Snowshoeing In Switzerland (Best Trails, Techniques & More)

snowshoeing switzerland

Going for a winter hike in the Swiss alps is pretty much going to require snowshoeing as the alpine areas are going to be covered with snow. This makes snowshoeing in Switzerland one of the top ways to see the best of the alpine scenery this stunning country has to offer.

But, going on a snowshoe hike isn’t as simple as simply going hiking. There is specific equipment involved, techniques you need to learn, and you are going to have to pick a snowshoe trail to follow.

Snowshoe hiking all sounds like quite a lot to manage if you have never done it, but it is actually quite easy.

Join me as I run through everything you need to know about snowshoeing in Switzerland from great snowshoe trails to techniques, equipment, and more.

Basic Techniques for Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing
Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing is a ton of fun but on your first snowshoe hike, there are some things you are going to need to get used to. After all, you do have a giant snowshoe attached to each of your hiking boots. Here are some tips to get you started.

A Wide Stance Is Key

When you have added snowshoes to boots, it’s like suddenly wearing a giant pair of clown shoes. In order to walk smoothly in the snow, you need to stance to be much wider so incorporate the size of the snowshoes.

Stand with your feet at least shoulder width apart or more. If you can turn in a circle without tripping, your stance is wide enough, if not, make it wider.

Snowshoeing On Flat Ground

Walking in snowshoes on flat ground is very similar to just walking normally. It may feel odd at first but you will get used to it. The key is a wide stance so you don’t step on the insides of your snowshoes as you go.

Snowshoeing Uphill

When snowshoeing uphill, place your poles in front of you and lead with your toes and instep. This will ensure the front part of your crampon gets some traction for you to move forwards.

If it is soft powdery snow, kick into the snow with the front of your foot to compact it and make it hard enough to create traction. It might take a few tries to get it hard enough.

Snowshoeing Downhill

When snowshoeing downhill, lead with your heels, knees bent and body weight leaning backward. This will ensure you get the traction you need and don’t go head over heels. If you start slipping, sit down and start again. Use your poles for balance as you go.

Traversing With Snowshoes

Traversing means walking sideways on a slope which is very common on a snowshoe hike. On each step, you want to push the uphill side of your snowshoes into the snow to create a flat shelf that provides good traction.

Adjust your poles so that they are level, the uphill pole being shorter and the downhill pole being longer.

Equipment & Gear Needed for Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing footwear
Snowshoeing footwear

There isn’t much equipment needed to go snowshoeing. All you need is a pair of snowshoes that fits you well and can handle your load plus whatever you are carrying, plus some poles.

You can rent snowshoes from a lot of places in Switzerland and chances are they will come with poles too. Make sure the poles are adjustable and come with snow baskets if possible.

If you want to own snowshoes, then some flat terrain snowshoes are the best option, but rent snowshoes before you buy if you have never done it before.

You will also want to bring a backpack with you so you can carry layers you add or remove as the day goes on.

Water is essential as snowshoeing is great exercise and the last thing you need is to get dehydrated. Some snacks are also a good idea to keep you fuelled up along the way.

Clothing & Footwear for Snowshoeing

Wearing the right clothing and footwear is key for staying warm and safe while snowshoeing.

When it comes to footwear, you can wear any shoes with snowshoes but waterproof hiking boots that are ankle-high are best. By being high, no snow will come in over the sides while you are winter hiking or snowshoeing. This means your feet will be warm and dry throughout your snowshoeing experience.

When it comes to clothing, dress like you would for winter hiking. You will need layers that are not made of cotton which you can add and remove when you start to get hot or cold, depending on the weather and whether you are winter hiking or not.

A light or midweight merino wool baselayer is best. Follow this with a soft-shell jacket and pants or with a polyester fleece if you have one. Then end with breathable, windproof, and waterproof pants and a jacket to ensure you stay dry and no cold winds get to you.

A wooly hat on cold days or a cap on warm days is needed along with sunglasses and waterproof gloves to keep your hands warm. Also, don’t forget the sunscreen either!

Best Snowshoe Trails in Switzerland

Erzegg Trail

Melchsee-Frutt
Melchsee-Frutt – Image courtesy of Wikimedia

The Erzegg snowshoe trail starts in the mountain ski resort of Melchsee-Frutt in the Bernese Alps. It is easily accessed by a gondola from Discower Seilpark Melchsee-Frutt.

Once you are up at the ski resort, you will find a few different snowshoe trails to follow but the Erzegg trail is the best to go for.

It is rated as difficult but it is very manageable for most abilities. The first stretch is the hardest as it is solely uphill for about 300 or so meters. But, once you have ascended, it is pretty much downhill or flat the rest of the way.

