Rigi Kulm: a simple panoramic hike close to Zurich


To be honest, I was not a great fan of this trail: the place is not wild enough for me (in fact, not wild at all). On the other hand, this hike might be a nice option for people that stay in Zurich and want to get a glimpse on the main Swiss stereotypes (mountains, lakes, cows, you know). The trail is super easy – no need to climb, and only very little altitude change. Most of the path is even accessible for wheelchairs!

TL;DR

What: a hike next to Lucerne: Rigi Kulm to Rigi Scheidegg cable car station.
Why: great view on three lakes and on the Alps, clean Swiss air (with a scent of cows :D).
How long: 2-3 hours (the hike itself) + 3.5 hours (commute from Zurich and back).
How to get here: train, cable car.
Difficulty: minimal.
Ascent: 243 m.
Descent: 369 m.
How much it costs: ~65 CHF by public transport from Zurich.

On top of Rigi Kulm

In theory you could walk all the way up, but that would be 1200 meters. An easier option is to take a mountain train from the town of Arth.

One downside of this choice is that you will see all the best views right after stepping out of the wagon (so there is no feeling of a reward like on some other hikes).

Lakes Zug and Lauerz:

The lake of Lucerne:

The snowy Alps are mocking Rigi from far away: and you dare to call yourself a mountain?

She is trying to prove that she is also a real one – look, she even has a chalet!

Such flowered meadows are quite rare – normally the grass is cut down for the cows. Here is what “alpine meadows” usually look like:

They do it sector by sector, and the slopes look colorful:

And here are the happy consumers:

The only thing that could possibly make this picture more Swiss is a train:

The trail is quite close to major cities, such as Lucerne, Zug, and Zurich. This means a lot of tourist traffic, and, as a consequence, some infrastructure on the path. For example, you can often encounter cabins for barbeque: just bring your food, and you can grill it here overlooking the mountains.

There is even a theater up here.

Closing up to the destination point – Rigi Scheidegg – you will notice that the trail forks. The main trail, asphalted and accessible for wheelchairs and small children, leads to the left, on the side of the valley. The other one is a bit more difficult and narrow. It goes right, to the other side of the hill, with an overview of the lake Lucerne. If you have a choice – go right: you have seen the valley already, and here is how it is on the other side:

Apart from that, there is fewer people, more quiet, and the trail is “less maintained” (meaning that they still kept some trees around it unlike next to the asphalted path…):

That is pretty much it. At the Scheidegg cable car station relax after the walk and try some alpine apple cider before descending back into the valley.

Conclusion

The trail is about panoramas. If you are seeking unspoiled nature and detachment from the civilization – go somewhere else. The vegetation around the path is cleared quite aggressively, and the meadows are all the property of cows. The path itself is asphalted (though sometimes you can stray a bit off the trail). Despite all that, the views are amazing: you can see a lot of different landscapes, including the snowy Alps, forests, lakes, and meadows. There is a feeling of a lot of space around, because there are two deeps valleys to both sides of the path.

The hike is very very easy and will suit you well if you have a free morning in Zurich or Lucerne, you would like to have some fresh air, but do not want to bother with a strenuous hike 🙂

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