The Ötztal is one of the many regions in Austria where many winter sports enthusiasts come together every winter to ski and snowboard off the mountain peaks. The valley consists of a series of popular winter sports areas, one of which is located in the town of Sölden. A village in the south of the Tirol region that is located near the Italian border in the Alps. Winter sports enthusiasts from all over Western Europe come to this town to enjoy their outdoor winter holiday.
But skiing and snowboarding are not the only outdoor activities you can enjoy here in winter. Winter hiking is less popular but perhaps just as strenuous and certainly more relaxing. An activity for which this area is ideal. Walking through the snow, with or without special snowshoes, introduces you to the silence of nature in winter.
Various winter hikes have been mapped out from Sölden. These hikes will take you often a half or a full day. One of these routes takes you to the rustic mountain hut Stallwies Alm. You start this hike from the leisure center (Freizeit Arena) in the middle of the village of Sölden. From this starting point you follow a tarmac road uphill out of the village. Soon you have the choice to leave the main road and continue the walk on the (especially in winter) challenging hike / mountain bike trails. These trails are steep and covered with coarse rocks, but they also shorten the distance of the route. For those who do not fear some challenge, these trails are certainly a good option. In winter, however, the rocks can be covered with a layer of snow and / or ice, which means that you will have to pay more attention with every step. To prevent slips, you can better use microspikes when choosing these paths. Do you want to be sure that you will get to the top in one piece? Then you can also just walk the route via the central road (Granbichlstasse), although you will certainly walk a few extra kilometers.
Of course you need to choose for the trail through the woods for the best outdoor experience. You walk through a forest that is densely covered with conifers, where you slowly but surely see the valley disappear through the trees. In winter it is very quiet here, with a bit of luck you will only hear your own footsteps and breathing. With each step you take you will climb up and see the coniferous forest becoming more thin. The mountain tops and ski slopes are visible on the other side of the valley. If it has snowed heavily, the trail is difficult to distinguish, in which case it is not an unnecessary luxury to bring snowshoes. Because you can sink very deep into the snow here and that makes the hike a lot harder.
Near the Stallwies Alm, the forest opens up to an alpine pasture with some old mountain huts made of dark pine wood. On a clear day you can enjoy the sun on the terrace at the end of the afternoon, even in winter. If you go out in the morning, you will carefully see the sun rays coloring the valley from behind the mountain tops. After a well-deserved break, you can choose to continue your way up or walk back into the valley. If you follow the path further up, keep in mind that you will return to the village in time. Or walk in one line to a next destination and make sure a warm shelter awaits you there.
From the village you can walk for about one and a half to two hours to the Stallwies Alm. The descent takes as long as the climb, especially if it has snowed. If you choose to descend the snowy hike / mountain bike trails, this can be a risky undertaking. The snow on the rocks makes it difficult to find the ideal path and every step you take will be on a slippery surface. Once back in the village you can prepare for a new adventure in the snow. Because in addition to this tour, there are some other shorter or longer trails to discover in the area.