a close up of a waterfall
© SalzburgerLand Tourismus, Peter Zeitlhofer

The waterfall trail

Hiking along the water sources of Bad Gastein

If you were to describe the town of Bad Gastein using one of the elements, it would without a doubt be water. There are, of course, plenty of impressive rocks and mountains that also shape the scenery of the town, beautifully located in Salzburg’s Pongau region, but it is the water, first still, then sparkling and finally roaring, that makes the place so unique. And where else could you come closer to the water in all of its wild beauty and power than during an intensive hike through Bad Gastein and the waterfall trail that begins here? This trail has been on my to-do-list for a very long time. And, was it worth the wait? To be completely honest, I was barely able to keep my mouth closed after marvelling at the incredible surroundings here. But let’s start at the beginning…

A good day begins with a proper and healthy breakfast. A piece of wisdom already espoused by my grandmother, and I continue to trust in it to this day. Is there anything cosier than getting up early in the morning and sitting under the sun, watching the world wake up and already going over the forthcoming day in your head? And so, I’m sitting at the breakfast terrace of my hotel in Bad Gastein on this wonderful summer day, admiring the beauty of the surrounding mountains, watching the people with the colourful backpacks embarking on their journeys and rejoicing in finally being able to be here again. There are really many wonderful places in our beautiful Alpine region, but this place has a very special kind of magic. Is it the incredible location at a steep cliff, the dramatic mountains all around us, the wonderful hotels and guest houses, which continue to tell stories from the days of a long-forgotten empire, or is it the constantly audible waterfall that crashes and roars right through the centre of the town? Perhaps it’s a blend of all of these factors, but the water definitely seems to play a crucial role in all of them. And it’s precisely this is the role that I want to explore further today.

“Flying Waters” high up

The first steps of any hiking expedition are always the best for me. And they’re also the ones you will remember for the longest time. They are the ones you will draw precious energy from as soon as everyday life kicks back in and you keep looking back at the wonderful holidays spent in SalzburgerLand. Today’s first steps lead me away from my hotel to the town centre of Bad Gastein. But I don’t get very far, as a rope, strung up high above the canyon and waterfall, grabs my attention. “Flying Waters” is written on a sign at the end of the steel rope, promising a way to experience Gastein’s spectacular nature and the architecture from a bird’s-eye view. Well, let’s go then! A lack of courage was never an issue for me, so why not fly from one side of the valley to the other instead of walking! Admittedly, I do get a little tense as I’m strapped in the seat and the friendly instructor explains the key points of riding across the canyon with the wire rope. A quick push and off I go. Wow! What a view; what an experience! I slowly hover above the canyon. First I look at the steeply descending forest, the river, until the waterfall is, with all its glory, finally right in front of me. Well, underneath me. I am completely overwhelmed by the experience and can’t even decide what to look at first. The fun ends as quickly as it started and I’m already relieved of my seatbelt, still filled to the brim with adrenaline, as I finally stand on firm ground again. What an amazing experience!

© SalzburgerLand Tourismus, Peter Zeithofer – Flying Fox across the Gastein Waterfall

The new Thermalquellpark

It looks rather cosy here. All around I see nice benches, a water fountain that exudes its precious content, and a display sign here and there. Where have I ended up? I see the church of Bad Gastein. Below me the waterfall is still raging and crashing and the town centre also doesn’t seem too far away. I must seem quite lost, because a friendly employee from the viewing platform is approaching me already. It hasn’t been around for too long, the newly designed Thermalquellpark, which offers a very diverse programme throughout the entire year. The central theme is, of course, the world-famous thermal water, which emerges rather impressively from the rock here in the park. Besides a weekly activity programme, exhibition springs, an unlimited amount of background information on the topic of thermal water, as well as an inside-look into the uniquely rich history of Gastein, you can, of course, also sample the spring water. It’s very lovely here, but the audibly raging water not too far away reminds me to get on my way again. After all, there is a waterfall waiting for me.

Bad Gastein and its waterfall

Across relatively steep steps, I make my way upward from the Thermalquellpark, quickly cross a street and then follow a narrow path that leads me further up. One more turn to the right, a few steps down and suddenly I’m in the middle of a true spectacle of nature. Incredible, the force, the energy, but also the beauty and the grace with which the water crashes into the depths. Glittering water droplets are everywhere, diffuse the sunrays and bathe the already surreal spectacle in an even more unreal seeming light. I can barely get enough of the sight, take countless of pictures and marvel at the waterfall from pretty much every angle possible. The trail continues further down along the waterfall and passes by the centre of the town before leading once more through the Thermalquellpark all the way down to the old power plant. Not too long ago, a café, now quite known far beyond the borders of the valley, had found its home here.

A café inside a power plant by a waterfall

A café could not have a more extraordinary location than this. Right by the waterfall and merely protected by a glass wall, you will find living proof of the Gasteinertal valley’s gastronomic and culinary excellence as well as its innovative spirit here. Yesterday I was still reading the phrases “super location” and “wow-effect” online; today I can absolutely vouch for the description. It’s not just the location, but also the offer that is first-class here. Invigorated by an excellent tarte flambée with salmon, I take off again to make my way further away from the valley. I could have sat here much longer, but my waterfall curiosity was simply too strong. However, one thing is clear. This was definitely not my last visit to this café. I’ll be back.

© SalzburgerLand Tourismus, Peter Zeithofer – Cafe right at the waterfall

On the waterfall trail

The water here in Bad Gastein never seems to catch a break. What was previously a vicious waterfall, crashing down several metres deep, now continues as a smooth river. I couldn’t have asked for more. Right at the shore of the river, the trail leads through a thick forest area that could make you forget quite quickly that you were still in a lively town just moments ago. As the water looks for a way out whilst repeatedly swooshing across rugged rocks and stones, I catch myself quietly whistling to myself. It’s very idyllic here: that word probably describes it best. Moist mosses glow in an intense green on the tree trunks, flowers bend their blossoms toward the warm sun rays, the birds chirp in the treetops and I’m just happy to be able to be here. Why not round the experience off with a bit of whistling, then? At least that’s my take on it. Here and there, I encounter a fellow hiker. We greet each other politely, but for the most part, I’m completely by myself. Which is great, because that way I get to experience and soak up the many impressions here even more intensively. The trail itself is not particularly rough, but you should be equipped with decent footwear for the frequently moist ground and have a certain degree of surefootedness. I’m going along the Gasteiner Ache river to Badbruck, but you can, of course, also take the trail in the opposite direction.

©SalzburgerLand Tourismus – Peter Zeitlhofer – View across the big waterfall to Bad Gastein

Lost in my thoughts and still fascinated by the power and grace of the water, I suddenly hear a faint clicking sound that I can’t place at first. I listen more closely, but then it stops. When I almost forget about it again, I suddenly hear the “click” again but quite a bit louder this time. And then I also hear people talking energetically. Of course, how could I forget? I had read about this on the hiking guide just before taking off. The waterfall trail ends exactly where the Badbruck golf course begins. After 45 minutes of walking, I have finally returned to civilisation. A bit of a shame, really. There are two options for the way back. You either take the detour around the Kötschachtal valley and then the Kaiser Wilhelm Promenade or the Marienweg Trail. Both lead back to Bad Gastein. I’m sure that these are nice trails, but today I simply can’t get enough of the water and so I begin my hike back on the waterfall trail. And now I’m truly all by myself. I hope you have a nice day and enjoy your own hike!



Kur- und Tourismusverband Bad Gastein
Kaiser Franz Josef-Str 27
5640 Bad Gastein

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