The Carnic Alps - an adventurous and fantastic mountain landscape awaiting the hiker. At the top ridges like bizarre limestone reefs that seem to rise directly from an invisible sea and at the bottom, a hidden peaceful world of lush green mountain basins with a magnificent flora and fauna. Right through its center, the famous Karnische Höhenweg (KHW 403). And right in between, the cheese makers with their cauldrons, in which the whole beauty and variety of the landscape is processed into a wonderful and tasty product, the Gailtaler Almkäse. In each cauldron, a world of its own awaits you.
Each cauldron has its own story, but all cauldrons together are mysteriously connected with their own and common stories: Like the stars on the Milky Way, the alpine pastures are strung together along the Karnischer Höhenweg: The cauldrons, alpine pastures and mountains thus form a special Milky Way, the Carnic Milky Way. The picture of the Carnic Milky Way is completed by the "constellations". On these day hikes you can immerse yourself deeply in the history, nature and culture of the landscape. Many stories are told - about the creation of this magnificent landscape. About what unites and divides us in times of war and peace, the effects of which are particularly visible in the Carnic Alps. But above all about Gailtaler Almkäse and the people who have been producing it on the alpine pastures for centuries.
While the western part of the Karnischer Höhenweg (from Sillian to the Wolayersee Hut) leads over often demanding paths through high alpine terrain and is highly sought after by experienced mountain hikers, its eastern part (from the Wolayersee Hut to Thörl Maglern) reveals on mostly well-maintained trails the previously described wonder world of cheese alpine pastures surrounded by rugged peaks. For this part, we have combined the best of all the elements described above to form the long hiking trail of the Carnic Milky Way: So from the Carnic Highway (KHW 403), the hikes on the constellations and all the stories about the alpine pastures, mountains and people. So to speak, the Karnische Höhenweg can be experienced in a new way! This is how the famous long-distance hiking trail becomes the Karnische Milchstraße - hiking in new dimensions!
We have not made any compromises for its experience: We have reversed the walking direction for you (from east to west to the magnificently situated Wolayersee Hut as a worthy destination), because this best adapts to the dramaturgy of the landscape. We also set up the Official Trail Info & Booking Center which provides you with all the proven services of the award-winning Trail Angels team.
On the Carnic Milky Way, you follow the rhythm of the cows and the farmers. As you partly spend the night on alpine huts, you hike on the Carnic Milky Way when the alpine huts are also operated. This is the case between the beginning of June and the end of September and also coincides perfectly with the fine season for long-distance hiking in the mountains during summer.
Summer (June, July, August, September): Due to the altitude of many stages - you mainly move in the high mountains - the Carnic Milky Way is an excellent choice to escape the heat of midsummer ( July and August). However, it is also an attractive experience to experience the start of summer in the high mountains at the beginning of June. Note, however, the danger of heat thunderstorms, which often occur earlier in the Carnic Alps than in other mountain ranges due to their location on the southern slopes of the Alps.
Autumn (October, November): Crystal clear air, discolouring forests and cool temperatures. Hiking in autumn (September) is beautiful on the Carnic Milky Way. Also October is often still a very nice month for hiking, but the alpine pastures are already closed and therefore there are hardly any overnight accommodations. Later in autumn, the onset of winter makes it difficult or even impossible to walk through. Attention: Even in September there are rare but nonetheless winter bursts with short-term snowfall up to under 2.000 m above sea level.
Winter (December, January, February): The stages of the Carnic Milky Way are in well-deserved hibernation.
Spring (March, April, May): In the months of March and April (and sometimes even in May) the trails are still under snow and therefore the trail is not yet accessible. From the end of May all passages of the Carnic Milky Way are usually snow-free.
From a technical point of view, the Carnic Milky Way is showing moderate difficulties. A surefootedness on rooted and stony hiking trails in alpine terrain is an absolute prerequisite.
All stages run on mountain paths with a red dot, so they are classified as moderately difficult mountain paths according to the Alpine Association classification (see https://www.alpenverein.de/bergsport/aktiv-sein/bergwandercard/schwierigkeitsgrade-von-bergwegen_aid_28820.html). By definition, paths categorized in red are "predominantly narrow, often steep, and can have dangerous passages. There may also be short secured passages (e.g. wire rope)".
Even if the terrain does not present any major technical difficulties, in an alpine region you will often move above the tree line with altitudes of up to 2.200 m. You should therefore have alpine mountain hiking experience for the Carnic Milky Way, be able to find your way around and deal with the dangers of weather changes in the mountains.
The Karnische Milchstraße is more demanding in terms of physical condition: individual stages have ascents of up to 1.000 m, descents of up to 1.400 m and/or 20 km in length. This means pure walking times of up to 7 hours a day. The walking times are, as always with us, calculated with the Outdooractive formula (which is rather fast). We therefore recommend that you prepare yourself accordingly.
The Carnic Milky Way is suitable for children aged 12 and over with good physical condition.
Long-distance hiking trails and trekking routes are not suitable for people with limited mobility due to their requirements. In order to clarify individual cases (degree of disability), it is recommended to contact the Trail Info & Booking Center before booking.
