Gargellen Smuggler’s Trail

Another theme trail, this time just over the border in Austria in the Montafon area. The Gargellen Smuggler’s Trail follows an old alpine smuggling route, with ten interactive play stations, educating little hikers about smuggling. The area is beautiful, the play stations creative and fun, the playground large, the food tasty, the prices moderate: all the ingredients for a fun family outing.

Location:   Western Austria
Address: Gargellen 4562, 6787 Gargellen, Austria
GPS: 46°58’05.1″N 9°55’10.0″E
Car: 2hr10 from Zurich
Transit: not possible
Trail: 2.8 km km loop
Condition: dirt
Skill: easy
Open: mid June thru October
More info: www.gargellen.at — webcam

Overview

There are many hikes in the area. We did the Smuggerland theme trail, which is a short 2.8 km loop with ten interactive play stations. The path is smooth and wide enough for an all-terrain stroller. The elevation gain is not extreme so little walkers should be ok. The path starts and ends at the restaurant where you’ll find a big playground.

Getting There

Drive yourself to Gargellen, Austria. There are a couple large parking lots next to the cable car station and overflow lots a short walk down the road. I could not find any information about public transport serving this area.

Tickets

There are a couple different lifts in the area. You want the Gargellen Schafberg gondola, the big one in the middle of town. Buy return tickets. In 2016, a return ticket cost € 14,60/adult and € 8,70/child.

Make sure to pick up a SmuggiLuggi trail brochure, which includes a map, history of smugglers, and a short description of each play station. It’s in German only, but maybe you can use the images below to translate beforehand.

At the top of the cable car, you’ll find a big restaurant with lots of outdoor seating and a big playground. You could spend a couple happy hours simply lounging while the kids run wild. We had a delicious hearty Tirolean meal at half the Swiss prices, always a treat.

The 2.8km trail starts near the restaurant through the Smugglerland gate shown below. It’s impossible to miss. Almost immediately, you’ll reach the first station, Schleichweg, which is a barefoot path, including mud and water. I didn’t want to lose momentum or have wet clothes/shoes ruin our hike, so we skipped this station and went back at the end since it’s a loop trail. There’s plenty of fun coming up, so don’t worry.

The second station is a goat stall (shown below), a typical place where smugglers would hide.

The trail is a wide gravel path, suitable for all-terrain stroller. The trail starts slightly downhill, wraps around the hill, goes uphill for a bit before looping back downhill to the restaurant.

At the Fernblick station, you try to spot SmuggiLuggi the smuggler on the mountain. This was surprisingly difficult. It took a long time to find but we were quite proud when we finally did. The brochure to note what SmuggiLuggi has in his hand and report back at the restaurant to receive a smuggler’s badge. I didn’t read this note until just now while writing this post, so I can’t tell you what he has in his hand or what you might receive from the restaurant. So leave a comment if you do.

At the Kraftprobe station, there are rocks of different weights, representing bundles of salt, that you can try to pick up. Based on this test, I would have been a terrible smuggler.

At the Am Wasserand station, you are encouraged to fill up your water bottle in the stream. What??? Do not do this! There are cows grazing and pooping upstream. You do not want to get sick!!!

At the Auf der Flucht station, there are two footprint paths along the rocks and you’re supposed to race each other like a smuggler trying to outrun the fuzz. This was our favorite station.

At the Kletterbaum station, you walk on this tree trunk. We made a game of trying to walk across the length without touching any of the branches, harder than it might look.

At about the 2km mark, the Marend station has a picnic area with a grill pit and firewood. Above this, there is a small, not particularly attractive, reservoir shown below. FYI, “Marend” means “Jause” which means “a meal or snack consisting of bread, cold cuts, cheese etc., usually between breakfast and lunch or in the evening.”

The last station, In Sicherheit (aka Safe at Last!), is back at the restaurant, where the kids can play and you can rest in the lounge chairs.

For extra credit, you can hike Smuggler’s Circuit, a loop trail that connects Gargellen, Austria to Madrisa, Switzerland. They provide a GPS device to help you find hidden stuff along the trail. It looks like a challenging hike, but they website says “perfect for families!” The package includes an overnight in a mountain hay loft and “smuggler’s feast.” It’s definitely on my To-Do list. Let me know if you do it.

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