The Kaisertal nature reserve

Protected since 1963

The Kaisertal, which until 2008 could only be reached by foot over 300 steps, has been a nature reserve since 1963. A car tunnel built in 2008, known locally as the “Koaserer,” can only be used by residents of the valley. This means that the unique natural landscape continues to be protected.

Since 2019, interesting, interactive panels provide information about the Kaisertal. What life used to be like in the Kaisertal, special geological features and regional delicacies that originate there – you can learn this and much more on a journey through the Kaisertal.

Just imagine...

...how difficult life in the Kaisertal used to be for the people who lived there. You couldn’t just pop to the shops quickly, and children needed to walk many kilometres to school every day and in all weather. And if anyone needed medical assistance it often took a long time for a doctor to arrive. Helping each other was a necessary and natural part of life – and even today, people in the Kaisertal are connected to each other in a special way.

Wild Kaisertal

Many wild animals make their home in the protected Kaisertal. Chamois, roe deer, badgers and foxes are safe here. And although you may not see them often, there are many signs that they are nearby. Food remains, feeding traces, tracks and droppings let you guess which animals were here. And if you’re quiet you can sometimes hear their calls – for example the “barking” of a roe deer. The themed walk “Tracking in the Kaiser Mountains” lets you learn more.

Regional delicacies

Homemade bread, bacon, milk, cheese, juice and schnapps are all made at the Hinterkaiserhof – and with a 600 year history it is the only farm operated on a full-time basis. Good soil and gentle hillsides around the Hinterkaiserhof make farming possible. Approximately 20 cows, which graze around the house, are milked twice daily. In summer you can admire colourful flowers in the garden.

The forest and its uses

The forests in Kaisertal are primarily made up of spruce, pine and beech trees. They protect against rock falls and avalanches, as well as keeping the water and air clean. In the past, forestry was a real adventure in these forests. The building of “Holztriften” or wood drifts, which dammed the water in the Kaiserbach and flooded the valley so that wood could be transported down the valley with a water surge, was very dangerous. Find out what else the forest has to offer on the guided walk “Forest power place.”

Habitat in the clearing

The comparatively high level of light in a clearing means that the plants that grow here are very different to those in the forest. In addition to the diversity of plants and the typical small Alpine animals, such as the Alpine salamander, there is another special resident: The emerald-green earthworm.

Cows on the alm

Cows are still driven from the valley onto higher altitude meadows every summer. From May to September, around 100 cows graze around the Ritzau Alm. This extensive use means that there are no trees on the alm and that rare herbs can grow there. Learn more about how people and animals live here in the guided walk “Living together on the alm.”

Variety in the Alpine plant garden

The “Verein zum Schutz der Bergwelt” (Association for Protection of the Mountains) has planted an Alpine plant garden at the Vorderkaiserfeldenhütte that is home to more than 300 different Alpine plants. Life in the mountains isn’t always easy for a plant. UV radiation is intensive, the growing season is short and there are extreme temperature fluctuations. But Alpine plants have adapted amazingly well. There’s a lot to learn about local herbs. A themed walk “Herbal treasures of the Kaiser” gives more information.

Geological masterpiece

The Zahmer and Wilder Kaiser are part of the Northern Limestone Alps and were created by the collision of the African and European plates. The folding and stacking of hundreds of kilometres of rock created the approximately 6000 m thick sediment stack of the Northern Limestone Alps. The themed walk “A journey through the geological past” provides more information about how the Kaiser Mountains were created.

Mountain hiking and Alpine paths

The “Bettlersteig” in the Kaiser Mountains leads through untouched nature and offers excellent views. Despite all the beauty of hiking in the mountains, it’s also important to pay attention to safety. Careful planning with hiking maps, hiking guides and information from both the internet and experts, saves hikers from unwelcome surprises. Distances, altitude differences, difficulty and current weather/trail conditions should all be considered in the planning.

What’s that buzzing?

In the Kaiser Mountains, busy, helpful bees buzz through the air. Wild bees are responsible for around 1/3 of the pollination of fruit and vegetable plants. To build their nests they need not only pollen-rich plants but also suitable nesting spaces in natural gardens and forests. Because they only collect pollen and nectar for their young, they do not produce honey. Interesting information about wild bees and other insects can be learned on the guided walk “An excursion into the world of insects and bees.”