Rigi Hiking - Central Switzerland
A selection of hiking routes
Rigi Kulm – Staffel – Staffelhöhe – Känzeli – Rigi Kaltbad
This easy high-altitude walk features magnificent views over the Swiss plateau to the Black Forest, the Vosges mountains and the Alps, as well as a breathtaking bird's-eye view of Lake Lucerne and Lake Zug. Minimum effort is needed for this route for maximum rewards. The entire trail is a gentle descent. The panoramic view from the lookout at Känzeli is simply fantastic. Even Queen Victoria of England had nothing but praise for this spectacular location when she visited back in 1868.
Walking time: 1 hour Distance: 4km
Altitude: 1,440-1,752m Level: Easy
Rigi Kulm – Kulmhütte – Upper Schwändihütte – Des Alpes - Rigi Klösterli
This route is ideal if you're keen to avoid the well-beaten paths and get back to nature for some peace and quiet. It starts off with a clear view above the tree line of the majestic Mythen mountains and the impressive landslide area at Rossberg. Today you can still see where 20 million cubic metres of rock came crashing down in 1806 and buried the village of Goldau. The lower part of the trail takes you through romantic mountain forests on the way to Klösterli. This is where Johann Wolfgang von Goethe stayed when he first visited Switzerland in 1775. Inspired by the enchanting Mount Rigi, he felt "surrounded by the splendour of the world".
Walking time: 1 hour Distance: 4.1km
Altitude: 1,314-1,752m Level: Easy
Romiti – First – Des Alpes – Staffel - Rigi Kulm
Follow in the footsteps of the internationally renowned German poet and conquer the 'Queen of the Mountains'. Goethe walked this route during his first visit to Switzerland in 1775. These days, visitors can travel in comfort to the starting point in Romiti thanks to the Vitznau-Rigi railway. From Rigi First, the hiking trail winds through lush mountain meadows, followed by wonderfully diverse woodlands with fabulous views. Beyond Klösterli, where Goethe stayed, the trail crosses the Arth-Rigi railway line. This is followed by a final climb via Staffel to the summit of Mount Rigi, where an unparalleled 360° panoramic view more than makes up for the hard yards.
Walking time: 3 hours Distance: 6km
Altitude: 1,200-1,797m Level: Easy
Rigi Kulm – Staffel – Seebodenalp
This pleasant descent from the summit of Mount Rigi is one of the most popular walking trails on the 'Queen of the Mountains'. It features a captivating view of the Alps and the Swiss plateau, yet isn't excessively strenuous. From Rigi Staffel onwards the path becomes very steep, so your knees and calves will definitely get a workout. Back in 1868, this route was even completed by Queen Victoria – albeit on horseback. Needless to say, you will have earned a well-deserved break by the time you reach Seebodenalp, before you catch an aerial cable car back down to Küssnacht.
Walking time: 1½ hours Distance: 4.3km
Altitude: 1,021-1,752m Level: Moderate
Rigi Staffel – Känzeli – Kaltbad – First – Felsenweg
This nature tour offers both stunning views and fascinating insights into the diverse plant life and geology of Mount Rigi. During the flowering season, around 200 species of plants are signposted on the side of the walking trail, some of which are incredibly rare. A free floral trail brochure with plenty of pictures is available from the Rigi Bahn valley stations and the Tourist Information Centre in Kaltbad. Between Kaltbad and First, there's an information board explaining how the 'Queen of the Mountains' was formed. On this part of the trail the typical Mount Rigi rock - Nagelfluh- is clearly visible.