This snowshoe trail has you winter hiking above the forest line which means you get stunning views of the peaks as well as seeing a river and some frozen lakes too. You can also stop off at a restaurant along the way for a drink.

Considering this is a winter sports area, you will probably not be winter hiking in seclusion and instead have a few other people around, either also on a snowshoe hike or doing some other winter sport.

Start: Godala To Melchsee-Frutt Village

  • Distance: 10 km
  • Altitude Change: 350 m
  • Time: 4 hours
  • Rating: Moderate to Difficult

Toggenburg Sellamatt

Located in eastern Switzerland close to the border with Liechtenstein is one of the great snowshoe trails for beginners.

The reason the Toggenburg Sellamatt snowshoe trail is so great for a beginner’s snowshoe hike is because there is very little ascent and it is quite low down in altitude, staying mainly below the tree line.

Also, it is a relatively short snowshoe hike so it is great for kids and only takes about 2 hours to complete.

Start the trail at the chair lift in Alt St Johann which takes you up to the ski resort. From here it is an easy 5 km of winter hiking away from the resort into the seclusion of the forest.

You will only change about 250 meters in altitude so it is not intense and along the way have some awesome views of the surrounding mountain peaks.

  • Start: Alt St Johann, Toggenburg
  • Distance: 5 km
  • Altitude Change: 250 meters
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Rating: Easy

Rigi Kulm – Chäserenholz – Rigi Kulm

Rigi Kulm
Rigi Kulm – Image courtesy of M M

Another of the best snowshoe trails for beginners and families is the Rigi Kulm – Chäserenholz – Rigi Kulm snowshoe trail. It has magical views, very easy terrain, and it is short so everyone can manage it from kids to older adults.

The trail starts at Rigi Kulm, a final train stop on the top of Mt Rigi which sits on the shores of Lake Lucerne and is just outside of Lucerne city too. Accessing the starting point is very easy as it is one of the best-marked snowshoe trails and you pretty much get a train to the starting point.

From Rigi Kulm, you will follow the trail down into the Alp Chäserenholz and when you reach an alpine farm, you will notice a forest trail that takes you back up to Rigi Kulm.

This is one of the best snowshoe trails for scenery on a clear day as the views of Lake Lucerne, Lucerne, and the alps from the peak of Mt Rigi are incredible.

  • Start: Rigi Kulm
  • Distance: 1.5 km
  • Altitude Change: 150 meters
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Rating: Easy

La Lécherette – Mont Chevreuils – La Lécherette

La Lécherette – Mont Chevreuils – La Lécherette snowshoe trail is one of the more challenging snowshoe routes, but the rewards while winter hiking here are excellent.

The trail takes snowshoe hikers from the charming village of La Lécherette to a mountain hut at the peak of Monts-Chevreuils and back to the village again.

The trail is well-groomed which makes life east and the scenery gets ever more impressive as you go. You will have awesome views of Lake Hongrin, and the surrounding peaks of the Valais region.

Once you reach the hut, the views reach the surrounding village and then you follow alpine pastures back down to the village again. It is one of the coolest snowshoe winter hikes around.

  • Start: La Lécherette
  • Distance: 9 km
  • Altitude Change: 460 m
  • Time: 4.5 hours
  • Rating: Difficult

Parcours Corbetta

One of the best snowshoe routes in western Switzerland is the Parcours Corbetta trail. Located just up the hill from Vevey and Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva, it offers excellent views and you can even do it through the night under a full moon.

The trail begins at the La Cagne Parking spaces which can be found on Google Maps. From there, you will enjoy some beautiful winter hiking along a very well-marked rail.

The trail is not easy, but it is not difficult either. It starts going through some forest and is flat but then you take a steep incline for a while as you climb up to the highest point, Corbetta.

The views from Corbetta are stunning and you can see Lake Geneva, all the small villages, and the mountain peaks beyond on a clear day. As you head back to the start you will go past the lovely lake Les Joncs and eventually back to your car.

  • Start: La Cagne Parking
  • Distance: 5 km
  • Altitude Change: 275 meters
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Rating: Moderate

Spitzmeilenhütte – Flumserberg

Spitzmeilenhütte
Spitzmeilenhütte – Image courtesy of Wikimedia

The Spitzmeilenhütte – Flumserberg is one of the top snowshoe tours you can find close to Zurich. It is rated as moderate and takes from the Panüöl ski lift stop to the lovely Spitzmeilenhütte for lunch or a drink, and back down.

Once you get off at Panüöl follow the trail towards Spitzmeilenhütte via Alp Fursch. This side of the mountain is far less busy and wilder. The views are stunning but the ascent up to the hit is not easy.

