If you love outdoors and have young children like us, you are probably always on a lookout for an easy hike with kids. I know firsthand it can be challenging to find great hiking trails that please the entire family. Our recent trip to Achen Lake (German Achensee) proved to be a great easy hike with kids in Tyrol, Austria.
Achensee is the largest lake in Tyrol, with a maximal depth of 133 meters, a length of 9 km and a width of 1.3 km, according to Achensee.com, a tourist portal for the region. The area offers nearly 500km of marked hiking trails with different difficulty levels.
When our family chooses a hike to go on with our young daughter, it needs to meet a few basic requirements. I am looking for hiking trails that are easy, not too long, but offer opportunities for kids to play and explore the beauty of nature. The chosen route also needs to have variety: water, rocks, plants, animals, and, preferably, some shade. There is also most likely a restaurant with a playground at the end that sells ice cream to award our daughter for a good behavior during the hike. If you are on vacation in Tyrol and looking for activities to do for the entire family, this easy hike will be perfect with kids. It is also suitable for anyone who enjoys hiking but doesn’t feel like spending 5 hours going up a steep heel.
I found the Achensee hike in a book “Familienberge – das etwas andere Wanderbuch: Bayerische Alpen, Vorarlberg, Tirol, Salzburger Land, Südtirol” by Mirjam Hempel. The hike starts at the southwest end of Achensee, where families can park at Achensee Alpen Caravan Camping parking. The camping has a small beach with a playground which can be enjoyed after the hiking adventure is complete.
The hike takes you along the shore of the Achensee to Gaisalm restaurant, which can be only reached by a Ferry Boat of by foot. The hike is about 3.5 km long with an altitude difference of 100 meters. Along the route you are almost always hiking along a 50 to 100 meter drop that rewards users with stunning scenery of the lake. There are a few mountain streams and little waterfalls along the route, and an option to go down to the lake a few times. Kids can be entertained by stopping and throwing rocks in the water. Most of the trail has some shade from the trees, which we found extremely beneficial on a hot day. We did the hike twice. First time when our daughter was 4 years old, and it took us 2 hours, but we made frequent stops. A year later, when she was 5, it took about an hour and a half of easy walking.
The Gaisalm restaurant at the end of the hike serves local Austrian cuisine and has a small playground. Right by the restaurant is a ferry dock that will take families back to the parking in about 10 minutes. The boat ride is an adventure on its own for the kids. The boat comes once an hour, and when we visited, the last trip was at 5:35 pm. There is also an option to take a dip in the lake, but the water is cold most of the time, with temperatures even in summer rarely approaching 20C.
Both time the trip took us most of the day as we spent time relaxing in the restaurant and dipping in the lake after the hike. We were definitely tired but found the entire experience extremely rewarding as there is nothing better than celebrating a child’s accomplishment or seeing something from a fresh perspective.