Toggenburg Tone Trail

The Toggenburg Tone Trail (aka Klangweg) is the gold standard when it comes to theme trails, with over 20 musical “instruments” scattered along a mostly stroller friendly hike in the eastern part of Switzerland. Every few minutes along the walk you’ll find a different musical instrument for the kids to clank, bang and make lots of noise with. Your kids will be motivated to keep walking because you can usually either see or hear the next music station. This is a popular option for families and school groups, so you won’t be alone on the trail. But there’s plenty of room to spread out.

The whole trail is a little over 6km one way and you’ll need to take a bus back to your car (details below). We usually spend about 4+ hours on the trail, playing at every station along the way and grilling our lunch. This is a full-day affair, but totally worth it. The trail is has a few ups and downs, but is not especially difficult and is mostly suitable for strollers. I’ve sent many people here and everyone has enjoyed it. I hope you do too!

Location:   Eastern Switzerland
Address: Ochsenwis 418, 9656 Alt St. Johann, CH
Car: 1hr30 from Zurich
Parking GPS: 47°11’37.3″N 9°17’11.9″E
Train: 1hr50 from Zurich HB to Alt St. Johann, Dorf
Adult half-fare return CHF 50.20
Trail: 6 km one way, plan for 3-4 hours
Condition: dirt and paved, obstacle-free
Skill: easy
Open: late May through October
More info: www.klangwelt.ch

Overview

Here is a map of the trail, about 6 km from the Alt St Johann-Sellamatt lift to the Oberdorf-Wildhaus lift. There are 20+ interactive musical stations along the way. See map in more detail here. See also the panorama map of the Toggenburg area.

The trail is suitable for strollers, with one steep, but short, section after the Iltios station near the picnic area, that was quite tricky with my stroller. I’d recommend letting your little one walk this section while you take the stroller down separately.

For lunch, there are a picnic spots with fire pits along the way (marked on the map above). There are also restaurants at each of the mountain transport: Sellamatt, Iltios, or Oberdorf.

Planning your day. To do the whole trail, you will ride up the lift from Alt Sankt Johann to Sellamatt, walk the 6km trail, ride the Oberdorf chairlift down to Wildhaus, walk up to the main street and catch a bus back to Alt Sankt Johann and walk back to your car. Be warned that the bus from Wildhaus to Alt St Johann only runs once an hour, so check the schedule beforehand. Also, the walk from the gondola station to the bus station at both Alt St Johann and Wildhaus takes a good 10mins, so figure that in to your schedule.

If you’re not up for the full hike, you can walk the short section between Sellamatt and Iltios (about 30 mins), take the funicular down to Unterwasser, then take the bus back to your car.

Getting There

Using the map below, drive to Alt Sankt Johann and follow signs to the Sellamattbahn. There is a large parking lot a bit past the lift. You can also take a train to Sargans, then a bus to Alt Sankt Johann, about 2 hours travel time from Zurich.

Tickets & Prices

When you buy your ticket, ask for the Klangweg ticket, which includes all the mountain and bus transport needed for this route. In 2014, a Klangweg ticket cost CHF 28/adult CHF 14/child, SBB-Halbtax and Juniorkarte accepted.

Along the trail

To start your journey, take the lift from Alt Sankt Johann to Sellamatt. This lift alternates chairs with cable cars, so you can wait for a cable car if you have little ones that would be safer in an enclosed space. But at the end of the trail, Wildhaus-Oberdorf, there are only chairs. The lift operators are very helpful and will load your folded stroller on a separate chair and also help little kids get settled on the chair. But if your little one is too young and squirmy for a chairlift, you might want to skip the second leg and take the funicular train down from Iltios.You can also walk down, but the trail has lots of stairs, not suitable for strollers.

At Sellamatt, follow the brown trail signs marked “Klangweg.” The trail starts on the road, then veers off on a dirt path in the forest.

Now for some pics of the trail. The musical installations change from year to year, some replaced, some moved around, some new. So the ones below are just examples and might be different when you go. A list of all the current instruments is on the Klangweg website.

The first one at Sellamatt is this see-saw, with a ball that rolls along the xylophone as you go up and down.

