Anticipation for our first long-distance hike
Even as a child, I loved travelling via the Reschen Pass to the region around Merano. I was especially fascinated by the church in Graun submerged in Lake Reschen. At the time I would never have thought that one day, I would set out from here on my first long-distance hiking tour.
When I discovered the 7-day hiking holiday from Lake Reschen to Merano on the Eurohike website, my mind was made up: I wanted to experience the beautiful Vinschgau region on foot in slow-travel mode! My husband and dear friends – also huge fans of South Tyrol – offered themselves immediately as my travel companions.
In five daily stages we follow the traces of the historic long-distance hiking trail “Via Claudia Augusta” from Reschen to Merano.
Welcome at Lake Reschen
Arriving at Lake Reschen, we must of course first stop by the famous church tower sticking out from the lake. Then we meet our personal Eurohike travel advisor at the hotel. In addition to the detailed travel documents, she provides us with helpful tips for the hiking route.
The handy route book including maps and a detailed description of all stages accompanies us over the next few days – always ready to hand in the outside pocket of the backpack.
Mountain bliss high above Lake Reschen
The next morning, we start our first stage of our long-distance hike from Reschen. Since it is already quite hot, we do not hike along Lake Reschen, but choose the optional route, the high-altitude trail Schöneben-Haideralm. We take the cable car up to the Schöneben summit station. A beautiful alpine path leads us to the Haideralp. In the valley, Lake Reschen glistens in the sun in an almost unreal turquoise blue and the snow-covered Mount Ortler towers in front of us on the horizon.
On the Haideralp we indulge in bacon dumplings, shepherd’s macceroni and “Kaiserschmarrn” (traditional sweet dish) for the first time. What a wonderful start to our hiking holiday! We descend by cable car back to the valley. We hike past Lake Haidersee to Burgeis featuring the well-known Marienberg monastery. After 25 kilometres we reach our Day Finish Mals.
Via the Sonnensteig-trail to spectacular “Waalweg”-irrigation channels
The second stage from Mals to Schluderns is the shortest of the multi-day tour. From today on we always hike along the Vinschger Sonnenberg-mountain with its unique steppe vegetation. We climb up the “Sonnsteig” situated high above the valley and like yesterday, enjoy the marvellous views of the Ortler mountain chain. A highlight is the archaeological excavation site at Ganglegg above Schluderns. A hilltop settlement dating back to various eras, from Bronze Age to Roman times, has been reconstructed here.
Also, today we choose the extension option of our daily stage, after all we do not want to miss the two irrigation channels, called “Waalwege”, which this route promises. We hike along a very narrow path along the babbling Leitenwaal to a waterfall at the end of the valley. On the other side of the valley, we walk along the Bergwaal before we descend to Schluderns. The defiant Churburg castle, which is considered the best-preserved castle in South Tyrol, towers over the small community.
Along the unique Vinschger Sonnenberg mountain
Stage three of our long-distance hike takes us back up Mount Vinschgau Sonnenberg. On a narrow path high above the valley, we hike along the steppe dry slopes. They form an attractive contrast to the green orchards in the valley. The heat is really getting to us today, like on the previous few days, it is around 37 degrees Celsius again. We are all the happier about the refreshing route along two irrigation channels. The spectacular route of the Zaalwaal high above the valley floor and the idyllic Ilswaal really inspire us.
Today’s accommodation is in the heart of Schlanders, the main town of the Vinschgau region.
Castles, “Waale” and the rushing river Etsch
An adventurous climb awaits us on stage 4: the narrow sun-promenade inspires with wonderful views over the apple orchards and the surrounding mountain peaks.
Past Goldrain castle, we reach the Latschander Waalweg-path, which leads us into the vineyards near Kastelbell castle. Juval castle, the next highlight on stage 4, is unfortunately closed. We would have loved to have visited the summer residence of mountaineering legend Reinhold Messner featuring the famous Juval Messner Mountain Museum.
The final section of the route takes us along the rushing river Etsch to Naturns.
Final destination in sight: We reach the Merano region
At breakfast, it seems almost unreal that we already have the fifth and final hiking stage ahead of us today. Also, today we ascend along the Sonnenberg Panorama-path, a beautiful ascent with many rocky passages. It feels like after every bend, the route and view become more and more spectacular. Today, leisurely hiking is the order of the day: In a mountain inn high above Partschins, we indulge once again extensively in the best dishes of South Tyrolean cuisine.
The hike along the well-known Partschinser Waalweg-path offers welcome refreshment. Suddenly the view widens, and the wonderfully green Merano Region is spread out in front of us. Via the Algunder Waalweg-path with its suspension bridge, we reach the famous Tappeiner Promenade. That way we reach the Merano Cathedral square, the final destination of our hiking holiday.
Reading tip: You can find the detailed travel story (in German) about this wonderful South Tyrolean long-distance hike from Lake Reschen to Merano with many other impressions and tips on Sanne’s family travel blog. She is looking forward to your visit!