Protected Areas

in the Imst Outdoor Region

Hiking through idyllic protected areas

Here in the Imst Outdoor Region it’s almost impossible to look at the surroundings without developing a deep affinity for nature and its wonders. And because it’s important to protect and preserve what

you love, the people who live here and  spend their holidays here treat the beauties of nature with care and respect so that it can last forever.


Lake Fernsteinsee & Afrigal

The area around Lake Fernstein is considered to be a beautiful natural oasis. The Sigmundsburg castle ruins tower on an island, in the middle of the emerald green waters, offering a remarkable sight. The mountain pine forest in the Afrigal's valley basin does the same. It is the largest of its kind in Austria and is home to trees up to 25 m high with extraordinary contrasts reminiscent of Scandinavian forests.


Over a length of 1.5 km, the Schinderbach river digs its way from the Blue Grotto through the rocky ridges of the Imst low mountain range terraces to the Johanneskirche. (difference in altitude 250 m).

For geologists it reflects millions of years of the earth's history, but also all those who are less interested in geology will be amazed by the beauty of the Rosengartenschlucht gorge and the wealth of flowers, animals and stones in this gorge in Imst.

Due to the special conditions in the Rosengartenschlucht, alpine plants and animals climb far deeper than their actual distribution. The humid, cool climate promotes the growth of ferns and mosses, and you will encounter unique vegetation here. Nature has practically been left to its own free dynamics here, you can see its true face.
Remarkable: The entrance is located in the middle of the city centre.


Blue Grotto

The special thing about the Blue Grotto is the history of its creation: 2000 years ago, during Roman times, people were already working hard here, searching for silver-containing galena. Geologist Peter Gstrein suspects that mining was already carried out in the first centuries after the birth of Christ using the fire setting method; the rock became brittle due to the heating and could thus be cut off more easily. This is how the Blue Grotto was created, which is probably unique in Tyrol.

Once you arrive in Hoch-Imst, you can either hike back to Imst via the Wetterkreuz, or continue your hike with the Imst mountain lifts and the Alpine Coaster in Hoch-Imst.

Muttekopf Region

The Muttekopf region is protected because of its special geological features. One of the reasons is the highest Gosau occurrence in the entire Limestone Alps. The "Blaue Köpfe" make the area a unique geological teaching example.

Breathtaking natural beauty, a particularly rich variety of flower species, an unusual geological formation and a high-alpine fauna – the Muttekopf area boasts a wealth of natural gems in a setting of unparalleled tranquillity.

Milser Au Floodplain

Rare animals and plants have found a valuable habitat in the Mils floodplain. Near-natural river constructions were used to create flood retention areas that preserve and revitalise the grey alder floodplain forest's natural habitat and ecosystem in the long term. This prevents the transformation of the softwood floodplain forest into an ecologically less valuable area from continuing.

In the meantime, visitors to the Mils floodplain have been provided with an idyllic, relaxing recreational area by the beautiful Inn river. Start at the Mils sports field, end at the Trofana Tyrol restaurant & adventure village. Free parking.



The Antelsberg near Tarrenz is one of the rare habitats of the German Scorpion in the Northern Alps. As members of the arachnids, scorpions are descendants of the oldest terrestrial animal species. They seem to feel particularly at home in the light, warm and dry pine forest above the Gurgltal, because one of the largest populations of this species in the Northern Alps has developed here. As spiked exotics from the south, these primitive arthropods seem somewhat eerie to us Central Europeans. The sting of the Antelsberg scorpions is poisonous for its prey, but harmless for humans.

The scorpions of the Antelsberg are very special because of their abundance of individuals. In earlier times they were collected for folk-medical healing purposes and for the treatment of livestock diseases. The 'Oleum scorpionum' was considered a diuretic medicine and a remedy against the plague. For the production of the miracle cure, 100 living animals were put into two pounds of olive oil, so that they would release their poison in their death throes. Modern veterinary medicine has now refuted the old popular belief in the healing power of the scorpion poison, and today there is a strict ban on disturbing and collecting the poison. Scorpions are under nature conservation.


Tschirgant Rockslide

Almost 3,000 years ago, a dramatic rockslide took place at the entrance to the Ötztal valley. The former summit and part of the southern slope of the Tschirgant fell down, the 'White Wall' on the south side of the Tschirgant is clearly visible. The Inn valley and the entrance to the Ötztal valley were buried by a total of about 200 million m3 of rock material. A chaotic boulder landscape, barren and infertile, was created. The Inn and Ötztaler Ache laboriously cleared a path through the maze of rocks.  

Geology / landslide event
Landslides are a typical phenomenon of the post-glacial period. After melting, the large glaciers left behind oversteepened valley flanks that had lost their "support corset". Mountain landscapes with extreme relief energy naturally seek a balance. Mass movements are the result. At a weak zone between the clayey, water-retaining Raibler layers and the highly water-permeable Wetterstein limestone, the landslide has detached itself from the rock face. The landslide material consisting of Wetterstein limestone and main dolomite (approx. 500 million tons) slipped off within a few seconds and fell onto groundwater-bearing loose rocks of the Inn valley. Part of the loose rock was also excavated. The impact finally caused the water to be pressed out of the water-saturated sediments. On a water cushion, the landslide mass slipped as far as the village of Habichen in the Ötztal valley ('aquaplaning').  In the middle of the landslide mass, a long bedrock ridge, which was carved out by the glaciers, stands out. This is the Dürrberg, consisting of so-called 'Ötztal old crystalline' (approx. 500 million years old metamorphic rock). Although the rock massif rises about 200 m, deposits of the landslide material can be traced beyond.

'Forchet' - a local recreational area
With the first warm days of the departing winter, the spring heath unfolds its red blossoms. The sun's heat is stored in the light mountain forest, so that it is much warmer here in late winter and spring than in other forests. The Forchet, with its wild rocks, caves, peaks and valleys, is a great nature experience, especially for children. 

Geo nature trail
In order to make hiking in the Forchet more attractive for locals and tourists, a nature trail has been installed, which provides information about the origins, geology, flora, fauna and cultural history. An accompanying brochure depicts the contents of the Forchet information boards.


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