Out in the fresh air

With outdoor guide Armin Malojer

Do you think you know Dornbirn already? Really? Do you agree with the crowned prince of German writers Goethe, that one has only really been to a place once one has hiked there by foot, or perhaps it is better to say ‘walked’. The word ‘hiked’ conjures up images of special equipment and measurable success, calculated in metres of elevation and mountain summits - at least that is what our guide Armin Malojer might say. We simply want to get out in the fresh air and encourage you to do the same.

Every journey begins with the first step. With this in mind, we climb aboard city bus no. 7 at the railway Station and head towards Gütle, an idyllic district of Dornbirn at the end of a slowly winding road, flanked by woods and the river Dornbirner Ach, only a good five kilometres from Dornbirn city centre. Through a picturesque small park complete with impressive sequoia, 41 metre tall and with an equally considerable girth, passing former workers’ cottages with vegetable gardens and water pipes entirely covered by moss, indications of the industrial past of the Gütle region, and across the first bridge over one of the water pipes to the entrance to the gorge. If one is already in need of refreshment or sustenance, one can do so here at the romantic kiosk located directly by the waterfall. After a good half hour we arrive at the Staufensee lake, however one could easily take a little more time to stop and be amazed at the spectacular waterfalls and dramatic cliffs sprouting trees and shrubs that cling almost impossibly to the barren rocks. It is then a leisurely stroll along the banks of the lake to the Alplochschlucht gorge, a wildly romantic ravine resulting from a glacial polish. Seemingly adventurous, however well-secured walkways lead through the ravine, passing extraordinary rock formations as we go. After approximately 30 minutes the path takes us through deciduous forest to Ebnitstraße. From here it is possible to jump on the hourly number 47 regional bus back to where we started from at Dornbirn railway Station.

 

However, we continue to the ‘Karrenseilbahn’ cable car station. With little wear of shoe leather and in no particular hurry, we ascend to the top of Dornbirn’s very own backyard mountain, the Karren, at a height of 976 metres. This is the starting point for walks and tours of the surrounding natural playground, including Rappenloch, Alploch, Ebnit, First and Staufen, as well as hikes across the municipal boundary towards Schuttannen and Hohe Kugel. Depending on fitness and gusto, there are plenty of paths, both easy and more challenging, up on the Karren to run, jog, walk or saunter along. Our outdoor guide swallows his pride and leads us along a well-managed and broad forest path, muttering under his breath, rather impertinently I thought, something about “pensioner’s walk”. We pretended not to hear. The more energetic can, of course, torture themselves with the steep ascent, however those preferring a gentler approach can take the cable car up to enjoy the astonishing, spectacular views over the Rhine valley and Lake Constance from the new glass viewing platform. We call it a day with the walking thing for today and opt for a nice slice of cake in the Karren-Restaurant. Twilight softly falls as we gently descend back down into the valley in the cable car. For us it is all about being outside, not setting records, not today anyway!

 

Armin Malojer
The outdoor and nature guide lives with his three cats in Dornbirn. After spending many years as a journalist and writer, he is now finally living his dream spending the majority of his time out exploring Mother Nature. When he is not out in the fresh air the 51-year-old can be found at Café Steinhauser solving crossword puzzles, just as a contrast but also a for little urban sophistication.

Bergdorf and Walser Settlement

  • Blick auf Schöner Mann © Helmut Düringer

    Bergdorf and Walser Settlement Ebnit

    We are getting close to the charming mountain village of Ebnit, coming in the back way, so to speak, over Hohenems Schuttannen, via Springhaldenweg from Schiheim Schuttannen and up onto the Fluhereck mountain, where we stop for refreshment upon alighting at ‘Pfarrers Älpele’, where we are wonderfully received by the publicans Harry and Kerstin. We then take Schönblickweg, not the steep section, rather the small path over the brook and through the forest to the church. While waiting for the bus, refreshments can be obtained from the ‘Marendstüble’ or the ‘Alpenrose’. There are many adventurous activities in Ebnit - in addition to the extensive hiking trails of course – this includes adventure tours in Bruderbach, a slackline course, a 3D archery course and the ‘Schluchten-Fox’ high wire and zipwire course. There is also a riding school with well-trained, well-natured Icelandic horses, which may be of particular interest to families with children. In the winter months there is also a small, child-friendly ski piste, complete with ski lift, and the ‘Heumöser Stüble’ provides delicious sustenance.

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  • Up on the Bödele

    The number 38 regional bus leaves every half hour and takes the rather curvaceous Landstraße past the exclusive residential area of Watzenegg and up onto the Bödele mountain. As we travel around the mighty curves, views of the Rhine valley and Lake Constance open up before us. The ‘Berghof Fetz’, with its inviting coffee terrace with views over Lake Constance, is located directly at the bus stop. From here we embark on a gentle stroll to the ‘Meierei’, a walk which would also be friendly for prams and even in Hölzlern (Bregenzerwälder clogs, worn all year round). After a brief pause in the ‘Dornbirner Hütte’ and a generous portion of spicy Kässpätzle, we continue up to the Hochälpele, pausing once again to say hello to Petra and Werner at the ‘Hochälpelehütte’ and a schnapps to wash down the food. Shame we were no longer hungry! The spinach dumpling soup, Kässpätzle and home-made cakes are legendary here. Instead we enjoy the breathtaking views in all directions. We proceed over the mountain to the Lustenauer Hütte and then along Spechtweg to Losenpass and back to where we started from. A very simple walk with hardly any change in elevation leads from Losenpass through the Fohramoos, a nature preservation area with natural moorland, rare plant species and, in winter, an exceptional cross-country ski track.

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