I love taking our dogs bushwalking and hiking, but I always found it challenging (in Australia) to find places to take them! As I discover dog-friendly hikes, forests and trails, I’ll blog about them to help others find interesting, beautiful and exciting places to explore with their dogs too!
Where: 3-Seen-Wanderung, near Gössenberg, Styria, Austria. Click here for google-maps
Difficulty/fitness required: Bodensee has an easy round-loop, but if you want to do the 3-lake walk, be prepared to go UP. By Austrian standards this probably isn’t a hard walk. By Australian standards it was a bit challenging, I took a lot of breaks. It’s about 8.1 km return.
Hilliness: See the waterfall in the picture above? You’re going to the top of that, and then up some more. If you want to get to the 3rd lake, you’re going to go another 45 minutes up after that. You gain/lose 591m.
Accessibility: Fine for all cars, 2WD or otherwise, at least when we were there. Snow could be a problem I guess. But then, everywhere in Europe seems fine for all 2WD cars.
Leech-factor: Ha. Europe doesn’t have leeches. Maybe I should change this to Tick-factor. In which case I would say: Probably low because it was cold, but it would depend on the time of year.
Wildlife: I kept hearing something scurrying around in the bushes. Maybe rabbits I guess. The man who worked in the hut said the top valley had a lot of snakes when it wasn’t covered by snow soooo that’s great. But they won’t kill you. Only hurt.
Map: Honestly, you don’t need one. It’s pretty much the only track and well sign-posted, but here’s a website with a map and elevation chart if you’re interested
On/Off Lead? Well… technically on but honestly I don’t think anyone would care as long as your dog wasn’t annoying to people.
The Walk Itself
I found this walk by accident, actually. I was driving through the valley toward some other hiking town when I saw a sign for “Bodensee”. I followed the signs and came to an entry gate where a lady told me it would cost me 3€ to go to the lake. I paused. I hadn’t really paid for much in terms of tourist attractions or walking places. Is it nice? I asked her, in my German. She smiled. ‘Ja, es ist sehr schön’. Ok, well, that sounded good, and anyway, Loki really likes lakes (so much that I’ve created his own instagram so he can rate the lakes he visits). Is there walking up there too? I asked. Yes, she said, and proceeded to tell me a lot of things in Austrian German. She paused, smiling uncertainly. ‘There might be snow’. She said this as if it was something I wouldn’t enjoy, as if it might put me off. ‘Great! I’m from Australia. I love snow.’ She grinned broadly and said that as long as I had good shoes I would be fine. Off we drove.
The road wound up and up, a beautiful mountain panorama to our right, which I couldn’t take photos of because there was nowhere to stop. I thought that the 3€ was worth it just for these views. Then we curled around a corner and a new mountain landscape opened up before us and I nearly ran off the road to stop and admire it. I didn’t know it yet but those were the mountains we’d be heading into for most of the morning.
Lake 1: Bodensee (Steirischer Bodensee)
We arrived at a parking place with a small café/restaurant and toilets, and a largely useless map with a sign pointing to the lake, a 10 minute walk from the parking place. There was only one other car when we arrived (at 8.30am). By the time we got back from the walk early that afternoon, it was nearly full.
This was, to me, one of those walks that just got better and better, the further we went. First, we were overjoyed simply by the mountains, the snow, the waterfalls! It couldn’t get much better than this, I thought.
The first lake, Bodensee, had a restaurant perched on the side and a fish-farm where they caught the fish for the restaurant. You could also buy food to throw in the fish-ponds and so when we walked past, they all swam over and followed us around, hoping for some food. Loki found a small track around part of the lake and he wanted to swim, but I thought if this was some special fish lake, we might get in trouble. We headed for the waterfall and found a sign for Hüttensee, a 50 minute walk at 1,500 meters. Given I had no idea how high we were already, a 50 minute walk seemed doable. We set off.
Up we went. Up and up.
Lake 2: Hüttensee
There were little streams and places for Loki to drink on the way up and the track was easy to find as it wound its way up. Finally, the scene opened up to what I consider one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been: Hüttensee. There is, as the name suggests, a little hut/restaurant here where you can get a beer or a coffee or some soup. I was blown away by the view at the hut, but going down to the lake itself was even more perfect as it was perfectly in this little valley with two waterfalls and the snow-capped mountains just beyond. Loki desperately wanted to swim here but after two throws of the stick I felt the wetness of his fur and he was already freezing – the lake was fed from the snow above, after all.
Lake 3: Obersee
Having walked all the way up to the hut, I decided to have a cup of tea. Unfortunately to get to Hüttensee, we’d had to hike through a bit of mud so Loki wasn’t allowed inside. If he wasn’t so wet and muddy (also from swimming in the lake. Ahem) he probably would have been allowed to come inside and relax. The man working in the hut was lovely and sat down to have a chat with me about my trip and Australia. Between my limited German and his limited English we managed to get through alright. I told him that Loki loves swimming and he recommended going up to the 3rd lake. I couldn’t understand how there was another lake anywhere without me having to climb another huge hill, and honestly didn’t feel like my legs had it in them to go up again. ‘Is it as nice as this one?’ I asked. His eyes shone. ‘Nicer.’
Well. That decided it. I grabbed my bag and off we went again, heading to the top of the waterfall you can see in the picture above. Soon enough we were above the snow-line, which as an Australian, is pretty exciting. Loki ate some snow and looked for animals living in the shrubs either side of the track. Up we went again, thanking the lady at the entrance gate for recommending good shoes once we got onto the snowy part of the track, as this made things a bit more slippery.
And once again, a scene opened up before me that should have been from a book or a movie. I actually felt that Hüttensee was more beautiful as the white mountains were in the background, the trees and bushes were a bright green, the waterfalls were cascading white against their green… here, because of the snow, it lost some of the colour, but was still amazing to be at the foot of these mountains.
Loki was upset with me that I wouldn’t let him swim here, so he went and annoyed the group of Czech hikers who were making their lunch. We took some photos here and prepared to leave, just as some groups of other hikers arrived. Loki had been off-lead the entire hike up the mountain, but had to stay on-lead much of the walk down as it was now getting too busy with groups and couples coming up. Loki thought it was especially fun to find a stick and put it in the way of every hiker he came across. They certainly appreciated that as they struggled to come up the mountain (not), but it made me laugh every time.
I stopped in at the restaurant on the banks of the Bodensee because I’d come up ill-prepared without water or lunch (I hadn’t planned on doing a long hike!!) and had some very very cheesy “Käsespätzle” – basically weird little pastas smothered in cheese. Mmmmhm, so cheesy. Of course Loki was allowed inside, and was very happy to curl up under the table and sleep.
In all, this was one of the most amazing, beautiful hikes I’ve ever done. When I saw the sign to the Hüttensee and realised I’d have to get to the top of the waterfall, I didn’t believe I’d be able to do it. So finishing the hike at the restaurant, I was filled with an amazing sense of accomplishment. My legs hurt, but I’d been to such an amazingly special place. It was definitely worth the 3€!!
10/10 – if you have the chance to do this hike, get there early – we arrived at 8.30, but possibly they open earlier – and do it. Take your time going up if you need to, have a break at the Hut, and get up to Obersee. This is an insanely beautiful place.