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Snowshoeing in the Ahrntal Valley: a winter wonderland in the South Tyrolean Alps


Image: © IDM Südtirol - Alex Moling


Winter in Valle Aurina/Ahrntal in South Tyrol not only offers a magical backdrop of snow-covered peaks and picturesque villages, but also a wealth of outdoor activities that allow you to experience the winter splendor in all its intensity. Among these, snowshoeing shines as a very special way to enjoy nature in winter. In this article, we take you on a journey through the world of snowshoeing in the Ahrntal Valley - from the origins of this sport to the best routes the valley has to offer.


What is snowshoeing and where does it come from?


Snowshoeing is an ancient method of hiking that allows people to walk fairly comfortably even in deep snow without sinking in up to their knees. The snowshoes distribute the weight of the hiker over a larger area and thus largely prevent them from sinking into the snow, making it much easier to move on snow.

Originally a necessary method of transportation for indigenous peoples in North America, Asia, Scandinavia and the Alps, snowshoeing has now developed into a popular leisure activity. While our ancestors used homemade snowshoes made of wood and leather to hunt and forage in winter, today we use high-tech snowshoes made of lightweight materials to get our heads free and relax in nature.


Snowshoeing developed from a necessary method of transportation for hunting into a popular leisure activity.

How does snowshoeing work?


Snowshoeing is fairly easy and requires no special skills. Here are some basic steps to get you started:


  1. Putting on snowshoes: Modern snowshoes are easy to put on and fit almost any hiking boot. The bindings are designed to provide a firm grip while still allowing you to remain flexible.

  2. Adopt the correct gait: The gait when snowshoeing is similar to walking on flat terrain. Wider strides help to minimize the dipping of the snowshoes and make it easier to move forward.

  3. Use of poles: Trekking poles offer additional stability, especially on uneven terrain. They also help you to find your rhythm and reduce the strain on your knees and joints.

  4. Breathing correctly: Snowshoeing can be strenuous, especially at higher altitudes. Make sure you breathe deeply and regularly to optimize your oxygen supply.


Why is snowshoeing so popular at the moment?


Snowshoeing has experienced a remarkable renaissance in recent years. This trend can be explained by several factors:


  1. Back to nature: At a time when many people are surrounded by technology, more and more are longing for outdoor activities that provide a direct connection to nature. Snowshoeing offers just that.

  2. Health awareness: People are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of outdoor exercise. Snowshoeing is a gentle but effective way to be physically active and enjoy the winter wonderland at the same time.

  3. Accessibility: Snowshoeing does not require any special skills or expensive equipment. It is an affordable and accessible activity for people of all ages.



Image: © TV Ahrntal - Filippo Galluzzi


What is so special about snowshoeing?


Snowshoeing offers a unique connection to the winter landscape that many other activities cannot provide. Here are some aspects that make snowshoeing special:


  1. Silence and solitude: Thanks to the increased surface area of the snowshoes, even remote areas can be easily explored. This enables an intensive experience of nature far away from the hustle and bustle.

  2. Experience the magic of winter: The soft crunching of the snow under your snowshoes, the clear winter air and the snow-covered landscape create a special atmosphere that captures the magic of winter in its purest form.

  3. For every fitness level: snowshoeing is an activity that can be easily adapted to different fitness levels. From a leisurely stroll to a challenging mountain tour, there is a suitable route for everyone and much room to progress.


Snowshoeing offers a unique connection to the winter landscape.

What about the fitness aspect?


Snowshoeing is not only an enjoyable way to explore nature, but also an excellent form of exercise. Here are some of the health benefits:


  1. Full body workout: By trudging through the snow, the uneven ground and the use of your arms (with poles), snowshoeing works a variety of muscles, including legs, glutes, core muscles and arms. This results in an effective full-body and endurance workout.

  2. Burning calories: The extra effort required to walk in the snow increases calorie consumption compared to normal walking or hiking. Steeper ascents or faster speeds can burn up to 1,000 calories per hour.

