Disclaimer: I was invited on this trip by MeetMerano & MGM, the local tourism agency.
Nope, no intention to torture you with this article and its accompanying pictures. Just a simple reminder that to escape the icy wind and cold, it can be a good idea to mentally travel back to your past summer vacation, and subsequently plan the next one! Because Vorfreude ist die schönste Freude. It’s also a reminder to clean and grease your hiking boots, because you’ll need them for your next trip to the southern edge of the Alps, where palm trees and rough peaks co-exist and every Knödel is better than the last.
You might know how much I like hiking, but I’m not one of those who hike in full, branded gear, from scrunchie to shoe laces, and I’m also not one for spending the night in a Alpine hut, sharing my bed- and bathroom with ten or more other avid mountain enthusiasts, but rather stay in a comfortable bed in a rustic cabin with a gorgeous view and delicious breakfast menus. And this is exactly what you get at Mountain Lodge Prennanger, a Gasthaus nestled against the western slope of the Hirzer mountain, just next to the cable car station, with grand balconies to watch the sun set. This luxurious cabin gave us a good rest for our hikes up and down the mountains in not ideal weather (I will bring a proper rain jacket next time), but we still got loads of stunning views.
Unfortunately, the weather was never good enough to allow us to tackle the peak of the Hirzer, since the upper gorge and summit were covered in what was probably quite dangerous damp snow and/or ice. However, we did get to the fabulous Gompm Alm, where we feasted on a multiple-course menu of luxurious Knödel, risotto, mushroom soup, and a festive banquet of sweet treats, crowned by an eggy-yellow Kaiserschmarrn. And later rolled back down the mountain. This Alm in the midst of a forest on 1.800m, is a must-see, and not only for the food. The whole ensemble is so picture-perfect with its many small huts, the family’s dog is a sweetheart, they sell local products, and the way down is pictoresque and super easy to do, even with an overfilled stomach.
We ate Knödel with the best view at the Assenhütte, from where a stunning panorama is rewarding you for the not entirely pretty climb up there. It was also the place where we encountered a very loud and proud ramgoat, calling for his herd and following us along the narrow paths.
The best landscapes happened to be along the high route from the Hirzer Alm to the Mahdalm, a short but impressive hike past vast gorges and perfectly placed wooden benches.
It’s not a huge hiking area, and some paths are crowded with the kind of folks that wear all the gear to travel up the mountain in the cable car and take a stroll. However during our final dinner at the Apfelhotel, a stylish place featuring everything apple owned by the younger generation of an orchard dynasty, we heard about hikes off the beaten paths only to be accessed with a guide, which seems like a good opportunity to get more views in. We also wouldn’t repeat the walk through the Passerschluchtweg, despite the gorgeous gorges and waterfalls, which have been equipped with steal and wooden walk ways and thus attract loads and loads of people. Off the beaten path will definitely be the goal for our next trip here.
We went in the mid of September, and were thus just a bit too early for the region’s food feasting speciality, törggelen, which we gorged on the last time we came to Meran (read all about it here). And to be frank, I would probably time my next Süd Tirol travel according to the törggelen-calendar, it’s something to witness at least twice in your life.
One last tip, some insanely cute alpacas are living by the Hirzerhütte, don’t miss them!