WAB - Stage 13: Reichenau/Payerbach - Knofeleben

Hiking route from Reichenau, spa park in Payerbach to Naturfreundehaus Knofeleben

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Elevation profile

12,06 km length

Tour dates
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Route: 12,06 km
  • Ascent: 864 egm
  • Descent: 96 egm
  • Duration: 4:30 h
  • Lowest point: 483 m
  • Highest point:1.257 m
  • Österreichisches Wandergütesiegel

Details for: WAB - Stage 13: Reichenau/Payerbach - Knofeleben

Brief description

The 13th stage of the Viennese Alps (WAB) route is a merry alpine mountain adventure. The first kilometres in the Höllental valley follow the Wiener Wasserleitungsweg route. From Kaiserbrunn onwards the hike ascends towards Schneeberg, accompanied by steep hillside forests and rock faces.


This is the first Schneeberg stage, starting in Payerbach and Reichenau before heading to the Naturfreundehaus via Kaiserbrunn and the Miesleitensteig route. The Knofeleben also gets its name due to the wild garlic (“Knofel”) that grows in abundance in the area. Both in landscape and hiking terms, this section is a genuine alpine mountain adventure: rushing water, steep hillside forests, rock faces, climbing passages, remoteness. It is preparation for climbing the highest mountain in the region.

Starting point of the tour

Reichenau, spa park in Payerbach

Destination point of the tour

Naturfreundehaus Knofeleben

Route description WAB - Stage 13: Reichenau/Payerbach - Knofeleben

From Payerbach-Reichenau railway station:

At the railway station, we head past the bus stops and turn right into Bahnhofweg. We continue to keep right along Bahnhofstraße to the Payerbacherhof and cross Hauptstraße at the zebra crossing. We cross the Schwarza and turn right just before Konditorei Alber, head past the pavilion and open-air swimming pool alongside the Schwarza and then go beneath a railway viaduct. At the car park we turn onto Hauptstraße then turn left into the centre of the festival town of Reichenau an der Rax.

From Reichenau:

Walk along Hauptstraße for around 15 minutes past the spa park to the Erlangerpark, which is a small park set up as a traffic island. We keep right at this point and cross the Schwarza to Reichenau Castle. Before reaching the castle, which was first mentioned in the 13th century, we turn left into Haabergstraße then follow the path alongside the rails of the Höllentalbahn railway line for some time. In addition, we also come across the Wasserleitungsweg, which we subsequently follow through the Höllental valley. Upon reaching Hirschwang bus stop, we cross two railway lines on our left, follow the paved road, and turn right at the next crossing. Follow the course of the road here. We turn right on Hauptstraße before walking past the cardboard factory and ignore the car park for the Wasserleitungsweg route on the left.  Shortly after the stone commemorating the Wasserleitungsweg, we leave the road and turn onto the 1st Wiener Wasserleitungsweg route to Kaiserbrunn, which was created in 1998 as part of the 125th anniversary of when the first mountain water pipelines to Vienna were set up. There are occasional stretches on metal grids, so pay particular attention to dogs and their paws. Typical features of the Wasserleitungsweg are the regular ascents and descents, a sufficient quantity of lay-bys alongside the path and the ever-changing proximity of the path to water and rock. This path is well signposted and brings us to the B27, which we cross and head over to the hiking path on the opposite side. We continue over the bridge and start to ascend slightly. Several downhill hairpin bends lead us back to a road, along which we hike for a short spell, then cross over to the right-hand side of the road in order to keep going along a hiking trail. After going past the stalactite cave and the Spritzbetonhöhle cave, we reach the road less than ten minutes later then carry on along a gravel path to the Kaiserbrunn camp site, then past the Schnepfkapelle to Gasthof Kaiserbrunn. A bus stop is also located here. We head onwards to the Wasserleitungsmuseum (open Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays between 10am and 5pm) where we can top up our water supplies. Initially we follow the marked path into the valley, and then soon turn onto the signposted Miesleitensteig route. Splendid views of the Wasserofen and Schneeberg can be found everywhere. When on a steep scree slope be mindful of rock falls, and steel cables help during the ascent. The forest road is soon reached on the marked climb, which keeps us left all the way to Naturfreundehaus Knofeleben, which was opened in 2012 and was formerly the Friedrich-Haller-Haus. The “brightest cabin in the Alps” took first place amongst all cabins in the Alps.


If you are travelling from Vienna take the A2 to Seebenstein junction, then continue on the S6 as far as the Gloggnitz exit. Follow the B27 to Reichenau.

Take the S35 from Graz, and then turn onto the S6 until the Gloggnitz exit. Continue along the B27 to Reichenau.


Car parking can be found in Reichenau near the municipal office and alongside the spa grounds.

Take the train via Wiener Neustadt to Payerbach-Reichenau railway station. Take the 1748 regional bus as far as the Reichenau/Rax Kurtheater stop.


More information at www.oebb.at

More info/links

You may like to hike the adjoining routes:


WAB - Stage 12: Habsburghaus - Reichenau

WAB - Stage 14: Knofeleben - Edelweißhütte

WAB - Regional Route J: Payerbach - Waldburgangerhütte - Knofeleben


Viennese Alps in Lower Austria, www.wieneralpen.at, +43 / 2622 / 78960


Always bring suitable maps. Always wear appropriate, sturdy footwear, bring sun and rain protection and water, as well as a little something to eat. Bring your mobile phone with you and save the mountain rescue emergency number: 140

Safety information

Your hiking experience in the Vienna Alps should be a thoroughly enjoyable and safe one. Therefore, please bear the following in mind:



When choosing a route, make sure it corresponds to your experience and physical fitness level. Check the weather forecast before you set off. The weather can change surprisingly quickly in the mountains. Always take appropriate equipment with you (e.g. rain protection).

Check whether the cabins and snack stations you intend to visit along the way are open. Inform someone before you set off of your chosen route and when you plan to return.

Map recommendations

Freytag & Berndt WK

Author's tip

Overnight stays are possible at the Hotel Marienhof in Hirschwang or the Hotel Payersbachhof in Payersbach.

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