Here, you can hit the metal tubes to make a huge racket. It was too noisy for some of the little ones in our group.

After only a few minutes on the trail, you cross field where lots of people picnic. It has a few fire pits and portable toilets. I think it’s much too early on the trail to picnic here, but I’ve seen many other people picnicking here.

View of the jagged Churfirsten peaks near the beginning of the trail

A bunch of cow bells to walk through, one of our favorite stations.

After about 45 mins, you’ll reach the Iltios station, where you’ll find a restaurant and a large playground. Each time we’ve been on the trail, the playground has been improved and expanded. In 2014, there was a bouncy thing, climbing wall, slack line, swings, slide, an assortment of musical instruments, etc. There are also fire pits nearby if you want to grill lunch and also let your kids play here. If you want to cut your trip short, you can ride the funicular down and catch a bus back to your car.

If you’re up for a side trip, there’s a big cable car at Iltios that goes up to the top, where there’s a restaurant and a short panorama trail. We didn’t have time to do this when we went, but I definitely want to go back, just to go up this cable car.

The little house below is an old mill and has a string instrument (shown on right) attached to the old mill mechanism. Below is a sort of flute.

Pull cable to ring cow bells, then hit disks of different kinds of metal and compare the sound.

Talk through holes in the rock. Spin pendulum to make washer slide down the poles and make a lot of noise.

About 45 mins after Itlios, there is a nice fire pit, with wood, grill and picnic tables.

Big metal mushrooms to bang, next to the picnic area.

Some animal sculptures near the picnic spot.

Bang a stick along the bridge to make a song

It’s a pretty trail, even without the music.

The trail ends at Oberdorf, where you can take a chair lift down into the valley, walk to the bus stop, and ride the bus back to Alt Sankt Johann. If you know when the bus leaves in Unterwasser, it’s better to spend your waiting time jumping around up here than sitting a bus stop. But remember, the bus stop is about a 10 minute walk from the bottom of the lift, so plan accordingly.  At Oberdorf, there is a cafe and playground with trampolines, slides, blasio, and animals to pet the last time we went.

Make sure to check the chair lift times. One time, we spent an extra long time on the trail and realized too late that the chair lift had closed for the day (around 17:15). So we had to walk from Oberdorf down into the valley then to the bus stop. The trail is actually very pretty, not difficult and only took about 30 minutes. But it has a lot of stairs as shown below, so not suitable for strollers.


Side trip

From Oberdorf, you can take a chair lift up to to Gamsalp (shown above), which had a stunning view, a decent cafeteria, and a great playground, with a trampoline, slides and sandpit. You can hike straight up from here for a fantastic view, but it’s not for kids or strollers. I ran up partway and back in the 15 mins it took for our food to be done, while my husband stayed with the kids. The view was worth it.

More info:http://www.klangwelt.ch/de/klangweg
http://www.bergbahnentoggenburg.ch
http://www.toggenburg.org/en/

Lastly, there is a playground and fire pit at the Sellamattbahn parking lot. I’ve never needed to use it, as the trail is so action-packed, but just know its there.

Beautiful theme trail for children with 20 interactive musical stations along the trail. Family hike in Eastern Switzerland.

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4 comments

  1. After reading this blog, we decided to make the trip last weekend (25 degrees :-)). We went with 2 cars – we left one at Alt St.Johann and the other at Wildhaus which we would never have thought of doing without your blog.
    It was a fantastic outing, the whole group(2 families) enjoyed the day. I would highly recommend it.
    Thank you for the tip!

  2. We’ve been meaning to try the Tone Trail for several months and decided that the sunny weather today warranted the trip. We did the drive to Unterwasser and took the cogwheel-train up to Iltios. From there we walked/sledded on the Tone Trail towards Alt St. Johann. Although our trip was a little on the short side, it was wonderful. Even though all the ski runs were all open and the base snow was pretty deep, the Tone Trail was groomed and great for an easy hike/sled ride. We will definitely be going back to this hike during the summer when we can take more advantage of the music stations. The area is gorgeous! Thanks Tanya for the helpful tips!

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