How do you hike in Switzerland? – SOLVED

If you have never been to Switzerland, are planning to, are interested in hiking in the country, or have wondered what all the yellow signs and tags are, then keep reading. Switzerland is perhaps the best place on earth to hike. The trails are well marked, there are restaurants along the way, and water is never too far away. This makes minimalist hiking quite easy to the point of only carrying some cash for incidentals.

One of the best resources, and not just for parents, are the Fresh Air Kids Switzerland books. These guides break down the barriers and help you get started out of the gate, and if you are a parent, give you and entire chapter for keeping you children entertained along the way. For more advanced hiking families, the Hikes to Huts book will be coming out in May 2020!!

If you don’t plan ahead, you will perhaps remain lost. Below are some other options, which all require a bit more work on your part.

Great View of the Valley

Option 1) Memorize the names of the last train stop and follow the yellow signs anywhere. Most of them have many options with the walking times listed as well as indicating train or tram stops. The intermediate signs will point you in a direction, you might feel lost, but you’re never far from water or a public transportation stop. Keep in mind the three types of Wanderweg (hiking trail) signage; yellow is normal walking trails, red and white blazed trails are alpine walking trails (where some can be daunting depending on your adventure/skill level), and the blue and white blazed trails which are in our opinion, reserved for the skilled hiker/climber. For the blue and white, only a detailed map will show the difficulty level and may necessitate crampons and ropes in some cases.

Option 2) Buy an old map from a Brocki* for a couple of Francs. This is handy if you know how to use maps, and some of the old maps you find at a Brocki will make a great souvenir of your visit; if you’re not that much of a minimalist. We have often found maps with reasonable detail for areas we have been or plan to go. A used map can be an asset if your GPS dies, your memory fails, or you just so happen to drift off the grid. If you’re too far off the grid, then any map you have in any case may not help. If you tend to drift, you’ll need to resort to your boy/girl scout instincts, ask for directions, or take our advice in Option 1: locate the nearest point of interest.  If you’re concerned that an old map in Switzerland might be outdated, consider that most of the trails have been around for a really long time, though some new buildings may exist.

*A Brocki is the Swiss-German word for Brockenhaus (in German) and is equivalent to a thrift store found in the US.

Option 3) Feeling cheap? Why not print out a map from online? Although this is possible if you like low quality or to cut and paste, it all depends on how much time you want to spend doing this versus other things. With the links below, you can find free access to some incredibly detailed maps, complete with hiking trails, elevations, points of interest, cliffs and scree delineated, peaks, towns, etc. Great for planning and while online, but perhaps not so practical if your hiking with patchy reception. It might be cheaper to just buy a map if you do not live in Switzerland; your data plan on your cell phone, with or without roaming, would outweigh the cost of paper. But if you’re choosing this option, you’re probably not bringing your phone on a hike. 

(Note: you should compare the details of the photographed maps above, to the online data below.  I used the same location to compare)

Option 4) Carrying a map is sooo last year! OK, maybe not, but whether you’re a techie, a geek, an iNerd, or an I-can’t-leave-home-without-it sort of person, then perhaps an App is more your style. These can be great! Some are free with canned routes while other are Lexus versions with in-app purchases that would prevent you from sending your kids to college (if college is not free in your country). All have their pluses and minuses, but perhaps the biggest down side is battery life! If you use your iDevice for everything from taking photos, bragging about where you are on Facebook, using GPS to track your route, or attempting to achieve KOM on Strava, then your battery will die in less then four hours. Make sure your excursion is shorter than this, or you can default to Option 1, or just play it safe and carry the map you passed up in Option 2 and 3. If you’re battery dies, the only souvenir you’ll have is the memory of looking lost to the farmer who you asked directions.

The links here are great resources, we hope you find them useful.

