Length: 2 km
Altitude metres: 250 m
Ascent: per Bike
Recommended bike: Enduro, trail
Biking technique: ●●●●●
Biking fun: ●●●○○
Best time for travel: April - October
There are many reasons to head for the Salzburg Saalach Valley on the way to Salzburger Land: the Saalachtal Natural Wonders, the alpine pastures, ... But for us it is mainly a very special trail high above Unken - the Wetterkreuz Trail.
About karst and Steinerne Meer
The Wetterkreuz Trail owes its name to its distinctive starting point – the Wetterkreuz, 1,000 altitude metres above Unken. The tour, however, starts with the ascent: From the village, it continues constantly uphill on pleasant forest paths - our mission is the sunrise. In the semi-darkness we leisurely pedal uphill and smile at the hares crossing the path. The entire upper part of the trail from the Wetterkreuz to Unken fortunately belongs to a farmer who, a few years ago, esponded positively to the request for creating a mountain bike trail here. The trigger was a photo shoot by a mountain bike magazine, which was also very enthusiastic about the sunrise at the Wetterkreuz, as well as the Salzburger Land Tourismus, which insisted on the legalisation of the trail in order to use the pictures. And now we have this little gem high above the valley.
We reach the Wetterkreuz at dawn. Our guide Chris is happy to show us one or the other ski touring route down into the valley – hard to believe when looking at the gradient. The 1,000 metres downhill on the side facing the Saalach are managed across a short distance. Shortly after five, it is finally time: having kept warm for a few more minutes, the redness of the rising sun flushes our faces. The red ball appears above the Berchtesgarden National Park, moving to the Steinerne Meer by autumn. After a few minutes we leave the warmth of the sun and its refraction on the mountain silhouettes behind and concentrate on the Wetterkreuz Trail.
The starting point is already a tough one – having to ride across karst rock, the more or less steep descent leads through numerous curves and bends. Full concentration is required here – to be honest, this is quite difficult because the Loferer Alm and Steinberge in the background are illuminated by the morning sun. An almost surreal sight. We try to let our eyes wander between trail, panorama and karst in different distances, without risking too many biking errors. Luckily, we can keep the balance quite well. The trail varies scenically between sparse forests and passages along meadows - this variety fascinates us and above all it puts a smile on our face. The trail ends at the hut of a farmer, who agreed to its use by bikers a few years ago.
The Wetterkreuz Trail will not be our last adventure today. But first we bike to the Hochalm in the Heutal valley to recharge our batteries. After a substantial breakfast with panoramic views, we want to explore the Wildenbach Gorge.
The route leads through the gorge on a narrow trail above the Wildenbach stream. To fully enjoy this trail and above all the gorge, you should have a head for heights . The trail is relatively easy to ride on and should be perfect especially for mountain bike beginners - this mixture of narrow trail and fascinating nature, with intermediate difficulty, is quite rare. The Wildenbach Gorge was formed more than 11,000 years ago by the melting of the glaciers, and the Wildenbach stream forced its way deeper and deeper through the calcareous rock into the ground. Today, meter-high rock faces rise up, which – fascinatingly -are still covered in plenty of greenery.
From here it is only a few metres to the Saalachtal Natural Wonders - but we have experienced enough today and prefer to end the day in comfort with a cold beer at the Saalach.