Speer: mountain hiking near Zurich

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  • Post last modified:March 17, 2021
  • Post category:St. Gallen
  • Reading time:5 mins read

If you’ve spent any time around Lake Zurich, you’ve probably seen Speer in the distance without even realizing it – it’s the highest point on a ridge that rises up suddenly from the flat ground at the upper end of Lake Zurich (the Pfäffikon/Rapperswil end). As a prominent mountain on the edge of the Alps, it’s a great hike for big views, looking down to the Walensee and Lake Zurich and also up into the surrounding Alps, including Säntis, the Churfirsten and the Glarus Alps.

Time: 5.5 hrs

Distance: ~ 15 km

Altitude: ~ 800 m ↑ 1200 m ↓

Scroll down for the route details and various other laidback options.

We started this hike from the top of a tiny and very sedate chairlift above Amden – this is part of a small ski and winter walking area in the winter (see this winter hike), but in the summer season it’s a good starting point for several hikes. The first part of the hike is on broad vehicle tracks and is easy going, giving plenty of opportunities to admire the already impressive views.  This first part mainly takes you around Mattstogg, an intimidating-looking mountain that actually has a path to the top of it (perhaps a topic for another post!).

Speer_Zurich Hikes
Mattstogg. The path up Mattstogg is on the other side!

Once you’re done walking around Mattstogg, the path gets steep and goes up relentlessly for the last couple of kilometers. The day we hiked Speer it was roasting hot, so this was a pretty sweaty section! Being fairly early in the season though (late June), there were still a few snow patches around on the last part up to the summit. Perfect for playing around a bit with to cool off! Speer is also a good autumn option, when the temperatures have fallen a bit but the heavy winter snows haven’t yet come.

Although you get plenty of views as you hike up, particularly of Mattstogg, this is one of those hikes where a big new view materialises right at the top. As you come to the ridge just below the summit of Speer, the view to the north over the flatter areas around Lake Zurich suddenly appears to complement the views you get of the nearby Alps on the way up. 

Speer_Zurich Hikes
Part of the view from the summit of Speer

To complete the hike, we walked back down towards Mattstogg, before heading round the other side of Mattstogg to complete a circle around the peak. Part of the walk down had some shade from the trees, a welcome relief as the temperature continued to climb up towards 30! The last stretch down into Amden also had some nice views of the Walensee to keep us interested as well.

Speer_Zurich Hikes
More mountain views on the way back down, this time of Glarus.

Last but not least: at the point where the path splits into two to go around Mattstogg (at Oberchäsere – 1650m), there’s a mountain restaurant – a good option for a break either on the way up or on the way back down! 

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Looking down on the Walensee

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Practical Information for this Hike

StartNiederschlag chairlift station
EndAmden, Dorf
Time~5.5 hours
Distance~ 15 km
CantonSt.Gallen
DifficultyT2
Altitude800 m ↑ 1200 m ↓
Popularity3/5
PeakSpeer 1950 m
SeasonSummer/autumn

Here’s a snapshot of the route we took.

Speer_Zurich Hikes_Map
Hiking Route up to Speer. The route starts from (A) the Niederschlag Cable Car (Talstation) and ends back in (B) the town of Amden (Amden Dorf).

Alternative Routes & Options

All in all, this is not the smallest hike, but it’s well worth the effort if you’re after big views. Unfortunately, there aren’t really any smaller hike options here – Speer isn’t particularly near to public transport in any direction, and there don’t seem to be any public roads leading near to the summit either. There are several other ways up Speer from various directions, but these are generally even bigger walks than the one described above. 

We reckon the shortest option is to take the way up described above and simply come back the way you came (so start and finish at Niederschlag chairlift station) – this is 14km, with 900m up and 900m back down. 

If this is still a bit much for you, there are plenty of smaller hikes around Amden that are well worth trying. Check out Mattstogg (a short but rather steep walk) or Gulme (a short and less steep walk) for example – we’ve climbed them both as well so perhaps topics for future posts!

Or, as mentioned above: for something small, the views from the winter walk we describe here should be nice all year round (weather permitting!). We actually did the Snow Bar and Speer hikes only a few months apart – amazing how much difference a few months can make!