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Beautiful hiking paths

Toni Gruber has been a trail keeper in Brixen for years. His task - to maintain paths. And there are quite a few of them in Brixen. He is responsible for the maintenance of more than 100 kilometres of hiking trails.

3 min

Toni, what does a trail keeper do?
I’m responsible for maintaining about 100 km of hiking and walking trails around Brixen, which is roughly a quarter of the overall 420 km path network. The South Tyrolean alpine association AVS and the Italian alpine association CAI look after the paths and trails at high altitudes, while I take care of those lower down the mountain and in the valley.

What does your work actually entail?
Virtually anything I can do with my hands or a shovel to keep the trails in good shape. I check that all the signposts are still legible and in place and sort out any benches that have fallen over. I also cut back the grass and weeds along the paths and pick up any rubbish. And if I come across anything major that needs doing, I report it to the town authorities. There’s always work to be done!

No doubt because the trails are so popular with both Brixen residents and visitors. They certainly get a lot of use.
Exactly! In Brixen, we’re incredibly lucky to have such a large network of trails and so much green space right on our doorstep. Spending time in nature is so important for our health and wellbeing. That’s why I’m so passionate about maintaining our trails and natural spaces – and why I feel so disheartened whenever I come across damaged benches, vandalised signs or rubbish lying about. I wish all visitors would do their bit to take care of our precious countryside. By taking their rubbish home with them, sticking to the marked trails and closing gates behind them to stop grazing animals from straying.

Spending time in nature is so important for our health and wellbeing.

Toni Gruber

What else should people consider when setting out for a hike?
Mountains can be dangerous places, so it’s important to choose routes that you’re fit enough to do. Always say hello to other hikers, even if you don’t know them. We’re a friendly bunch, and greeting everyone with a smile is part of our hiking culture. And don’t forget to take the right equipment with you, including water and snacks, even if you plan on eating at a lodge: better safe than sorry!

What’s your favourite snack for when you’re out hiking?
A speck ham sandwich! Perhaps with a hard-boiled egg. Somehow, it always tastes better out in nature. And I never go without my trusty stainless steel water bottle. There are lots of drinking fountains dotted along the trails. A refillable bottle is a great way to help the environment.

Can you share any insider tips for hikes in and around Brixen?
Many people forget that hiking in the foothills can be just as rewarding as heading to a mountain summit. Villages like Elvas and Tschötsch on the slopes around Brixen have lots of beautiful trails running through them and come highly recommended, especially during the milder spring and autumn months. Plus, they’re home to some lovely traditional taverns serving homemade seasonal specialities. Many of them are right on the trails themselves so are ideal for giving your feet a rest.

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