Fresh air is essential for baby and what can accomplish that better than hiking with baby in an Alpine Stone Pine forest trail (in German Zirbenweg)! Innsbruck’s home mountain Patscherkofel has a perfectly easy trail Zirbenweg (German for Stone Pine Trail) for hiking with baby that offers dramatic views of the Inn valley, Innsbruck, and the surrounding mountains. The trail is lined by Europe’s largest and oldest stone pine forest with some of the trees approaching the age of several hundred years. In early summer, Alpine roses bloom along the Zirbenweg rewarding hikers with the heavenly aroma of pine and roses.
The summit of Patscherkofel rises to an elevation of 2,246 meters (7,369 feet) above sea level. Patscherkofel is unique as it can be seen from anywhere in Innsbruck and is easily accessible by car or public transportation in 15 minutes from the city center. During both the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics, the mountain was the venue for the men’s downhill race as well as the bobsleigh and luge competitions.
With twins in baby carriers and a backpack full with all the baby essentials, our hiking day started in the city center. We jumped on the bus “J” and in 15 minutes we were in Igls, at the valley station of the Patscherkofel cable car. To go up the mountain, there is an option to purchase a “Zirbenweg” ticket, which includes a ride up Patscherkofel, a ride down Glungezer cable car at the end of the 7 kilometer trail Zirbenweg trail and a return with the bus to Igls. We decided to stay in the area as we didn’t know how long the twins will last, and if we can complete the whole trail and come back with the bus.
We took the colorful and well-used looking gondola up to the Bergstation (German for mountain station) at the elevation of 1,952 meters. The gondola was probably built back in the day when Innsbruck hosted the Olympics and is men-operated (meaning that an attendant has to close the door and start it). That gives a certain charm to your journey as you can practice you German and chat with the attendant on the way up.
From the Bergstation, we decided to walk up to the summit of Patscherkofel (2,246 meters). The route is a wide dirt road which is used in the winter for ski tours. The walk takes about an hour and a half. At the very top there is a small café (Gipfelstube) where drinks small snacks are served with a breathtaking view. Guests can also try Zirbenschnapps (special liquor made of pine cones gathered on the mountain).
After a feeding break, the twins were packed back into their baby carriers and we started our walk down towards Almgasthof Boscheben (about 45 minutes). The trail was well marked but looked more authentic than our walk up – with stones and tree roots along the path. Therefore, good hiking shoes are essential and hiking sticks might be helpful (we didn’t use any).
We took another break at Almgasthof Boscheben, which had more of the same goodies: cakes, snacks, soups, drinks, and Zirbenschnapps. After we recharged with food, a walk along the Zirbenweg trail back to the cable car Bergstation was easy and enjoyable. The trail is mostly flat – there is an elevation change of only 200 meters along the entire 7 kilometers of the trail. However, the trail sits relatively high at roughly 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) allowing for the most stunning views of the surroundings and for cooler temperatures in the summer.
Our hike turned out to be about 5 km and lasted approximately 6 hours with the breaks and the bus rides from the center of Innsbruck. What a great day hiking with our twins!