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Report 1021: Switzerland in Slow Motion: 100 Miles on the Alpine Pass Route

By Kaydee from Tennessee, Summer 2005

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Page 18 of 19: Hiking in Switzerland

photo by Kathy Wood

Hiking signage in Adelboden

We've hiked hundreds of miles in England and France, and we've also done some hiking in Scotland, Austria and Italy. This was our first time to hike in Switzerland. Everything about the infrastructure for hikers is superb: the network of trails, trail maintenance, markings, accommodations in villages, facilities on the mountains, eating places, the transportation system., even the hiking equipment shops. There are 30,000 miles of marked hiking trails in Switzerland!! Switzerland is definitely a nation of walkers.

The trails are so well defined, sometimes they are even paved! All the routes are marked using a consistent system of signage. At any place where two trails cross, there’s a bright yellow sign pointing the way to various villages and passes and giving the distance in hours. In the villages there are major sign posts and oftentimes overview maps posted in the village square. The signpost above in Adelboden is typical of what we encountered.

Many of the trails also have yellow flashes painted on rocks and trees. On more rugged and rocky mountain trails, like the one at the Sefinenfurke, a system of painted markings on the rocks is used. Typically there was a marking every few feet.

We had an Alpine Pass guidebook and some maps and hiking notes provided by Sherpa. Once we understood the general direction we were headed (our next major destination), we rarely had to consult this information. We never struggled with directions on this walk. We were never really confused for even a minute. This hasn’t always been true in England and France where we have sometimes gone in circles looking for the trail and have even gotten seriously lost. (See my Coast-to-Coast trip report for a doozy!)

The hiking infrastructure in Switzerland is the best we’ve experienced. Now if it just weren’t for these darn high mountains!

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