If you love the sound of rustling leaves, rolling rocks and gnarled roots of trees under your feet, if chirping birds in the wilderness seem like music to your ears, then hiking is surely your cup of tea! Noopur Shrivastav tells you more.
Switzerland is a country of lakes and mountains with 65,000 kilometers of marked hiking trails of different difficulty levels. More than half of the Swiss population goes hiking regularly. There are trails for all ages, many including wheelchairs and buggy access. While the sun is still shining, let’s tank up on vitamin D before the temperature dips and the leaves change colors in autumn.
One summer weekend, my family decided to hike up one of the trails on Mount Pilatus. The idea was to hike up the slope, sweat a little, get some vitamin D and glide down the longest summer toboggan or ‘Rodelbahn’ in Switzerland.
Mt. Pilatus is situated in the central part of Switzerland, you can reach there via Lucerne. It’s about a 50-minute ride from Zurich to Lucerne. The stretch is beautiful and the journey is mesmerizing. As train snakes along the picturesque Lake Lucerne, you will be enchanted by the turquoise, blue and green waters of the lake and the mountains standing tall in the backdrop.
From Lucerne, we went to Kriens, a city nestled at the foot of Pilatus. We took the Gondola from Kriens to Krienseregg and followed the famous Drachenmoor or Dragon Moor to hike atop one of the routes.
It was a one-and-a-half-hour-long (difficulty level – medium) route to reach Fräkmüntegg with an ascent of 422 meters. This trail is mostly an uphill climb. You need comfortable hiking shoes for such routes, as you navigate the thick roots of pine trees and the uneven rocky paths. There are no restaurants, rest areas, kiosks, or fountains in this stretch. Hikers need to carry their water and snacks for the stretch.
(You can check other routes for hiking in mount Pilatus here)
There are different difficulty level routes, and depending on your preferences you can choose the levels and duration of the hike. If you choose easy routes, you will spend more time reaching Fräkmüntegg. Easy hiking routes are mostly flat stretches, comfortable to walk. However, if you want to enjoy a fun activity at the mountain top, you can opt for a steep hike to save time. There is a Seilpark or rope park in Fräkmüntegg if you are keen on an adventure in the forest, or you can opt for toboggan rides.
The Toboggan Ride
The highlight of our trip was the toboggan ride or ‘Rodelbahn’. We wanted to spend enough time tobogganing, so we chose a short, 3.5 km, medium-difficulty route for the hike through forests and trees through this stretch. There are no restaurants before Fräkmüntegg, so make sure you carry your water bottles and snacks.
After crossing the tall pine trees, we reached the longest summer toboggan run in Switzerland. At 1,350 m, this toboggan ride gives you an amazing view of the Pilatus and Lake Lucerne. While gliding down one can feel the adrenaline rush as you press the lever and slide down the shining steel curves.
These rides can be done independently by kids above 8 years. This safe adventure is very tempting, especially for kids, and adults who can’t resist a couple of rides and the waiting time in the queue.
Prices for a single toboggan ride for kids (6-16) is 7 CHF, for adults, it’s 9 CHF. There are also reduced group price options. It is always better to call the Rodelbahn office for group bookings and check for terms and conditions personally to get all relevant details. More details here.
The toboggan fun is subject to weather conditions. So, it’s always better to call the Rodelbahn office and confirm their services. For the safety of riders, backpacks and photography are not permitted during the ride. However, there are lockers to keep your belongings safe near the starting point.
There is also a photo booth if you would like to collect a picture of your fun ride. There is also a small kiosk, however, if you want a proper meal, Restaurant Fräkmüntegg near the Rodelbahn is an option. Dining here is a treat to the eyes and soul. Beautiful views of Pilatus, Lake Lucerne and hikers, and rope climbers will make your day memorable.
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