Bachtel

A pleasant hike to panoramic views on Bachtel, outside Zurich.

It’s still November and we’re still doing fall hiking, close to Zürich.  Today Andy and I walked from the little village Gibswil, over fresh dusting of snow and through pastures and forests, to the summit of Bachtel.  Although not a high mountain by Swiss standards – only 1,115 meters – it is popular for its panoramic view of the Zürichsee valley and the Alps beyond.  There is a road to the summit, which has a restaurant, a playground, and an observation tower.  Ok, the purist in me would normally avoid such a summit, but there is really something to be said for sitting in a warm restaurant over a plate of raclette and a glass of beer, enjoying the panoramic view.2019-11-30-76225.jpg

Last night there were low clouds hovering over all these hills, leaving behind a dusting of snow at the higher elevations.  We began our hike as those clouds slowly began to dissipate and the sunshine sparkled in the snow.  Sadly, some clouds persisted between Bachtel and the Alps throughout our lunch, and just began to clear as we snapped a few photos and descended toward Wald.  Fortunately the trails and pastures of the descent allowed many fine views toward the Glarusalps over the pretty valley town of Wald.2019-11-30-76314.jpg

I certainly plan to return on some future clear-sky day! Check out the photo gallery. If you want to keep up with our adventures, click “Follow” at right.

Hiking notes:

  • We followed this description, and its gpx file.  We made one slight detour (mistake). Our route ended up being 9.9km, 2.5 hours walking time.  Tram/train/bus from home to Gibswil was about 50 minutes; from Wald to home was about 40 minutes.
  • The summit Bachtel Kulm Restaurant actually has pretty good food and drink, and an extensive ice cream menu 😉

Schnebelhorn

Alpine and pastoral views from Schnebelhorn on a grey and windy November day.

Although it is late fall, and I’m seeing the occasional Züricher happy lugging skis toward the train station enroute to a day of skiing at one of the high-altitude resorts, the lowlands are still snow-free and quite lovely.  Indeed, yesterday the forecast was for warm (12-14ºC) though blustery conditions.  I decided to tackle Schnebelhorn, the highest point in the Canton of Zürich. Read on, and check out the photo gallery.View of the Glarusalps from the descent of Schnebelhorn.

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Uetliberg

A lovely late-fall stroll along the ridgeline with views down into Zurich.

As we the final leaves fall from the trees in Zürich – and the higher-elevation ski resorts start to open around Switzerland – the options for hiking become narrower.  I’ve had my eyes on one hike ever since my first day in town: Uteliberg.  This hill dominates the opposite side of the lake, above Zürich, and we watch the sun set over Uetliberg from our flat every evening. With a summit-top observation tower, a telecom tower, a hotel, and a restaurant, it glows prominently in our nighttime view behind the city.  Read on, and check out the photo gallery.

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Amden Höhenweg – High Mountain Trail

A lovely hike on the Amden-Höhenweg (high mountain trail), with grand views.

After more than two weeks away from Switzerland – in the sunny Mediterranean and the Baja of Mexico – it was somewhat jarring to return to the crisp air and fallen leaves of autumn in Zürich.  Within an hour of arriving home, I took a walk with the family to the hilltops above Zürich, where there were dozens of other families out for a sunny Sunday stroll among the colorful leaves of late-season forest trails and distant views of snow-capped Alps.  I was eager to get back out into the mountains.

It rained all week, and the fog rarely lifted high enough to see the hill on the opposite side of town, let alone the mountains beyond.  I thus had weak hopes for a hike this weekend; indeed, I thought perhaps the higher trails may well be buried in snow.  But read on about our visit to the Amden valley – there is good news ahead – and check out the photo gallery.2019-11-02-75496.jpg Continue reading “Amden Höhenweg – High Mountain Trail”

Bellinzona and the Tibetan bridge

A daytrip to the Italian corner of Switzerland, with a hillside hike culminating in a tremendously long suspension bridge.

The weekend weather forecast for Zurich and all of northern Switzerland was looking rather wet, but I really wanted to squeeze in one more hike before the fall chill sets in. An officemate suggested Bellinzona, the capital of the Italian-speaking corner of Switzerland – the canton of Ticino.  This small city is often overlooked next to its glitzier lakeside neighbor, Lugano, but has a lot to offer.  UNESCO recognizes its three medieval castles as a world heritage site, and the surrounding hills include a web of well-organized hiking trails.  Read on, and check out the photo gallery.

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Faulhorn

When hiking in the mountains one must occasionally have faith in the weather – starting out enmeshed in dense valley fog, only to climb into a spectacular day above the clouds.  This was one of those rare, magical days, when we topped a ridgeline and encountered a mountain view more spectacular than any I have seen in 45 years of hiking, with the major peaks of the Berneralps spread across the horizon above a sea of undercast clouds.  Breathtaking!   Read on for the full story, and be sure to check out the photo gallery.An ethereal landscape, above treeline but in the fog.

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Gandstock hike

The weather thus far in Switzerland has been spectacular – blue skies, warm temps, low humidity.  And this day, for my first hike, the weather truly delivered in top form.  I joined a group organized by D-MTEC, the Department of Management, Technology, and Economics, which is the ETH department where I sit during this year in Zürich.  The hike to circumnavigate a small peak named Gandstock was moderate in length and difficulty, covering 11.5 km (7.14 mi) in 4h55 at altitude ranging from 1610m (~5,280′) to 2167m (~7,110′), all of it above treeline.  Check out the photo gallery, and read on beyond the break.2019-09-14-71433.jpg Continue reading “Gandstock hike”