One of the first lifts guests usually aim for at the start of their holiday to Neustift is on the Elferspitze mountain. It is one of the most prominent mountains in the area and a great place to start your exploration of the valley. This is my suggestion for a moderate walking route that will really make the most of your first day in the area.
Ascending the Elferbahn lift to 1,790m, I remind guests that there are plenty of benches at the top from which to watch the paragliders taking off or to enjoy the views to the Nordkette mountains and Innsbruck. Before setting off on our walk, I recommend heading over to the large wooden sundial built to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of the Elfer lifts. A fantastic structure, 8-meters across, it is the largest walk-in sundial in the Alps.
We start our journey by going up to the Elferhutte – a 30-minute ascent to 2,080m. The Elferhutte is an iconic hut first built in 1933. Until as recently as 1964 supplies were brought to the hut by horseback. The family owning the hut, Fritz and Christine Haas, contributed to the construction of the Elferlifts in 1964, and since then it has expanded to one of the most popular mountain huts in the Stubai Alps.
Just to the left of the Elferhutte is the Panoramaweg, which gently climbs around the back of the Elferspitze. Following this path, you start to appreciate the mighty Pinnistal valley. Far below you, you can hear the sound of cowbells. Ahead of you is the path to the mighty Habicht mountain. On the opposite side of the Pinnistal, horizontal layers of limestone drop more than 600m into the valley before making way for hundreds of meters of gravel scree.
Our descent begins at the Elfer Gratzengrübl, one of seven scenic nature reserves in the area, and a great place for a scenic view over the Pinnistal and towards the Dolomites. This is a great place to stop for lunch, so make sure you bring a picnic. From here, it is approximately 45-minutes’ walk down to the Karalm. Along the way, the high mountain path visibly changes, becoming less rocky and gaining vegetation, trees, and waterways.
The Karalm is located at the end of the Pinnistal, where the Habicht mountain towers 3,277m over the surrounding pastures. At 1,737metres, the alm marks the midway point our walk and is a great place to stop for refreshments and traditional Tyrolean snacks.
After resting, it’s time to start heading back to Neustift. From here-on in, it’s easy walking. The route along the bottom of the valley, the Forstweg, is surrounded by steep sided mountains but the path is flat. Picturesque alms line the route, and you should keep a look out for deer and red squirrels. Alongside the nature, there are plenty of cows, which love posing for photographs!
On the last couple of kilometers, watch your step as we descend into Neder. The path is gravelly and can be slippery. Rounding the corner, we end up only 20-minutes’ walk from Neustift, finishing our hike along the river.
The Pinnistal walk is one of the best ways to enjoy the Elfer mountain. It is 10 miles of tranquil strolling. It’s so peaceful to walk along and the only people you see are in the alms. I recommend taking the whole day to enjoy it.