Hike to the hut: Lienzer Hütte
The long drive is well worthwhile. Not only is the Schobergruppe's landscape breathtaking, but the Debanttal valley which you hike along on the short way up is flanked by several three thousand meter high peaks. Food and service at the Lienzer Hütte are excellent and both the hut's own playground and the wild torrent of the Debant are an Eldorado for children. One could spend endless hours at this very place - or hike further up to the Salzplattensee, one of the Alps' most beautiful lakes!
Drive through the Drautal valley as far as Lienz and turn right at Nussdorf-Debant, where signs direct you to the Lienzer Hütte. Keep following the deep and narrow meanders of the Debanttal valley. The road will lead you - first on asphalt, later on a well-maintained gravel road - to the Seichenbrunn parking lot, situated at 1,686 meters of altitude. From this point on you are within the boundaries of the Hohe Tauern National Park - the Tyrolean part of the National Park - in the largely untouched landscapes of the Schobergruppe.
Opt for the so-called Natur-Kulturlehrweg (educational nature and culture trail) to the Lienzer Hütte (1.977 m). The hike "over hill and dale" with about 200 meters difference in altitude always stays next to the torrent of the Debant and will take you about 1 1/2 hours. Several illustrated charts provide information about points of interest along the trail, such as anthills or alpine moors. Also, there is a hill farm museum (Hofmuseum) halfway up.
Towards the end of the path you reach the head of the Debanttal valley, which is a good 1,000 meters below the mountain crests that frame it. It was carved out in the shape of a trough or tub by glaciers; indeed the distinctive appearances of all the peaks in the Schobergruppe are the result of glacial erosions and natural processes like wind, rain and snow. The Schobergruppe numbers about 40 three thousand meter high peaks, which are characterized by rugged cliffs and steep ridges and there are enormous boulder fields in the flanks of its valleys.
This is where the Lienzer Hütte is situated. Switch off now, take a snack and enjoy the marvelous mountain world. While you relax, let the children play at the gorgeous playground or in the waters of the Debant (don't forget a towel and cloths to change). Once you have restocked your stores of energy, I recommend hiking further up to Lake Salzplattensee (2.372 m). For this, follow the hiking trail 'Elberfelder Weg' in the direction of 'Gößnitz-Scharte' (Gößnitz-saddle). After a good hour's hike and an ascent of about 400 meters you'll reach the lake.
Lake Salzplattensee isn't a large lake. However, its situation is so peaceful, protected between the cliffs and enclosed by green meadows, that it is impossible to imagine a softer spot in this rocky desert. In the lake our children found a newt, a frog and many tadpoles; we built stone towers; we listened to the whistles of the groundhogs and the baas of the mountain sheep; and, of course we had another snack before the descent. What an idyllic place this is!
Drive through the Drautal valley towards Lienz. Immediately after leaving Lienz, at Nussdorf-Debant, follow the signs to Lienzer Hütte. You can access the website here (only in German). If you want to spend the night there, you must book by phone.