A Complete Swiss Hiking Beginners Guide
Are you new to hiking or ready to begin this exhilarating sport? With a dependable and efficient train system, and over 65,000 kilometers of well-marked trails over sky-high mountains, through forests and valleys, make Switzerland perfect for beginner hikers. This Swiss Hiking Guide For Beginners will cover all the basics for those new to hiking.
From what you should pack, understanding signs, transportation and other information, all to make your hike safe and enjoyable. The information provided below is followed by suggestions for some of the best hiking trails for newbies.
Let’s Begin With Equipment
Swiss Hiking Guide For Beginners – Equipment
Photo by Kun Fotografi from Pexels
A good backpack and hiking boots can absolutely make or break your hike. Your needs depend on the type of hike you have planned.
For short guided hiking tours or self-guided hikes that won’t stress your ankles or endurance, then a day pack and light boots with moderate ankle support will suffice.
For longer hikes, even a day or two, you will need a backpack with a capacity of at least 35 liters. You should also have a pair of heavier boots with good ankle support. Trekking poles are optional, but can help with balance and control on ascents and descents. They also help reduce the load on your legs, which is great if you suffer knee or other joint pain.
Other useful equipment includes a flashlight (in case you get caught in the dark), a rain jacket (or at least a poncho), a multipurpose knife or tool, a light jacket for summer and a heavier, warmer one for fall and winter hikes.
Understanding Swiss Hiking Signs
Swiss Hiking Guide For Beginners – Signs
Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels
Before you head out on the Swiss hiking trails, it pays to understand some of the signs you might encounter.
Yellow trail signs, sometimes with a hiker stick figure, mark the easiest trails. You’ll also see yellow signs that give an accurate estimate of the distance to the next village, town, or city. These signs also list altitudes, distance and junctions. The time it takes to reach train stations and bus stops are also listed.
Once you determine how many kilometers per hour you can walk, it’s easy to map out a plan. You also have the option of sending luggage ahead to your planned destination and/or pitching a tent a night or two along the way.
Photo by Rajesh Rathod from Pexels
Next, we have yellow signs with red and white bands/markings (also painted on trees or rocks along). They mark steep and narrow passages that most people can do, but are definitely, not a “walk in the park.”
Beginners should definitely stay clear of these until you are more experienced and have a little more fitness.
Blue and white arrow signs indicate trails that may need extra gear. This may include a rope and pickaxe, or route finding capabilities (the ability to navigate by map, without marked paths). They often cross melting glaciers that make the trail more challenging.
These are definitely not for beginners!
In winter, snow transforms some of the easy yellow-marked trails into winter hiking or snowshoeing paths, and are marked by pink signs. You will need good winter boots with tread but no special gear.
Checking The Weather Conditions
Swiss Hiking Guide For Beginners – Weather Conditions
Photo by Alexandre Mertens from Pexels
Always make checking the weather a top priority when planning a Swiss hiking trip. Switzerland is full of mountains and the weather can change at any time.
Even on a hot summer’s day!
The prime hiking season begins in June when the snow has started to melt. You can hike in great weather until late September or early October. Tune in to Meteo Swiss National Weather Service for updated forecasts and any hazard warnings.
Photo by Gantas Vaičiulėnas from Pexels
Fall is also a great time to hike in Switzerland, but be prepared for colder temperatures and snow. Be sure to pack the proper clothing and gear for these conditions. In warm weather, clothing made from synthetics is much more cooling and comfortable than cotton.
Be sure to remember, it’s quite possible to run into a snowstorm at any time, even in the month of August.
Finding Hiking Trails
Swiss Hiking Guide For Beginners – Finding Hiking Trails
The Swiss government does an excellent job of maintaining all hiking trails. The cost is shared between the various regions, and is supplemented by donations. There are also about 1,500 volunteers working to clear branches and keep the trails marked and safe.
When a trail becomes dangerous, the authorities will block it off.
Photo by Ty from Pexels
Switzerland Mobility is a great place to find trails to hike. It’s a website with a comprehensive index of trails by category such as; location, theme and ability level.
Other great resources are the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) and Hikr.org.
For printed maps, check with the Federal Office of Topography. Local regions tend to stock these maps in bookstores or tourist offices too.
Swiss Hiking Guide For Beginners – Public Transportation
Photo by Chait Goli from Pexels
The public transport system in Switzerland has swift trains as precise as a Swiss-made watch, modern buses and several other kinds of mountain transportation. All are integrated into one orderly system. You’ll find at least one train or bus on every route that runs at least hourly, and some that run every half or quarter-hour.
The transport system offers foreign travelers a variety of Swiss Travel Passes for free rides and discounts.
Best Beginner Hiking Trails
This easy trail near the town of Grindelwald begins at the lookout point of Eigergletcher station and runs along the foot of the Eiger North Wall.
The 6.03 kilometer Eiger Trail has no exposed passages and doesn’t require any special gear.
5 Lakes Walk
The 5 Lakes Walk in the Zermatt mountains is a themed trail with medium difficulty and 9.8 kilometers long. The mountain lakes along the trail reflect towering peaks including the famous triangular peak – the Matterhorn.
It’s a family-friendly trail and can be accessed from town via a cable car.
5 Lakes Hike Pizol
The 5 Lakes Hike Pizol is above the town of Bad Ragaz in the canton of St. Gallen. The 11.4-kilometer trail is one of Switzerland’s most panoramic, with views of five crystal clear lakes.
Follow the moderately difficult trail in the opposite direction for less stress on your knees. You’ll avoid three challenging ascents and descents.
Aletsch Panoramic Trail
This relatively easy trail has amazing views of the longest glacier in Europe – the Aletsch Glacier. The slow-moving ice looks almost like a river. The 2-kilometer-long Aletsch Trail from Moosfluh to Hohfluh is accessible by cable car and gondola from various points in the valley.
The trail lies between Zermatt and Grindlewald, so is a great stopover if you are heading to both places while in Switzerland.
Rigi Summit Hike
The Rigi is a well-known mountain overlooking Lake Lucerne with spectacular views of the Alps. Rigi’s proximity to Zurich makes it very popular with tourists. There are several Rigi Summit hikes to choose from ranging from easy to long and arduous.
The Swiss Railway has a round-trip excursion called Rigi-Rundfahrt.
Find more inspiration and information for beginning hikers in Switzerland at sites like; MySwitzerland, SchweizMobil.ch, and OutdoorActive.
You will fall in love with Switzerland’s amazing hiking trails. As you become more experienced, there are even more great hiking options to discover.
Anna was born to travel the world having studied languages all her life. Although she has traveled the world, she now calls Switzerland home and spends her time writing about her experiences on Expert World Travel.
I am happy to present this collaborative guest post in the hopes of offering some interesting travel inspiration and helpful information to you as well.
I’ve also listed the Official Switzerland Tourism link below to their website page for your convenience. It’s filled with excellent information on everything this Amazing Country has to offer.
Safe and Healthy Travels! 🙂
Did You Know …
“Switzerland Has One Of The Lowest Crime Rates In The Industrialized World.”
🙂 Don’t Forget It … Be Sure To Pin It! 🙂