The area of the Willersdorfer Gorge begins in Willersdorf, a district of Oberschützen, and extends in a northerly direction to the Dreiländereck, the border between the federal states of Lower Austria, Styria and Burgenland, about 6 km away. About halfway, a side valley branches off to Aschau, also a district of Oberschützen. The Bernsteiner mountains are directly adjacent to the northeastern flank. Coming from Lower Austria, the Willersbach flows through the entire length of the area, which retained its original character until Oberschützen. Climatically the whole area is influenced by the change.
The Willersdorfer Schlucht - Aschauer Au represents a special biological and geological-geographical feature. As an offshoot of the Wechsel massif, the area has a share in the Central Alps of Austria, which is also manifested by the occurrence of montane and alpine flora and fauna elements. A large part of the area is covered with forest, with particular emphasis on the flanks with mixed forest consisting of hornbeam, ash and sycamore maple. At higher altitudes the red beech can be observed, and occasionally the mountain elm and even the green alder. In autumn these mixed forests are of outstanding scenic beauty.
The vegetation of typical canyon forests with very beautiful alder stands at the bottom of the valley indicates high humidity and good water supply. Of particular interest is the valley floor with its variously shaped valley meadows (wet, humid and also rough pasture areas), which provide important habitats for a large variety of plants and animals. These meadows, which are always extensively maintained, have been reforested or fallow, especially after several flood events, which had a lasting negative impact on the landscape. Numerous efforts have been made in recent years and decades to secure this gem with its high biodiversity in the long term, unfortunately without success so far.
However, within the framework of an ÖPUL program (Austrian program for the development of rural areas) under the coordination of the Austrian Nature Conservation Federation, a meadow return project was started and implemented in 2004. In 2006 a nature experience path with eight stations was established with different themes related to the existing landscape. The Willersdorf Gorge - Aschauer Au also has some special features from a cultural and historical point of view. The valley meadow landscape, which was continuous at that time, was an important mill region in historical times, of which there are only some witnesses today. The Valtl mill is privately owned and today serves as a residential building. The Patrizl Mill is only a ruin, and then there is the Kirnbauer Mill at the end of the valley floor before the village of Loipersdorf.
Directly at the entrance to the valley on a left flank called Schlossleiten, a small castle once enthroned, which also exists only as a modest remnant. It was probably built in the 12th and 13th centuries as a fore- and main castle. The castle complex probably existed until the 16th century, after which it was abandoned and fell into disrepair. There are many tales about the castle, the most famous of which is the story about the "Schlosshansl", a notorious robber who ambushed the passing merchants and traders. (Text: Josef Weinzettl)