Stuibenfall

Umhausen, Tyrol (Tirol), Austria

About Stuibenfall


Hiking Distance: 4.8km round trip
Suggested Time: 2.5-3 hours

Date first visited: 2018-07-19
Date last visited: 2018-07-19

Waterfall Latitude: 47.12675
Waterfall Longitude: 10.94077

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Stuibenfall (or Stuiben Falls) was said to be Tirol’s biggest (and tallest) waterfall where the Horlachbach Creek drops 159m into the Oetztal (Ötztal) Valley between Niederthai and Umhausen. Such a tall waterfall like this having the volume that it did during my visit was pretty special. However, what really made the experience memorable and over-the-top, was the hiking trail.

Indeed, the trail involved crossing a very high and bouncy suspension bridge with the kind of views of the Stuibenfall that would typically be reserved for only birds, and drones. And on the other side of the bridge were a pair of spiral stair towers before ultimately reaching another bridge across the brink of the falls featuring a pair of natural bridges!

Stuibenfall_017_07192018 - Looking towards the Naturbadesee from the Stuibenfall Trail. There were lots of people beating the Summer heat on this day
Looking towards the Naturbadesee from the Stuibenfall Trail. There were lots of people beating the Summer heat on this day

Given all the things that the Stuibenfall had going for it, I’d even argue that it was as scenic as the very well-known Krimml Waterfalls. This was especially the case since Stuibenfall was more of a singular waterfall entity as opposed to a series of disjoint waterfalls that characterized the Krimml Waterfalls. Plus, I felt like I had a very interactive experience with the Stuibenfall as the trail was always in close proximity to its main plunge (with the exception of the beginning when I had to walk up to the falls).

I began from the well-signed and very popular trailhead parking just on the outskirts of the town of Umhausen (see directions below). After paying for parking and walking past the Naturbadesee (basically a developed swimming area that was the perfect relief from the Summer heat during my visit), I then found myself on a pretty wide trail that also seemed to double as an unpaved road.

Since I made my visit in the afternoon, much of this part of the trail was shaded. Along the way, there was a Greifvogelpark (or an Eagle Park) as well as a cantina called the Waldcafe Stuböbele, which featured a little mill in front of it. Beyond the cantina, the trail crossed a bridge over the Horlachbach before resuming the uphill climb alongside the creek towards the first of a handful of lookouts taking in the Stuibenfall. It took me around an hour to get here from the car park.

Stuibenfall_050_07192018 - This was the main lookout area for Stuibenfall roughly 50 minutes walk from the car park
This was the main lookout area for Stuibenfall roughly 50 minutes walk from the car park

From that first lookout, I could already see the suspension bridge, which beckoned me to do a little more hiking to see what it was like up there. Meanwhile, the bottom drop of the Stuibenfall was revealed. And while a lot of people turned back at this point (which made the hike about 3.6km round trip), it was a good thing I kept going on because little did I realize that there would be more waterfall tiers further upstream.

Next, the trail then climbed up a series of switchbacks. The first two signed waterfall lookout platforms were in this fairly long stretch. But it was from the second lookout and beyond that I finally got to appreciate the entirety of the Stuibenfall as its uppermost drops were revealed. A short distance after the second labeled waterfall lookout, I then ascended to the start of the suspension bridge.

As stated earlier, this bridge was bouncy, especially when lots of people were on it at the same time or you have a clown or two intentionally trying to make the bridge rocking and rolling. The bridge generally went uphill and was about 80m long. Just on the other side of the bridge, the footing was sturdier as it passed by the third waterfall platform (roughly 20 minutes from the busy area near the first lookout platform or “Stuibenfallblick”), which was being blasted with Stuibenfall’s mist.

Stuibenfall_263_07192018 - The suspension bridge and stair towers right besides the Stuibenfall
The suspension bridge and stair towers right besides the Stuibenfall

After ascending the first tower (Stuibenturm 1), I reached the fourth viewing platform. At this lookout, I was right next to the profile of the upper drop of Stuibenfall. The light spray from here felt refreshing after all the climbing that I did up to this point. However, there was still more climbing to go, and a large chunk of it was on the second of the squared spiral towers (Stuibenturm 2).

