In winter we wish for snow, in summer we wish for sun! Thankfully, 2015 has been kind and provided plenty of both. However, the weather can’t always deliver perfection and so, on one such cloudy day, I decided to take to the mountains for some fresh air, a change of scenery and a new summer experience for my 20 month old daughter.
A speedy ascent
As we approached the Ahorn cable car (Austria’s largest with a capacity for 160 passengers!), it was immediately clear that a few clouds weren’t going to dampen her excitement. With none of the winter crowds, she could run from one full-length window in the 40m² cable car to the other, marvelling at the views as we soared from Mayrhofen town centre to the Ahorn Plateau in under 10 minutes. Stepping out of the top station, we were literally ‘in the clouds’ at 2000m as we walked over the meadows and past the grazing cows – it felt peaceful, atmospheric and ‘adventurous’!
Had it been raining, we would even have been able to enjoy a warming drink during our ascent as, on wet weather days, the Ahorn cable car is transformed into a floating café!
The relaxation mountain
Known as the relaxation mountain, the Ahorn Plateau boasts a gentle walking path passing beautiful viewpoints, plenty of inviting mountain huts, little Lake Ahorn and even daily birds of prey displays (summer only, weather dependent). As the path is also suitable for terrain buggies, families and less mobile people can easily enjoy all of these things.
Little Lake Ahorn
On previous sunny days, we have enjoyed paddling in and sunning ourselves by this picturesque little lake. Fenced off to dogs and with only shallow water, it is perfect for kids to splash around in, and, after hot hikes to the Ahornspitze, Edelhütte or Filzenkogel, offers a welcome opportunity to refresh tired legs and feet. Today was not a paddling day, but my daughter loved playing in the little stream and walking out onto the jetties to throw stones into the lake. She even spotted a salamander!
Spoilt for choice
When it comes to choosing a refreshment destination, you really are spoilt for choice on the Ahorn. Along the plateau walk you will find the Ahornhütte, Panorama Restaurant, Filzenstadl and Freiraum restaurants. For those seeking a sleek and sophisticated meal with second-to-none views, the modern Freiraum Café-Bistro juts out over the mountain edge with floor to ceiling windows. The other huts offer a more traditional, authentic hut experience.
On this visit we chose the Ahornhütte for a warming and delicious apple strudel. The hut is also a play paradise of bobby cars, tractors and motorbikes with a playhouse, slides, a climbing frame and even bunny rabbits! It was win-win! I got to enjoy my strudel whilst my daughter played happily with the other children.
Before starting our descent, we visited the Sinnesspiele (multisensory nature experience) where children learn interactively about the flora and fauna of the Ahorn Plateau. A little beyond the understanding of my toddler, the older children were having a great time exploring the different stations. A firm favourite was ‘racing’ wild animals on the running mat. We left with a mask as a souvenir and a suitably tired but happy toddler.
Mayrhofen’s cable cars are clear favourites when the sun is shining. An escape from the heat of the valley and the promise of panoramic views make the Ahorn and the Penken the destinations of choice. However, the mountains also have much to offer whatever the weather – a trip into the clouds is an experience in itself!