For epic high alpine hikes in phenomenal landscapes, choose this pocket of the Austrian Alps.
Zell am See is a paradise for serious hikers. It has a huge diversity of landscapes and a plethora of high, long, and varied trails to follow. If you have a few days in the area, you should definitely try to make it to all three major hiking hotspots: the Schmittenhöhe, Maiskogel, and the Kitzsteinhorn glacier. The best place to begin your hiking odyssey is the Schmittenhöhe, "the hiker’s mountain," which is directly accessible via lift from Zell am See.
On the Schmittenhöhe in high summer, you will find a hazy mix of chiming cowbells and kids laughter, busy restaurants, and groups getting ready to set off on their stroll/hike/epic journey. The higher you climb, the better things get, which is generally the rule. As the crowds tend to stick to the flatter sections close to the lifts, in just a couple of tougher ascending kilometres, you will probably find yourself all alone with the mountains and the sound of whistling marmots. An excellent hike to both challenge you and transport you into the high alpine world is the Pinzgauer Spaziergang Hike. Find it in this guidebook, along with a selection of other harder hiking gems.