The Sarstein Traverse is perfect for summer adventures and as it as a traverse it is even more perfect for a train journey. It begins with a hike that involves an elevation gain of 1,400 meters. Along the way, you'll pass by two charming mountain huts. At the end of the trail, you can enjoy a refreshing swim in Traunsee, followed by a train ride back either to the car or all the way home. Views to Dachstein and Altausee/Totes Gebirge will not disappoint you.
The Gosau-Steeg train station is easily accessible, even from Vienna, with a travel time of approximately 2.5 to 3 hours. On the return journey, there are direct InterCity (IC) trains available from Obertraun to Vienna via Linz or just railjets with changing in Attnang-Puchheim, just check ÖBB´s scotty. Alternatively, you can extend your trip and take advantage of a few extra days to visit the attractions nearby. Explore the breathtaking Dachstein Caves or conquer the Dachstein Mountain itself. Adding these experiences to your itinerary will undoubtedly enhance your holiday.
From the train station, clear signs guide you all the way to Sarstein, making it easy to follow and nearly impossible to miss. The mountain remains visible throughout the hike, so you simply need to approach it. Sarstein separates Hallstätter See from the lakes Altausee and Grundlsee in Styria.
The actual ascent begins from the parking lot at the curve/kehre, where you'll find ample parking available. If you choose to drive, I would still recommend parking near the train station to avoid the return trip. The path through the forest is pleasant and well-marked. After approximately half an hour, you'll reach the "Simonyi-Rast," a perfect spot to take a break and enjoy some breakfast and drinks while overlooking Hallstätter See.
Continuing along the path, you'll reach Sarstein Alm, which is operated by a feisty lady during the summer months. I once even camped here during winter when there was snow. Although it's not allowed during the hut's opening times, with enough snow, nobody really minds.
The menu offers either goulash soup or Kaiserschmarrn, and we opted for the latter before proceeding to the Sarstein peak and the pleasant hike along the plateau, the highlight of the traverse. The summit alone is worth the trip, and if you prefer a return journey, you can simply turn back towards the starting point. However, taking the route along the plateau offers magnificent views, with breathtaking scenery on both sides.
Before the descent begins, you'll come across the Sarstein Hütte. This hut, operated by Naturfreunde Obertraun, is visited by volunteers on weekends, who offer drinks and, depending on their motivation, even food. Prior reservation is required, despite some incorrect information online, the hut is indeed operational. After the hut, it's a straightforward descent through the forest, leading you back to the lake.
Once you reach the bottom, you can either head directly to the train station or take a 10-minute walk to the Hallstatt lake for a perfect cool-down after a 15 km, 1450-meter hike. There is no entrance fee, and facilities such as a kiosk, toilets, and boat rentals are available. We spent an hour cooling down before catching the next fast train, arriving back in Linz around 8 pm.