Already about 5300 years ago, Stone Age hunters and shepherds stomped along the paths where today sporty hikers enjoy their leisure time. This is proved by the sensational finding of "Ötzi" - the glacier mummy - not far from Gurgl. In September 1991, tourists stumbled over the man covered partly with ice at Tisenjoch col. This was the beginning of archaeological research in this area, which made the settlement history of Upper Ötztal appear in a completely new light. Numerous places of finding in the Ötztal Nature Park, in particular in the vicinity of Gurgl, show traces of human activities that go back far beyond history.
The archaeological loop hiking trail follows the western mountain slopes of Gurgl and can be walked in both directions. If you start in the direction of the Obergurgl stone pine forest, a highlight of the tour is waiting for you right away: Beilstein area ranks among the most researched archaeological sites in the high mountains of the central Alpine region. It is proven that human activities took place more than 9000 years ago. Remains of charcoal from a fireplace and chert (silex) indicate the use of this place immediately after the end of the last Ice Age. Initially, Beilstein area probably served as a hunting base, later also the first shepherds with their cattle stopped there. The pasture building - dating back to the 12th and 17th centuries - was in use as a living room and storage place for hay until the 20th century.
Ambitious hikers climb the steeply rising trail via Küppele Alpine hut to the highest point of the loop hiking tour below Lehnerkar (2574 m) cirque. Afterwards the trail leads towards the lower valley and the Alpine lake area, past the Haglen enclosure to the trail fork of Soom, and in switchbacks down to Gurgl. Copper stelae in three languages (German/English/Italian) inform about the region's peculiarities at distinctive points.
The walking time of this moderately difficult hike is about 6 hours. The highest point can be found at 2600 m above sea level. Best time to explore the area: from June to September.
Did you already know that? The archaeological loop hiking trail is part of an original Ötztal Trek stage.