About Waldbachstrub Waterfall
The Waldbachstrub Waterfall was a magical convergence of several waterfalls spilling right at the head of the Echerntal Valley where the Waldbachstrub Stream combined with some seasonal side streams spilled some 95m at its highest height. One thing that I noticed in the literature was that there seemed to be some confusion between this waterfall and the Mühlbach Waterfall, which was much easier to see within the pedestrian zone in Hallstatt. If you click the link and take a look at the other waterfall, you’ll see that it has nothing on this waterfall.
I had to have counted at least four or five waterfalls all spilling onto this one spot, and it was well worth the hike to get here, especially if you consider how much emptier and quieter it was here as opposed to the tourist crush in the village of Hallstatt. While the peace and quiet alone would be sufficient enough to do a nearly 8km round trip hike like this, the waterfalls really made this experience all the more sweeter!
From the P1 car park (see directions below), I walked along the Lahnstrasse (the main drag through the non-touristy part of Hallstatt) before heading inland along any one of the three main roads heading into the residential area. There was also another path leaving from the car park going uphill towards the Kalvarienbergkirche Hallstatt before following alone the base of one side of the mountains eventually converging into the three afore-mentioned roads.
Not knowing which way to go, I wound up taking Echerntalweg on the way in and Demelgasse on the way out (so I might have walked a little more than necessary here).
In any case, after passing by the very popular (yet unshaded) P2 parking lot, I followed along the north bank of the Waldbachstrub Stream further inland as I would continue following residential roads for nearly a kilometer before reaching a Themenweg sign and trail just after a bridge over the Waldbachstrub well towards the back of the residential area.
Once on the Themenweg, I left the roads and found myself on more conventional foot trail flanked by trees and surrounded by tall mountains as the valley was closing in. After another 600m, I continued past some kind of hydro operation at the Kleinwasserkraftwerk Hallstatt, and at that point, it was pretty much all trail until crossing another bridge and reaching some farm fronting the Schleierfall nearly a kilometer later.
During my visit, the Schleierfall was tall, but it wasn’t flowing too well. It was a good thing I didn’t mistake this waterfall for the Waldbachstrub Waterfall because that would have been real disappointing. There were signs suggesting that the waterfall remained another 30 minutes away or so. So I pressed on.
Beyond the pasture and the Schleierfall, the path re-entered a well-shaded forest as it ultimately rounded a bend where the Waldbachstrub was a little louder and cascading. At a fork soon thereafter, I kept to the right to climb up towards the waterfall. The left fork would have taken me to the Glacier Garden another 30 minutes later.
During this ascent, I was able to see a series of cascades tumbling down towards the footbridge beneath me. As I continued the climb, which was a combination of steps and inclines. Shortly after passing by a small fork (where the left path went to a lower lookout that I somehow forgot to check out), I eventually made it to the Waldbachstrub Waterfall at the end of the trail some 800m beyond the Schleierfall.
An interpretive sign here suggested that there was quite a bit of historical heritage here. Among the historical occurences included the inspiration of a writer’s tale that took place at this waterfall back in 1845. In another account, Kaiser Franz Josef wrote about his excursion to Hallstatt in a letter to his mother in 1865.
There also appeared to be a bridge in the gorge above the ravine where the Waldbachstrub made its tumble. I didn’t pursue that trail further though I wondered if the alternate trail to the Glacier Garden might have been able to access it.
Anyways, after having my fill of this waterfall, I eventually completed the nearly 8km hike by returning to Hallstatt, where we were spending the night. It took my nearly 2.5 hours but it could have easily taken less time than that since it took me a while to get started (trying to figure out which road inland to walk though it turned out they were all valid), and I lingered for quite a while at the magnificent scenery at the Waldbachstrub Waterfall itself.
Hallstatt is pretty easily accessed by car or by bus. We did it by car so we’ll describe how we drove here from Salzburg. Even though the driving was all on well-marked highways, the tricky part was parking. So in order to avoid disappointment, I’d recommend getting here as early in the morning as you can or pretty late in the afternoon (say after 4pm). It’s quite dicey during the peak periods of the day from late morning to early afternoon.
From Salzburg, the quickest approach was to head south on the B150 towards the A10 autobahn. After about 19km going south on the A10, we then took the ramp for the Golling exit, which led us on the B159 and then onto the B162 due east.
About 22km from the exit of the A10, we reached a fork with the B166 road. We kept left at this fork, then we continued another 23km before turning right onto the L547 Road (Hallstättersee-Landesstraße) towards Hallstatt. We took this narrow road south passing through a tunnel that deposited us right at some crosswalks by the entrance to the pedestrian walking zone of Hallstatt.
From here, we continued driving south for about another 500m before turning off to the right for the P1 car park, which was sheltered. There was also a car park for the P1 parkplatz, but that one was unsheltered and there was usually someone standing at both the Demelgasse and Malerweg to prevent people from attempting to park there at peak times.
Overall, this drive took us about 75 minutes.
There was also a more scenic route heading east from Salzburg towards Bad Ischl via the B158 and B145. This route was slower because it was curvier, but it yielded some nice panoramic views of other lakes of the Salzkammergut Region. It was too bad that there weren’t too many placees to pull out though because there were plenty of spots I really wished I could have stopped the car and soaked in the top down views of the lakes along the way.
For context, Hallstatt was about 72km (about 90 minutes drive) southeast of Salzburg, about 70km (under 90 minutes drive) east of Sankt Johann im Pongau, 79km (under 90 minutes drive) west of Admont, and 289km (about 3.5 hours drive) west of Vienna.
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