Hallstatt is seeing fewer tourists these days, but it is still usually approached in very touristy ways: There directly, in and gone.
I am still taking other ways to Hallstatt.
After the high alpine slope of the Dachstein, this time from Gosau up the Hoher Plassen and down past the salt mines’ area above Hallstatt.
It’s nice enough to go to Hallstatt taking the train to the railway stop, then the boat across the lake into town.
There’s something to be said for taking even slower approaches, from farther away, walking.
Overland to Hallstatt
This path across the Hoher Plassen is a particularly interesting one.
It is often said that Hallstatt was never reachable any other way than by water, but of course there have also been mountain trails.
Sure, it was easier to carry salt for trade by boat, but it is possible to reach Hallstatt over land – and the path past the Hoher Plassen makes for a direct route, away from the village, past the salt mine, and out to the Gosau valley.
The Short Tour up the Plassen from Hallstatt
It is a relatively popular little mountain tour to go from Hallstatt up to the Plassen:
Travel to Hallstatt directly, go up and visit the salt mine area, then walk on to summit the Hoher Plassen.
Going this way, the hike is exhausting enough, but an eminently doable (half-)day tour.
My tour was a bit longer, for an approach to Hallstatt via the mountains.
For that tour, it’s the train to Steeg-Gosau, then the local bus to the Gosau town hall bus stop.
From there, it’s only a short walk along the road through the valley, then off across meadows (with a great look back to the two churches close by each other), and into the mountains.
The path is mainly running on forest roads at the beginning, until it veers off left onto a trail.
After a few kilometers, cresting a mountain and getting a view onwards to the Plassen – or so I think – after the Rossalm, the route I had created in an app was wrong.
It followed a little creek when it was, in fact, necessary to follow some gravelly forest roads, once again.
In view of a mountain (meadow?) hut, the path veered off that road, signposted but hardly recognizable, up a wet grass slope.
It continues like that, oftentimes hardly recognizable, further up with wooden planks giving a drier footing and a sure sign of the path.
Cresting this slope comes a close-up view of the Plassen, a turn left, and then an intersection where one trail would continue straight, downwards, the path right goes to the Plassen itself.
The change here is tremendous.
There is more climbing still to come, but the path immediately becomes a high alpine trail. Suddenly, there are no more tall trees, the grassy vegetation rests on rather less watery soil, the typical sharp stones of this part of the Alps abound.
The situation feels much more like balancing over boulders, jumping from stone to stone, climbing up a mountain, and being more exposed to any potential weather changes.
Soon, there is the peak.
The view around is pretty amazing, down towards the Hallstatt lake, over to the Sarstein, to the massif of the Dachstein with its glacier, and along the Gosau mountains.
The trail down towards Hallstatt takes a different turn from the one before almost immediately – and it’s not to be underestimated.
Most of the time, the trail is a nice, typical alpine path, but there is quite a bit of sharp rocks underfoot, and at least one passage gets somewhat steep, secured with steel ropes.
After these upper parts, the trail is a very nice mountain forest path that soon enough turns onto and crosses gravel roads just up from the salt mine (museum) area above Hallstatt.
Across this area with its entrances to salt mines and, if one decides to take this minuscule detour, with the World Heritage View platform to look down onto Hallstatt…
…and then it’s down the meandering walking path to the village, down the stone stairs in Hallstatt, and through the pretty village.
Truly not a path one would have wanted to carry rocks of salt – but indeed, historically there were people (and often, women!) who did just that.
There’s a lot more to learn about and discover – and connect with personal experiences walking the mountains around Hallstatt.
There certainly isn’t just the viewing point for must-take selfies!