Once at the top of the towers, the trail was back to the more conventional dirt surface as it made its way towards a fork. The right fork went towards Niederthai while the left fork crossed a bridge right over the brink of the Stuibenfall. From this bridge, I was able to look at some smaller drops of the waterfall as the Horlachbach flowed beneath a natural bridge. However, as I looked downstream from this bridge, it was over the brink of another relatively small drop before the creek went beneath a more pronounced natural bridge.

Beyond this footbridge, the path then reached another junction, where I continued on the left to make the final descent towards the fifth viewing platform (Aussichtsplatform 5). This was where I was able to look back towards the natural bridge (where some climbers walked on a wire rope attached to it) while also looking downstream towards the main drops of the Stuibenfall in a pretty dizzying and disorienting view. The signage suggested it was 45 minutes from the main viewing area though I probably took a bit longer than that given all the stops I had made.

Despite it being about 2.4km in each direction (or 4.8km round trip), there was always lots of people throughout the hike. Indeed, this was a very popular hike, especially since they opened up the thrilling parts of the trail in April 2016 following a rockslide that made the waterfall inaccessible in 2013. Overall, it took me about 3 hours away from the car to fully experience the falls, but I suppose it could be as little as 2.5 hours round trip if I didn’t make as many stops as I did.

Stuibenfall_007_07192018 - From the Bischofsplatz car park, Stuibenfall was not visible
Stuibenfall_016_07192018 - This was the Naturbadesee, which was full of activity as it felt more like a beach environment even though we were in the mountains!
Stuibenfall_019_07192018 - On the Stuibenfall Trail, this fork was where I think the Eagle Park exited from the left while the continuation of the waterfall trail along with the entrance to the Eagle Park was on the right
Stuibenfall_023_07192018 - The Stuibenfall Trail was pretty well-shaded in the latter part of the afternoon, which was very welcome as I was doing this hike on a pretty hot day
Stuibenfall_025_07192018 - Looking back at Umhausen (and some other waterfall) from the Stuibenfall Trail
Stuibenfall_030_07192018 - The Stuibenfall Trail was still a pretty wide gravel track between the Eagle Park and the cantina Waldcafe
Stuibenfall_038_07192018 - Looking back at the Waldcafe cantina as I was continuing further towards the Stuibenfall
Stuibenfall_045_07192018 - Beyond the Waldcafe, the Stuibenfall Trail now followed alongside the Horlachbach Creek
Stuibenfall_053_07192018 - View of the lower section of Stuibenfall from the main viewing area after nearly an hour of hiking from the start
Stuibenfall_059_07192018 - There were a lot of cascades downstream from the lower reaches of the Stuibenfall as seen from the main viewing area
Stuibenfall_071_07192018 - Beyond the main viewing area, the Stuibenfall Trail climbed up a combination of steps and switchbacks to get up closer to that suspension bridge
Stuibenfall_079_07192018 - This was the signed Lookout Platform 1 for Stuibenfall
Stuibenfall_081_07192018 - Looking back towards the main viewing area from the first lookout platform for Stuibenfall
Stuibenfall_086_07192018 - The next section of uphill hiking was fairly long between lookouts 1 and 2 but it afforded this more elevated view towards Umhausen
Stuibenfall_099_07192018 - Context of the Stuibenfall Trail and the Stuibenfall itself between lookouts 1 and 2
Stuibenfall_102_07192018 - This was probably the most full view of Stuibenfall that you can get, and it was either at or near the lookout platform 2
Stuibenfall_109_07192018 - There was a little bit of a rainbow in the mist at the base of Stuibenfall
Stuibenfall_115_07192018 - Context of Stuibenfall and its trail as I was getting closer to the suspension bridge
Stuibenfall_137_07192018 - Looking through the support lines (or were they power lines?) towards Umhausen from near the suspension bridge by Stuibenfall
Stuibenfall_151_07192018 - Gorgeous view of Stuibenfall with Umhausen and Oetztal Valley in the background as seen from the suspension bridge
Stuibenfall_158_07192018 - The suspension bridge by Stuibenfall was actually a climbing bridge, which made it a little more unusual than most bridges where each side would typically be at the same level
Stuibenfall_162_07192018 - Looking back towards the start of the suspension bridge by Stuibenfall
Stuibenfall_172_07192018 - Looking down towards the lookout platform 3, but I couldn't take a picture from down there due to the intense amount of mist being thrown its way from Stuibenfall
Stuibenfall_184_07192018 - This was the lookout 4, which was refreshingly cool thanks to its close position to the uppermost drop of the Stuibenfall
Stuibenfall_185_07192018 - Looking up at the spiral stair tower leading me up to the top of the Stuibenfall
Stuibenfall_192_07192018 - Looking across the Stuibenfall from the second spiral stair tower
Stuibenfall_199_07192018 - The bridge spanning the brink of Stuibenfall between a pair of natural bridges. The fork on the right went to Niederthai
Stuibenfall_206_07192018 - Looking upstream from the footbridge at the brink of Stuibenfall where there was a surprise natural bridge at the bottom of the rainbow in this photo
Stuibenfall_211_07192018 - This was the downstream view of the brink of Stuibenfall and the attractive natural bridge from the footbridge above its brink
Stuibenfall_221_07192018 - The final descent towards the fifth and last of the signed lookouts for Stuibenfall
Stuibenfall_225_07192018 - This was the fifth and final lookout for Stuibenfall
Stuibenfall_245_07192018 - A fairly disorienting view of the main drop of Stuibenfall from the fifth lookout platform
Stuibenfall_252_07192018 - Some lady in climbing gear did the climbing route and was about to go across the natural bridge right at the brink of Stuibenfall
Stuibenfall_255_07192018 - Looking down at the stairs descending the second tower as I was leaving Stuibenfall
Stuibenfall_257_07192018 - Descending the lower tower as I was getting closer to the suspension bridge by Stuibenfall
Stuibenfall_301_07192018 - Looking towards Umhausen from the Stuibenfall Trail on the way back to the car park after having had my fill of the Stuibenfall adventure

