It is hard to fathom at this point that this small, idyllic mountain brook running through the forests will grow to a sizeable and proud river. And yet the Enns is the longest inland river in Austria which winds its way through the mountains and three provinces before finally joining the Danube, the great and proud stream of Austria. Thank goodness one would not notice this here and the great wide world is at most an idea far, far away. I wanted to go on a nice bike tour again. Cycling through the landscape of the Salzburger Sportwelt and if possible try an e-bike. What would be better on such a beautiful summer day than exploring the origin of the Enns. Biking along the Enns along the Enns cycle path, visiting the picturesque villages of Flachau and Altenmarkt and then finally enjoying my well-deserved, if somewhat delayed, lunch in Radstadt.
E-biking along the Enns cycle path
I’m off for the day in Flachau, where I was already waiting for my e-bike. You can borrow these bikes everywhere in the region accompanied by a widely spread network of e-bike charging stations. I also want to oppose the opinion that e-bikes are not for real bikers. E-biking is for everyone and anybody who has ever ridden on such a ‘state-of-the-art sports equipment’ will know exactly what I mean. With e-mountain bikes, you can conquer the peaks of the most distant mountains. Touring e-bikes are perfect if you want to be active and to give your fitness some wings if needed. The benefit here is that everyone can determine the support they get from the electric motor when pedalling. This enables you to control the degree of effort needed to tackle any given cycling goal. But I digress – now it’s all about the Enns and the wonderful Enns cycle path. Still my final statement I want to make on E-biking is that it is really awesome, it really feels good and should be at least tried once by everyone, seasoned cyclist or not. End of statement.
I now head off to Flachauwinkl starting from Flachau, even if the real goal of my tour is in the other direction, in Radstadt. Before I reach my goal, I want to go to the place where the river Enns has its source and the people from Flachau get their wonderful drinking water. The idyllic path winds through the beautiful landscape of the valley. I drive on a really well developed slope through refreshingly cool forests and over lush meadows while passing one picturesque village after another. The Enns is almost always close to me, and not only once do I unmount and descend to the water to behold the beauty of this body of water up close. I watch the leaves that wind in the play of the elements through the rapids, the colourful butterflies taking a short rest on my arm for a moment and bright flowers that gently sway back and forth in the wind. It can make somebody wondrous in awe. Here, I finally reach the first destination of my tour. The small village of Flachauwinkl, where in winter, the skiers are taken by cable cars to the legendary slopes. Even if the exact source of the Enns is still a little further up in the mountains, one can see its origin here. There you will also find the start of the Enns cycling route (a.k.a. kilometre Zero). From here on, the Enns route leads you all the way to the town of “Enns an der Donau” in distant Upper Austria, some 240 kilometres away. Even though it is theoretically possible to manage the route within 2 or 3 days, one should plan about a week in order to be able to see and experience everything along the way. For now, I unmount my e-bike and let the beauty of this place work its magic on me.
Best water for Flachau, Eben and St. Johann
Here, where Marbach, Flachau and finally the Enns are converging and forming a creek from three small brooks, it is obtained: the wonderful drinking water of Flachau. To be precise, at the source of the Marbach, where the water flows from the depths of the surrounding mountains and reappears as a miraculously tasting fluid treasure. These mountains mainly consist of limestone and dolomite marble. The limestone was converted into metamorphic rocks under high pressure and temperature conditions during the course of the Alps unfolding. High up in the mountains, the rainwater seeps away and is filtered in the narrow gaps, crevices and caves of the rocky layers, and is conveyed underground on the water-permeable mountain base of slate and sandstone to feed the spring. Unbelievable, what lengths the water has to travel here before it flows as tap water into our houses. One should be much more conscious how fortunate we are to have such pure water available to us every day. While I am reflecting on this, the next sip from my newly filled water bottle tastes even better. The high purity of the water here also comes from the fact that the entire percolation area is exclusively mountain pastures and therefore no contamination of any kind can occur. The long-term protection of the spring and the water is strictly protected by the provincial government of Salzburg.
From Flachauwinkl via Altenmarkt to Radstadt
It is time for me to set off again, if I want to reach my goal, Radstadt, today. The battery of my e-bike shows a healthy 75% charge. More than enough and already, I glide over the Enns cycle path. This time, however, I am heading in the other direction. Meanwhile, the sun is high up in the sky, reflecting in the frenzied waves of the Enns and the scattered light shining at me a thousand times. What a show and what a great day. The cycle track is very hard to miss thanks to frequent signposts also through the localities you will pass on your way. After a good half an hour, I have left Flachau well behind and Altenmarkt is just a few kilometres ahead of me. Both resorts are part of the Salzburger Sportwelt in winter and therefore absolute top destinations for skiing and winter sports. But even in summer, athletes of all kinds find a perfect ‘playground’ here, to go out and pursue their passion. Especially for bikers and cyclists, the region is a true paradise. Whether you are looking for a cosy tour, cycling through the valleys and over passes, or if you want to be cheered on by a crowd at one of the top events, everyone here can really find their preferred conditions and the prerequisites to their liking. For me personally, the Enns cycle path is just the right thing today. I ride across wide fields, watch the paragliders above me playing with the wind and have a pleasant chat in Altenmarkt with a cyclist going the other way while not letting anything stress me too much along the way.
When I finally reach Radstadt and its historical city centre comes to sight, my stomach also makes itself noticed for the first time with an audible growl. Now I really look forward to a sizeable lunch!