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If there’s an area for Switzerland hiking that can be described as “undiscovered and underrated,” Apppenzell is it. The region is made of two “half” cantons; Appenzell Aussenrhoden and Appenzell Innerhoden.
Innerhoden is close to the Austrian border, about a 1-1/2 hour drive east of Zurich. With its rolling hills, small and colorfully painted houses, narrow roads and snow peaked mountains, it’s like a land apart – You get the feeling of being in a “toy” country. Only recently connected to the national network by train, it’s not long ago that you could only get to the Appenzell village through a series of winding back country lanes.
Because of it’s gentle, folksy ways, Swiss citizens from more sophisticated areas poke fun at the area and its people. But the people are warmhearted and the area is deliciously rich with one of a kind sights, smells and sounds. A wonderful choice for Switzerland hiking, Appenzellerland deserves a place high on the list of the world’s undiscovered touring treasures.
Dramatic, scenic, a veritable symphony of impressions – the hike from Schwägalp to Kronberg to Appenzell is an experience to be savored. You can delight in the sounds of cow bells and revel in the taste of freshly made cheese and chocolate along the way. From the Mountain Hotel Schwägalp there is a hiking trail toward Kronberg, which is 1663 meters above sea level You can stop at the mountain restaurant, take the gondola down to Jakobsbad or cable car to the belvedere overlooking Mount Säntis.
The centerpiece of this spectacular Switzerland hiking tour is the panoramic ridge trail from Staubern to the Hohen Kasten. Though in no way exposed or dangerous, this trail has some steep descents that cause some folks to get a bit queasy. If that presents a problem, you can hike in the opposite direction.
With the Alpstein mountains above and the Rhine Valley below, the views in either direction are absolutely thrilling. The starting point for the hike is in Brülisau and the scenery gets more beautiful with every steep. Among the highlights long the way is a fascinating geological theme trail.
The arch of the Jura Mountains starts in Geneva and ends in up in Basel in the north. Recently, the area was renamed “Watch Valley,” because it’s the birthplace of watchmaking and, of course, home to Switzerland’s renowned watch making industry. Mountains in this regions are not as high as the Alps and the hiking season runs year round. The area, which belongs to the French speaking part of Switzerland is surrounded by lakes and valleys in a truly magnificent setting. Switzerland hiking
Among the highlights in the area is the International Museum of Horology in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Because of its unique structure and dazzling collection of timepieces, the experience has been described by some as “like walking into Aladdin’s cave. Tours on horseback and by bike or boat are also available.
North of Lausanne lies the lovely Lake de Joux. Known for the favorable wind conditions that make for perfect sailing and windsurfing, it is the largest lake in the Jura region. Surrounded by lush fir trees and beautiful green meadows, the area provides the opportunity to enjoy less strenuous hiking tours that range between 2 and 5 hours. Around the lake are a few interesting villages where you can gather some interesting information about cheese making and enjoy the work of area artisans.
It’s uphill, but not a struggle, when you head in the direction of the Marchairuz pass. The view makes every step worthwhile. Departure point is the railways station of the village of Le Pont which is approximately 2 hours from the Chalet du Mont Tendre. With a bit of luck you can see the Bernese Alps, Geneva Lake and all the way over to the Savoyen Alps in France. Enjoy a tasty cheese dish at restaurant Chalet du Mont Tendre and, from there, you can take a bus to the legendary village of Le Brassus and, finally, a train back to Le Pont.
Located on the lake of Neuchâtel near Bern, the town is rich with history and surrounded by dairy farms and vineyards. Heading west from Neuchâtel by car, bus or train, you will go through the magical “Val de Travers.” From there it’s on to Noiraigue, a wonderful little village with small hotels and food stores. The architecture is typical of the Jura region –small windows and large, flat roofs built to survive the harsh winter weather.
A great place for hiking tours in the low and middle level category, the trails are less crowded than other areas, the forest scenery is breathtaking and the people of the area are friendly, helpful and excited to welcome tourists from other countries.
On your hike you almost always will encounter some “Métairies.” These are mountain farmhouses used to keep the cows during summer time that have adjoining restaurants on the side. Not Zagat rated, perhaps, but homemade, fresh and totally yummy.
The astonishing Creux du Van Cirque is among the most inspiring sights in the Switzerland hiking experience. This immense, horseshoe shaped cliff developed naturally through erosion, creating an amphitheater over 3,000′ wide with walls up to 524′ high.
Part of the Jura ridge path, which leads from Zurich or Basel to Geneva, this magnificent area is a natural reserve where you’ll find lots of animals (ibexes, marmots, deer — nothing frightening, and most likely in hiding from the noises made by tourists). The departure point is the railway station of Noiraigue and the Creux du Van is between 2-1/2 and 3 hours away. As your journey continues, a stop at the restaurant Ferme du Soliat is highly recommended. Most of the hiking is easy, but care is required in the gorge and on the descent back to Noiraigue at the end of the trail. If you can cope with the length of the walk and the amount of climbing, this is a very special hike that is highly recommended. Return to Noriague can be made by bus and train, though buses run infrequently.
In a region devoted to dairy farming and cattle raising, the section of the Trans Swiss Trail that goes through the Emmental valley is an experience in contrasts not to be missed. Surrounded by tremendous, towering views of the eternal white mountains, the hiking landscape is one of gently rolling hills, beautiful farm houses and flower filled meadows. The starting point of the hike is the charming village of Lützelflüh, which you can get to by train. On the outskirts is the ““Kulturmühle”
(Cultural Mill), which is an 1821 mill that has been turned into a fascinating cultural center. Hiking along the river Emme from farmhouse to forest to meadow trails, the views along the way are astonishing. If you are lucky enough to be enjoying Switzerland hiking in the spring, you will see people preparing their gardens and fields for planting.