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Autumn hiking around Lucerne

Sunny autumn days are invitations for hiking in the glorious mountains of Switzerland. Not only is the weather moderate, therefore perfect for hiking, the changing colours of the trees and falling leaves add a magical ambiance to your hike.

Switzerland has 65,000 kilometres of marked trails that criss-cross the country and are maintained by around 1,500 volunteers. Beginner, moderate and difficult hiking trails are available throughout the country to suit your level of fitness and ability.

Here are some hikes from beginner to advanced level not far from Lucerne:

Beginner trails:

Rigi Panoramaweg: The Rigi Panorama Trail follows the former railway between Kaltbad and Rigi Scheidegg. Rigi, the Queen of the Mountains, has panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and lakes. There are rest areas, fire places and alpine restaurants along the way to enjoy a leisurely hike.

Flower Trail on Mt. Pilatus: Open until the end of October this trail starts at Pilatus Kulm with a maintained path and side rails to Tomlishorn, the highest point. Although it is getting late now you still may see some flowers along the way, that are labeled, and possibly some ibex. Download the Flower Trail flyer before you go.

Moderate trails:

Walenpfad: Engelberg/Ristis – Brunnihütte – Bannalp/Chrüzhütte: Known as one of the best high-altitude hikes in the region with a mountain view of the Walenstöcke massif. It begins in the meadowlands where there is a tobaggon run and large playground and continues on through alpine scenery.

Fürstein Langis: The hike leaves from the Berghotel Langis and passes behind a little restaurant to begin the ascent. Views reach as far as the Jura mountains and the route is varied with some steep slopes, a plateau, scattered forests, a lake, a chapel and ending with some easy slopes.

Other suggestions: Mittagsgüpfi Rundweg, Engelberg Aa Gorge trail

Difficult trails:

Fräkmüntegg – Pilatus Kulm: A short hike but with a lot of climbing that takes you to the top of Pilatus with a view of Lake Lucerne, the Central Swiss pre-Alps and bordering Nidwalden and Obwalden cantons.

Brunni – Grosser Mythen peak: one of the classic summit trails in Central Switzerland, along with Rigi and Pilatus. The panoramic tour has a well-secured path to the top. Surefootedness and no fear of heights required with particular caution in wet weather. There are various trails that can be hiked as per this review in English.

Further links:

For family friendly hikes have a look at these suggestions from the LiLi Centre’s managing director, Charlie Hartmann: ‘Great family friendly hikes’.

For more autumn hike suggestions check out ‘Top autumn hikes’ from Luzern Tourismus AG.

Be prepared:

Now that you have a touch of wanderlust it is important to be prepared. Being prepared is key for a safe and enjoyable hike. Essential requirements follow.

Equipment and tips:

  • The first thing you will need are good hiking boots. Whether you splurge on hiking boots or go for good trainers be sure to have shoes that fit and that keep your ankle stable. Hobbling back to base on a twisted ankle is not fun. We cannot recommend good hiking boots enough as it makes such a difference to your experience even on beginner trails.
  • Be sure to wear layers of clothes. It might start off as a sunny day, but the wind might pick up or rain could set in, you never know; so layer your clothes so as not to freeze or boil.
  • Lather the sun cream on, yeap just because you’re not by the seaside or on snow doesn’t mean that the sun isn’t super fierce.
  • Wear sunglasses and a hat.
  • Trekking poles can come in handy but not everyone likes using them so if possible borrow some before investing in a pair.
  • Then you are going to need a backpack, and fill it with plenty of food and water, but it‘s a delicate balance between plenty of sustenance and too heavy a backpack.
  • You will also need a first aid kit, mosquito/tick repellent, and a pen knife.
  • Some kind of GPS is also essential, just bear in mind that you won‘t always get perfect reception for your phone. Switzerland Mobility is handy as you can follow and/or create your own trails and download maps. The subscription cost is cheap at CHF 35 per year.
  • Finally, if you are planning on hiking a lot then we recommend you become a member of REGA. This is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation that provides year round mountain rescues.