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Merano High Mountain Trail

Dog Trekking through South Tyrol on one of the most beautiful long-distance hiking trails in the Alps.

Following the classic route, but adding some peaks, just for the fun of it, and cover a total of 105km and climb over 6.000m in 7 stages. We will bring two extra challenges on the way. Doing the trip with our dog limits the huts we will be able to sleep in and we need to make sure to bring enough food along for him. Also, traveling in an area well known for its outstanding cheese and bacon, will be interesting for two vegans on the Alps.


Apart from Spilios Agapitos, the hut where we spent a night before hiking up Mount Olymp in Greece, we both had never done a multi-day hike. Starting off on an adventure where the route is the goal is something we had done before but even though Boggy’s loading volume is very limited already we were now determined to conquer the challenge of one (man-/ woman – portable) backpack each. And yes, each meaning also Pepe would have to carry his own backpack.

We wanted a week where we could immerse ourselves into nature, reduce ourselves to only the essentials and get from one place to the other by the most origin mode of transportation. All the while, we were not quite ready to give up on running (yet sometimes cold) water and a hot meal accompanied by a cold Radler. Does this sound like a hut tour in the Italian Alps to you? Well, you guessed absolutely right!


Meraner Höhenweg Planning Guide

If there’s one thing, we’re not good at, it’s planning our trips in advance. Well, we knew that when hiking from hut to hut during peak travel season in August, we would have to reserve spots in advance. So, we went down the rabbit hole of a Google search containing the search words hut tour, dog, Italian Alps. It wasn’t long before we came across the blog where Romy shares hiking adventures with her dog Lotte, including detailed descriptions of trails and accommodations. We came across her entry of the Meraner Höhenweg and realized that it was the perfect adventure to get started with – most of the huts are willing to take in dogs plus the hike itself is not supposed to be that challenging.

We booked the huts recommended in the blogpost four months in advance and only had to find replacement for two of them as one was already fully booked and the other one no longer serviced.

It was pretty clear to us that Pepe would have to carry his own food– a total of 2,4 kg of kibble was definitely not going in either of our backpacks (also, it was pretty much exactly 15% of his body weight, which is the amount healthy dogs can carry safely). After some research we were really excited to have found a stylish yet functional backpack for Pepe in a fancy signal red.


Unfortunately, Pepe is a very ungrateful dog as he hates all the things we dress him in: winter coat, rain coat, pulling harness, you name it – he does not like it and shows you his disgust by pretending he can’t walk anymore once you put said things on him. Well, he wasn’t going to get around this one, so he gave in eventually. We were wondering whether he was fit enough for the tour but since this dog outperforms us in every activity we quickly moved on from that thought. The last thing we needed in order to prepare for a hut tour with Pepe was of course to introduce him to the situation of sleeping in a hut, most likely with strangers in a shared room and unfamiliar noises where he wouldn’t be able to rest very well.

So, we were planning to do some overnight hut stays to see how the doggo deals with the situation and get him used to it. Guess what: the good dog parents that we are, we spent exactly ZERO nights at a hut with him.

Oh well, let the adventure begin!


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TIME: 1.5h   |   DISTANCE: 3.2km   |   ALTITUDE: 390m
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First learning: don’t travel down south on a Saturday in August – we could have chosen any day but went for the day of turnover in every apartment and hotel. Oh well, we did get handed some local apples crossing the border to Italy, so I guess it was worth the wait?

On our way, Katharina checked the route and accommodations one more time and found out that Benzino fucked up and we’re missing one night in Pfelders. It’s where we got a cancellation very early in the planning process and Benzino apparently had decided to ignore that. However, we managed to fix that even though it wasn’t easy to find a spot.

We chose Vellau as our starting and end point since we would be taking the unique Korblift (a basket style gondola open at the top which holds up to two people). We had wondered how we would get Pepe inside that thing since he would definitely hop on on his own but when it was our turn the lift operator simply grabbed Pepe and threw him in with Benzino. Problem fixed!

We got off at Leiteralm and started our hike on a steep hill where were both about to collapse and as it later turned out both thought to ourselves that we definitely wouldn’t make it all the way with such a heavy backpack (Katharina: 8kg, Benzino: 12kg) well, we had never practiced and therefore still were getting used to the weight (spoiler alert: we made it all the way). We arrived at Hochganghaus after a quick but strenuous hike, enjoyed dinner and beer and then went to sleep in triple room which we had to ourselves.


Korblift: 12€ p.P. + 6€ Pepe (round trip)

Accommodation: 41€ p.P. incl. breakfast + donation for Pepe


Hochganghaus – Nassereithütte

TIME: 3h   |   DISTANCE: 6.4km   |   ALTITUDE: 366m

We hydrated Pepe every morning before taking off on our hike, meaning we had to get him to drink water. Since dogs tend to live very much in the moment and preparing their bodies for a hot summer hike isn’t really a concept to them, we couldn’t convince him do ore-hydrate. But guess how you can get water inside your dog even if he’s not thirsty? Yep, you mix in some delicious, canned salmon-and-sweet-potato mush.

