Information on hiking

How are hiking trails marked in Switzerland? How do I plan a hike? The answers are here – with lots more useful information on hiking.

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Switzerland boasts the longest, densest, most varied and best waymarked network of hiking trails – a record-breaker in so many ways. Some 65 000 kilometres of waymarked trails at all levels of challenge from straightforward to alpine.

Did you also know that…

  • If all the trails were laid end-to-end, you could hike around the globe one-and-a-half times?
  • Hiking is Switzerland’s favourite sporting activity? Almost half the population goes for hikes on a regular basis.
  • The country boasts some 50 000 signposts?
  • The hiking trails are look after by around 1 500 volunteers?
  • The hiking trail network is protected by its own set of laws?


Further information on Switzerland’s hiking trails and on hiking (in German/French):
Swiss Hiking Trail Association

Trails and signs

Hiking trails

Hiking trails are often wide, but may also be narrow and uneven. Steps are provided to assist with steep sections and safety rails are present to prevent falls. Apart from the ordinary need for care and attention, there are no special requirements for users. Appropriate clothing, including solid, slip-resistant shoes and topographic maps are recommended.

Signs: yellow signposts, diamond-shaped blazes and direction arrows

Mountain hiking trails

Mountain hiking trail spartly cross rough terrain. They are mostly steep, narrow and sometimes exposed. Particularly difficult sections are secured with ropes or chains. Users must be sure-footed, have a good head for heights and be in good physical condition. They also need to be aware of mountain hazards, such as falling rocks, the danger of slipping and falling and sudden changes in weather conditions. The equipment recommended for hiking trails is required.

Signs: yellow signposts with white-red-white pointers, white-red-white blazes

Alpine hiking trails

Alpine hiking trails may cross snow fields, glaciers and scree slopes and may require short rock climbs. A pathway is not always clearly visible. Precautionary constructions measures may not be present. Hikers must be sure-footed, have a good head for heights and be in very good physical condition. They must be familiar with mountain hazards. In addition to ordinary mountain hiking equipment, hikers may also need a compass, rope, ice-pick and crampons.

Signs: blue signposts with white-blue-white pointers and white-blue-white blazes

Winter hiking trails

Winter hiking trails are signposted only during the winter months. There are no special requirements, but users must be aware of the risk of slipping in the snow.

Signs: pink signposts and poles

Additional signposting: hiking in Switzerland

The label Hiking in Switzerland brings together the most attractive hiking trails. These are designated by additional signposts with green route information.

More information: www.switzerlandmobility.ch
Signs: yellow signs bearing green route information stickers with a single digit (national route), two digits (regional route) or three digits / logo (local route).

Advice on safe hiking

Plan

  • Mountain hiking is demanding. Careful preparation can protect against unpleasant surprises.
  • Plan your route and duration and give yourself extra time as well as alternatives. Take into account the requirements, route conditions and the weather.
  • Inform someone else about your trip, particularly if you are setting off by yourself.


Assess

  • Excessive demands increase the risk of an accident and reduce your ability to enjoy the route. Mountain hiking trails (marked white-red-white) are at times steep, narrow and exposed and require surefootedness.
  • Realistically assess your actual abilities and adjust your plans accordingly.
  • Do not undertake difficult trips by yourself.

Equipment

  • Mountain hiking trails can be slippery.
  • Wear sturdy hiking shoes with a treaded sole.
  • Take with you protection against the sun and rain as well as warm clothing – the weather in the mountains is harsh and can quickly change.
  • An up-to-date map will help you orient yourself. Consider bringing along a first-aid kit, an emergency blanket and a mobile telephone for emergencies.

Evaluate

  • Being tired can strongly impair your footing.
  • Drink, eat and rest regularly to remain fit and focussed.
  • Pay attention to the time needed and changes in the weather.
  • Do not leave the marked trail.
  • Turn back in time if necessary.


Other advice on safe hiking

“Safe Hiking” campaign (DE/FR/IT)
Safety advice issued by the Verband Schweizer Wanderwege (DE/FR)
Safety advice issued by the Swiss Alpine (DE/FR)

Flyer on how to deal with suckler cows (in German)
Flyer on how to deal with guard dogs (in German)

Emergency telephone numbers
112 Emergency services (international)
1414 Rega (mountain rescue emergency)

Apps for safe hiking in the mountains
Rega emergency app
Uepaa 24h Safety App


 

Hiking apps

Hiking suggestions

Note on the hiking suggestions

  • Switzerland Tourism offers suggestions for routes, but cannot be held liable for their accuracy, degree of difficulty or accessibility.
  • The hiking times indicated make no allowance for breaks.
  • The trails indicated may be difficult or impassable due to bad weather or other circumstances.
  • Trails at higher altitudes may remain snowbound until the summer.
  • Please heed relevant advice and seek information from local tourism organisations or mountain railway/cableway operators.