.

Hikers will navigate rocky slopes, alpine pastures, and remote valleys, encountering diverse ecosystems along the way.

The trail passes through quaint mountain villages, providing insight into the rich cultural heritage of the region. It’s a rewarding hike for experienced adventurers seeking remote wilderness and rugged landscapes.

  • Global Nature Fund, Kalkalpen National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Komoot, Hiking in the Kalkalpen National Park Region,, retrieved April 2024.
  • National Parks Austria, Kalkalpaen,, retrieved April 2024.
  • National Park Kalkalpen,, retrieved April 2024.