Breakfast for vegan humans on huts in the mountains was and from there on would always be black coffee and bread with jam.

We took off for a very short morning hike with great views and lots of waterholes for Pepe on the way and arrived at Nassereithütte already at noon. hike in the morning. It had gotten pretty hot, and we cooled off with a delicious spritzer mixed with yarrow (Schafgarbe), a local herb which grows all over the meadows.

Nassereithütte is beautifully located on a small stream, they have their own vegetable garden and also goats and chickens roaming about. It’s also a popular day hike destination and sine we got there on a Sunday it was packed with people. We moved into our room (again, double room with an almost hotel-like character) and decided to tackle another hike starting right behind the hut and straight uphill. Felt amazing to hike without a backpack!

For dinner, Benzino beamed himself 10 years back and ordered a Cola-Weizen. It would turn into his drink of choice for the entire trip and his eyes were always beaming when the waiter or waitress would bring it up. Katharina went mostly for the “white puddle”, which apparently is the local expression for a white wine spritzer. Apparently, we had underestimated Pepe’s calorie intake during the day hikes, but he was lucky to indulge into the left-over pasta from the kitchen before the bucket went into the pigpen!


Accommodation: 34€ p.P. incl. breakfast, Pepe for free


Nassereithütte – Untervernatschhof

TIME: 7h   |   DISTANCE: 17.8km   |   ALTITUDE: 908m

Still the same pair of socks that we started with, but we did treat ourselves to a new pair of underwear each. We had the Valley of the 1000 steps ahead of us and didn’t really know what we had to expect but it was supposedly going to be a long day ahead of us.

Benzino had a short hopeful moment when he read the word “Heumilch” (hay milk) on one of the signs at breakfast – Katharina had to break it to him that Heumilch is in fact not made of hay but a protected name for milk from grass-fed cows.

The hike itself was again full of beautiful views, leading through forest but also over meadows and through farmland. We stopped for homemade veggie noodles for lunch and somehow never figured out, where exactly we went through the valley of the 1.000 steps. Again, around noon it got pretty hot and the last part of the trail we were exposed to the sun but still managed to pass everyone we were meeting on the trail (Katharina can’t help it, she’s got terrier genes: those who walk in front of us shall be passed!). We also found out that the threshold for carrying the backpacks is approximately 5hrs, after that it gets really uncomfortable. Even more so, when you don’t bring enough water and are too lazy to refill your hydration pack when you pass waterholes on the way….


Other than that, we were really surprised how well things went with Pepe – we had expected to keep him on-leash most of the time since he is a born hunter from a working breed but surprisingly, he almost turned into a herding dog for the duration of the trip. He would be always ahead of us but constantly checking if we were coming or turning back to get us. Good boy!

We arrived at Untervernatschhof early in the afternoon, where we met the owner of the farm - a real character. Slightly grumpy, he was telling us about how annoying a lot of his guests are, especially those with dogs. Well, it seemed like he was having a rough time running a farm and welcoming guests for the past 2 Covid years, so we listened and weren’t bothered too much by his negativity. We had the choice between spending the night in the hay store or a double room in the 600 years old farmhouse. We opted for the later one and took the chance to use the shower which would run cold after a couple of users; we had been the first hikers to arrive that day.

The owner warmed up to us eventually and turned into a nice host, cooking us a vegan dinner along with a “normal” dinner for the rest of the hikers, Schnaps included!


Accommodation: 50€ p.P. incl. dinner & breakfast + 10€ for Pepe

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Untervernatschhof – Eishof

TIME: 4.5h   |   DISTANCE: 11.3km   |   ALTITUDE: 736m

We started the day in the cool morning hours through the forest on a long way down before the trail went up again. We were excited to get to the Eishof – apparently the first spot remote enough to be without phone reception yet from the website a hut run by hipsters presenting itself in a modern yet comfy hut kind of way.


We were a little disappointed when we got to the Mitterkaser Alm where we had planned to have lunch, but it turned out to be very touristy and crowded. On top of that, it had the last parking spot before the Eishof, so against what we had expected the trail from Mitterkaser Allm to Eishof was very crowded, lots of day-hiking families with kids and strollers.We stopped for Lunch at the Begleid Alm, a small and cozy spot where we tried Quendelschorle which is made from thyme and tastes refreshingly delicious.