Once you reach the hut, enjoy the views, a drink, and some delicious food. You will have earned it.

To head back down, head to Maschgenkamm to take the chair lift back to Panüöl as the walk isn’t worth the extra effort.

  • Start: Panüöl
  • Distance: 10 km
  • Altitude Change: 450 meters
  • Time: 4 hours
  • Rating: Moderate

Zermatt Gornergrat

Gornergrat
Gornergrat

This snowshoe tour is one of the top snowshoe tours in south central Switzerland and it can be done by anyone as it is all downhill, making it quite easy.

What makes it one of the best snowshoe tours around is that you get a view of the Matterhorn, the alps’ most iconic peak, the entire way down.

Take the train and cable cars up to Gornergrat station and then begin the easy walk down the mountain with amazing mountain views as you go. It is absolutely stunning and is a snowshoe tour that is not to be missed.

  • Start: Gornergrat station
  • Distance: 4.5 km
  • Altitude Change: 536 all down
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Rating: Easy

Melchsee-Frutt – Teufiboden

Melchsee-Frutt
Melchsee-Frutt

Starting from the village of Melchsee-Frutt in central Switzerland is one of the snowshoe tours that was made for beginners.

Melchsee-Frutt – Teufiboden trail is very easy with minimal ascents and it has stunning views to go with it. Follow the well-marked trail from the village and head towards Stäubiloch, then onto Teufiboden, Blauseeli, and back to Melchsee-Frutt.

Along the way, you will go through forests, see mountain peaks, and lots more.

  • Start: Melchsee-Frutt
  • Distance: 4 km
  • Altitude Change: 170 meters
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Rating: Easy

Hoher Hirschberg Trail

Located in eastern Switzerland, the Hoher Hirschberg Trail is great for beginners as it doesn’t require much of an ascent and your reward is to stop at a restaurant with great views for lunch before heading back down.

The trail begins at Meistersrüte near Appenzell and then takes you through the beautiful Swiss countryside including hills, meadows, and even a small forest.

Eventually, you will ascend to the highest point of the trail where you will find the Hoher Hirschberg restaurant sitting on top of the mountain. The views from the restaurant are hard to beat and you will see the Alpstein mountain range and its peaks.

The food is excellent at the restaurant too and there is a playground for children to entertain themselves on too.

The way back down follows the same trail you used to get up to the restaurant, so it is easy not to get lost as you wind your way down the stunning hills.

  • Start: Meistersrüte
  • Distance: 7 km
  • Altitude Change: 280 meters
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Rating: Medium

Muottas Muragl – Engadin

Muottas Muragl
Muottas Muragl – Image courtesy of Wikimedia

The Muottas Muragl – Engadin trail in southern Switzerland might just be one of the most beautiful around and it can be done by beginners too which is a bonus.

You will first need to take the funicular up to Muottas Muragl top station. When you step off the views will blow your mind as you can see the Bernina alps up close and look down the Silvaplana valley.

The marked trail is easy to follow and starts as the Philosophers’ Trail. You will follow a ridge while you stare down the Val Champagna and then eventually you will find yourself on the stunning Plaun dals Müls plateau.

From here, follow the trail to see amazing views of the Bernina Massis and Val Muragl along with its frozen lakes. You can then head down to the mountain hotel for an amazing dinner.

Start: Muottas Muragl top station

  • Distance: 3.5 km
  • Altitude Change: 230 meters
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Rating: Moderate

Safety Tips for Snowshoeing in Switzerland

  • Stay on official trails only
  • Check for avalanche warnings
  • Don’t go in deep snow
  • Never go alone
  • Tell people your plan
  • Stay on the trail
  • Do not get lost
  • Use the GPS app snowshoe trail
  • Use the pink poles to stay on the trail
  • Join Rega, Switzerland’s helicopter rescue service
  • Always carry enough water and snacks
  • Bring lots of layers in case of weather changes
  • Check the weather conditions before you go

Frequently Asked Questions

Is snowshoeing harder than hiking?

Yes, it is harder and more tiring to snowshoe than hike because of the extra effort to move through deep snow and uneven terrain. However, the descents on snow can be quite fun and fast compared to hiking.

Do you wear your own boots when snowshoeing?

You can wear normal hiking boots while snowshoeing as long as they are very waterproof. However, if it is cold, which is likely, many hiking boots won't keep you warm enough.

What is the point of snowshoeing?

Snowshoeing is a great alternative to skiing during winter and also gets you away from the hustle and bustle of ski resorts. It is also generally a lot cheaper as you travel under your own steam and it is definitely a lot more peaceful and rewarding.

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

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