This stage leads along the western foot of the Goldberg group; gold was mined here in the Hohe Tauern for centuries. The sought after precious metal was washed from the streams in Roman times, and gold mining enjoyed its heyday in the 16th and 17th centuries. Some of the most productive mineshafts were in the grandiose Zirknitz high mountain valley, known as the “gold miners’ valley”, which we reach at the end of this one-day stage.
You can still follow the gold mining trail today: Amateur gold miners can try their luck in the “Old Gold Panning Plant”, which is easy to reach via a short detour. The gold miners’ village which was erected on the original models during the major regional exhibition “Kärnten wasser.reich” can also be visited, by taking a somewhat longer detour (around 1.5 hours there and back) or conveniently with the National Park Hikers’ Bus.
The highlight of the route is the mountain farmers’ village Apriach. More than almost any other building, the “Stockmühlen” mills (a wasser.reich destination) are a symbol of the mountain farming cultural landscape in the Hohe Tauern National Park region. These picturesque mills bear witness to the centuries-old tradition of cultivating cereals at altitudes of over 1.500 metres! In the immediate vicinity of the mills there is also the Mentlhof showcase farm (a wasser.reich destination). A visit, including sampling the farm’s own produce, is highly recommended during this hike.
From Apriach there is a wonderful view of the Jungfernsprung. At 130 metres, it is one of the highest waterfalls in the Hohe Tauern. The legend has it that a maidenly dairy farmer saved herself from the Devil, who was pursuing her, by plunging into the depths, and survived this leap almost unharmed …
The destination for this one-day stage is the town of Döllach in the municipality of Großkirchheim, an important gold mining centre which today houses the head office of the National Park administration.