The Kaisergebirge (a nature reserve), familiarly known merely as the "Kaiser", rears its mighty and precipitous walls and towers directly out of the extensive foreland region. Covered with forest and Alpine meadows, it lies to the north of the Kitzbühel Alps and east of the Inn (see Inn Valley), which turns north at Kufstein towards Bavaria. The towering peaks with their majestic silhouettes, separated by gloomy gorges, are of incomparable force and beauty. This wild and rugged massif is a paradise for mountaineers and rock-climbers, and the tourist center of the region is the charmingly situated little town of Hinterbärenbad (831m/2,727ft).
The deep Kaisertal which joins the Inn valley at Kufstein and continues eastward as the Kaiserbachtal, separates the northern part of the mountain range, the Zahmer Kaiser ("Tame Emperor") or Hinterer Kaiser, with the Vorderer Kesselschneid and the magnificent Pyramidenspitze (1,997m/6,554ft) from the Wilder Kaiser ("Wild Emperor") or Vorderer Kaiser to the south.
The highest point of the Wilder Kaiser, the Ellmauer Halt (2,344m/7,691ft), with its three jagged peaks, can be climbed either from the Anton-Karg-Haus at Hinterbärenbad in the Kaisertal (about five hours) or from the south by way of Grutten-Hütte (1,620m/5,315ft) at Ellmau; from Hinterbärenbad the Sonneck (2,260m/7,417ft; about 4.5 hours) can also be climbed. To the north it is a two hours' climb to the Stripsenjoch (1,580m/5,186ft) at the foot of the Stripsenkopf (1,810m/5,940ft; three quarters of an hour). Keen rock-climbers make their base at the Stripsenjoch hut (1,580m/5,186ft), immediately below the northern face of the difficult Totenkirchl (2,193m/7,195ft); from here the route descends through the dark Steinerne Rinne to the Gaudeamus hut (1,270m/4,167ft) near Ellmau. Names such as Teufelswurzgarten ("Devil's Herb Garden") and Teufelskraxe ("Devil's Climb") serve as reminders of the searches for legendary treasure inside the mountains.
Smaller than the Walchsee, but of rare beauty, is the Hintersteiner See south of the Wilder Kaiser. To the southeast of Kufstein a road winds along the valley of the Weissache at the foot of the Wilder Kaiser to St Johann in Tirol (see Kitzbühel, Surroundings). From this road a footpath leads via the Steinerne Stiege (one hour) to the picturesque Hintersteiner See (alt. 892m/2,927ft), which can also be reached along a 4km/2.5mi road from Scheffau am Wilden Kaiser. The rock walls of the Scheffauer (2,113m/6,933ft) can be seen mirrored in the clear waters of the lake.