5 New Road Trip Itineraries for the Pyrenees17.07.2017
The Hautes-Pyrenees region of France have worked with Huesca area of Spain to create a series of five new 3,...
Based in the Pinzgau region, about 70km southwest of city of Salzburg (so about an hour away), Saalfelden Leogang is the most multi-faceted holiday region in the Alps.
It’s a land where the massive rock mountains tower above gentle grass-covered valleys and where a traditional, rural atmosphere meets the urban lifestyle and modern innovation.
There are so many different activities available here for all interests and abilities it’s easy to plan your holiday week to include a new activity every day!
One day, for example, you might choose to enjoy a leisurely hike along a path through the forest, the next something more challenging like a rocky via ferrata climb. And that’s just to start.
In Saalfelden Leogang, the motto is “simply hiking” and so guests are encouraged to simply walk, enjoy nature and entertain themselves, far away from the stresses of everyday life.
Hikers are quite literally spoilt for choice in Saalfelden Leogang with everything from the gentlest strolls along the valley floor or up in to the grassy hillsides, opening up impressive panoramic views, to some of the most challenging high mountain routes. It’s even possible to enjoy a multi-day long-distance hikes spanning several days with your luggage transported for you whilst you walk so it is waiting for you at your next accommodation that evening.
But the region’s “simply hiking” no-frills concept means it’s all about nature, and hiking alone is more than enough, there are no themed trails or the like.
“Nothing should distract hikers from what really matters,” says Marco Pointer, CEO of Saalfelden Leogang Tourism. “We want to inspire our guests to get out there and to enjoy themselves in nature. We want to focus on getting away from everyday routine and simply hiking.”
There are plenty of nice, unique touches to hiking in Saalfelden Leogang too which differentiate it from other destinations.
For example the “pole sharing stations” allow you to pick up a natural walking stick from a point at the start of your hike then return it at the end. There are also 360-degree wooden benches or wrought-iron swings on which to take a break and take in the view.
New for summer 2019 on the family-friendly Asitz mountain, dubbed “a mountain for all the senses,” the resort is even organising outdoor theatre and entertainment ‘islands’ where guests can see special mini-concerts.
At the middle station of the Leoganger Bergbahnen cable cars, the Senses experience park on Asitz leads into the worlds of feeling, hearing, tasting, smelling and seeing via 30 stations. Young and old can walk barefoot over the soft Alpine pasture, take in the aroma of wild herbs and Alpine plants in many places.
There are also lots of hikes in the forest and visitors can even book a special package which translates as ‘Inhale, Feel the Forest, Exhale’ and includes seven overnight stays, the Saalfelden Leogang Card, a hiking map, hiking socks, an Alpine snack, two hikes, and a TEM (Traditional European Medicine) workshop. Opt to stay in a bed and breakfast from 249 euros or in a 4-star hotel with half board from 564 euros.
All kinds of cyclists and bikers and very well catered for in Saalfelden Leogang regardless of whether they prefer leisure cycling, cross-country mountain biking, e-biking or going fast downhill in the world-class Bikepark Leogang.
The varied landscape here offers all kinds of tours, trails and stretches from very easy to exceptionally challenging meaning there’s something for everyone who loves to pedal here.
This year Saalfelden Leogang has invested around one million euros in order to significantly expand its already world-class range of biking trails. The investment means, among other things, the opening of a second cable car for bike transport, good news for everyone who doesn’t want to cycle uphill.
The crown jewel in the region’s mountain biking offer is the Bikepark Leogang, a hot spot for the Bike World Champions and Austria’s only venue for the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup.
Next year on 5 and 6 September 2020, the UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Championships will take place here for the second time. The many varied routes are, however, not only designed for pros, recreational bikers love them too!
This summer the resort also unveils its new Antonius Trail and the Steinberg Line by FOX. The latter in particular is sure to rapidly become an absolute highlight: ten kilometres long, a 969 metre descent and flowing curves. At a slope of roughly nine percent, it will probably be the flowiest trail in the bike park.
Another new addition to Bikepark Leogang for 2019 is the large asphalted pump track including a jump line and dirt line. You can really get your kicks here on 5,000 square metres.
“It will be “EPIC”, but we can’t divulge any more at this juncture,” said a resort spokesperson.
There’ll also be two new narrow, hand-made, single track trails with cool obstacles outside of the Bikepark Leogang; the Forsthof Trail and the Schwarzleo Trail. At about 2km long the Forsthof Trail leads past high crags that look like Middle Earth and crosses several streams. Slightly shorter at roughly 1.8 kilometres is the Schwarzleo Trail. It winds its way picturesquely through mixed woodland and offers a dream view of the Leoganger Steinberge mountain range in addition to tight technical curves, flowing sections and North Shore elements.
