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Austria - Exploring on Foot
If you're keen on walking, then Austria is a wonderful place to visit. Austrians have always been keen on walking through the mountains, and now visitors are discovering the beauties of Austria's mountains in the warmer months as well. So why not join them?

One of the good things about walking in Austria is that most trails are clearly labeled and there are good maps to help you find your way around. Many trails have direction signs along the way, or else a red-white-red striped sign placed on a convenient tree trunk is used to indicate the path.

Nowadays, many areas have followed the lead of the Tirol region and now mark their trails according to difficulty. This system is the same as the one used for cross-country skiing trails, where blue indicates an easy trail, red for moderate difficulty, and black for difficult. Moderate trails are often narrow and quite steep, and you need to be physically fit for black trails, which are very demanding and may require some climbing.

A good place to start is the local tourist office in Austria. They generally have walking maps for free, or more detailed guides for a small charge. Most of the best trails are further into the mountains, away from towns and villages. If you can, it's probably worth paying for a cable car ride up the mountain, if that's where your chosen trail begins.

Getting ready for a walk in Austria is the same as anywhere - be prepared. Always take water with you, and enough food for the day. Also carry extra clothing in case the weather changes during the day and becomes cold or wet. It's also a good idea to check local weather forecasts before you go, and look for any avalanche warnings. Carry a mobile phone if you have one, in case you need emergency assistance. And check your insurance policy - a mountain rescue can be very expensive, so it's worth checking to make sure you're covered, just in case.

If you're going on a multi-day hike, then you need to find out about the location and availability of the various Alpine huts that are dotted around the slopes. All the usual hiking courtesies apply, and it's particularly important that you carry your rubbish with you. Don't try and bury it, because this disturbs the ground, promotes erosion, and it's likely it will be dug up again by an animal who may suffer ill effects as a consequence.

Finally, you might want to spend some time before you arrive in Austria reading up about the various areas where walking is popular, so that you can decide exactly where you want to go. The Tirol is probably the most popular destination for walkers, but it's certainly not the only choice. And most important of all - enjoy yourself!
About the Author
Author of this article is Gordon Philips. If you want to read more about walking in Austria, click over to Gordon's site at Travel Austria Info Zone.
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