  3. Cardiovascular health: The cardiovascular system benefits from the moderate to intensive physical activity of snowshoeing. As snowshoeing is mostly done in the mountains (and therefore often at 1,000 - 2,000 meters or more above sea level), you also benefit from so-called "altitude training", which, together with the pure mountain air, has an additional positive effect on cardiovascular fitness.

  4. Low risk of injury: Compared to other winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding or cross-country skiing, snowshoeing carries a significantly lower risk of injury as it is a natural movement and requires no special skills. Of course, as with all mountain sports, special attention must be paid to the snow conditions and the terrain (keyword: avalanche risk)! Tours in open terrain should only be undertaken with experienced guides who know the area.


Snowshoeing as "gentle winter tourism": what's it all about?


The term "gentle winter tourism" refers to a sustainable and environmentally friendly form of winter vacation that preserves nature while offering visitors an authentic experience. Snowshoeing fits perfectly into this concept for several reasons:


  1. Low ecological footprint: Snowshoeing does not require any motorized means of transport and therefore does not cause any environmental pollution through fuel emissions.

  2. Protection of flora and fauna: By using snowshoes that distribute the weight, you minimize the risk of damaging sensitive ecosystems in the snow.

  3. Sustainable tourism: Snowshoeing allows visitors to experience nature up close without leaving any lasting traces. This promotes a sustainable approach to tourism.



Image: © Hansi Heckmair


Where is the best place to go snowshoeing in the Ahrntal Valley?


The Ahrntal Valley offers a wealth of snowshoe hiking trails suitable for beginners and experienced hikers alike. Here are some of the best places to experience this enchanting winter activity:


  1. Klausberg - Breite Rast: The "Breite Rast" in Steinhaus is a popular destination for snowshoe hikers. If you wish, you can take the "K-Express" cable car from the Klausberg ski area for the first 600 meters of altitude and enjoy a beautiful mountain tour even if you don't have much stamina. The Breite Rast is an idyllic spot in nature, on a small high plateau, and is very popular in summer too.

  2. Weißenbach: The area around Weißenbach is a paradise for snowshoe hikers. The tranquil and untouched nature as well as the great snow conditions throughout the winter create the perfect backdrop for a relaxing hike. There are several huts that are also open during the winter season, as well as almost countless routes - from easy hikes to challenging mountain tours.

  3. Speikboden: The Speikboden, with its magnificent views of the surrounding mountain landscape, also offers various snowshoe hiking trails. Here, too, you can take the cable car up to the "Speikboden Alm" at 2,000 meters of altitude - the perfect starting point for a summit tour!

  4. Rein in Taufers: The area around Rein in Taufers is known for its variety of snowshoe hiking trails. The idyllic mountain village, situated at around 1,600 meters of altitude, is completely surrounded by untouched nature, which can be explored on snowshoes from almost anywhere. From easy routes through the snow-covered valleys to challenging mountain trails in high alpine terrain - everyone will find the right tour here!

  5. Kasern: The last village at the head of the Ahrntal valley (and northernmost village in Italy) is also the gateway to the "Rieserferner-Ahrn" nature park and therefore also a true paradise for snowshoe hikers, far away from roads or ski slopes. Here, too, there are several huts that are open in winter, imposing mountain peaks, idyllic plateaus and, above all, lots of snow!

  6. Find your favorite spot: Listing all the routes in the Ahrntal Valley would definitely go beyond the scope of this article and would also make little sense. The best thing about this sport is that there are no fixed destinations or routes! Take a map, find a route, if possible discuss it with someone who knows the area (you can find them at your accommodation or at the tourist information office) and set off in search of your favorite spot!


All in all, the Ahrntal Valley is a true snowshoe paradise in winter. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced snowshoe hiker, here everyone can experience the winter landscape in all its glory.

Snowshoeing in the Ahrntal Valley not only offers a physical activity amidst picturesque snowy landscapes, but also a deep connection to nature and a chance to escape the hectic pace of everyday life. It is a journey to yourself and to the beauty of the winter mountain world that will stay with you for a long time. Get ready to put on your snowshoes and explore the quiet paths of the Ahrntal - a winter fairytale awaits you!

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