The Eishof is indeed beautifully located, nestled into the end of the valley on the bottom of huge mountains next to a river. Yet, it was overcrowded with day hikers and a little too hip for our taste. The staff was busy with the day hikers so when we arrived, we made ourselves comfortable on deck chairs in front of the hut and enjoyed people and dog watching (maybe one of us was taking a nap as well).

After some 'Kaffee and Kuchen' we went on quick exploring excursion along the river, and it was then and there that Pepe made contact with an electric fence – something we had seen coming for a while now. It’s not a concept form him, so while sniffing something very exciting he touched the fence. He screamed so loud, terrified, and totally confused of what had just happened to him. The worst part of it was that his first intention was running away from us, as if we had just inflicted that terrible pain on him. Poor doggo! Oh well, we could convince him to come back to us and he limped for a couple of minutes. Typically for him, a pathetic actor, all the pain was forgotten as soon as he heard his first whistle of a groundhog!

The contrast to the other huts we had stayed in so far was even bigger at dinner time – we had a very tasty vegetarian 3-course-meal with local ingredients served on fancy plates and accompanied by good wine. We felt beamed back to Munich and even though the location was cozy, and the service was super friendly it seemed a little out of place of sorts. After all, the night before we had dinner served by the farmer’s 6-year-old daughter in her princess dress! Benzino couldn’t believe his luck when he got offered seconds and he happily accepted the offer.

What we loved about dinner was the fact that you were assigned a group table and so for the first time we really got into contact with other hikers and enjoyed a nice evening.

It was our first night in a shared room with four more people, two sisters and two friends, both couples German and we learned that they had not been informed they would be sleeping with a dog in the room. Luckily, they were all fine with it and we found Pepe a spot in a corner, hoping he would find some rest as he does get nervous in unfamiliar and notifies when strangers enter his space.

Lots of overnight guests were annoyed by the shower situation – two showers for approx. 40 guests are not a lot to be honest, but then again: it’s a hut and it’s not like you have anywhere to be. Zanzibar taught as pole pole and so we rolled with it!


Accommodation: 52,50€ p.P. incl. dinner & breakfast + 5€ for Pepe


Eishof – Pfelders

TIME: 6h   |   DISTANCE: 17.5km   |   ALTITUDE: 832m

We didn’t really sleep because they were nervous about how Pepe would do but the little man did such a great job at night, he only woofed once when one of our roommates came entered the room in the middle of the night. Again, even on the hipster hut it’s the classic vegan mountain breakfast: bread and jam with black coffee.

We got up early since we had the gueen’s stage of the Meraner Höhenweg ahead of us: the ridge traverse of the Eisjöchl (2.895m) with the stunningly located Stettiner Hütte waiting for us.

It turned out to be the most beautiful stretch of our trip because we finally got to go into and up the higher mountains (versus trails along the mountain range, which the Meraner Höhenweg mostly is defined by, as it is basically a circle aroung the Texelgroup). The sun was coming up in front of us when we started, and we once more overtook all of those who had gotten a head start on us. We crossed the ridge at 10am and treated ourselves to a hot tea with rum on the Stettiner Hütte. The hut had been recently rebuilt after a snowslide had destroyed the larger part of it in 2014 and it’s a real eyecatcher now. It features a main building alongside a couple of single huts to spend the night, one of which is reserved for dogs and their owners…maybe another time! In hindsight, we would definitely recommend Eishof for a quick break and some people watching but definitely spend the night at Stettiner Hütte, you’ll get the real remote mountain feeling!

From there on, it was a long way down all the way to Pfelders with a quick lunch break a at Lazinser Alm. The water, having been sunny and warm the previous days, had started to change when we descended Eisjöchl and clouds were rolling into Pfelders alongside us.

When we arrived at our guest house no one opened the door, and we were kind of worried since this was the place we had booked on the day we had started the hike. Did something go wrong? Nope, turns out the owner was drying her hair when we rang and couldn’t hear us over the sound of her hairdryer. She was super friendly and got us into the SPA area of the hotel across for an entrance fee of 5€ and was also very concerned what we would be eating for breakfast, so she got us soy milk for our granola!


Accommodation: 45€ p.P. incl. breakfast + 5€ SPA, Pepe for free

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Pfelders – Christlhof

TIME: 4.5h   |   DISTANCE: 14km   |   ALTITUDE: 262m

Alright, time for the first down day, at least for Katharina: she had been developing a serious blister on her right heel for a couple of days and blister plaster helped exactly nothing. So, Benzino worked his magic and built his on blister defines out of tape and tissues which turned out to be perfect! On top of that, heavy rains were on the weather radar and Katharina no likey to get wet… well, what can you do? Benzino did not allow her to get on a bus straight to Meran (even though we walked right past the bus stop!) so we got the rain gear out and started hiking.

