Grand Finale: Hiking over the Dürrenstein mountain and through the enchanting Seetal valley, before you rest on the shores of the ‘Lunzer See’ lake
If you prefer to complete this stage without using the shuttle transfer to the Steinbachtal valley, you simply set out in Göstling: heading east, you walk along the ‘Steinbachmauer’, a small road that runs parallel to the Erlauftal main road towards Lunz am See. At the Kögerlwirt Inn, you cross the main road, before turning onto the ‘Die Kraft des Wassers’ educational trail (you’ll find this turning to the west of the Kögerlwirt Inn and Steinbach). Dedicated to ‘The Power of Water’, this themed route comprises paved and gravel roads, as well as solid wooden walkways. Among other highlights, it takes you through the romantic Noth-Schlucht gorge to the Steinbachtal valley, with theme-specific exhibits (such as a water turbine, etc.) along the way. After the Noth-Schlucht gorge (which has been declared a natural monument), you walk along the asphalted Steinbachtal Road. After around 1.3 km, you arrive at a car park (situated close to some fish ponds) which serves as a popular departure point for treks to the Ybbstaler Hütte mountain. At this point, you will have been on the road for around 1 hr 40 min since leaving Göstling earlier this morning.
Starting out from the car park, you follow the signposts for the ‘Ybbstaler Hütte’ mountain hostel (elevation gain from car park: 730) – walking first on a forest road, then on a clearly marked footpath until you have reached a hunter’s cabin. This is where you cross the forest road. After a natural spring, you turn left onto yet another forest road. Shortly afterwards, you turn right, leaving the forest road for a steep ascent, until you reach the forest road that will take you all the way up to the Ybbstaler Hütte.
From the Ybbstaler Hütte, you head south-east, walking up a moderate incline through the sparsely forested Karsttrockental valley, where the effects of recent heavy storms are still visible. The route continues to follow a gentle incline, past several karst hollows and sinkholes, before a steeper stretch takes you up to the Legsteinalm pasture (where you will spot an alpine cabin that has been repurposed as a Mountain Rescue base). At the Legstein hunter’s mountain, you pass the Jungfraunbründl spring.
You are now in the north-eastern part of the Dürrenstein Nature Reserve, whose total area encompasses around 3500 hectares. At the centre of this remarkable conservation area is the Urwald Rothwald, one of the largest remaining primeval forests in Central Europe, which has been declared a ‘Category 1a’ protected area by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
As you continue on your journey, the rocky trail takes you across karst terrain and in between creeping pines, all the way up to an undulating plateau. Around 2 hours after leaving the Ybbstaler Hütte (mountain hostel), you have reached the Dürrenstein summit (1878 m), marked with a beautifully crafted, iron cross – the perfect place for a well-deserved rest whilst enjoying stunning panoramic views.
Your descent to the ‘Leonhardikreuz’ – a junction of hiking paths marked by a cross (1406 m) leads first through dwarf-pine shrubs, and then across the alpine meadows of the Herrenalm pasture. If you have some time and energy to spare, adding 15 minutes’ walk for a stop-over at the ‘Herrenalmhütte’ mountain hostel is well worth the effort.
Having returned to the Leonhardikreuz junction you embark on a steep descent to the idyllic Obersee lake. From there, a forest road takes you through the romantic wilderness of the Seetal valley. Having passed a karst feature known as the ‘Roaring Bull’ (an underground waterfall) and the Ludwigfall (a waterfall that plummets down a vertical, 50-metre high cliff), you arrive at Mittersee lake. To the east, the landscape is dominated by the craggy rock-faces of the Hackermäuer range, while the ‘Seemäuern’ and the ‘Höherstein’ mountains characterise the landscape to the west.
From Mittersee lake, you continue on the signposted path, heading out of the Seetal valley until you arrive in ‘Seehof am Lunzer See’ – a small hamlet on the picturesque Lunzer See lake. You have now reached the end of your hiking journey on the Lynx Trail. Why not take a little rest in this lovely spot, refresh tired feet in the cool waters of the crystal-clear mountain lake, and think back over the adventures of the past few days.
If you have opted to spend the night in the alpine club mountaineering village of Lunz, a shuttle will take you to your chosen accommodation.
For the following day, we highly recommend exploring the picturesque village of Lunz am See. In the late middle ages, it was home to a thriving iron industry: the architecturally impressive ‘Amonhaus’ still serves as a reminder of the great wealth of that time. Today the building (in which even Austria’s Emperor Franz I once spent the night) houses the village’s municipal administration, tourism office and local history and crafts museum.
Level of difficulty: medium
Hiking time: 9 hrs 30 min
Distance: 28.2 km