For my last day of vacation in Südtirol/Alto Adige I chose an easier tour. After two days with quite a lot of feet in elevation I wanted to have it a bit more comfortable. The guide that was leading us to the Wilde Kreuzspitze talked about the Rodenecker Alp. Supposedly there is great panoramic hike to walk. From the Zumis parking lot sitting on 5660 ft. you will be walking without much elevation across the Rodenecker alp enjoying fabulous views of the Zillertaler Alps to the north and the Dolomites to the south. This tour is a treat for all of you not wanting to climb lots of feet but enjoy great panoramic views anyway.
After breakfast I ask at the reception of my hotel if they would recommend this tour, just to be sure. Once they did confirm that this is a tour you must have walked when you are in the region, I jump in my car and drive down the mountain into Mühlbach. From there I have to drive uphill again on the other side of the valley. In the small village of St. Paul I take a left turn direction the Zumis parking lot. Crossing the villages of Nauders and Ahnerberg I reach the forest. The road winds uphill for a long time and I fear that I have missed the parking. Which actually can’t be the case since the road ends there. Finally I do reach the parking lot with a cabin. I have to pay for the parking but I think it’s fair to pay since they have to spend money to upkeep the area.
The Rodenecker Alp is allegedly one of the biggest elevated plains in Europe and there is a large number of hiking trails. After having admired the view from the parking lot I am ready to start my tour. Along a forest road I walk deeper in the forest.
The Confin Trail
A few minutes later I reach a crossing leading to the Confin Trail. This trail was built in order to avoid hiking on the road leading to the alps. To make it more interesting they placed artwork along the path having the creation of earth as a theme. On the first day god created heaven and earth and spoke: let there be light. That’s shown with a tube that is translucent at its end. On the second day he created the stars and the sky. In between the artworks I walk through a forest of swiss stone pine.
On day three God created the continents and the ocean. I think this sculpture is well done. A short time after I reach the first cabin in the midst of the swiss stone pine forest. These pines only grow in heights between 4260 ft. and 9200 ft. The wood is being used for furniture but also for a schnaps. The essential oils of this tree are known for helping you to sleep healthily and improve your immune system. A real wonder tree.
Now that land and sea have been created the path leads into open terrain. I am lucky once more and the sun shines bright from a deep blue sky making the temperatures very pleasant. I like the idea that those alpine communities are always looking for ways to make the hiking paths even more attractive. Even though mother nature itself is a real experience itself.
The Rodenecker Alp
Here in the open terrain I can enjoy fantastic views. At first only to the south. The view to the north is barred by a hill and forest. The vastness of these pastures is impressive. The plain stretches in front of me. So completely different from the Vals Valley that is enclosed by towering mountains.
The next sculpture of the Confin trail sits in front of me. Day 4 was the day when God created the stars. Another great artwork, I think. The rocks and the rusty metal fit perfectly into the surrounding. The path now leads almost evenly over the pastures. At this point I am getting back on the forest road. It’s late in the season so there in not much traffic to be expected. The bigger part of the cattle is down in the valley or on pastures on lower elevations.
The Roner cabin: A rest area for mounatinbikers
Minutes later I do reach the Ronerhütte. This cabin sits at the hiking trail from Munich to Venice and the mountain bike trail from Munich to Lake Garda. The Rodenecker Alp is not only a great hiking area but also open to mountain bikers. Since I’ve been only walking for about 30 minutes I pass the cabin. Despite it looking very inviting. Maybe on my way back. Behind the cabin the road rises a bit. Above the trail sits the sculpture of a bird, since God created the birds and marine animals on day five.
At the end of the rise is the sculpture for day 6 when the rest of the anmials have been created and as a crowning event humans. So the Creation has been finished and God was very happy with everything he has made. Even though some humans turned out to be a failure I am always impressed anew by his Creation.
The road continues on even terrain and leads over the pastures. It is so beautiful up here.
Chapel with a prominent patron
After so much struggle God had his right to a day of rest. Leaning back he was watching his Creation and was very happy with it. At the chapel on the Pianer Cross the Confin Trail ends. The corner stone of this chapel has been sanctified by Cradinal Jospeh Ratzinger. When he was Pope Benedict he came back and sanctified the chapel at least from a helicopter. A very nice move I think.
Behind the chapel the road rises slowly for a bit before it continues on even terrain. The view of the Dolomites to the south is getting even mor spectacular. On a pasture there are still grazing cattle. But at the moment they are lazily lying in the grass and enjoy the sun. Here on the plain I pass a few more cabins. A great addition for my picture themes. Isn’t it just beautiful up here?
Easy Hike with picture perfect panorama
Just when I took the picture of the cabin to the above right and old man shows up behind it. He just looks at me but doesn’t say a word. I guess that there are quite a few hikers that tresspass his property and he doesn’t look as if he likes that. On the other hand this cow seems to be very pleased to see me. That’s the first time I see a fence prim like this. Looks nice.
Again and again I have to stop for a short time and adore this awesome panorama. In front of me walks a good sized group that I will probably pass soon. Actually there are quite a few people around here. The tour is doable for everybody and this panorama is not only to my liking. Well, there is enough space for all of us.