20 minutes into our hike it started to drizzle but it would be on and off for another two hours before the real heavy rain was hitting us. Since the stop at Eishof we were meeting the same people each day, also on their way to finish the Meraner Höhenweg but it was really only a handful and most of the time we enjoyed nature on our own.

Day six continued to be kind of a down day, it was mostly flat forest paths and even stretches along streets. We had planned to get in a peak that day (Matatzspitze) but shortly before the turnoff to hike uphill a flood hit us from above and we continued our way in silence to our guesthouse for the night.

The host, who turned out to be Swabian, was very friendly and showed us to our room even though we were early. We hung everything to try and got cozy in the “Stube” (living and dining room of a hut), where we were served coffee, tea, and a good old cheese bread. The hosts specialty were egg dishes, and the only other restaurant was going to be a 30-minute walk in the pouring rain. Thus, we skipped the veganism altogether for the night and treated ourselves to a large portion of Kaiserschmarrn! Later, we got to meet the hosts husband, he was in charge of the dishwasher and billing – seemed like a well-practiced team to us.

One thing we had realized before but became obvious in this place once more, was the fact that ratings on Google, or any other platform should be handled with care as they are so subjective. They depend on the reviewer, the specific time of your stay and so many other factors. We enjoyed our short stay at Christlhof whereas the reviews online were so-so. If you decide to look deeper into the ratings, a review that criticizes a mountain hut as “very simple” and the host of said hut as “not entertaining” isn’t worth much, at least not to us. So, do yourself a favor and make the effort to read the comments under the rating so you might get a better idea of the criteria that have actually been rated and if they even matter


Accommodation: 41€ pP incl. breakfast, Pepe for free


Christlhof – Gasthaus Brunner

TIME: 5h   |   DISTANCE: 14.3km   |   ALTITUDE: 694m

While we were enjoying Kaiserschmarrn and local cheese, Pepe threw up under the table – did he mean to tell us something? Who knows… we went to sleep in our cozy room, but not for long: the Christlhof is an old farm building where mice have plenty of space in between walls to roam around at night. The sound of the tiny mice feet on wood drove Pepe crazy; he probably could smell them, and we could all hear them but of course never got to see one. So, we stayed up half of the night watching Pepe watching the walls.

Day seven was also going to be a da with lots of paved roads and we started to feel our legs already on the first couple of meters. At this stage we were just trying to finish the tour – the most beautiful party lay behind us anyway and our bodies and minds were ready to cross the finish line. 3o minutes before arriving at out last stop, Gasthof Brunner, Katharina was going to lie down in the middle of the round as she had refused to have another “vegan hut breakfast” in the morning and was hitting a wall. Luckily, Björn provided energy balls and we could finish the 7th stage of the tour.

We were manifesting a big plate of Gröstl (roast potatoes) and thank God we had one in front of us 15 minutes after we arrived. The owner, a father and his two sons, were super friendly and very attentive. We got a beautiful room with views over the valley and were served a large bowl with vegan pasta Bolognese for dinner. We slept exceptionally well during our last night of the tour!


Accommodation: 45€ p.P. incl. breakfast, Pepe for free

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Gasthaus Brunner – Leiteralm

TIME: 4.5h   |   DISTANCE: 10.4km   |   ALTITUDE: 847m

Alright, it was the time of the trip where we would to our entire routine for one last time: hydrating Pepe, having a vegan hut breakfast, packing the bags and – drumroll – to mark the occasion: fresh underwear and socks! Even Pepe got to celebrate and was allowed to hike the last stage without his hated backpack (guess who was going to carry it for him?)

We realized how structured our days had been, always following the same protocol. The days are defined by getting from A to B and fulfilling personal needs, that’s basically it. Very minimized and yet, or maybe because of it, very fulfilling.

We had our final lunch at Alm Steinegg with one final great view overlooking Meran and Benzino enjoyed his final Cola Weizen. During lunch he got very sentimental, as he often does, and was reminiscing about the feeling that he would like to travel back in time in order to be able to experience everything for the first time again. The hopeless melancholiac got teared out of his dreams by the realist who wanted to get shit done and thus we started our final ascent. When we excited the Korblift, it felt kind of surreal to be back where we had started eight days prior. Pepe shot straight towards our car and did a crazy-happy dance on the parking lot, apparently very happy to be back!


Everyone we met was friendly and helpful, the hosts were always welcoming, each in their own way. Every accommodation was clean and - if a vegan can judge – the food was tasty and plenty. The route was never crowded, and we often hiked to ourselves, which is something we really enjoyed.



The only thing that comes to my mind is the fact that it will be impossible to do the Meraner Höhenweg entirely vegan, unless you’re willing to a) cut down calories big time or b) carry a ton of weight in food.



Not much to change to be honest. If there will be a next time, we might opt for the crossing and visit the Spronser Seen.