Hiking in Switzerland is a national past-time for family and friends, with many themed trails to attract even the most casual of hikers.
Switzerland’s top theme trails are a great way to teach kids how to hike. The interactive play stations along the trail help kids focus on the fun instead of their tired legs. With trails like these, my kids can’t wait to go hiking every weekend. Here are some of our favourites theme trails in Switzerland.
1. Toggenburg Tone Trail
The Toggenburg Tone Trail is the gold standard when it comes to theme trails, with more than 20 interactive musical ‘instruments’ scattered along this stroller-friendly trail. Your kids will be motivated to keep walking because you can usually either see or hear the next thing to kling, clank or bang. There are also a few playgrounds, lots of picnic areas and restaurants along the way. All this in the beautiful Swiss alps, with dramatic mountain peaks and rolling hills filled with wildflowers.
2. Engelberg Tickle Trail and Globi Treasure Hunt
The Tickle Trail is an old favourite of ours and we go at least once a summer, always with friends. The main attraction is a very short sensory trail around a little pond, where you walk barefoot over surfaces like stones, sticks, bark, mud and even cow pies. Bring extra clothes-you – will get wet! You can take a lift to reach the trail or hike there on the Globi Treasure Hunt trail, searching for treasure chests along the trail to solve a puzzle. There’s also a big playground, a trampoline, alpine slide, water play, etc. Your kids may never want to come home.
3. Muggestutz Dwarf Adventure Trail
This trail has play stations along the way that match up with the Muggestutz storybook, which tells about the magical dwarfs that supposedly live in the area. There are swings to simulate an eagle’s flight, a maze, a ladder up to a nest with a hidden treasure, a pine cone drying station and little dwarf houses, with tables set and laundry drying as if you just missed them. It’s adorable and a fantastically beautiful hike as well.
4. Wirzweli Witch Trail
This children’s trail near Luzern tells the story of Lizi, the ‘herb witch’, through a series of interactive and informative stations, including a flying broom zip line, pine cone toss, guessing herbs by smell, a witch’s house, etc. Kids have fun spying various witch artifacts hidden it the trees, such as brooms, spiders, bats, owls and other animal statues. The trail is not suitable for strollers but is mostly downhill and not difficult, recommended for children aged four and older.
5. Sihlwald Forest Trail
The Sihlwald ‘Walderlebnispfad‘ is a short but enjoyable loop trail through the forest with 12 interactive stations, including a wood log xylophone, a barefoot path, an animal long jump and raised path through a mysterious bog. This is very close to Zurich, so it’s a good choice for a quick outing. Although it is open all year, it is particularly charming in spring when the flowers are out or in October when the fall leaves are changing.
6. Flumserberg ‘Wild Man’ Nature Trail
Story boards on this trail tell of a little wild man that lived in a cave at Flumserberg, who was unkind to animals and nature. After a change of heart, the wild man was allowed to return to Flumserberg every year for three days to make amends. Each station has an educational game or activity, like matching animals with the plants they eat or comparing your speed to various animals. At the end of the trail, there is a big play area, restaurant and a ropes courses for both big and small. It’s a full day of adventure in the mountains.
This low-key mountain area has a cute little children’s trail, with a story told on picture boards along the way, accompanied by an activity for the kids. The story tells about children searching for a magic crystal protected by dwarfs. There are also little wooden dwarfs hidden along the trail. Searching for these kept my boys motivated to keep walking. Next to the lake, there’s a big picnic area with lots of fire pits and play stuff for the kids.
8. Swiss National Park Bear Trail
This trail has nine interactive stations along the trail that teach you about bears. Our favourite station was where each block of wood represented the weight of a bear at a certain age. My boys loved trying to lift and push the various blocks. There are several picnic spot with grill pits and lots of nice spots along the river to lounge.
9. Gargellen Smuggler’s Trail
This one is Austria but just over the border and we really liked it. The theme trail follows an old alpine smuggling route, with 10 interactive play stations, educating little hikers about smuggling. At one station, you had to use binoculars to spot the smuggler on the mountain. At another, you ran in the footsteps of the smuggler, trying to escape the customs police. The area is beautiful, the play stations creative and fun, the playground large, the food tasty and the prices moderate: all the ingredients for a fun family outing.
10. Riesenwald at Elm
This new theme trail is at the top of my list for next summer. We’ve hiked this before when it only had animal sculptures along the trail. But in 2015, they added 17 interactive play and educational stations along this 2km mountain trail. For info about the new interactive stations, visit www.riesenwald.ch