We are not big hikers and do not have the right shoes or suitable weatherproof clothing. Nevertheless, we did not want to only stay on the shores of Lake Wolfgang. After researching about the area some more, we discovered a small tour, which was described as family-friendly, the way of the pilgrims. Only one steep climb over the altitude of about 200 meters was described. Well, we should be able to do that in our trainers.
The start of our hike
From St.Wolfgang the path of the pilgrims leads to St.Gilgen and from there you can get back on a ship.
At first we, walked along the road towards the village of Ried.
From here you have a great view of the lake. Now the path continued into the woods around the lake. The ground was soft from the rain of the last days and slippery in some places, but it worked well with our trainers.
Past a small waterfall, the path led us higher up towards Falkenstein, to a church, the Falkensteinkapelle.
The Legend of Saint Wolfgang
Bishop Wolfgang (924-994) is said to have retired to the mountains around Lake Wolfgang in 976 during a civil war in his hometown Regensburg. The legend tells that St. Wolfgang has lived here as a hermit. On the vertical wall of the falcon stone, the hermit is said to have hurled his axe into the valley. He wanted to determine the building site for the church of St. Wolfgang. 4 kilometres away, where the axe landed, is where the church is today.
In the Middle Ages, Rome and Santiago de Compostela were important places of pilgrimage in Europe. Many pilgrims chose the pilgrim’s route across Falkenstein. It is said that some 300,000 pilgrims walked past Falkenstein in peak times. As repentance for their sins, they carried stones up the path which are still here today.
On the rock face of Falkenstein, the church Falkensteinkirche was erected. It offered a place of reflection to the believers. The church was built in 1626 at a porthole of a cave in the Falkenwand. It is said that this bottleneck could even be passed by the fattest men, if only they are free from sins. Pregnant women hoped for an easy delivery after the successful crossing.
There are other legends about this place. For example about a water source that holds water with the power to heal. A wish-bell makes wishes come true, and signs carved in the stones are supposed to fight headaches.
Continue along the path of the pilgrims
Our route continued in the direction of St.Gilgen. In some places, there is the option to leave the direct path and to continue a somewhat more challenging route. Make sure to wear appropriate shoes!
We enjoyed the walk very much. I especially liked the places where we were able to spot Lake Wolfgang from a different perspective. The view was simply overwhelming.
After a while, the path of the pilgrims became flatter again and we arrived on a surfaced path. This led us, after about two hours of hiking, to St.Gilgen. After a walk through the village, we took the next boat back to St.Wolfgang.
For untrained hikers like us a strenuous but certainly great trip.