This stage represents limitless panoramic views: Starting in Arriach, the geographical centre of Carinthia, the hike will lead you across the northern flank of the Gerlitzen, sometimes on small paths, through fabulous forest and pasture landscapes and up to the summit. Wonderful views of Lake Ossiacher See and the panorama of the surrounding mountain world will accompany you!
This stage of the Alpe Adria Trail takes around 5 hours and starts in the village square in Arriach, the geographical centre of Carinthia. Due to its remote location, this village remained largely protected from the counter-reformation. Starting not far from the Four Evangelists Church, the largest evangelical church in Carinthia, the route leads towards the Gerlitzen Alpe, the sunniest mountain in Carinthia. The Gerlitzen Alpe is also a very popular winter skiing region, while in summer thanks to the hiking trails and Nordic walking stretches the mountain is a true paradise for sports lovers. Whilst most active sports lovers take the cable car to reach the summit, the trail leads towards the summit along forest tracks and attractive paths through light spruce and larch forests in a near-natural state. Once you have passed the forest line, you are rewarded for the climb with a grandiose view of the Carnic and Julian Alps. The trail leads past several romantically located Alpine lodges to the Neugarten water park, with an Alpine lake, bubbling watercourses, waterwheels, ponds, mud pits, water jets, boats, diving platforms and sun deck. After taking a short breather in the adjoining cosy Alpine lodge, there is just a small difference in altitude to the summit of the Gerlitzen Alpe (1,911 metres), the destination of today’s stage. From here you can enjoy an impressive all-round view of Carinthia and the next stages.
We start in the village square in Arriach, not far from the Four Evangelists Church, and follow the footpath southwards until we cross the B 98 road. From here we complete a short section of the main road as far as the left turn to Hinterbuchholz. We follow the narrow mountain road, cross smaller gulleys and pass rural farm buildings (lovely view back to Arriach), until we leave the road at the transmitter mast and follow the forest trail (W 109). This leads up to the Hinterbuchholzer Hütte mountain lodge. Once we have got there we stay on trail 109, which continues from here as an attractive path through a very light spruce and larch forest which is in a near-natural state. We cross a forest road and continue our way through the forest, which becomes increasingly lighter, until we reach an area of pasture land on our right. From here the grandiose view of the Carnic chain and the Julian Alps opens up for the first time. We continue to follow the trail, which again leads us through a forested region, as far as the next fork. Here we change to trail 1762 and come to a small clearing at the Schlossbauer Alm. Here we have an opportunity of obtaining water from the spring and taking in the wonderful view of the panorama of the Julian Alps as we enjoy a short rest. After just a few hundred metres a relatively steep and short path branches off left – the W 177 – and we follow this to the Stifterbodenhütte mountain lodge. The more direct variant of the route leads you via the W 1762 to the Steinerner Tisch (Stone Table) (1,620 metres) and on to the Stifterboden. From here we turn left and follow the W 1623 to the Almseehütte lodge. Once we are there, the Neugarten water world awaits us, where we can fortify ourselves again for the final ascent. Our route then continues uphill to the summit. Along the way we cross the access road and follow the footpath which runs parallel to it up to the summit (1,911 metres). From here there is a grandiose 360 degree view of the valley landscape around the Gerlitzen and the surrounding mountains. After this wonderful view we follow trail 175 eastwards downhill, and after approximately 800 metres we reach our destination.