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Austria’s Rappenloch Canyon

by Renate Habermaas

wooden walk

The Rappenlochschlucht is a small canyon in the region of Vorarlberg (Austria) that offers a wide range of hiking trails with a range of activities, and is a great introduction for those trying out hiking for the first time.

One of the many falls along the way

One of the many falls along the way

Within the proximity of the Lake of Constance is the Austrian town of Dornbirn, from where you can access this easy hiking trail. The starting point is a restaurant where parking is available for the whole day for a small fee. From here, you can follow the signs to the Rappenlochschlucht canyon.

A narrow path along one side of this canyon showcases its multitude of cascades both small and large. The canyon is sliced by the river Dornbirner Ach, creating high steep walls on both sides of this narrow gorge.

Boardwalk along the canyon

Boardwalk along the canyon

On one side of the canyon is a shady boardwalk through the Rappenloch canyon, which takes you through a verdant forest – it’s a nice silent walk during the late afternoons. Even on hot days this is a nice walk, starting with a slight incline at the beginning and leading to steeper sections aided by stairs towards the end.

The impressive scenery is persistent along the straight parts of the Rappenloch canyon, whose name is supposedly derived from Waldrapp, a bird from this region of the Alps that has been extinct since the Middle Ages.

Right before the end of the canyon, the wooden path takes you higher along the canyon walls – those suffering from vertigo should be aware – as you trace the deepest point of the canyon.

Walkway high in the canyon

Walkway high in the canyon

After the 45-minute walk through the canyon, the final portion of the trail offers a fantastic view of a small turquoise lake, the Staufensee, which is surrounded by various kinds of trees. It’s possible to swim in this lake, although the water temperature is about 15º even in summer.

Halfway around the small canyon lake there is a hydroelectric power station and a kiosk where you can get refreshments.

Emerald-coloured lake

Emerald-coloured lake

Tips
In July and August, there are free guided tours through the Rappenloch canyon every Thursday at 10.30am. You can also arrange for a tour group on a specific date for a fee, which can be arranged at the tourist information centre at Dornbirn.

Fans of Rolls Royce might want to check out the world’s largest Rolls Royce Museum located at the start of the Rappenlochschlucht trail. The museum showcases over 100 original Rolls Royce vehicles.

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