Walking time: 2 hours Distance: 7.3km
Altitude: 1,314-1,603m Level: Easy
Rigi Kaltbad - First - Heiri Hütte - Rigi Klösterli
This attractive trail to Rigi First is initially almost completely flat and easy to complete, as it follows the old Scheidegg railway line. The Alps with their year-round snow can be seen rising up from the southern banks of the lake. From First you go down to the cosy alpine inn Heiri-Hütte, where you can enjoy a hearty mountain snack. From there, the trail winds its way elegantly down to the pilgrimage site of Klösterli, which is steeped in tradition and was formerly home to Capuchin friars. The Maria of the Snow pilgrimage chapel was built in baroque style in 1689 and is one of the most beautiful mountain chapels in the world. The altarpiece is a copy of the famous Maria of the Snow painting which hangs in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.
Walking time: 30 minutes Distance: 2.2km
Altitude: 1,314-1,453m Level: Easy
Rigi Kaltbad - Rotstock - Rigi Staffel
A short but worthwhile trail for a quick trip to the top. The Rotstock (1,659m) features a sublime 360° panoramic view that many visitors find more captivating than the lookout at Rigi Kulm. In addition to the alpine scenery and view of the Swiss plateau, you can also see the part of the summit with the two railways lines, which from this height looks like a model train set. The ascent from Kaltbad takes you through a shady mountain forest and is dotted with 14 wayside crosses. On the Rotstock, there are places to sit and take a break among the flower-filled meadows. A short downhill section then takes you to Staffel, where the railway lines from Vitznau and Goldau meet.
Walking time: 1 hour Distance: 2.7km
Altitude: 1,433-1,659m Level: Moderate
Rigi Kaltbad - First - Unterstetten - Hinder Dossen - Rigi Scheidegg
This trail follows the former railway line between Kaltbad and Rigi Scheidegg. It's entirely flat except for the very last part, making it the ideal trail for a pleasant stroll. Along the way there are plenty of reminders of the former railway to be discovered, such as old railway bridges and a tunnel. There's even a disused train carriage that has been converted into a holiday home, a water tank for the old steam locomotives as well as several kilometre signs. The view of the Alps and the Schwyz basin is divine. From Rigi Scheidegg you can ride the aerial cable car back down to Goldau via Kräbel.
Walking time: 2 hours Distance: 7.1km
Altitude: 1,433-1,656m Level: Easy
Rigi Kaltbad - First - Felsenweg - Unterstetten - Seeweg - Glettialp - Hinterbergen
The first part of this trail features breathtaking views over sheer cliffs out across Lake Lucerne and during the entire walk you'll be able to see the mighty Alpine peaks on the horizon, some of which are snow-capped all year round. A large part of this hike is through lush alpine meadows and from Rigi First onwards there are 12 info boards explaining Mount Rigi's biodiversity and natural treasures. A wide variety of plants and animals thrive on the mountain, thanks to its mild lakeside climate. From Hinterbergen the aerial cable car will take you back to Vitznau.
Walking time: 2½ hours Distance: 6.2km
Altitude: 1,064-1,484m Level: Moderate
Rigi Kaltbad - Känzeli - Alp Räb - Chrüzboden - Altruedisegg - Seebodenalp - Küssnacht am Rigi
The walk to the fantastic lookout at Känzeli is initially flat, so you can get off to a gentle start. The view over Lake Lucerne's Kreuztrichter basin is unforgettable. There's also a memorial featuring Goethe's diary entry about his visit to Mount Rigi. From Känzeli, the trail follows the same route taken by Queen Victoria (on horseback) in 1886: a steep but safe descent through the shady forest takes you via Alp Räb and Chrüzboden to the cosy alpine pub Ruedisegg. From there the trail flattens out again until Seebodenalp, then descends gently to Küssnacht where William Tell finished off Gessler with his crossbow in a narrow sunken lane.
