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Three long-distance hiking routes in Switzerland for spring

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Travel blogger, travelita.ch
© Fotos

Hiking season starts now! If you’re keen to steer clear of lofty altitudes, there are plenty of lengthy lowland treks to enjoy in springtime instead. We reveal three long-distance hiking routes in Switzerland suitable for the spring months.

Alpine Panorama Trail

Alpine Panorama Trail Legs for spring

Leg 15: Lüderenalp – Moosegg
Leg 16: Moosegg – Münsingen
→ 25 km | ↗ 1,080 m | ↘ 1,680 m

Aside from the Kronberg at 1,658 metres, the Alpine Panorama Trail predominantly sits at altitudes between 500 and 1,400 metres above sea level. This guarantees a fantastic view of the Alps – and an extended hiking season.

One particularly stunning leg (no. 16) takes you from Moosegg at the heart of Emmental valley to Münsingen in the Aaretal valley, via the Blasenfluh. One sunny weekend in March, I combined legs 15 and 16 to create a two-day hike packed with variety. Starting from the Lüderenalp, the route took me past the occasional farmstead as I hiked along a long wooded mountain crest, heading towards Emmenmatt. Here, where the Ilfis and Emme rivers converge, I descended to the valley bottom. It wasn’t long, though, before I started to head up onto the next ridge of the Alpine foothills. A good 90 minutes and 350 metres of altitude later, I reached my halfway point in Moosegg. A well-earned dip in the hot tub awaited at my boutique hotel, replete with an atmospheric view of the rugged faces of the Schrattenfluh and Schibengütsch still blanketed with snow.

The second day of hiking picked up where the first had ended, with a fabulous vista of the hills of the Emmental valley. Full of vigour, I set off to tackle the climb across the wooded hilltop of the Blasenfluh to reach the hike’s highest point at 1,118 metres. You’re treated to a truly stunning panorama up here when visibility is good. As you continue along the hike, the Stockhorn mountain range comes into view. The forest paths are full of variety, with only one tarmac road (lasting roughly a kilometre) just after Grosshöchstetten that calls for a bit of staying power. To make up for it, the last few kilometres of leg 16 boast stunning paths through the fields, passing Konolfingen and guiding you into the wide Aaretal valley.

The Alpine Panorama Trail is marked on a map of Switzerland.

Alpine Panorama Trail

Start: Rorschach, end: Geneva
510 km | 29 legs

Alpine Panorama Trail runs along the Alpine foothills from Lake Constance to Lake Geneva and boasts stunning views from the Jura across the Central Plateau region and right through to the Alps. Even though this isn’t a high-alpine route, you’re constantly trekking up hill and down dale – notching up a hefty 17,800 metres of altitude over the course of the long-distance trail.

  • A woman walking along a woodland path, flanked by tall trees.
    Photo © travelita.ch/Anita Brechbühl
  • A sunset is visible over a hilly landscape.
    Photo © travelita.ch/Anita Brechbühl
Aargauer Weg

Aargauer Weg Legs for spring

Leg 3: Brugg – Aarau
→ 22 km | ↗ 480 m | ↘ 440 m

It would be a fatal error to attempt the first official leg of the Aargauer Weg, from Frick to Wittnau, before the end of March. Why? Because the charming landscape of the Fricktal valley, studded with cherry trees, usually only morphs into a glorious sea of white petals from mid-April onwards. However, that’s not enough to stop me from exploring Aargau when the first auspicious heralds of spring – snowdrops and crocuses – are still visible. The great thing about the Aargauer Weg is that it’s perfectly possible to hike the route in the opposite direction, so the stunning cherry blossoms can cap off this long-distance route in glorious style.

I have particularly fond memories of the 22-kilometre leg from Brugg to Aarau, via Wildegg. This section climbs upwards from Brugg train station via the Raiwald forest until you come across the first of the spectacular attractions on this stretch: Habsburg Castle, where the foundations of the Habsburg dynasty were laid back in 1030. I’d recommend taking a break at this point and having a wander through the exhibition. After this, the Aargauer Weg took me up the Brand via fields until I reached the foothills of the Chesterberg. Before I immersed myself in this natural forest reserve, I took a last glance at the mighty walls of Habsburg Castle, which are visible for miles around.

Then, I descended along lush woodland trails on the bank of the languid River Aare. Wildegg Castle, another point of interest erected by the Habsburgs, awaits en route. Its baroque gardens, in particular, are worth seeing. The remaining ten kilometres until you reach Aarau are on the riverside path. This is predominantly flat and guides you downstream through the renaturalised floodplains of the Aare until you reach the old town of the canton’s capital.

The Aargauer Weg is marked on a map of Switzerland.

Aargauer Weg

Start: Frick, end: Muri (AG)
105 km | 6 legs

Over the course of six multifaceted legs, the Aargauer Weg zig-zags through the – often overlooked – Canton of Aargau, showcasing the diversity of this region. There are all kinds of treats in store on this long-distance hike: cherry blossoms, impressive relics from the Habsburg era and wetlands full of flora and fauna.

  • You can see the entrance to a white castle with red and white window shutters.
    Photo © travelita.ch/Anita Brechbühl
  • Close-up of white flowers on a branch.
    Photo © travelita.ch/Anita Brechbühl
Via Rhenana

Via Rhenana Legs for spring

Leg 4: Schaffhausen – Rheinau
→ 14 km | ↗ 300 m | ↘ 320 m

The Randen mountain range prevented clouds of fog from rolling into the cobblestone streets of Schaffhausen’s old town after a chilly night. The glimmer of sunshine that started peeking out from behind the Cholfirst just after 9 am was a welcome harbinger of a glorious spring day.

I followed the signs to cross the Rheinbrücke bridge and reach Feuerthalen on the other side. On this fourth leg of the ViaRhenana, the trail once again zig-zags between the cantons of Schaffhausen and Zurich, which are separated by the River Rhine. I stopped for a moment to admire the picture-postcard view of the Munot. The landmark has overlooked the city for 400 years and witnessed Schaffhausen’s prosperity in medieval times as a salt reloading port. This ‘white gold’ was shipped down the Rhine and was unloaded above the Rhine Falls before being transported onwards on carts. Listed buildings along the bank of the Rhine are testament to this eventful era.

As I followed the riverside path through the pretty centre of the village of Flurlingen, I could already hear the thundering of the Rhine Falls in the distance. They’re particularly stunning in spring, thanks to the meltwater from the mountains. The second half of the leg offers an exciting contrast, with its idyllic forest paths gently rolling through the untouched Rhihalden. I could see the end of the leg from afar as the St. Nicholas church came into view. This is located in a slightly elevated position above the oldest part of Rheinau, the town’s lower portion with its picturesque monastery island.

The ViaRhenana marked on a map of Switzerland.

Via Rhenana

Start: Kreuzlingen, end: Basel
195 km | 10 legs

The ViaRhenana follows what was once Switzerland’s most important waterway. The blue of Untersee lake and the High Rhine is your constant companion on this long-distance hiking route, which also takes you past the Rhine Falls – Switzerland’s most popular destination.

A woman looking at the Rhine Falls.
Photo © travelita.ch/Anita Brechbühl

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