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Imperial mountains and majestic views – the Wilder Kaiser region, known by locals simply as the "Koasa", is a charming and welcoming area in the east of Tirol.
The name “Wilder Kaiser” literally means “Wild Emperor”, and keen-eyed visitors may be able to spot a silhouette of an emperor’s face in this majestic chain of mountains in the east of Tirol. Some say it is Charlemagne, while others believe it is Franz I or Emperor Maximilian. However, the true story behind the name remains unclear even today and has over the centuries given rise to many myths and legends about this massif between Kufstein and St. Johann in Tirol.
Whatever the history, the Wilder Kaiser certainly radiates a majestic, indeed imperial, charm as it overlooks a thick mountain pine forest giving way to swathes of lush green meadows. The region’s four villages – Ellmau, Going, Scheffau and Söll – lie at the southern end of the “Koasa”, as the chain is known to locals, and are the ideal base for summer hikes in the surrounding nature reserve and along sections of the Eagle Trail. A popular walk is the Tauern Panorama Trail leading past the Schleierwasserfall waterfall, a hotspot for experienced rock climbers. The further you go into the mountains, the fewer settlements and people you see. Indeed, until just a few years ago the Kaisertal Valley was the only inhabited valley in Austria without a road connecting it to the outside world.
The gateway to Austria’s largest connected ski area
Winter visitors to the region often head south to the SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser-Brixental. With 280km of pistes and more than ten summits between the Hohen Salve and the Astberg, it is the largest ski area in Austria. Fans of cross-country skiing and tobogganing will also find plenty to keep them entertained. Two attractions popular with families during the summer months are the Hexenwasser and Ellmi's Zauberwelt mountain playgrounds. Both offer action and adventure for children as well as fine mountain views for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages.
Wilder Kaiser Region for Families
With its craggy mountain peaks stretching high into the sky, the Wilder Kaiser region offers a spectacular backdrop for family-friendly holidays packed full of outdoor activities such as rock climbing, hiking and exploring the alpine landscape together.
For families who are into walking and rock climbing, the Wilder Kaiser region is a real paradise. This mountainous area in the east of Tirol has lots of beautiful walking and hiking trails leading past cosy mountain huts up into the high mountains. Some give access to rock climbing areas suitable for children and beginners as well as a series of via ferrata (climbing routes with metal handholds and footholds as well as a steel rope anchored into the rock for safety). Rock climbing courses are offered by local climbing instructors. The region is also home to one of the most spectacular vantage points anywhere in Tirol, the Hohe Salve mountian (1,829 metres). Children can look forward to not one, not two, not three, not four, not five but an incredible six outdoor adventure play areas, including the KaiserWelt in Scheffau, Elmi's Zauberwelt in Ellmau and the Erlebnispark Alpinolino in Westendorf. Many of these include rock climbing areas, educational walking trails, panoramic hiking trails and many more fun activities. Nature lovers should visit "Moor & More" in Going, an area of wetland with many highlights for visitors. Last but not least, the region has a number of indoor and outdoor swimming pools such as the Kaiserbad Ellmau.
Hiking in Wilder Kaiser Region
The Wilder Kaiser Reion in Tirol is characterised by the towering peaks of the Kaiser Mountains. The walking and hiking here is hugely diverse, from challenging summit ascents and multi-day treks to easier walks suitable for families with children.
The Wilder Kaiser Mountains are a haven for ambitious hikers and mountaineers. There are several multi-day walks leading through this protected area of outstanding natural beauty. Mountain forests, flower-filled meadows and rock-strewn slopes with stone pine bushes dominate the landscape here. This region is home to the first three stages of the Eagle Walk, a 33-stage trail crossing Tirol from east to west. The stages here lead from St. Johann via the southern slopes of the Wilder Kaiser Mountains to the town of Kufstein. Expert hikers with excellent fitness can complete a full loop of the Wilder Kaiser Mountains on the five-stage Emperor's Crown trail. We also recommend a visit to the idyllic Kaisertal Valley with its majestic views of the Wilder Kaiser Mountains. While most of the hiking in the north of the region is challenging, further south there are plenty of easier trails in the rolling hills of the northern Kitzbühel Alps. Many can be accessed using lifts and cable cars.