Walking time: 3½ hours Distance: 8.5km
Altitude: 436-1,460m Level: Moderate
Rigi Klösterli - lower Schwändihütte - Schwändi - Alp Chäserenholz - Rigi Kulm
A challenging route for avid hikers who enjoy taking it up a gear. From the pilgrimage site at Rigi Klösterli with its beautiful baroque chapel, the trail climbs steadily towards Alp Schwändi. The path lies below the tree line and is frequently shaded by the mountain forest. At Chäserenholz the alpine herdsmen sell their original, full-bodied Rigi cheese and there's a covered picnic area where you can take a well-earned break and enjoy the majestic panoramic view. After recharging your batteries, you'll be ready to tackle the final ascent to Mount Rigi's highest peak, where your efforts will be rewarded by a 360° view of the Swiss plateau and the Alps.
Walking time: 1½ hours Distance: 3.7km
Altitude: 1,294-1,752m Level: Moderate
Rigi Klösterli - Heiterenboden - Unterstetten - Dossen - Hinder Dossen - Rigi Scheidegg
A richly diverse high-altitude hike topped off by an exhilarating climb to Dossen's peak. From Rigi Klösterli, there's a gentle incline as you walk up through the mountain forest and lush meadows via Heiterenboden on the way to Unterstetten. Here, you'll see the former Scheidegg railway line with its impressive bridge and there's also a large picnic area. Afterwards you'll be faced with Dossen's steep slopes, but once you reach the summit, the breathtaking view of Lake Lucerne and the Bürgenstock peninsula will make it more than worth it. This is literally the apex of the trail. It's followed by a gradual descent into Hinterdossen and a mostly flat path from there to Scheidegg for a relaxing conclusion to the hike. An aerial cable car connects Scheidegg with Kräbel, where there's also a Rigi Bahn cogwheel railway station.
Walking time: 2½ hours Distance: 5.2km
Altitude: 1,314-1,656m Level: Moderate
Kräbel - Dächli - Schwändi - Trib - First - Rotstock - Stationenweg - Rigi Staffelhöhe
Back in the 17th century, this route was used by pilgrims and the first natural scientists who visited Rigi. From the Arth-Rigi railway station in Kräbel, it winds its way through romantic, wild forests which, according to the myth, were once home to the devil. The trail leads to Dächli, where the legendary innkeeper welcomed the very first visitors to Rigi around 400 years ago. The traditional Alp huts of Schwändi and Trib provide an insight into the crafts and trades of this mountain region with their selection of natural products. The trail is topped off by a climb to the peak of the unmistakeable Rotstock, where your hard work will be rewarded with a fantastic panoramic view.
Walking time: 4½ hours Distance: 9.8km
Altitude: 759-1,659m Level: Difficult
Weggis - Felsentor - Rigi Kaltbad - Rigi Staffel - Rigi Kulm
This route was formerly used to reach the summit from Weggis before Europe's first mountain railway was built in 1871. Writer and world traveller Mark Twain was among the many early visitors to walk this trail. He describes the three-day climb in his book 'A Trip to Mount. Rigi. The ascent is at times quite steep and there are 8 information boards where you can catch your breath and read about this humorous author and his trip. The path through Felsentor is particularly romantic, with massive rocks rising up from the forest floor. From Kaltbad, the trail winds its way to the summit at 1,800m above sea level.
Walking time: 5 hours Distance: 10.4km
Altitude: 440-1,798m Level: Difficult
Urmiberg - Gätterlipass - Rigi Burggeist - Seeweg - Felsenweg - First - Rigi Kaltbad
From the mountain station of the Brunnen – Urmiberg aerial cable car, this route will lead you over Mount Rigi's gently curved southern face. Lake Lauerz and Lake Zug sparkle down below and the horizon is lined with the eastern Alps and the massive Mount Säntis. In the second part of the walk, the Seeweg path traverses undulating hills and romantic alpine meadows. It leads to the Felsenweg walkway, which is built into a sheer cliff made of a conglomerate rock known as Nagelfluh and from where you'll enjoy a spectacular view of Lake Lucerne. The final leg from First to Staffel follows the former Rigi Scheidegg railway line.
Walking time: 5 hours Distance: 12.6km
Altitude: 1,151-1,604m Level: Difficult
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