Hike with the cows | Bregenzerwald | The Aficionados
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A Hike with the Cows: Bregenzerwald, Austria

No dallying around now, this is the beautiful Bregenz Forest aka Bregenzerwald and as we all know, adventure waits for no man; so pack your rucksack, head out into the great outdoors, and seize the day.

The hiking trail from Vorarlberg's famed foodie getaway, Hotel Gasthof Hirschen Schwarzenberg, starts from right outside the front door, meandering through their picture-perfect alpine farm and on to a peaceful two-hour trek into a fairy-tale Austrian countryside, filled with emerald green fae forests, wildflower meadows and patchwork fields.

What awaits you at the top - an impressive 1,290m up - is a breath-taking expanse of Austrian peaks, flower-strewn valleys and fresh green pastures, where in May, Hotel Gasthof Hirschen’s own 20 lovely Swiss Browns are driven up from the valley floor to their Austrian summer home.

‘The ladies’, as they prefer to be called, live a good life here, grazing at altitude on beneficial herbs, enjoying the stunning Vorarlberg views and being lovingly tended to by the cheesemaker and his family, who spend the summer months producing the finest Austrian butter for your Hotel Gasthof Hirschen bread.

Pause awhile yourself at the Bregenz Alpine Hut, a fantastically gorgeous, terraced wooden barn - originally built for bee-keeping - and splashed with sunshine, colourful blossoms and the scents of simple Austrian alpine cuisine. Cheese dumplings (courtesy of the ladies next door, of course), organic meats and sausages and possibly a glass of beer or two; everything surely tastes better at an altitude.

An alpine adventure is always good for the soul, and winding back down through the Bregenz forest on your way home you will hike a trail freshly scented with conifer trees, surrounded by the cosy warmth of the beautiful Austrian countryside and safe in the knowledge that gastro sensations await back at base.

It’s what everyone needs after an adventure in the great outdoors, right?

So when the waiters ask mit Schlag as you are eating your well-deserved pudding, always answer with a resounding yes, and just wait for the dollops of dairy clouds to float dreamily all over your coffee and cake, giving a nod to the cows who made it. Thanks, girls.

Hike with the cows | Bregenzerwald | The Aficionados
Hike with the cows | Bregenzerwald | The Aficionados

Hiking Tip: Austrians hike with adjustable poles. It’s not necessary, but they offer extra support, especially on the descent. The Alpe Rothenbach path is well-marked and in good condition though hiking boots are de rigueur for comfort and stability. Ask the hotel for a local hiking map.

Should the peace of alpine holiday retreats be your thing, then we have a gorgeous selection of Alpine hotels in our Alpinists Edit, or should hikes and outdoor adventure be what lifts your soul then read all about the Haute Route, a trek from Chamonix (France) to Zermatt (Switzerland) in just 10-12 days. Adventure is calling, why wait?


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