The R3 - Gailtal valley cycle path
Framed by the Carnic Alps to the South and the Gailtal Alps to the North, the 88 km long cycle path R3 invites you to explore the full length of the Gailtal valley and its truly blessed landscape, from Kötschach-Mauthen via Hermagor and Nötsch to Villach, where the river Gail flows into the river Drau. For your travel to Kötschach-Mauthen, I recommend you to go by train/ÖBB. You could split the length of the cycle path into 2-3 daily stages, that way you could keep all family members in a good mood. Along the path there are numerous picnic areas and the gravel banks of the river Gail are a fantastic natural playground for children.
From Kötschach-Mauthen station it's only a few meters through the small town, before you turn left to the R3. To start you cycle along the Gail, which is, at this section of the river, still quite untamed and wild. At Gundersheim, you switch to the right, Carnic side of the river. From there on, the cycle path detours for several kilometers from the Gail and takes you, after a very slight ascent, via Goderschach to Stranig and Döbernitzen; Stranig in particular has all qualities of a village as if from a picture book.
Back again at the river Gail, you cycle on a causeway that, unfortunately, offers but little shade. At Waidegg a little side trip to the Zerza fish farm is popular; the adjacent restaurant is open from May to September and you can replenish your energy with a variety of fresh fish dishes. Once again at the R3, you pass Rattendorf and Tröpolach/Nassfeld before arriving at Hermagor.
At Hermagor you need to decide whether to stay at the regular R3 - then you cycle along the river Gail on a bumpy path, sometimes with a loose gravel surface - or whether to take the alternative of the R3, the "R3 Seeweg/Lake path" - which detours to Lake Pressegger See, where you can refresh yourself with a jump into the fresh waters of the lake. If, however, you are eager to take a swimming break, there is also a possibility along the regular R3, at the natural pool of Vorderberg, a picturesque village with many old farms.
Thereafter, the cycle path continues along fields of corn and grain, advancing more and more closely to Mount Dobratsch, until you reach Nötsch. Leaving Nötsch behind, a particularly beautiful section of the R3 in terms of landscape begins: The Schütt, a huge boulder field at the southern flank of the Dobratsch, caused by two massive landslides. The asphalted cycle path takes you through a wonderful mixed woodland filled with more or less big stones and rocks.
Behind the village of Oberschütt you have to share the main road with cars for several kilometers, until you reach the motorway bridge, where the R3 re-continues. Along the Gail, which has now altered into a sedate, broad river, you reach the final destination, Villach, after 88 km.
About the R3 cycle path - please click here: (in German only)
Details regarding the fish farm and fish restaurant (Trojer family)
Anraun 2, 9631 Waidegg are available here (only in German)
Natural Pool Vorderberg
Nötsch 148, 9611 Nötsch im Gailtal
Information on activities are detailed here (only in German)
Free entry with the KärntenCard