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Reading the Hiking Signs

Pauline Kenny

Learn how to read the hiking signs and you won't need any hiking guidebooks. Get a good map when you are in Switzerland and use the map, plus the signs, to figure out the good hikes. The signs clearly tell you where trails go to and how long the hike will take. On this page I took one hiking trial in Engelberg and show the signs on the trail to show you how to read them.

Signs Along the Trail: Trubsee to Engelberg

To get to this hike, we took a mountain ride from Engelberg to Trubee. When we got off the ride, we saw the first of the hiking sings showing the trails from this spot.

We will be hiking from Trubsee down to Engelberg.

Sign at the start of the trail

Sign at Trubsee, 08/2002

This sign is at the top of the Trubsee mountain ride, where the hike starts.

Possible routes: The first sign points to three possible routes; one to the left and two to the right. Each separate arrow is for a different trail. The three trails from here are:

- to Stand, 2 hours 10 minutes
- to Engelberg, 1 hour 45 minutes
- to Melchsee-Frutt, 4 hours, 30 minutes

Trail difficulty: The red and white on the point of the sign show you that this is a hiking trail. If the point is yellow, it is an easy trail (usually a small paved road with no cars but maybe mountain bikes). All of these are hiking trails.

Sign along the trail

Sign at Trubsee, 08/2002

This sign was further down the trail and shows two different trails to Engelberg.

- to Engelberg via Untertrubsee, 1 hour, 45 minutes
- to Engelberg via Gerschnlalp, 1 hour, 25 minutes

We did the trail on the top left, via Untertrubsee. The red and white on the arrow shows that the second part of this is a hike, not an easy walk. Our hike started with an easy walk, to Huethutte, then became more difficult.

You are here: The hiking signs usually have your location and elevation in the center. On the second sign you see that it is at Trubsee, 1795 meters elevation.

Description of route: Each sign shows the "towns" you get to along the route and the time to get there. (I put town in quotes because it may just be a couple of farm houses.) "Std" means hour, "Min" means minutes. For example, the trail to the left goes to Huethutte (15 minutes), then to Untertrubsee (1 hour, 5 minutes) and ends at Engelberg (1 hour, 45 minutes). The times are cumulative - it would take 1 hour, 45 minutes to do the whole trail to Engelberg.

Branching routes: If a trail branches at some point to another destination, this is shown on the route marker with a line. For example, the line under Aelplerseil shows that the trail branches; either to Aelplerseil or to Huethutte and on to Engelberg.

Sign at a point where the trail splits

Sign at Trubsee, 08/2002

The sign at Huethutte shows the trail branching off to Aelplerseil (where you can take a gondola to Untertrubsee). We continued to Trubsee.

Another Example

Sign at Jochpass, 08/2002

This is the sign at Jochpass above Trubsee. We could have walked from Trubsee to Jochpass (uphill) or we could have taken a chairlife. This sign shows the three major trails from Jochpass:

- down to Trubsee and then Engelberg
- to Engstlenalp or Melchsee-Frutt
- to Meiringen or to Melchsee-Frutt


When you get to a trailhead, spend a few minutes reading the hiking sign and comparing the routes shown to your map. You should know which places have public transportation, because you want to hike to a location, then take get back to where you started. Most trails have signs along the way and at all intersections, so it is difficult to get lost, but you must know the locations of the towns nearby, so you can recognize where the trails go.

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