The Via Alpina – Stage 3 – Yellow Trail

Bozen Bolzano on Via Alpina

Discover the Dolomites and Ötzi the Iceman in Bolzano (Bozen)

Last week we walked through Slovenia, Austria and Germany by way of The Via Alpina. Today we’ll include a large portion of Italian Alps and explore The Yellow Trail, which connects with the previously discussed Purple and Red Trails.

The Yellow Trail begins in Trieste, Italy, passes through Austria and ends in Germany’s Bavarian region. It consists of 40 stages ranging from 8 to 48 km in length. (You can consult the Yellow Trail’s interactive map for exact details on each stage).

According to the Via Alpina website, the Yellow Trail is a “journey full of contrasts” consisting of both coastal and inland landscapes, geologic wonders and lush green meadows, cultural hubs and pristine environs. Its elevations range from sea level or 0 metres at Trieste to 3,019 m at the Niederjoch pass, the highest of all the Via Alpina cols. It is said that researchers found Ötzi the Iceman (a preserved mummy circa 3300 BC) in the vicinity of Niederjoch.

The Dolomites, a mountain range in the northern Italian portion of the Alps, are a true highlight of the Yellow Trail. They were named a UNESCO World Heritage site and are known as one the most beautiful mountainous landscapes in the entire world. The Dolomites are a geological work of art. “Their intrinsic beauty derives from a variety of spectacular vertical forms such as pinnacles, spires and towers, with contrasting horizontal surfaces including ledges, crags and plateaux, all of which rise abruptly above extensive talus deposits and more gentle foothills. A great diversity of colours is provided by the contrasts between the bare pale-coloured rock surfaces and the forests and meadows below”, describes UNESCO. Bolzano, known as the capital city of the Alps, offers a rich hub of multi-cultures and is your ideal entryway to the Dolomites.

In Austria, the Yellow Trail passes through the Ötztal, the largest glacier massif in the Alps and Lechtal, a massif left relatively pristine with diverse forms throughout. The international trail finishes at Oberstdorf, Germany a picturesque village that offers attractions and activities for everyone’s tastes. The second last stage of the Yellow Trail has hikers crossing the Austrian-German border and following the Hohenbach stream, past the vibrant Simms waterfall.

As with the other Via Alpina international trails, the Yellow Trail offers intermediary accommodations and huts along the stages and often there are small towns and villages where you can stop to rest, relax and enjoy. Whether you decide to hike a few stages or the entire Yellow Trail, see what contrasts you perceive on your own personal journey.