Switzerland is a paradise for hikers, with trails for every age and ability. Although only slightly larger than Nova Scotia, it has 65,000 km of hiking trails, enough that if they were placed end to end they would circle the globe about 1.5 times.
Swiss hiking is not just a great workout; it is a feast for the senses and a social occasion. Although not a wilderness experience, Nature reigns: wildflowers scent the air, oak and beech provide shade in the lower elevations while spruce, pine and larch cover the mountains to tree line. Cows feed in the alpine meadows, their bells ringing harmoniously. The views range from bucolic to stirring to awe-inspiring.
Even the most remote trails are busy by Canadian standards. My 89 year-old mother in-law still gets out occasionally for an hour or two and, in Swiss tradition, says “Grüezi!” to everyone she meets. When it’s time for a break, hikers enjoy their own snack at a trailside bench or lunch at an alpine farmhouse or five-star restaurant.
There are three main types of landscape: the Swiss Alps, the hilly Swiss Mittelland, which extends from Lake Constance to Lake Geneva, and the Swiss Jura, a long line of rugged fold mountains. In all regions, the trails are well connected to the Swiss rail, bus and boat transportation system.
Research routes on these websites:
- Tourenguide – German and French
- Swiss panorama
- SwitzerlandMobility Foundation
- Information about Switzerland
Hiking trails usually leave the road and are not asphalted.
Equipment: good walking shoes or hiking boots, all-weather gear, warm clothes, snack, sunscreen, small first-aid kit.
Mountain trails are generally narrow and steep, sometimes with extreme exposure. Hikers must be in good physical shape as treacherous conditions and possible dangers may occur.
Equipment: hiking boots with grip-soles, all-weather gear, warm clothes, snack, sunscreen, small first-aid kit map, and collapsible walking sticks.