G3VGR LECHWEG     Conclusion      



The Lechweg was a first class trail to walk and it provided far more variety than I had expected. It was quite obvious that much hard work and careful planning had gone into this project and the results are impressive. Although I've made some hikes around Lech (Gehrengrat, Rote Wand) and the other side of the Allgäuer Alps (Oberstdorf, Kleinwalsertal), this was my first time in the Lechtal. After my enjoyable time on the Lechweg, I have planned to go back in 2014 and make some other walks in both the Lechtal and Lech/Zürs area. The selection of Holzgau as a base was fortuitous. It's a friendly village and had a sufficient choice of restaurants, a good bakery and the Dorfalm pub. I didn't find the trip too expensive because the accommodation was so reasonably priced, as was the cost of eating out in the evening. The Lech-Active Card was a welcome bonus and certainly saved me money. As well as free bus travel, I used it to get free rides on the Jöchelspitzbahn and Rüfikopfbahn. Unlike my earlier Neckarsteig hike in May 2013 when I saw almost no hikers, I noticed quite a few other people walking the Lechweg trail. The whole Lechtal area was frequented by many (mainly middle-aged) hikers, mostly Germans, with a few Dutch walkers. Navigation along the Lechweg was easy due to the signposting being the best I've seen of any trail. Although I brought my GPS loaded with the daily routes, I never needed it and left it in the hotel. There are no difficult or hazardous areas on the trail, so it's suitable for anyone of moderate fitness. However, decent boots with Vibram type soles are recommended as some of the paths are quite rough. I was very pleased that my Plantar Fasciitis was alleviated by the new orthotics and caused me no pain during the walking.
The Stages
The standard options to walk the Lechweg are 6 days (Sporting), 7 days (Classic) or 8 days (Gemütliche) I chose the 6 day variant and this allows no time for detours. In hindsight, I should have taken 7 or 8 days and added the official off-trail detours and other options, such as going up the Jöchelspitzbahn and along the Panoramaweg, then rejoining the Lechweg at Elbigenalp. Of the six stages, only the fifth stage (Stanzach - Wängle) was disappointing for me. This was due to excessive time walking along flat paths on the riverbank. The map shows another trail from the bridge at Vorderhornbach on the opposite bank which leads to the hanging bridge at Forchach. I walked this trail in 2014 and was disappointed to find it followed a wide tarmac road through a managed forest to the hanging bridge. It is no improvement on the normal route from Stanzach to Forchach. However, it is worthwhile to follow the trail from the bridge at Vorderhornbach up towards the Baichlstein for a while. From a clearing towards the peak, the elevated view over the Lechtal is impressive. The area is heavily forested with the blue river and its white gravel banks contrasting well against the dark green colours of the forest. The view from here reminds me of British Columbia. Also the dreadful long flat path to Höfen can be avoided by heading from Rieden to the ruins at Ehrenberg, then either down to Höfen or to Reutte Altstadt. Including the Ehrenberg and Altstadt could be a more interesting option than the detour around Reutte via Wängle. I like a trail to finish strongly and the Lechweg certainly didn't disappoint in this respect, with the Kalvarienberg being the highspot of the last day.
As the trail stages in Austria begin and end at different villages along the Lechtal, all on the 4268 Bus Route, basing myself in Holzgau and using the free bus travel afforded by the Lech-Active Card was definitely a good decision. However, there is an anomaly in the bus timings. The last bus from Reutte leaves at 19:45, whereas from Lech it's at 17:50. This needs to be taken into account on the first 2 (Sporting) or 3 (Classic) stages. I found the buses to be punctual and the frequency was good. The 4258 bus between Füssen and Reutte isn't too well synchronized with the 4268 bus from Reutte to Lech, especially on weekends. Travelling to the Lechtal from Heathrow via Munich was a mistake as it resulted in a long day of travelling in both directions. I left home at 5AM and arrived in Holzgau at 7:30PM, a total of 13.5 hours travelling. On my usual annual trips to the Montafon, I always fly from London City to Zurich, then take the OeBB's Railjet to Bludenz, arriving at noon. After Bludenz, the train also stops at Langen in Arlberg, from where it's just a short ride up to Lech on the 91 bus. I have already planned to use this route for my 2014 hiking trip to the Lechtal.
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