© Martin Moser
  • Outdoors

Trail running in Saalbach Hinterglemm

Hiking trails and endorphins

Darting over rough and soft. Huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf. Wondering why I’m even doing this. Continuing on my way like a steam engine. In the past, running up and around the mountain was something that I’d leave to the mountain fanatics. But today, I can’t get enough. Trail running gives my lungs plenty of reasons to get excited. In the beginning of July, my lungs and I headed into Salzburgerland to start exploring the trails of Saalbach Hinterglemm.

Something’s happening on the trails of the Glemmtal valley! It’s not just people on mountain bikes that come here to bend the laws of gravity, but trail runners, and trail runner wannabes, find the ideal conditions in Saalbach Hinterglemm’s hiking paths. This is a fact that can be proven by this year’s main event, the Saalbacher Trailrun. On 2 September, young and old will be tackling the challenging mountain run. The run includes distances between 5 and 42 kilometres with 240 to 3.300 metres of elevation on a variety of trails. There is very diverse offer for all age groups and capabilities.

And speaking of offers, it definitely pays to take a look at the interactive leisure map. Here you will find several trail tips for running enthusiasts. And, typical of Saalbach, the range of trails caters to every desire. From cosy panorama walks to 20-hour endorphin runs, all performance levels are covered.  

Panorama Trailrun 2.0

Secret sources in Saalbach claim that the sun is always out in the Glemmtal valley, except when it’s raining, of course. But a German expression says that when angels, such as myself, travel, the sun always shines.


Today’s sun promises a gorgeous vista. How rude it would be of me if I didn’t enjoy these incredible panoramas! The Panorama Trailrun 2.0 is perfect for taking in the views. Beginning at the mountain station of the Zwölferkogel Cable Car, the trail makes its way through 14 summits by way of a bend toward the mountain station at the Schattberg. One simply can’t get enough of the views of the Dachstein, Watzmann, Hohe Tauern mountains and all the other incredible sights.


In figures: 19 kilometres, 1.400 metres of elevation. A real pleasure for experienced trail runners, a promising challenge for beginners. However those who want a little bit more comfort can attempt the first version of the Panorama Trailrun with 17.5 kilometres of trail and 900 metres of elevation. For free spirits and self-declared acrobats like myself, the hiking paths in Saalbach offer some gorgeous and demanding trail runs. So, I decided to create my own route. 

From Saalbach to the The Spielberghorn and Kohlmaiskopf mountains

As mentioned earlier, the sun is always shining in Saalbach, except when it’s raining. And today it happens to be raining. Time for a new quote! How about the famous words of the German comedian and speech artist, Karl Valentin, who said: ‘I’m happy when it rains, because if I’m not happy, it still rains.’ I already started feeling happy just a few minutes into my run beginning in Saalbach’s town centre. Cleansed by the rain, and excited with the knowledge that wild strawberries await me at the wayside and invite me to a fruity breakfast at the Spielbergbach stream. Unlike most trails, however, the first couple of metres of elevation while leaving Saalbach lead across an asphalt road.


But before long, I leave the asphalt behind and won’t be seeing it again until I’m back in Saalbach. On a gravel road, I begin to approach the Spielberghaus hotel. The weather up here is more precarious than further below. And the silence is notable. Besides the cows grazing on the steeply ascending meadow, I am completely alone here as I look toward Tyrolia. Here at the Spielberghaus hotel, the Spielbergsattel separates the Salzburger Spielbergbach stream from the Tiroler Spielbergbach stream. I switch to trail run mode. Up until this point, it was a comfortable ascent, but now it’s time to march on narrower paths to the Wirtsalm mountain pasture.

After a quick break on a gravel road at the Wirstalm mountain pasture, I can feel like a Tyrolian for a moment. Because on the run to the Spielberghorn I am, quite literally, crossing borders. And so, I continuously switch back and forth between Salzburg and Tyrolia, by now on a steep meadow trail. For a short time, a cow from the opposite direction serves as a pacemaker, as it comes running toward me. But the cow is more surprised about the opposing traffic than I am and decides to dodge. I’ve got the cows under control.  

I’ll be seeing the Spielbergtörl area, which is located at an elevation of around 1670 metres, a second time on my way back later today. While the view of the surrounding mountain keeps getting blocked by the quickly passing clouds, I glance toward the Spielberghorn filled with anticipation. The rain from the previous days has soaked into the ground and an uncalculated step quickly leads my shoes to briefly sink into the ground. One loud slurp later and I’m back on my path, although I have to keep interrupting my super dynamic (yes, a bit of an exaggeration) running movements toward the Spielberghorn several times. But purposefully so, because I have to cross several spots with wire cables and then also have to conquer two narrow rock passages. The tricky spots may be well known around here, but the wet ground creates quite a slipping hazard. Pay attention!


If I now reveal what happened just before the summit, nobody is going to believe me. But I’ll write it down anyway! A few metres below the summit cross I rest and take in the blue sky. Still blocked by a couple of white clouds, the gorgeous blue shines brightly between them. Although the cold wind is blowing through my clothes here at the summit of the 2044 metre-high Spielberghorn, I enjoy the gaps in the clouds. With a circumference of 6.7 kilometres around the summit, I can’t run any higher. I’m so glad I made it here!

By now I know the way down from the summit. While descending, one should be even more alert with the tricky cable and rock formations! A little distraction on the way to the Spielbergtörl is provided by the incredible views! The clouds are starting to get tired and are drifting off.


Trail running towards the east basically means that you’re running towards the sunrise. That’s kind of how it feels this afternoon. After I pass the Unterstandshütte hut at the Bernkogel mountain, the sun keeps fighting its way through the clouds and shines onto the small trail leading around the ridge to the Kohlmaiskopf mountain. After the rocky and earthy run to the Spielberghorn, the seemingly mystical, narrow forest trail makes for a welcome change. Over and over again, I get a glimpse of the rugged rock walls of Leogang’s rock mountains through the thick forest. So much fun! And no sign of exhaustion either — just run and enjoy. 


To reward my knees, I call it a day at the mountain station of the Kohlmaisbahn cableway. I present my JOKER Card and take a seat in the gondola, with my dirty shoes and my brown calves. Versatility, a two-thousander, not meeting a single soul, rock walls, forest trails… That’s what I call an awesome run! And, as everyone knows, sunshine comes after rain. And what was that about angels that travel again? 

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