You can find more information on the classification of hiking trails and on the technical and physical preparation of the tour here.
For the Carnic Milky Way, "normal" equipment is sufficient for alpine hikes on unpaved and partly stony paths in the southern limestone Alps. However, sturdy footwear with a good sole profile for unpaved paths is a "must" and the use of telescopic hiking poles is recommended to relieve the knees during the sometimes longer descents. In summer, good sun protection and sufficient water are very important ( not every stage provides refreshment stops). Sufficient warm clothing for possible sudden changes of weather is also important in midsummer. For all huts along the trail, bring a sleeping bag and a towel.
Click here for more equipment details.
For a closer look, check out the detailed information for each stage along the trail here. The times are average values and may vary depending on personal fitness, number and length of breaks, weather conditions, etc.show Stages
Feel free to load map material from Google maps.
Along the trail three different accommodation categories - regional evaluation - are offered:
Basic: Simply equipped - mountain hut, alpine farm, guesthouse or bed & breakfast
Classic: High standard - good middle-class guesthouse or hotel**/***
Comfort: Accommodation for high demands - Hotel****, some with wellness area
We offer the categories Classic and Comfort in Feistritz an der Drau before the first stage, at Nassfeld, in Kötschach-Mauthen and in Birnbaum, otherwise guests always spend the night in mountain huts.
As it is standard for an alpine hike, all overnight stays in alpine huts are in the Basic category. The alpine huts and mountain refuges in the Carnic Alps only have a limited number of twin/double rooms - as is usual in mountain refuges - besides offering mattress dormitories. There are shared showers and toilets. At the Zollnersee hut it is obligatory - for the sake of the environment - to use a hut sleeping bag - please also take a towel with you.
Children between the ages of 6 and 14 receive a 35% discount for two full-paying adults in their parents' room.
Dogs can be taken along on request.
Two different types of catering are available to you in the partner establishments:
Breakfast: Breakfast buffet or served to your table
Half board: breakfast plus dinner (mostly 3-course menu in the hotel or by voucher in a nearby restaurant)
Some of the partner companies are members of Slow Food Travel and serve many regional products that are seasonally available. You will also spend the night at one or the other "Gailtaler Käsealm", where you will be very close to the production of Gailtaler Almkäse cheese.
Please enter special wishes for the food (vegetarian, vegan, intolerances ...) in the field "Comments". The Flow Trail Info & Booking Center will try to fulfill your non-binding requests.
For an especially carefree Trail journey, you might like to take advantage of our comprehensive transport service:
Luggage service: Your luggage (max. 20 kg) will optionally be transferred from one accommodation to the next, so that you can hike with light day packs.
Return Transfer: A collective transport service takes you from your final Trail destination back to your departure point.
Shuttle Service: All shuttle transfers that are essential for the completion of your Trail journey are included in the package price. Additional shuttle services (i.e. in the event of bad weather, illness etc.) can simply be requested at the Trail Information & Booking Center and will be charged separately.
During your Trail journey you can make use of the special service of the Trail Info & Booking Center, which will make your Trail journey an especially safe, well looked after and unforgettable experience:
Trail Hotline: Our team is at your service with advice and practical support for the duration of your Trail journey. Even outside our normal office hours, you can reach us daily from 8:00 to 20:00.
Trail Guide: Our certified and authorized hiking guides are well trained and have an excellent knowledge of the area. In addition, they have a great knowledge of the local nature and culture, which makes a hike with our guides a varied and safe trail trip. All costs incurred by the guide (overnight stay, meals, travel costs) are included in the Guide package price.
Comprehensive Travel Information: an expertly compiled folder (PDF, print@home) with detailed, in-depth information will be sent to you in time for you to prepare your Trail journey.
For the arrival of this trail trip you have three possibilities - not included in the price - at your disposal:
With your own car: Parking is available at the respective starting points of the trail journey. Detailed information is included in the booking documents. Most of the parking spaces are free of charge and not monitored! The return transport will bring you back to your car.
By train: The following stations are at your disposal: Arnoldstein and Hermagor, both can be reached by S-Bahn from Villach main station.
By airplane: The following international airports can be recommended for arriving by airplane - Klagenfurt (KLU) and Ljubljana (LJU).
Arrival shuttle service - not included in the price: Brings you to the starting point of your trail journey and at the end of the tour back to the ideal train station or airport. The Trail Info & Booking Center will be happy to organize this shuttle service for you.
This is where Trail travelers find an especially warm welcome: ranging from 4-star Spa Hotels to simply equipped B&Bs, our partner establishments have been hand-picked, and actively contribute to the development of the Trail.show partners
Here you will find all relevant information about your travel destination such as currency, entry requirements, food & drink, health and vaccinations and literature tips.Show Travel Information
Trail Information & Booking center, Travel Agent
Trail Angels GmbH
9821 Obervellach 15
We arrange your tour operator
Trail Angels GmbH
Obervellach 15, 9821 Obervellach, Österreich
Eintragungs-NR. Veranstalterverz. des bmwfi: 2016/0005
Tel: +43 4782 93093