Thayatal National Park is located on the eastern side of Austria along the northern border shared with the Czech Republic. The park covers an area of 5.02 square miles (13 sq km) making it the smallest of Austria’s national parks.
This protected area is also known as the Thaya Valley National Park, and then sometimes it is combined with the neighboring Podyji National Park in the Czech Republic and referred to as the Thayatal-Podyji National Park.
The heart of the national park lies in the Thaya Valley where the Thaya River features gneiss slopes alongside the riverbanks. In some cases, the slopes are quite steep, and even near-vertical rock faces.
The vegetation includes forested banks along with variegated iris, yellow lady’s slipper, Turk’s-cap lily, and the Cornelian cherry. All but about 10% of the park is blanketed with forests comprised of conifers, red pines, fir, and junipers. Some of the vegetation is endangered increasing the value of the protected area.
The ecosystem is not known for its wildlife. The wild cat is shy and elusive; however, it is one of the coveted animal sightings. The black stork is one of the more popular bird species that may be seen. The European otter is a fun sighting playing in or along the river.
The national park is the smallest protected area in Austria and subsequently leaves little room for many highlights. The focal point of the national park is the Thaya River running through the Thaya Valley.
The Thaya River stretches well outside the borders of the national park covering a distance of 139 miles (224 km). There are two river sources combining to create the larger Thaya River. The German Thaya and the Moravian Thaya. This extends the length of the river to 200 miles (322 km).
Thayatal National Park Trails
Thayatal features a series of hiking trails for exploring its diversity while also providing access to the cross-border hiking trails that allow you to also visit Podyji National Park in the Czech Republic.
Merkersdorf – Umlaufberg Trail
This is a loop trail that covers 6.3 miles ( km) with an elevation gain of 1,020 feet ( m). The trail meanders through the forest and along the Thaya River. There are chances to see wildflowers and wildlife, however, the panoramic views are the highlight of the outing.
This is a medium-rated extensive hike. The trek up the mountain and along the Thayatal River features an accumulative elevation gain of 5,721 feet (1,744 m) while covering a distance of 78 miles (125.55 km). The panoramic views out over the river and forests are astounding. You will also pass by castles and palaces reflecting the cultural heritage of the area.
This is a trail through the forest with a scenic lookout over the town. The trail only takes 30 minutes with an elevation gain of only 91.9 feet (28 m). The easy excursion covers a distance of 1.17 miles (1.89 km).
Einsiedlerweg – Wildkatzenwanderweg Trail
This is another rated-easy trail that features a little more elevation gain at 738.2 feet (225 m) while traversing along the river and through the forest over a distance of 3.73 miles (6 km). It provides amazing views over the forest and river with glimpses back towards the town.
Thayatal National Park was created to protect the Thaya River and Thaya Valley which features the unique gneiss rock formations and slope of the riverbank. It is an incredibly picturesque part of the river which is jointly protected on the Czech Republic side of the border.
Although the park is small and not known for wildlife, it is home to a number of endangered species in both the flora and fauna categories. The national park reflects the country's commitment to protecting these endangered species while also providing protection on the scenic landscapes and cultural heritage found in the area.
- Thaya River
- Endangered flora and fauna
- Cultural heritage
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- National Parks Austria, Thayatal National Park, https://www.waldviertel.at/en/national-park, retrieved September 2020.
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