Best Hiking in Switzerland for Baby Boomers
Hiking in Switzerland is undoubtedly one of the best destinations in the world for this popular sport. Needless to say, the country’s natural beauty is unparalleled and makes for breathtaking backdrops. The best part about this, though, is how accessible nature is from anywhere in the country. The landscapes are vast and diverse but never too far or difficult to reach.
There are endless options for hiking in Switzerland suitable for any and all experience level. From mountains and vast glaciers to lush meadows and crystal blue lakes, hiking trails lead people through almost other-worldly destinations. Suspension bridges, cable cars and magnificent vistas are all part of the Swiss travel picture.
Quick Tips Before the Hike
Weather in Switzerland can be unpredictable, especially when you’re changing elevations. For example, weather down in the city can be vastly different from weather up a mountain. With that in mind, be prepared for a huge variety of weather conditions and have the appropriate gear and clothing. It’s safe to say that extra warm clothing, and layers in particular, will always help in the Swiss Alps.
Hiking season usually begins in June and runs until late September; it all still depends on the weather. Generally, the hiking trails and national parks are accessible when there isn’t too much snow on the ground. It’s always good to plan ahead not just for your hike, but also your accommodations and itinerary. This is especially important in more popular destinations such as Interlaken, Zermatt, or Lucerne, which tend to be very crowded.
What to Carry
It’s always a good idea to carry some collapsable hiking poles in your luggage. They are a great asset when hiking on a new trail and are lightweight, easily fitting in a day pack. You can never really go wrong with hiking in Switzerland, but if you’re looking for some iconic, panoramic trails, here are some of the best hikes baby boomers can explore in the country:
Grindelwald is a beautiful town near the more adrenaline-pumping Interlaken. There are many trails around the area that offer panoramic views of the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau, but the most popular hike is the trail from First to Bachalpsee.
It’s a hike for all abilities, even those traveling with the family. The trail is mostly flat with a few rocky areas, but it can be easily handled by kids or anyone who just wants to experience the Alps for the first time.
The best part, of course, are the views that you can enjoy along the way. The three famous peaks of the Bernese Oberland are in full view, and even more peaks become visible once you reach the lake itself. There are many benches around the water so you can enjoy a picnic or simply soak up the view.
The 411 on Bachalpsee
Distance: 5.88 km return
Hike time: Under two hours
Elevation Gain/Loss: 188m/188m
Starting point: Grindelwald First Gondola
Another easy to access trail from Grindelwald is the Eiger Trail on the opposite side of the valley. It’s a relatively easy downhill hike from Kleine Scheidegg to the foot of the Eiger’s North Face. As a popular rock-climbing spot, visitors can watch climbers attempt to scale this deadly mountain from the point where the climbers begin. It’s not for the faint of heart though – since the first climb in 1938, over 60 people have died attempting this ascent.
Down on the trail, however, hikers get up close and personal with the Eiger without having to risk their lives. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow with the massive mountain to your right and Grindelwald spread out below you. The views don’t change too much throughout the hike, but it’s constantly stunning and thrilling.
The 411 on Eiger Trail
Distance: 7.25 km return
Hike time: 2-3 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss: 140m/800m
Starting point: Kleine Scheidegg
Aletsch Glacier Panorama Trail
There are many glaciers that hikers can visit in Switzerland, but the largest and most iconic is the Aletsch Glacier in Wallis. It’s also on the way to Zermatt, so can make a great side trip if you’re headed for this iconic Swiss village.
The glacier itself extends some 23 km and runs almost 900 meters deep. The Aletsch Glacier Panorama trail is marked along the lower part of the glacier and can be easily accessed from the Rhone valley below. As the name suggests, the trail rewards hikers not only with a close encounter with the glacier, but also amazing views of 4,000-meter peaks that surround it.
The 411 on Aletsch Glacier Panorama Trail
Hike Time: 3.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 510m
Starting Point: Musfluh Cable Car Station
For something a bit more challenging but equally breathtaking, the Uina Gorge trail in the Engadine region is a unique experience. It’s a pretty long hike so not ideal for everyone, but it’s a great choice to take if you want a chance for some chance experiences with local wildlife. There are also several lookout points along the way for a different view of canyons and massive rock faces.
Historically, the route was cut into the rock in 1908-1910 on the gorge’s eastern wall. The trail is right beside a precarious drop right where the narrow valley closes into a canyon. But don’t be afraid, it is not really dangerous per se, however if you have vertigo, I would not recommend it.
The 411 on Uina Gorge
Hike Time: 7 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss: 832m/1,237m
Starting Point: Valley Station Watles
Rigi Panoramic Trail
Mount Rigi is another popular destination, very close to Lucerne and Zurich, that is suitable for hikers of all skill levels and ages. There are several trails that lead to different lookout points, all of which are naturally well-marked and easy to follow.
As the name suggests, the panoramic trail offers breathtaking views of the nearby Lake Lucerne and the surrounding peaks. The stunning route goes through shady forests and across typical Swiss meadows, as well as crossing the cogwheel railway line of the former Scheideggbahn.
It’s a great hike to do if you’re in Lucerne or if you’re looking for a quick day trip from Zurich.
The 411 on Rigi Panoramic Trail
Hike Time: 2 hours
Elevation Gain: 245m
Starting Point: Rigi First
Another easy day trip from Zurich is a day hike to Seealpsee, one of Switzerland’s most popular lakes. It’s located in the Alpstein region, known to have some of the densest networks of hiking trails in the country. The hike to Seealpsee is not so much a hike but more of a steady walk, a good option for casual hikers. The only challenge on this trail is that it’s mostly uphill. The rewarding mirror-like surface of the lake is well worth the hour-long effort.
Perhaps just as popular as the lake is the nearby Äscher Restaurant, which is built right into the side of the cliff. Visitors can either walk up the road from Wasseraun to reach the lake, or take the Ebenalp cable car to the top of the mountain, stop by the restaurant mountain hut, then continue on down to Seealpsee. It’s the easier way to go for sure, as long as you don’t have knee issues!
The 411 on Seealpsee
Hike Time: 1-1.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 266m
Starting Point: Wasserauen
Guest Author: Anna Timbrook
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. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.