William Tell Swiss Path Hike & Cruise – Itinerary
The 2,5 to 3,5 hour historic “Swiss Path” hike follows a signposted walking trail, formerly a centuries-old mule path, along a plateau taking you to the very heart of where Switzerland and its 700 year old democracy began. Spectacular mountain scenery and age-old rural scenes accompany you along this historic route.
After arriving at the village of Seelisberg, reached by train and post bus, enjoy a super panoramic view of the surrounding Alps with the deep teal turquoise waters of Lake Uri down below. Make a quick stop (Mon-Sat) at the family-run Aschwanden Cheese Dairy and hear about the award-winning cheeses they make on site, and then taste a few of them. This is a great place to buy locally made “Alp” cheese. Upon request, they will vacuum pack should you wish to take cheese home.
Begin the actual walk parallel to Lake Uri with great views of the Ruetli meadow down below. This is Switzerland’s “place of birth” in 1291; your guide will give you the fascinating story of the beginnings of the country’s unique direct democracy.
For Transcendental Meditation fans, we walk past the Maharishi European Research University founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the organization. It is located in a former grand hotel of the Belle Epoque era.
If the entrance is open one can enter and ring the bell of enlightenment.
The Pine Forest
After about 30 minutes we enter the “Tannwald – pine forest” where verses of the “Lord’s Prayer” are on signs along the way. The trail is level on hard packed dirt with protruding rocks and roots yet very pristine with a special spiritual feeling.
At the end of the forest, we come to one of the most picturesque viewing spots that overlook Lake Uri and the surrounding Alps.
The hike continues on a level gravel path which links with a country road and takes us up an incline with steps leading us to the 16th century “boutique castle” of Beroldingen where we can view the little house chapel. It is the home of an artist and sometimes she invites people passing by to come in and enjoy a coffee with her.
We continue on a country road, past farm houses and meadows, all the time with views of Lake Uri and the surrounding mountains
At the end of the road we reach a great rest spot with bathroom facilities. Here we stop for lunch and while your guide lays out the typical Swiss picnic lunch (vegetarians – please warn us in advance so we know to bring something appropriate for you), you sit back and enjoy the spectacular views.
After lunch, we begin the descent down to lake level, hiking from the 800 m / 2400 ft plateau level down to the 440 m./1320 ft lake level level via 850-odd stone steps that lead to the picturesque village of Bauen. There are many benches for great vista rest stops along the way. Everyone has made it down without any problems!
Bauen – End of the Hike
Depending on time and the weather, explore Bauen or take a swim in the lake. A stop at the rustic Zwyssig Restaurant (open Wed-Sun) is worth it to experience the typical village architecture with low ceilings and also take refreshments on the balcony with its glorious sweeping lake views. The place is also where the composer of Switzerland’s national anthem was born and brought up.
For swim enthusiasts there is a public swimming area with changing room facilities; summer water temperatures can get up to 20 C / 68F.
We depart this idyllic setting by boat for a 2,5 hour cruise back to Lucernewith ports of call at the Ruetli and a number of Swiss villages. As you cruise along, look up at the steep cliff faces where you walked.
The Swiss Path was created in 1991 to commemorate Switzerland’s 700-year anniversary. The rationale to why and how it was built provides an interesting snapshot into Swiss life.
The 35 km trail recognizes each of the cantons making up Switzerland with markers announcing each canton along the route. The length of route for each canton is proportional to the population at the time of building and the order is determined by the order in which the cantons joined the Swiss federation.
The Swiss Path is built so that every 5 millimeters represents one Swiss citizen and also shows the 26 different cantons in chronological order. One literally walks through the history of the country.
On our hike we will see the stone plaque of the Canton of Zurich with the 1351 date when it joined the Swiss confederation. Also you will hear the 13th century historical context of how the opening of the Gotthard Pass, then and still today, the shortest North-South European trade route affected the local farmers in the valley and the relationship with the then Holy Roman Emperor, The Habsburg monarchy.
Map for William Tell Swiss Path Hike