I love spring hiking – the sun isn’t as brutal yet, everything’s in bloom, a lot seems possible. However, after a winter with just a few hikes, we started the season gently, with a couple easy rambles (to me, this means that you can complete the walk in under 4 hours and have to overcome no more than 600m in height gain). I’m sure they’d still be good choices on a Sunday in June or July. Speaking of which: I’m currently putting together my summer hiking bucket list – any suggestions? Until then, I recommend these beautiful trips for today’s Instagram Travel Thursday.
1) Meandering through vineyards in Lavaux
Start in St. Saphorin and make your way through the vineyards and picturesque villages of the Lavaux, the vastness of Lake Geneva always in sight. If you’re as lucky as we were, there’s a wine event going on during your hike, meaning you can buy a glass at the start and taste a few local wines and foodie specialties on your way. We walked until Lutry.
12km, 3 hours, 580m height gain
2) Following the Birs and crossing the language divide
Starting in Laufen in the canton of Baselland, this is a mostly flat walk all the way to Delémont in the canton of Jura. It follows the pretty river Birs, which can take on a whole set of Caribbean turquoise shades, with just the right sun inflection.
16km, 3.5 hours, no height gain to speak of
3) Walking down Switzerland’s only pyramid
I like to spend my birthday somewhere outside, preferably high above a lake. Mt. Niesen fits the bill perfectly. Hop on the old fashioned funicular that goes up the hill in pretty much a vertical fashion. On top, take in the view, then either take the funicular back down or walk. The first bit was closed off because of landslides, but the trail from mid-hill until the bottom still has plenty to offer – the quiet of the forest, combined with sweeping views of Lake Thun.
A good 2 hours, a good 1000m of height downwards
4) Exploring Valais’ Pfynwald
This will take you to a little less-known corner of Valais, far away from the crowds of Matterhorn. Starting out in Leuk, this idyllic hike takes you through the nature reserve of the Pfynwald (famous for its massive pine trees), wide plains enclosed by mountains, and hidden ponds. Your end goal is french-speaking Sierre.
12km, 3.5 hours, no height gain to speak of
5) Experiencing prototypical Switzerland in Gruyères
This hike is for the hedonistically inclined: about an hour in, you come across a chocolate factory, while your destination, the pretty village of Gruyères, is famous for its meringues with double cream and the iconic Gruyère cheese. It’d be worth it even without all the food pleasures, though – you’ll wander next to a scenic lake, through gorges and across meadows. We walked the trail from Charmey to Gruyères, the opposite direction is slightly harder.
11 km, 3 hours, 360m height gain