One of the most scenic photo spots in Austria awaits you deep in the Eastern Alps in the Tyrolean Zillertal: a suspension bridge that seems to float at a dizzying height in front of a fabulous mountain backdrop with a turquoise-blue lake in the background. In recent years this photo has haunted my Instagram feed so often that at some point I couldn’t help myself and planned a stopover in the Zillertal on my way to South Tyrol. This breathtaking spot high in the mountains can be reached via a short but very strenuous hike to the Olpererhütte , which is very worthwhile during the ascent, if only because of its amazing views.
In this article, I’ll tell you how to get to the Olpererhütte and the adjacent suspension bridge, what to watch out for on the hike and what to expect at the famous photo spot.
- My camera: Sony Alpha 6500 *
- An all-round lens from Sigma * (perfect for traveling and affordable, it is connectedto the Sony 6 seriestogether with an adapter * )
- Comfortable and light hiking shoes * (sturdy sneakers are also suitable if necessary)
- Sun cream with a mineral filter * (better for the environment) and high SPF (the mountain sun is relentless)
- Drinks and snacks
- Normal hiking or sportswear
The suspension bridge at the Olpererhütte in the Zillertal
The suspension bridge, which you can find on Google Maps under Kebema Panorama Bridge , is located at an altitude of 2389m in the Zillertal Alps, only a few meters from the Olpererhütte. It can be reached via an ascent of 600 meters from the Schlegeis Reservoir – the Schlegeis Reservoir is accordingly also the turquoise-blue shining lake that you can see wedged between the mountain slopes from the suspension bridge and which makes this panorama so unique during the ascent.
You cover the 600 meters in altitude on a very short distance of only 3 km, so be prepared that the hike to the Olpererhütte will not be a Sunday walk.
The most important things at a glance (tracked by GPS):
- Distance: 3.7 km (one way)
- Duration: 2 hours, 45 minutes
- Average speed: 1.3 km / h
- Minimum altitude: 1791 m
- Maximum altitude: 2389 m
- Ascent (total): 598 m
Schlegeisspeicher: Approach from Mayrhofen and starting point of the hike
The ascent to the Olpererhütte starts at the Schlegeis reservoir (also called Schlegeis reservoir), which is already at an altitude of almost 1800 meters. You reach the Schlegeisspeicher via the B169, the last larger town with numerous overnight accommodations on the B169 is Mayrhofen. The best way to get from Mayrhofen to the Schlegeis warehouse is by car via the Schlegeis Alpine Road, which is subject to a toll shortly after the village of Ginzling. The toll costs € 14 per car (as of 2020). Since the road is partly single-lane from here, the access is regulated by a barrier, so there may be waiting times at the toll booth. Alternatively, you can take the bus from Mayrhofen to the Schlegeisspeicher (approx. 1 hour from Mayrhofen).
The hike to the Olpererhütte
It starts at the Schlegeisspeicher parking lot, where the way to the Olpererhütte is well signposted. The ascent is said to take 1.5 to 2 hours, but this probably only applies to experienced hikers. We needed a good 2.5 hours with breaks and photo stops.
The entry starts relatively leisurely through wooded sections of the route, but then quickly becomes steeper and more uncomfortable. It goes up like a serpentine over scree and rocks and you will work up a sweat. Basically the route is safe, there are no via ferratas or the risk of falling, but you should be sure-footed due to the scree and wear suitable footwear. By the way, you can’t get lost, because there is only one way – up!
On the way, we repeatedly pass places that already offer a breathtaking view of the Schlegeis reservoir. We regularly take short breaks to enjoy the wonderful panorama of the Zillertal and to shoot tons of photos.
For a long time we walk next to an almost raging mountain stream, which, fed by the snowmelt, plunges steeply downwards. The water is crystal clear and we use it to cool ourselves both inside and out.
At some point you can discover the Olpererhütte far away on the horizon and from there it is not far anymore. Admittedly, the last few meters are dragging on, because the steep ascent is really tough, but finally it’s done and we reach the Olpererhütte.
The Olpererhütte is one of the oldest mountaineering huts in the Eastern Alps and is located at an altitude of 2389 meters. It used to be a typical mountain hut, today it has been expanded into a real hut with overnight accommodation and sanitary facilities. There is also a restaurant there that probably has a delicious Kaiserschmarrn on the menu, but even if you don’t like to eat, it is worth taking a short break with a cyclist just for the fantastic view.
The famous suspension bridge in the Zillertal: 600m above the Schlegeis reservoir
When we arrived at the Olpererhütte, to our confusion, nothing can be seen far and wide of our actual destination, the suspension bridge with the crazy view of the Schlegeisspeicher. But the puzzle solves quickly, the panorama bridge is only about 100-200m slightly to the right above the Olpererhütte.
The mountain stream that we already passed on the ascent is in fact a small raging river up here that has dug deep into the mountain slope and the suspension bridge is the only way to cross this river. In the pictures it looks like the bridge is floating at a dizzying height over an abyss, but in reality it only hangs a few meters above a comparatively small abyss. It’s all a question of perspective ?