Mountain Biking in Wilder Kaiser Region
Wilder Kaiser Region is a mountain biker’s playground, offering everything from easy tours to challenging singletrack.
Rock Climbing in the Wilder Kaiser Mountains
The Kaiser Mountains are one of the best climbing areas in Tirol. The first sport climbing routes were created here as early as the 1970s.
The climbing area next to the Schleierwasserfall waterfall is one of the best-known climbing hotspots in Europe, with over 200 sport climbing routes on often overhanging rockfaces. Some of the climbs are even rated 8 or 9 (experts only).
On wet weather days, climbers in the region are spoilt for choice with no fewer than six indoor climbing centres in the region. There are several via ferrata climbing routes suitable for families. One of them leads up onto the Ellmauer Halt (2,344m), the highest peak in the Wilder Kaiser Mountains. The name of this mountain chain comes from the fact that, when seen from a certain angle, the peaks and ridges form the profile of Emperor Charlemagne (Kaiser is the German word for emperor).
Sport climbing routes in the Wilder Kaiser Mountains
The famous climbing area near the Schleierwasserfall is one of the finest of its kind anywhere in Europe – and probably the most difficult. Surrounded by the fine mist of the adjacent waterfalls, climbers will find routes all the way up to grade 9 (experts only). All in all there are more than 200 lines to choose from, most of which are rated at least 7. The Klettergarten Wilderer Kanzel, on the other hand, has both very challenging and relatively easy routes. The Ellmauer Kaiserklettergarten is ideal for families and beginners.
Multi-pitch climbing routes in the Wilder Kaiser Mountains
The region has a small selection of good multi-pitch climbing routes. The Kraxengrat, for example, is excellent for intermediate climbers and offers fantastic views of the Hintersteiner See lake. The climbing on the Treffauer Westsockel is also popular. Those with strong arms and a head for heights should visit the Sonneck, where there is a towering 450m south-west-facing wall with plenty of long climbs.
Via ferrata in the Wilder Kaiser Mountains
The via ferrata in the Wilder Kaiser Mountains are some of the most beautiful in Tirol. The Eggersteig, for example, is at 1.9km in length a great place for beginners to learn the right technique and safety measures. The nearby Jubiläumssteig offers fine views. Advanced climbers can take on the recently opened Klettersteig Klamml (C/D), which is divided into two sections connected by a rope bridge. There is also a via ferrata known as the Gamsängesteig leading up onto the Ellmauer Halt, the highest peak in the Wilder Kaiser Mountains. However, this via ferrata requires good strength and fitness levels. It climbs 1,250 vertical metres from bottom to top.
Climbing centres in the Wilder Kaiser Mountains
The region has six climbing centres. The largest (200 routes spread across 1,700m²) is in Wörgl, with 250m² reserved for bouldering and 150m² outdoors. At the Kaiserbad Ellmau swimming pool there is an 800m² climbing wall – a great way to cool off on a hot day. The Koasa Boulder centre is dedicated to bouldering and at 400m² is the largest indoor boulder centre in the Tirolean Unterland. The Kletterkitz-Kletterhalle in Kitzbühel is up to 17 metres high, while the climbing centre in Kufstein is smaller but still offers routes for all abilities.
Climbing for families in the Wilder Kaiser Mountains
Families who are into climbing will find rock faces of outstanding quality in the Kaiserklettergarten climbing area near the Gaudeamushütte hut. This area has a total of 16 routes up to 15 metres in lengh, all rated between 3 and 7 on the Austrian scale. It takes around 45 minutes to reach the climbing area on foot.