Best Snowshoe Hikes from Zurich

Best Snowshoe Hikes from Zurich
  • Post last modified:March 10, 2021
  • Post category:Switzerland / Zurich
  • Reading time:8 mins read

In the last couple of weeks the snow has started to fall in earnest, and as we write this a nice deep winter coat is falling, with the snow even briefly settling in the big cities in Switzerland. The hiking paths that make the Alps so accessible in the summer and autumn are fast disappearing, making way instead for a myriad of winter sports options. 

With that in mind, we thought this was a great time for a list of a few of our favorite snowshoe hikes that are accessible from Zurich!

You’ll need snowshoes for these walks, but if you’re after winter walks where you can just walk in normal hiking boots, there are also some really nice options – see our companion post here with winter walks from Zurich.

If you’re new to snowshoe hiking, check out our how-to guide here as well.

Kronberg 

Kronberg snowshoes winter hiking near Zurich
The imposing cliffs of the Santis massif.

Kronberg is right next to Santis, but offers a much more manageable challenge in terms of climbability. This snowshoe walk literally starts from the bottom of the Santis cable car, heading north on a mostly gentle trek up to the peak of Kronberg. The panoramic views of the towering walls of the Santis massif are spectacular, and there are also unbroken views of the smaller Appenzeller peaks to complete a 360-degree view from the summit. 

We suggest taking the cable car down to Jakobsbad from the summit of Kronberg, but you can also walk back down to Schwägalp to make it a round trip.

For more information, there’s a description of the walk here, and information on the Kronberg cable car here.

Time from Zurich by public transport – 2h (to Schwägalp), 1h 45 mins (to Jakobsbad)
Time from Zurich by car – 1h 15 mins (to Schwägalp), 1h 20 mins (to Jakobsbad)
Start point – Schwägalp, Säntis-Schwebebahn bus stop/car park
High point – Kronberg 1655m
Finish point – Kronberg cable car station
Popularity – 3/5
Snowy season – Dec to Mar
Snowshoe time – 3h
Distance – 5.5km
Altitude difference – 500m ↑ 200m ↓
Difficulty – WT2 (medium)

Bonistock (Melchsee Frutt)

Melchsee Frutt Bonistock snowshoe_winter_hike
The lake at Melchsee Frutt.

Melchsee Frutt is a ski area 2000m above sea level, and it’s basically a wide flat bowl surrounded by mountains. There are several lakes in the bowl, though you won’t see them for most of the winter! 

The walk we suggest here is a simple one – start at the small tourist village of Melchsee Frutt and head up Bonistock and back. Bonistock is one of the smaller peaks surrounding the central bowl, and gives you some really nice panoramic views of the ski area and the surrounding mountains. 

For more details, see our post on this hike here.

Time from Zurich by public transport – 1h 45 mins (plus the cable car)
Time from Zurich by car – 1h 10 mins (plus the cable car)
Start point – Melchsee-Frutt (Bergstation)
High point – Bonistock 2169m
Finish point – Melchsee-Frutt (Bergstation)
Popularity – 3/5
Snowy season – Dec to Apr
Snowshoe time – 2h 15 mins
Distance – 4 km
Altitude difference – 250m ↑ 250m ↓
Difficulty – WT1/WT2 – easy/medium

Neuenalp (Alt-St.-Johann)

Alt_StJohann_snowshoe_winter_hike
A view of the Churfirsten on a cloudy day from above Alt-St.-Johann.

This hike starts in Alt-St.-Johann, a popular winter sports area near Santis, but heads away from the main ski slopes and loops around the back of two small peaks just north of Alt-St.-Johann. The area around Santis can get an awful lot of snow in the winter, so the snow can be very deep – the summer hiking signposts were barely sticking out of the snow when we walked this. The snow depth shouldn’t normally be a problem though if you have snowshoes on 🙂

For a map of the route, check here (the route is the green line).