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Stuibenfall sat within the Ötztal Valley by the town of Umhausen. Since we drove here from both Innsbruck and Landeck, I’ll describe the driving directions in this section from both locations.

Stuibenfall_002_07192018 - The very busy Bischofsplatz Car Park for both Stuibenfall and the Naturbadesee
The very busy Bischofsplatz Car Park for both Stuibenfall and the Naturbadesee

From Innsbruck, we drove west on the A12 autobahn for about 46km towards the exit 123 towards Ötztal. This exit took us onto the B186 (Ötztal Straße), which we followed for about 14km into the town of Umhausen. We then followed the signs which led us away from the B186 and onto Dorf, which then became Niederthaier Straße. We followed this street through the town as we ultimately reached the Bischofsplatz Car Park (roughly 1.3km from where we left the B186 onto Dorf).

Overall, this drive took us about an hour. While visiting the Stuibenfall was free, the parking was 4.5 euros for the day (as of 2018).

From Landeck, we’d drove east on the A12 autobahn for about 21km to the exit 123 (Haiming/Ötztal). Once we were off the A12 and onto the B186, we then followed the directions as given above towards Umhausen and ultimately to the Parkplatz Bischofsplatz.

This drive took us under an hour.

Finally for some geographical context, Innsbruck was about 62km (under an hour drive) east of Imst, 65km (under an hour drive) east of Umhausen, 77km (about an hour drive) east of Landeck, 61km (under an hour drive) west of Zell am Ziller, 40km (over 30 minutes drive) north of Brenner Pass, Italy, and 64km (about an hour drive) southeast from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

Short sweep focusing on Stuibenfall from one of the lower lookout platforms


Sweep covering the upper main drops of Stuibenfall and could be the best vantage point


Sweep covering a more frontal look at the upper drops of Stuibenfall including a larger arcing rainbow


Sweep covering the Stuibenfall from the bouncy suspension bridge


Sweep from the final platform overlooking the brink of Stuibenfall with some climbers about to traverse the natural bridge

Tagged with: umhausen, niederthai, otztal, oetztal, horlachbach, tirol, tyrol, austria, waterfall, natural bridge, naturbadesee, greifvogelpark



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Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

Stuibenfall (Austria) October 9, 2017 4:59 pm by Ruth Williams - The powerful Stuibenfall can be found in the Tyrol region of Austria near the village of Umhausen. The Horlachbach stream plunges 159 meters into the valley in a cascade of spray which gives the fall its name. We were also lucky to see some beautiful rainbows. There is a car park just outside the village… ...Read More

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