The Undertal Valley – Wild Water walk - By Alan Garner
The Water Trails of Wild Waters reach from Schladming through the valleys of Obertal and Untertal in Rohrmoos up to an altitude of 2,600 m above sea level.
In the Untertal valley – a length of 14 kilometres- a theme trail shows all facets of our most asset - calm and sparkling at one spot and thunderous free falling just around the next corner of the Schladminger Tauern mountain range. A unique experience of nature that holds the titles of "National Geographic Hiking Trail" and "most beautiful certified hiking tour" by Austria's hiking villages.
The trail accompanies the Talbach river on its adventurous way towards the valley. The tour splits into various stages, but it is also possible to walk the entire theme trail all at once (about 6 hours walking time). Close to the water you feel the force, the vibrance, the fascination of every single droplet.
Our destination – the Riesachfalle waterfall complex (or more accurately Riesachfälle; literally Riesach Falls) is a waterfall situated at the head of the Untertal Valley upslope from Schladming and Rohrmoos. It consisted of two waterfalls – a lower waterfall and a bigger upper waterfall.
About this area of Styria
Whether you prefer gentler nature experiences, or you are drawn by the high peaks - as you explore the hiking paths of the Schladming-Dachstein region, you are certain to discover one destined to become your all-time personal favorite.
Schladming is a small former mining town in the northwest of the Austrian state of Styria that is now a popular tourist destination. It has become a large winter sports resort and has held various skiing competitions, including most notably the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2013.
It is now designated as a city - has a large river running through it, with the Centre is on its banks. The River Enns, and this is joined by the River Talbach close to the city Centre. Just before it joins the bigger river it bounces down a series of waterfalls. The city stands at 750 meters above sea level. The local population is 4500 but it has trebled that number in the height of the tourism season in winter and late July and August.
It is surrounded by super mountains with the Dachstien peak looming over the northern side of the city at 2900 metres.
The shopping area has many cafes, bars, restaurants and a variety of shops that cater to tourists. Shops include wide range of sports gear shops, ladies’ clothes shops.
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Start the walk in the centre of Schladming, walk through the lovely streets and take a left turn into Ramsauer St and head for Talbachgasse. Pass the catholic church on your left and head up the gorge of the Talbach river. Uphill here but a magnificent sight in full water as the river comes tumbling down a series of rocks and waterfalls to the Enns valley below.
Reach the Undertal village- on this walk you are following the signs for Riesachfalle Waterfall – signs are very frequent – pass the fire station, then a football pitch on the right.
You are now in meadows of lush green and wildflowers. Past the old Gfollers Mill, then reach the Hainkersbrucke bridge where you transfer to the right-hand side of the river. Along the road for a couple of hundred yards then into the forest on good tracks- soon see mountain huts – Actually Gasthous- all provide a coffee/drinks break- and see later a bus stop.
Always look up to your left and the peaks reached from the Planai cable car and in front where peaks stretch out at 2800 metres high.
The river is calm and in fact you walk by an area that helps the river to flood in heavy rains and melt water time, meadows follow - Remember to keep following the signs for the Riesachfalle Waterfall at every stage- very clear, excellent signing with approximate times to the waterfall shown.
Eventually you reach the large car park at the foot of the waterfall- refreshments here.
This is the start of exploring the Riesach waterfall area. There are paths to each separate cataract of fall, 140 metres into its valley below, with excellent viewing platforms. On reaching to the top, there is a glass suspension bridge- magnificent viewing if you have a head for heights.
You can then walk – many steps, to the lake side of Hollschlucht. A walk back to the car park via well marked forest trails for a well-earned lunch or beer.
There is a superb bus service – normally free if you have the area’s summer card and this links the waterfall area with the centre of Schladming via Rhosmoos.
I have previously reversed the walk – taken the bus to the waterfall area and then, after exploring the waterfall and lake, returned to Schladming by reversing the route. Lunch at one of the Gasthouse along the way.
Clear air, magnificent green scenery and the mountains all around - a different walk than the higher peak walks we enjoy in this area
4 hours and 15 kilometres to and from the waterfall – allow at least an hour if not more if you explore the waterfall area and another 30 minutes if you venture to the lake above. Ascent is 220 metres but over the length of the walk. The biggest single ascent is at the beginning through the tumbling Talbach river gorge.