Just after the turn for the Lüsner Alm which belongs to the Rodenecker alp I get the first glimpse of the summit of the Astjoch that I want to climb today. I’m getting ever closwer to the group in front of me. What bothers me about them is the fact that they are always in the way when I am trying to tak a great shot. The only thing that helps is walking a bit faster and leave them behind.
The next turn would bring me to the Rastner cabin. This one is open. That’ll be my place for a break on my way back. From here I finally get a great panoramic view to the north direction Zillertaler alps. I am really thrilled by this tour. It was a good idea to listen to the guide. I don’t miss the elevations I usually take during my hikes .
A very modern cabin in the heart of the mountains
Again there is a short stretch that rises a bit. At the end of this rise there is another cabin. The Pluna Hütte on the Strakenfeld. A modern building built with lots of wood and glas but I’m not sure if I like it. Apparently it hasn’t been completed, yet. The restaurant on the ground floor is closed. There is a sign telling me that you can also rent a room here. That would be a good idea. To wake up with such a view must be great. A bit further to the back there is a cheese dary, where you can normally watch them making cheese. I am not sure if it’s just closed for the season or permanently.
The last ascent
A few minutes after the Starkenfeld cabin I reach a small bog. From here I get an amazing view to the north direction the Zillertal alps. In front of me the summit of the Astjoch rises. Just about 890 ft. are separating me from it. On it’s slopes a few swiss stone pines are growing and in between oceans of alpine roses with red foliage glowing in the sun.
The last ascent to the summit is not very strenuous. Following the serpentines the path is winding through the forest to the top. Every once in a while there are hollows with more even terrain. About half way up I get this awesome view to the north. Isn’t that a dream?
With every step uphill the panaroma is getting wider. And all around these alpine roses with their fall foliage. Meanwhile there are only a few trees around between the bushes. The sky shimmers in deepest blue and around me these great views. If I wasn’t happy to have taken this tour, now is the moment where I am convinced of the opposite.
A few moments later I am on the top of the summit and am surprised that I get such a panorama here on 7200 ft. The summits around me are much higher but since the Astjoch sits a bit isolated in between broad valleys this height is enough. Below me is the Pustertal and the Zillertal alps behind. Around the summit cross there are flagstones where the names of the summits I can see from here are engraved.
To the north I can see a summit called the Big Löffler and I think that I should climb it one day just because of my last name. Meanwhile I read that apparently you have to cross a glacier to get there. For this tour I should be part of a group. But the little Löffler on the Big Löffler…… Would be great.
Descent with a view of the Dolomites
To the south I am looking into the Fork Group, aso know as the Furchetta. The spoon in the north, the fork in the south, there is a knife missing in between. There are quite a few people around on the summit. The group I have passed earlier has reached it now as well. I allow myself a few moments in the sun and get my snack from the backpack. After this I get my map to check if there is another way back. And sure there is, I can walk to the Bacheralm and from there to the parking lot.
The path leads straight down the southern slope of the summit. This allows me to enjoy the Dolomite view for another while. I only can recommend this tour. This is one of the most beautiful ones I hiked so far. I should come back when those alpine roses are in bloom. They call it alpine inebriation when they are blooming and I guess that what it will be. An inebriation in pink.
On this path there aren’t many people. It seems that most of them take the same way back as they climbed. They don’t know what they miss. Here on the southern slope there are more larches but they are still green. I guess it takes a bit longer here before their needles turn yellow.
Shortly after I reach the Bacheralm. The cabins here were built of stone in their lower parts and the finished with wood. A sure sign that the farmers had more money and were able to build more solid huts.
Along the path I do find some flowers still in bloom that late in the year. Here at the Bacheralm there should be a crossing that brings to Plasell and then to the Lüsner Alp. Unfortunately I can’t find it so I go back to the road on which I walked to the Astjoch.
The circle closes at the small bog where I started the ascent to the summit. The good thing about this is that I will be passing the cabins from my may way up and hope that one of them is open. I am very thursty. And a tour in the mountains is not complete for me without a cabin where I can stop for a drink and a bite to eat.
The Rastnerhütte, quaint and big
The Starkenfeld cabin is still closed. I was hoping it would open it’s doors in the afternoon. But there are two more to come. And I know that at least one of them is open. At the next turn I take a right to the Rastnerhütte. At the sign showing the way it says that it is open. While walking to the cabin I see this cross above to the right. Makes a great theme for a shot with those mountains in the background.
This cabin is quite busy. Since it is the only open besides the Ronerhütte that’s pretty obvious. There is enough seating and so I can easily find a place in the sun. I am not really hungry but I can’t leave Südtirol without a serving of the typical bacon of this region. The food in my hotel is great but it lacks a bit the regionality.
That’s exactly what I need now. Non-alcoholic beer and this delicious bacon. And some of this typical bread with lots of kummel. What else should I ask for? I still have enough time before I have to go back to the hotel so I can sit here a bit longer and enjoy the sun.
The parting from this panoramaalp
At one point I do have to get going though and I start my return to the car. On my way back I meet a couple from the Nuremberg region I have met earlier on the summit. We start talking and so the walk to the car becomes diverting.
A last look towards the Dolomites and I soon I reach the Confinweg again. It’s not far to the parking lot at the Zumis anymore. Again one of this dream days in the mountains ends. Too bad I have to drive home tomorrow.