Full of contrasts: Hiking from an ancient mining region to the farmsteads of the Gail Valley
The second stage of the Dobratsch Circular Trail takes you from the north-side of the mountain to the Lower Gail Valley, traversing a variety of landscapes. While the first section is still characterised by ancient mining culture, you soon find yourself in more agricultural surroundings, before descending into the shady Nötschgraben ravine, which leads directly to your charming destination for the day. Starting out from the village square in Bad Bleiberg, you walk among the architectural legacy of the area’s long mining history, and pass the Terra Mystica show mine before reaching the spectacular ‘Stollenwanderweg’ trail (Path No. 11): partly hewn into the rock-face, it harmoniously merges with the landscape but also serves as a testament to the hardships the mine workers would have faced. Soon, however, you pass grand farmhouses and lush meadows with views of the Dobratsch. A particularly atmospheric view awaits up at the idyllic ‘Fischerhube’ – a deserted alpine farmhouse positioned high above the valley, overlooking the Southern Alps. From here, you descend through the forest (Path No. 288) to a peaceful valley, where you follow the river to today’s destination: the village of Nötsch. We highly recommend taking a stroll through the village, which was not only home to the famous Nötsch Circle of early 20th-century painters, but also has one of the most beautiful central squares in all of Austria.
Level of difficulty: medium
Hiking time: 5.75 hours