Maps online:
http://www.swisstopo.admin.ch/internet/swisstopo/en/home/products/maps/leisure/hiking.html
http://www.wanderland.ch/en/hiking-in-switzerland.html

Easy to use map, make sure you click “Pixel Maps” in the Themes toolbar
http://map.geodataviewer.admin.ch/geodatenviewer.php

Great Map for Delineated Hiking Trails (perhaps the best I’ve found!)
http://map.geo.admin.ch/?selectedNode=node_ch.swisstopo.swisstlm3d-wanderwege1&Y=635299.00&X=154039.33&zoom=6&bgLayer=ch.swisstopo.pixelkarte-farbe&time_current=latest&lang=en&topic=ech&layers=ch.swisstopo.swisstlm3d-wanderwege

Interested in through hiking or cycling or mountain biking… all of Switzerland…
http://www.swisstrails.ch/swisstrails_engl/wanderland/wanderland_national.asp

Swiss Map Apps…
https://www.schweizmobil.ch/en/summer.html
http://www.myswitzerland.com/en-ch/about-switzerland/apps-panoramas.html
https://www.swisstopo.admin.ch/de/karten-daten-online/karten-geodaten-online/swisstopo-app.html

Thoughts – Tip Two

2018-03-25-Muttz_87

As we move into the holiday season (gulp) I will post a few health tips, and gentle reminders to help keep us present and focused on those things that really matter. Life is crazy enough, so if you need to move inward, give yourself permission to do so.

Thought number two – Take walks, often with friends, partners and alone.

I have been walking a lot these days. It helps me to clear my head, adds a splash of color to my cheeks and reminds me what a beautiful city I live in. Don’t be afraid to walk alone, or to leave your family for a few moments to breathe in your surroundings and return with a renewed sense of self. Walking has the power to re-frame our mindset and walking or hiking with a great group of friends can lift the spirit beyond measure!

What Does Adventure Mean?

2019-07-30-Zrmtt_128

There is a lot of hype these days on getting your stoke on in the nature world. The more extreme, the better it seems. You see this on Instagram accounts and rescue teams will account for the extreme culture we are currently in. Save the shot and be smart when in the natural world.

Extreme in the Alps is not always wise with the potential to land you in a great deal of trouble. Before venturing out on any trail or adventure, here are a few tips to ensure success.

1. Know and check the weather forecasts. This is imperative in the Alps, especially since weather can change frequently and it does.

2. Check passes if a pass is part of your route. Passes can be dangerous especially after a heavy snow season, bad weather or extreme rain. Make sure the pass is clear before starting your journey.

3. Be prepared with a first aid kit. You never know when you may need medical supplies while on the trail.

4. Be aware of rock falls, avalanches and the elements, which all posses potential dangers.

5. Chair lift operators, tourist offices and hotel staff are great resources to ask whenever you may be in doubt.

6. Never rely on cell reception in the mountains. Instead, go old school and carry a map, know your route and follow trail markers.

7. Carry what you need with you, which includes layers for changing weather, a hat, sunglasses, plenty of water and of course, some snacks.

8. Dodge the photo and don’t put yourself at risk. Sure you might get lots of likes on Instagram, but perching yourself in a precarious pose in a dangerous location simply isn’t worth it.

9. Have fun! Switzerland is gorgeous beyond belief, so soak it all in, make the most of good weather and get out there!

 

Order A Book!

fresh-air-kids_EN_lifestyle

Photo credit HELVETIQ

We are pleased to announce that our book, Fresh Air Kids Switzerland is now available through the Book Depository. If you are residing outside of Switzerland and looking for a way to purchase our book (free of shipping costs), pop on over to the Book Depository  and order your copy today. Then all you have to do is book your tickets to Switzerland and hit the trails!

*The book description is in German, however, the book is listed in English. To read more details on our book, click here.

 

 

Inspiration

2019-07-28-Gemmi_086

Switzerland is home to over 65,000km of impressive hiking trails, but where do you hike with children? We are familiar with that question because all those years ago when we welcomed our son into our lives we wondered the exact same thing.

Well, after years of hiking, we thought it was time to put together a book that answers all of your pressing questions about hiking with children.

You know…

How do I hike with children?

Is it safe to hike with children?

Where do we hike with children?

How do we read trail markers and how do we know if the route is safe?

Is there anything fun, or of interest along the route for our children to see or do?

How do we keep our children hiking when the going gets tough?

We answered all of your questions and more. With over 52 family approved hikes,  in 19 of the 26 cantons in Switzerland, there is a hike waiting for you!

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of our book and getting inspired by one of the many trails we outline in Switzerland, simply click here and happy trails!

Fresh Air Kids Switzerland – 52 Inspiring Hikes That Will Make Kids and Parents Happy.