Immediately after the first tunnel of the Semmering expressway (S6) tunnel chain in the direction of Bruck an der Mur, an imposing bridge spans the valley above the small town of Schottwien. In the south, the Sonnwendstein (1523 m / 4996 ft) towers into the sky, on the north flank of which lies the pilgrimage site of Maria Schutz. The radio station enthroned on its summit and the directional transmitter station right next to it are characteristics of this mountain and allow it to be identified from afar.
The small pilgrimage site of Maria Schutz is not far from the Semmering Pass on the Lower Austrian side of the nearby Styrian border. In the immediate vicinity of the fire station there are numerous parking spaces to park the car, strap on your backpack and tackle the ascent to the Sonnwendstein (1523 m / 4996 ft).Signs clearly point the way up. The Gebirgsjägersteig leads steadily upwards through the forest. The path is easy to walk, never exposed, but can certainly be described as steep. After just a few meters, a small road crosses the path and after about a third of the ascent you stand for the first time at the edge of the aisle that was cut into the forest for the chairlift that opened in 1955. In 2005 it was officially closed due to non-compliance with fire protection requirements and was dismantled in the years that followed.
From here the path meanders upwards along the aisle. The view down is dominated by the mighty valley crossing of the Semmering expressway. After several hairpin bends, you can already see the Pollereshütte when you look up. This was built on the platform on which the Berghotel Pollereshaus, which burned down in 1985, stood.
Arrived at the Pollereshütte it is only 5 minutes to the summit of the Sonnwendstein.
The almost two-hour ascent pays off. From the viewing platform in front of the Josefskapelle you can enjoy a magnificent all-round view of the Semmering region and Vienna's Hausberge, the Rax and Schneeberg. Even the viaducts of the historic Semmering Railway are clearly visible and, in good weather, you can even see Lake Neusiedl to the east.
Via the Pollereshütte, the path finally leads past the Schoberhütte to the Ebereschenhütte, where the Almsteig branches off to the right back to Maria Schutz. The narrow path meanders quickly down the valley and so you quickly lose sight of the large transmission stations on the summit of the Sonnwendstein, which recently proved to be constant companions. The Almsteig is less steep than the Gebirgsjägersteig and can generally be walked without any difficulties. Only loose scree requires caution and sure-footedness.
Along the path through the forest, there are always great views of the town of Semmering and eventually the path becomes much flatter. Along the northern flank of the Sonnwendstein, at the foot of the mountain, you reach the starting point of the tour in Maria Schutz after about 1.5 hours. In summary, it can be said that the Sonnwendstein is worth a visit all year round and is a worthwhile destination for the whole family, especially in the warm season.
Tour Facts (Tracked with Bergfex Tours):
Distance: 9,2 km (~ 5.7 mi)
Duration: 03:00 h (without breaks)
Ascent altitude: 732 m (2401 ft)