But the region is not just for experienced downhill bikers, all ages can learn to mountain bike in the Riders Playground which covers 10,000 square metres and is the largest beginners’ park in Europe.
In addition to its practical conveyor belt for bikes and riders, there is also a T-bar lift, which can be used with bikes. With each round, beginners and children can get used to the many obstacles and learn to handle the curves before trying out the action packed courses in the bike park.
Those with more experience and courage can try cool jumps at the GoPro Bagjump while also hanging on to a GoPro and landing into a giant airbag.
Cycling, or ‘road biking’ is popular here where, for example, the Kaisertour winds along the famous Grossglockner High Alpine Road up to Austria’s highest mountain.
E-bikes Bikes area also increasingly popular and Saalfelden Leogang is amongst the world’s largest e-bike regions and is ideal for extended electric cycling tours thanks to its countless routes. E-bike batteries can be exchanged or recharged at countless charging stations, partner hotels, sports shops or even at the mountain inns while bikers take a refreshment stop.
There are bike hotels here too and guides available to take you on the best route for you. Many of the hotel owners are themselves enthusiastic bikers and often join guests on tour. In any case, hotel personnel endeavour to meet and exceed the demands of cyclists and to help in route planning.
Besides hiking, cycling or mountain biking there’s a huge range of additional activities around Saalfelden Leogang.
If you’d like to move along the trails a little faster than a regular hiker you’ll find 18 different routes for joggers, trail runners and Nordic walkers In Saalfelden Leogang, which altogether add up to 120km and include two high-altitude routes and a mountain running stretch.
One of the most popular activities is the resort’s XXL zip line, exactly a mile (1,600m) long it’s one of the world’s longest on which guests can travel at up to 130 kilometres per hour (81mph) through the air. All the family can take part so long as they have reached the minimum height requirement or 4 feet, 9 inches.
The “Leoklang” summer toboggan run in Leogang is another fun way to ride down the mountain. Starting at 1,800m it travels down some 400 vertical metres whilst a second summer toboggan run above Saalfelden at the Biberg has a total length of 1.6 km.
Back on the Astiz “Silent water” is focussed on the Speichersee reservoir where there are loungers, panoramic terraces, a Kneipp area and a swimming platform for peaceful relaxation and contemplation.
Climbing in the local Steinberge mountains region, whether sport or Alpine climbing, is very popular too. The region boasts the Loferer and Leoganger Steinberge mountains as well as the Steinplatte mountain, popular with expert climbers from around the world. In total there are more than 1,000 sport climbing and alpine multi-rope routes to try and at 45 rope lengths, the “Pinzgawurm” is one of the longest climbing routes in the Alps.
In addition, the region also boasts five climbing halls and a total of twelve via ferratas. Various climbing courses, for beginners to experience climbing for the first time, are also available for families.
Golf is also popular with a choice of two 18-hole courses, the Urslautal and Brandlhof, both feature breathtaking mountain scenery and transform golf into a rich experience with stunning views and many interesting natural obstacles.
Besides sports and leisure the region’s diverse cultural programme complements the many outdoor offerings.
The focus of 2019 is an important anniversary: the Saalfelden International Jazz Festival will take place for the 40th time from 22 to 25 August, when jazz greats from all over the world will rock Saalfelden with more than 55 concerts. More than 30 of these concerts are free of charge.
In addition, something extra special takes place every Friday from the beginning of July to the end of September when hikers meet various artists and cultural aficionados. At the ALM:KULTUR mountain huts, there are concerts, fable tellings and workshops. Anyone can take part in the free-of-charge events and no registration is necessary.
The free Saalfelden Leogang Card for resort guests is a great bonus regardless of whether you prefer to be active on the mountain, to relax in the valley. Every guest receives theirs at check-in at one of the partner hotels and the benefits include a daily return ticket on the local Asitzbahn gondola lift in Leogang, and on the Saalbach Hinterglemm cable cars, as well as unlimited ascents and descents with the chair lift on the Biberg. Card holders also enjoy unlimited use of public transport in Pinzgau (bus and train), free entry to the Schloss Ritzen Museum and the Mining Museum in Leogang and also free entry to the Leogang/Sonnrain and Saalfelden/Obsmarkt swimming pools and the natural bathing complex at lake Ritzensee and to the Leogang sauna (leisure centre) and the Saalfelden sauna. The Saalfelden Leogang Card also features a changing kids’ programme and numerous guided hikes every week.
7–9 June; The Out of Bounds Festival including UCI Mountainbike Downhill World Cup
21 June; Yoga on the mountain.
22–23 June; Stoabergmarsch24 – 24 hour hike.
29 June; “Bergwelten Wandertag” hiking day
22-25 August; International Jazzfestival Saalfalden
13–15 September; BIKE Festival Saalfelden Leogang
Featured Image © Klemens König
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