High above the Medieval Town of Hall in Tirol, close to the well-known Zirbenweg trail, you will find the oldest tree in the Tyrol. A primeval 750-year-old Swiss stone pine stands tall in 26 hectares of natural forest called Ampasser Kessel – off the beaten track and untouched by man.
Woodcutters avoided the region due to the ruggedness of the terrain and that is why it has remained in its pristine state through the ages.
Older than the Habsburgs
The remarkable tree has seen a great many historic events in its lifetime. It started off as a young shoot when the Hapsburg dynasty was first established in 1273.
The stone pine was listed as a natural monument some 90 years ago in 1926. The tree provides a home for countless plant species; various types of lichen (which testify to good air quality) lend the Methuselah its archaic appearance. Several families of woodpeckers have also chosen to build their nests in the trunk of the 1,880 metre (6,160 ft.) tree. Not only does the stone pine provide a natural habitat for Great Spotted Woodpeckers but also for Black and Three-toed Woodpeckers.
The Zirbenweg trail
Above the oldest tree in the Tyrol you will find the Zirbenweg. The ‘Stone Pine Trail’ leads from Mount Patscherkofel to Mount Glungezer, taking hikers through a large stone pine forest at an altitude of 2,000 metres (6,500 ft.) above sea level. The Swiss stone pine (Pinus cembra) belongs to the pine family (pinaceae). Pinewood and its essential oils are said to have numerous beneficial properties. The typical scent of pinewood promotes a sound and healthy sleep. From this high altitude trail (www.zirbenweg.at) – which is popular amongst young and old – you can not only catch a glimpse of the oldest tree in the Tyrol (which is well concealed) but, in good weather, also enjoy the panoramic view of more than 300 Alpine peaks.