GeoPark Karnische Alpen
Become a rock detective!
Sharp, round, flat, rough, grey, blue and red – the rocks and stones in Nassfeld reveal much about the Carnic Alps and their turbulent history. Indeed, the whole Gailtal Valley is like a picture book laid open telling the fascinating story of Planet Earth over the last 500 million years. Today these rocks and stones continue to stand tall and can be found in all different shapes and sizes along the region's geotrails.
GeoPark Karnische Alpen
For millions of years it has carved open the landscape, washing away everything in its path: water. The "Galizenklamm" canyon is a fascinating testament to the irresistible natural power of rivers and streams as they carve a path from the glaciers high above down to the valley floor. This geotrail follows the spring water flowing through the canyon back to its source.
Getting there: Hermagor - Möderndorf - road to Egger Alm hut - Garnitzenklamm car park
Route: car park (612 m) - Ida Warte - Franzens Warte - Unterstand - Klause (1107 m).
Distance: approx. 6 km (to source). Walking time: 4 hours (there and back)
Possible variations: hikers can continue on to Nassfeld either via the Garnitzenalm (approx. 3 hours) or via the Kühweger Alm hut and the Kühweger Sattel ridge (approx. 2 hours).
The region around the Wolayersee lake is home to the oldest rocks in the Alps to contain fossils visible with the naked eye. The mighty limestone walls between the Hohe Warte, the Seewarte and the Seekopf date back to the Devonian Period (415 to 360 million years ago) and were formed in a shallow sea-like body of water. Also of particular interest are the rock deposits that can be seen on the south-facing slopes of the Rauchkofel mountain. Formed on the seabed many millions of years ago, they contain remains of ancient species related to the modern octopus such as the mighty "orthoceras“, also known as the "straight horn".
Getting there: Birnbaum - Nostra - Hubertuskapelle car park (1114 m).
Route I: walk along the road to Untere Wolayeralm and Obere Wolayeralm, then on to the Wolayerseehütte hut (1967 m).
Distance: approx. 6.5 km; duration: approx. 3 hours.
Getting there: From the Plöckenstraße road to the Südalpen-Weg 03 trail: car park at guesthouse.
Route II: Valentinalm hut (1205 m) - Obere Valentinalm (1540 m) - Valentintörl (2138 m).
Distance: approx. 5.5 km Walking time: approx. 2.5 hours
In the area around the Zollnersee lake visitors will find rock deposits dating back to the Early and Late Palaeozoic Period, with the deposits from the Late Palaeozoic Period lying on top of those from the Early Palaeozoic Period. This geotrail is an excellent opportunity to learn about how and when the Alps were formed, the never-ending struggle between land and sea, and which plants and animals fought to survive 300 million years ago.
Getting there - option I: Dellach - Weidenburg - Gratzhof - Dellacher Alm - Rösserhütte - Zollnersee-Hütte car park.
Getting there - option II: Stranig - Straniger Alm - Waidegger Alm car park. Then take the trail marked "Karnischer Höhenweg 403".
Distance: approx. 5 km Walking time: 1.5 hours
This geotrail starts at the Watschiger Alm hut in Nassfeld and takes walkers on a journey back in time through 500 million years of history. Long before humans walked the Earth, the peaks of the Carnic Alps lay below sea level. Fossils of mussels, snails, coral reefs and crabs can still be found today, many millions of years after seismic shifts moved the mountains to their current location. The best way to learn about the geological history of this area is on a guided hike leading along the "Karnischer Höhenweg" long-distance trail with several mountain huts en route. Hikers visiting the region in June or July will be treated to the sight of the beautiful wulfenia flower, a relict from the Ice Age today found only in the Carnic Alps and the Himalayas. The geotrail also passes a natural sulphur spring.
Starting point: Alpenhotel Plattner (1610 m)
Distance: 3.8 km
Vertical metres: 360 m
Walking time: 3 hours
The Laas geotrail takes walkers to Austria's only "petrified forest" where nature has transformed plants and trees into stone over the course of many millions of years. Along the trail and in the village itself there are many attractions showcasing how important geology is to our everyday lives.
Starting point: church in Laas
Distance: 5.3 km
Vertical metres: 260 m
Walking time: 2.5 hours
Visitors' centre at the GeoPark Karnische Alpen
The visitors' centre provides an introduction to the world of fossils and geology. Spread over 120 square metres, it features impressive rock fossils and tells the story of the valley through a film and a series of animations. Children can experience the power of geology at first hand and try out some "explosive" experiments.