Bannalp Dwarf Theme Trail

This gorgeous lake has a fun theme trail for families, that tells a story on picture boards along the trail, about children searching for a magic crystal and the dwarfs who protected it. There are interactive play elements along the trail accompanying the story. The trail is also scattered with lots of little wooden dwarfs hidden in tree stumps and the like. Searching for these can keep little ones motivated to keep walking. This is an especially good option for children learning how to hike.

Besides the attractions for kids, the trail circles a beautiful lake surrounded by dramatic mountain peaks. There is a fantastic picnic area with tables and fire pits next to the lake, which also has a giant marble run. It’s a great day out for the whole family.

Location:   Central Switzerland, Niwalden
Address: Talstation Fell – Chrüzhütte, Fell 3, 6387 Oberrickenbach
Car: 1hr from Zurich
Parking GPS: 46°53’00.0″N 8°25’14.4″E
Train: 1hr50 from Zurich HB to Oberrickenbach, Talstat. LFCH
Adult half-fare return CHF 35.60
Trail: 2.5 km one way, about 1 hour walking time
Condition: lumpy dirt, first half not great for strollers
Skill: easy
Services: theme trail, fire pit with wood, play area, restaurant
Cost 2017: Cable car round trip: CHF 21 Adult, CHF 12.50 Child
SBB Half-fare and Junior cards not accepted
Open: mid-May through October
More info:

Overview

Bannalp a small, low-key mountain resort with two cable cars servicing the hiking area. You will ride up the Fell-Chrüzhütte cable car (the first one you come to when driving), then hike the dwarf trail down to the lake, where you’ll find the picnic area. Then continue around the lake to the Fellboden-Bannalpsee cable car, which takes you back down to the valley, with a short walk back the parking and bus stop at first cable car.

The first half of the trail is a narrow mountain trail, not suitable for strollers, though we took ours and we made it. When you reach the lake, the trail widens into a dirt road.

Plan on grilling at the picnic area by the river that flows into the lake. There are tables, multiple fire pits, wood to burn, and a play area for the kids. Alternatively, there is a restaurant at the hotel when you first reach the lake.

Getting There

By car: Using the below map, drive yourself to the tiny hamlet of Fell and park in the small lot next to the Luftseilbahn Bannalp, the first cable car you see. Our GPS didn’t have Fell, so you could type in Oberrickenbach instead, which is the bigger town just before you reach Fell.

By public transport: Take a train to Wolfenschiessen, then a bus to Oberrickenbach, Talstat. LFCH. The cable car station is adjacent to the bus stop.

Opening Times & Tickets

Purchase a return ticket at the Fell-Chrüzhütte valley station. This includes travel with either cable car – you don’t have to buy a special hiking ticket. You will ride up this cable car, hike, then ride the other cable car down.

The cable cars run rather infrequently, so plan your trip accordingly. Check the website for the current schedule. On the Fellboden-Bannalpsee cable car, we had to call the base station (using a provided service phone) to ask them to send us down.

Trail Details

Let’s assume you’ve made it to Chrüzhutte (good job!), the top of the first cable car. To your right, you’ll see the start of the Zwärgliweg, through the colorful gates shown above.

Here is the Zwärgliweg mural showing the magic crystal featured in the story told along the trail.

Each play station tells part of the story. If you don’t understand much German, be prepared to make up your own story as you go along. This station had a little dwarf house to play in.

The first half of the trail is narrow and rocky. We took our all-terrain stroller and managed, but it was a bumpy ride.

One of the seven play stations.

Here’s the view from the play station down to the lake. I was happy we didn’t have to walk back up.

This station showed how to find faces and figures in the mountain

Lots of little wooden dwarfs were hidden along the trail, motivating our son to keep walking. Last time we went some of them were missing. I hope they are still there when you go.

Making our way down to the lake.

Eventually the trail reaches the lake, with this lovely view.

There is a big picnic area here, with a few tables and grills scattered along the shore and river. Most times we’ve been here it’s been empty. But on one hot summer Saturday, every table was full.

There are sheds full of wood for grilling. These may be empty outside high season.

My boys loved this marble run with golf balls. I hope this is still there when you go.

The water is very chilly, but on hot days, you’ll see people splashing around. We brought swimsuits and our boys got quite wet in the river.

The boys also had fun building channels in the river with rocks.

Getting back on the trail, heading around the lake.

Looking back to the picnic place on the far side of the lake and the “shark tooth” peaks in the distance.

The last dwarf station near the end of the trail. The story says the crystal was hidden in the mountain somewhere. I wish I had known the story beforehand so I could have brought a red crystal and cleverly hid it for my son to find at the end of the trail. Required photo opp.

Near the end of the trail.

Waterfalls and wildflowers.

View near the end of the trail around the lake. The big building straight across is a hotel and restaurant. To get back down to your car, you walk across the dam on the left and then down to your left about 1 min to the second cable car.

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3 comments

  1. A friend and I did this today with four kids under 5 (one being just over 12 months) We took a terrain buggy which was difficult in parts but not unmanageable. The kids loved it and the older boys walked the whole way. The address is a little ambiguous on the gps but the lat/long stated above took us to the direct spot. Lovely day out! Thank you!!

  2. Be aware that the counter at the bottom of the cable where you buy the tickets is CASH ONLY so make sure you have enough for tickets (49 chf for a family ticket) and a hot chock!

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