A Snowy Trail Run in St. Anton and the Austrian Alps

Trail Run

The view from my room at the Karl Schranz Hotel. (Photo: Cara Morgan)

Sparkling snow, pine tree tunnels and glimpses of blue sky awaited me on the Verwall Trail in Sankt Anton am Arlberg, Austria. St. Anton is known around the world for its lively apres ski scene. But I was delighted to discover that the town is home to a large network of walking and cross-country skiing trails that snake through its corner of the Austrian Alps in the state of Tyrol.

I was staying at the Karl Schranz Hotel, a lovely inn owned by the famous Austrian Apline skier. If I’d never heard of Schranz before I reached Austria, townsfolk made certain I left knowing of his World Championship titles. But I’m no Alpine skier. So I was excited to see what else the Austrian Alps had to offer.

But I cursed silently to myself when I discovered that I’d forgotten to pack my Yaktrax, traction devices that slip onto shoes for running on snow and ice. But that wasn’t going to stop me from getting in at least one trail run in this winter wonderland. Luckily, there was a trail close to my hotel.

About a quarter of a mile up a steep road was the beginning of the Verwall Trail that winds through Verwall Valley. I knew I’d found the trailhead when I found this sign: Loipen und Winterwanderwege, which translates ski trails and winter trails.

Trail Run

The trailhead sign. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

The loipen or cross-country ski trails, with their own magnificent entrance, ran beside the walking and running trails.

Trail Run

The cross-country ski trailhead. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

The cross-country ski trails are built both for the classic style, with two perfectly machine made tracks, and for the free skating style, with a patch of snow between the tracks. I’d been cross-country skiing on a different trail just a few days earlier.

Trail Run

Cross country ski tracks. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

I set out on the pedestrian trail beside the ski trail.

The “Everything Besides Skiing” brochure published by the town’s tourism office promised panoramic views on this particular trail.

“The walk can easily become a highlight of your winter holiday,” the brochure read. It certainly was.

Trail Run

A trail run selfie in Austria. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

I snapped a selfie early in the run when I came to a clearing.

Much of the trail ran through dense trees, curving and dipping along the mountainside.

Trail run

The trail winded through the Alps. (Photo: RunKarlaRun)

At one point, I came across the area’s helipad.

Trail run

The St. Anton helipad. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

On my first day on the mountain, I saw a helicopter rescue while I was snowshoeing. My friend and I were trudging along when a huge wind started whipping up the snow around us. We saw the helicopter lower rescuers via a long cable, secure a skier onto a board, and lift them all up. The helicopter flew away with them all still dangling by the cable.

Trail Run

A helicopter evacuates a skier. (Photo: Cara Morgan)

Now, I’d discovered where the helicopter called home.

As beautiful as the trail was, it was quite slippery. I was able to run for the most part, but only with teeny, tiny Geisha-like steps. I almost wiped out a few times. There were a few steeper downhill sections where I had to walk. I also had to dive into knee-deep snow to make room for a plow that was clearing the trail. But it was worth the effort for views like this.

Trail Run

High peaks in the distance. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

I passed a few other walkers, but no runners. And all mentions of these trails in the tourist brochures only mentioned walking or snowshoeing. It seems that people don’t come to Austria to run, which is a shame. It would be a gorgeous place to train.

A few cross-country skiers zipped by me when our trails were parallel. But mostly, I enjoyed the total quiet and solitude of the trail run. I didn’t bring any music. I just took in the scenery.

Trail run

Views from the run. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

And paused for a few selfies.

Trail Run

Happy! (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

It might look awfully snowy, but the weather felt quite warm, hovering around 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit. And yes, after the winter we’ve had in New York City, that is warm.

After 40 minutes, I turned around and headed back to the hotel, for an 80 minute outing all together. Though I wasn’t able to run fast, it was incredibly invigorating to run in such a beautiful environment and on such a well-maintained trail. It definitely beats dodging taxis and tourists, like I do on most of my runs in New York City.

But next time, I’ll be sure to remember my Yaktrax.

trail run

View from Verwall Trail. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


03 2014

19 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    Stunning! Hope you had a great trip!
    Jennifer recently posted..Wine & Dine Half Marathon Close to Selling Out!My Profile

  2. 3

    That looks absolutely amazing! And beautiful! And gorgeous! And all the other adjectives of the like! It’s so great when you get to run through scenery completely different that what you’re used to. It’s awesome you were able to take advantage and hit a trail.
    Kellie recently posted..The Inaugural Enchanted Glass Slipper 10K RecapMy Profile

  3. 5

    Picture perfect scenery! Austria would absolutely be a perfect place to train…perfect for running hills too lol :0)

  4. 7

    Wow those views are beautiful. Looks like a great run through the snow :)
    Jojo @ RunFastEatLots recently posted..Already Looking Forward to the WeekendMy Profile

  5. 9

    That all looks so gorgeous and peaceful. It does look colder than temps in the 40s, but even I’d have taken 40s this past Monday.
    Lesley recently posted..My Shoes Came In!My Profile

  6. 11

    Calm winds and temps in the 20s felt pretty darn nice recently after a brutally cold weekend … but I bet just about any temperature would feel fine if you had a view like that!
    Sadye recently posted..Shorts report for FebruaryMy Profile

  7. 13

    You were game even attempting a run! Worth it for the spectacular scenery. Amazing! And you got one of the best selfies ever!
    Ewen recently posted..Chipping away at the 5k timeMy Profile

  8. 15

    What beautiful pictures you got! How fun to run beside someone who is skiing!
    Meranda@fairytalesandfitness recently posted..A Free Trip to Run an International Race: Who’s In?My Profile

  9. 17

    Wow, just wow. Those pictures are incredible. A true winter wonderland. And even better, it wasn’t freezing cold outside!
    Emily recently posted..2014 Enchanted 10KMy Profile

  10. 19

    One word – Ausemetria! Ok, that’s two words I combined.
    Scott Evans recently posted..Social RunningMy Profile


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