Time from Zurich by public transport – 1h 40 mins
Time from Zurich by car – 1h 20 mins
Start point – Alt St. Johann, Dorf bus stop
High point – Oberstofel 1413m
Finish point – Alt St. Johann, Dorf bus stop
Popularity – 1/5
Snowy season – Dec to Apr
Snowshoe time – 5h
Distance – 11 km
Altitude difference – 600m ↑ 600m ↓
Difficulty – WT2 (medium difficulty, but physically demanding)

Ratengütsch (Einsiedeln area)

Raten to Roggenthurm_Ratengütsch snowshoe_hike_Einsiedeln
Spotting the Alps from Ratengütsch

The area around Einsiedeln is mostly between 800m and 1600m in altitude and offers a good selection of snowshoe walks. From Zurich, this area is also one of the closest areas where you’ll get fairly reliable snowy conditions in the winter. There’s a good variety of landscapes here too, from wide flat valleys to tree-covered ridges.

The snowshoe walk we’re highlighting is not a famous one, but it’s a relatively easy option that starts in a tiny ski area and takes you up a local peak. There are some nice views of the nearby Alps and the wide valley below, and the path winds in and out of the trees. This is the kind of snowshoe walk that’s really nice in the sun just after fresh snowfall!

For a map of the route, check here (the route is the green line).

Time from Zurich by public transport – 1h 15 mins (to Raten), 1h (to Rothenthurm)
Time from Zurich by car – 40 mins
Start point – Alosen (Raten) bus stop
High point – St. Jost 1151m
Finish point – Rothenthurm station
Popularity – 2/5
Snowy season – Dec to Mar
Snowshoe time – 2h 30 mins
Distance – 6.5 km
Altitude difference – 150m ↑ 300m ↓
Difficulty – WT2 (medium)

Furggabüel

Furggabüel_snowshoe_winter_hiking
The gentle slopes of Furggabüel

To get to this walk, a cable car and a chairlift take you up the huge valley sides of the Rhine, high up to the flatter Alps above. These Alps are unusually flat for this altitude, making them a nice option for snowshoes, and the views of snow-covered mountains all around are spectacular throughout the walk. 

We actually had to turn back before the summit when walking this one due to high winds, but from the summit you can either come back down to where you started (as per the details outlined below) or you can continue on to Brambrüesch as described here.

Time from Zurich by public transport – 1h 50 (plus 45 mins for the cable cars)
Time from Zurich by car – 1h 45 mins (plus 45 mins for the cable cars)
Start point – Mutta chairlift station
High point – Furggabüel 2173m
Finish point – Mutta chairlift station
Popularity – 3/5
Snowy season – Dec to Apr
Snowshoe time – 4h
Distance – 8.5 km
Altitude difference – 400m ↑ 400m ↓
Difficulty – WT2 (medium)

Weissenberg and the Stäfeli Trail (Glarus)

Snowshoe Hike Glarus Mattdorf  near Zurich
Some of the many mountains in Glarus…

This one takes you deep into Glarus, where we’ve found the views to be just as jaw-droppingly gorgeous as those around Bern, Thun and Interlaken but without all the tourists. There’s not as much skiing infrastructure in Glarus either, but this walk still takes advantage of a small cable car to do the hard work of the first few hundred vertical meters out of the valley. From the top of the cable car, the hike is a loop walk that winds up through the trees on Alpine slopes. There are plenty of opportunities to stop and admire the majestic views across the valley.

For more details, see our post on this hike here.

Time from Zurich by public transport – 1h 35 mins (plus the cable car)
Time from Zurich by car – 1h 5 mins (plus the cable car)
Start point – Weissenberge (top of cable car at Matt Dorf bus stop)
High point – Stäfeli ski hut at 1777 m
Finish point – Weissenberge (top of cable car at Matt Dorf bus stop)
Popularity – 2/5
Snowy season – Dec – Mar
Snowshoe time – 3.5 hours
Distance – 5 km
Altitude difference – 540m ↑ 540m ↓
Difficulty – WT2 (medium, but good fitness level needed)

Honorable mentions

As always, there are lots of other nice snowshoe hikes that we could have included! Here are a couple of the hikes that nearly made it onto our list…

  • Schwarzenegg Trail in Amden – another nice option within easy reach of Zurich (see here).
  • Rigi – as you might expect, there are also snowshoe options on the ever-popular Rigi! One option is the snowshoe path which partly follows the winter walking path we describe here.
  • Trubsee in Engelberg is a good option if you want a fairly small walk (also partly following the winter walking path we describe here). 
  • Chasseral, one of the tallest peaks in the Jura – see our post here.

Practical note: this post uses the new 2020-2021 SBB timetable for public transport times.