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

Fresh Air Kids Switzerland!

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Photo courtesy of HELVETIQ

2018 was a very busy, albeit exciting year for us at More2Explore. We felt it was finally time to share our love of the outdoors with others is a more formal way. Thus,  Fresh Air Kids Switzerland52 inspiring hikes that will make kids and parents happy was created with the help of the publishing company HELVETIQ Our book will be published in April 2019. Yippee!

Why Fresh Air Kids Switzerland?

Fresh Air Kids is the book we wish we had when we moved to Switzerland.

With 52 inspiring hikes for families of all ages and abilities, this book is the perfect resource for any family longing to make the most of the Swiss trails.

With walks/hikes ranked as easy, moderate and challenging, there truly is a gorgeous adventure for everyone.

Each hike contains a child-friendly component such as:

places to grill lunch,

a farm,

a playground,

a waterfall,

or incredible overnight adventure.

We also made sure to insert fun kid activities to keep children stimulated on the trail.

We didn’t forget to include a “how to manual” for the parents too.

GPX files are also available for download with each book purchase.

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Photo courtesy of HELVETIQ

Where can you purchase the book and when?

Fresh Air Kids Switzerland will be published in April and available at all major bookstores in Switzerland, Germany and France and available in April on the HELVETIQ website. Translated into English, German and French, allowing you to pick your language and hit the trails just in time for hiking season.

Thank you!

We must give HELVETIQ a virtual high-five for believing in us and creating such a visually stimulating book! Thank you to our team of incredibly talented individuals.

And the adventure continues on our new Instagram account.

In the Alps #3

The “Into the Alps” photo series are snapshots from various trips we have taken in the Alps. Although the photos are primarily in black and white, they aim to show the natural beauty of the Alps in areas which may be of interest to others. We hope you enjoy this series and that you follow us to be a part of the updates.

This photo was taken from Berghaus Schäfler with Säntis in the background (with the spire).  In the foreground is Altenalptürm, an  outcropping menace of limestone looming over an equally impressive trail (not for those with vertigo) which leads to Säntis.

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Hike – Gemmipass

In the heart of Switzerland, straddling the cantonal boarders of Bern and Wallis, is the Gemmipass. Famed for its treacherous south-face of switchbacks up a near 1000m cliff, and said to have been climbed as one of many routes over the Alps even earlier than 800AD. Like most passes, there are two sides to climb, and the north side is just as spectacular and perhaps recommended for those with vertigo. From Kandersteig, take Bus 241 to Talstation Sunnbüel, and the Sunnbüel lift to the top. From Sunnbüel, the trail is a well-marked T1 (yellow) rolling through hills, past farms, around a lake, up a hill and through a narrow valley before emerging up to the Daubensee which is said to be the highest natural lake in the Alps at 2207m. At Daubensee, the trail splits, and gives you the option of hiking the right side, a T2 mountain trail, or continues on the T1 before rising up to the Berghotel Wildstrubel perched on the edge of the 942m cliff of Gemmipass. We stayed the night here and enjoyed the views with the setting sun, rising moon, and expansive views of the Wallis Alps with the Matterhorn in the distance. This area is a hot spot for adventure seekers, opting to challenge their minds and bodies on the Via Ferratta along the cliff, or mountain climbing Daubenhorn, Schwarzhorn, or other peaks in the area. If you plan to stay the night at the hotel, and you have a few extra hours before dinner, we recommend the hike to Lämmerensee. From the top of Gemmipass you can hike down the intensive switchbacks, or take the gondola to Laukerbad. There are three main restaurants along the way if you desire a coffee, gipfeli, or a larger meal; Sunnbüel, Berghaus Schwarenbach, and Berghotel Wildstrubel.

In the Alps #2

The “Into the Alps” photo series are snapshots from various trips we have taken in the Alps. Although the photos are primarily in black and white, they aim to show the natural beauty of the Alps in areas which may be of interest to others. We hope you enjoy this series and that you follow us to be a part of the updates.

This photo was taken on the south side of the Alps from the village of Belalp.  The fences reduce the chance of an avalanche and the jagged peaks emerging from the clouds is the southern spine of Gross Fusshorn (obscured).

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