The Salzburger Saalachtal has its Triftsteig back again!
This small but beautiful trail even moved the President to visit for the opening in the 1980s. It was destroyed by the great flood in 2013 and has now been rebuilt.
It was a tricky project, carried out by council and tourist office employees over two years. “It was a huge challenge. There was nothing left, no footbridges, no passable trails”, describes project leader Hans Wimmer, thinking back to the flood of the century. Along the Saalach there is a gloomy picture. With untameable power the river makes its way to the Triftsteig and takes boulders, rocks, even entire trees with it. Swollen streams crash down from high above and unite with the river in a wild dance. There is a deafening roar and thunder, in short, a noise from hell doing justice to the name Teufelsschlucht (Devil's Gorge).
Once calm returned to this mighty natural spectacle, the old Teufelssteg (Devil's Bridge) was history and the link to the idyllic walking path from Lofer to Scheffsnoth was cut off. A new Teufelssteg was built in 2015 but the Triftsteig which leads downstream along the Teufelsschlucht to Au had to wait. This was not just for financial reasons but also because the renovation of many sections required pure handwork. No digger could reach those parts where the slopes fall away steeply and the path leads through thick forest and no winch could be operated either.
And because Arno Stainer had always wanted to inspire the world about his home town of Lofer, he wrote to the head of the Alpine Republic to ask him if he would like to open the new Triftsteig personally in 1986. The mood in the community was, “Excuse me, what? For this little path?” But one day an unexpected call came from the office of the President with his acceptance. “I thought it was a joke at first. But it was really the unmistakeable, deep voice of Rudolf Kirchschläger“, says Arno Stainer, who incidentally laid out the very first “themed trail” in Austria along the Triftsteig, with information boards about the history of the wood drift on the Saalach.
A reminder of the wood drift on the Saalach
These days the Teufelsschlucht with its powerful water vortices, huge stones and rocks attracts international kayakers and canoeists year after year. What is a playground for them used to be a fight for wood for the former wood drifters. For centuries this was transported, drifted, on the Saalach to Bad Reichenhall. There it was needed in huge quantities to heat the saltwork brewhouses. In these salt steamed, the “white gold” of the time. Drifting began when the snow melted and in heavy rain. At the same time the dammed up tributaries of the river were activated. They burst out as soon as the dam gates were opened. The firewood which had been thrown in thundered down to the saltworks in the valley. Along the Saalach the men had to free any backed up wood. Some were pulled into the waters and drowned. Drifting on the Saalach ended in 1911 with the construction of the Saalach power plant and the reservoir in Bad Reichenhall. After that the old drift paths along the Saalach fell into disrepair. However, beautiful sections were included in today's Triftsteig.