In any case, this perspective made the Zillertal suspension bridge at the Olpererhütte famous and so, as expected, we are not the only hikers who have found our way here today. At the entrances to the bridge small queues form from time to time, because of course everyone wants to take this one fabulous photo. We wait a while and wait for a while before we finally have the bridge to ourselves for a few minutes (which is surprisingly shaky despite its small span).
Tips for taking photos of the suspension bridge
So that you can take a few nice photos home with you as a reward for the arduous walk to the Olpererhütte, I would like to give you a few more tips, we give you exactly this perspective that makes the combination of the suspension bridge with the blue mountain lake so special in photos , can achieve.
First of all: you won’t be able to do this with your smartphone. The magic word at this point is the compression effect . In photography, the compression effect describes the physical phenomenon that objects in the background appear larger the larger the focal length used. A higher focal length not only changes the image section, but also how the objects in the image appear in relation to one another.
For your photos of the suspension bridge with the mountain range in the background, this means: the lake and the mountains appear larger (and the person on the bridge smaller), the larger your focal length. Therefore, you cannot create this perspective with a smartphone that works in the wide-angle range and with optical zoom. Take a real camera with a lens that covers a focal length of at least 50mm.
We took our photos standing at the edge of the river bed from a little distance, with focal lengths between approx. 40-70mm (camera with APSC sensor, this is important for converting the required focal length if you use full format, for example).
Here you can see in comparison how the whole thing works when you take photos with a small focal length, i.e. in the wide-angle range. Completely different, right? ?
The right time to visit the suspension bridge
The right time is also important for the perfect photo. I mentioned it before, the Olpererhütte with the suspension bridge is a popular photo spot and there is a lot going on here at lunchtime and on the weekends. If you want to take photos in peace, then use the off-peak times until early morning or from late afternoon. Then the light falls much nicer and the Schlegeis reservoir shines in its great shades of blue.
Practical tips & information about the hike
The hike to the Olpererhütte is not a circular hike, ie it goes back down the same way. Accordingly, the descent is just as steep as the ascent, it is neat on your knees and requires good surefootedness. So give yourself enough time, we needed almost 2 hours for the descent.
Equipment & definitely pack
Normal sports or hiking clothing is suitable for the hike. When it comes to shoes, a pair of sneakers that have a lot of grip will do, but it’s not optimal. I have these hiking shoes * and can highly recommend them (unfortunately I haven’t had them in the Zillertal yet, so you can see me with sneakers in the photos).
In the summer months you walk the entire hiking trail in the blazing sun, there is no shade. The mountain sun is particularly aggressive, so use sun protection with a high SPF. Also take enough water with you, at least 1 liter. You can fill up the bottle on the way by the river and finally there is food, drinks and toilets up at the Opererhütte.
Photos …. that’s what we’re here for, right? ? I take photos with the Sony Alpha 6500 * . For the correct perspective, as described above, I take a lens with me in my backpack that covers a focal length range of at least 50mm. My standard lens is the Sigma 17-70mm * (in my opinion one of the best travel lenses and available for many camera systems) that I have attached to my Sony Alpha using an adapter * .
By the way, I was traveling with Jens from Overlandtour.de , so we could take photos of each other. You can find his report on the hike here .
Opening of the Olpererhütte & the route
The access to the Schlegeisspeicher via the toll road is open approx. From May to October , depending on the weather . The Olpererhütte can only be reached during this time via the normal hiking route and is only managed during this time. You can also spend the night in the Olpererhütte, e.g. if you want it to be part of a multi-day hike.
More information about the Olpererhütte and booking a room can be found here .
Hotels in the area
The hike to the Olpererhütte is an exhausting all-day activity, just getting to the starting point from Mayrhofen, which is already deep in the Zillertal, takes about 1 hour. So you should plan at least one night in the vicinity either before or after. We decided on Mayrhofen because there are a large number of hotels there and you can find something reasonably cheap.
We slept in the Hotel Garni Glückauf * . Not a luxury hotel, but perfectly fine >>> View rooms and prices here * (we paid 80 € / night)
The closer you get to the Schlegeis reservoir, the more expensive it gets. So I definitely recommend Mayrhofen as a starting point, you won’t go wrong with that.
>>> See more hotels in Mayrhofen here *
Nothing included or too expensive? Then an AirbnB might be an alternative. If you register via my link, there is a discount of up to € 25 for the first booking:
Further hikes in the Zillertal
The Olpererhütte is part of the Berliner Höhenweg , a multi-day tour in the high alpine Zillertal Alps. The Zillertal itself offers almost endless possibilities for hiking, here you will find an overview of the hiking trails in the Zillertal .
Recommended hiking guides for the Zillertal:
- Zillertal with Gerlos and Tux valleys *
- Compass hiking guide Zillertal *
If you feel like hiking to extraordinary photo spots and perhaps planning a journey from Austria to South Tyrol, then the hike to the bright blue Lago di Sorapis could also be something for you.