This theme trail at Bannalp has picture boards along the trail, telling the story of children searching for a magic crystal and the dwarfs who protected it, or something like that. Each station is accompanied by something the kids can play with. 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.
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 usually has something for the kids to play with, like a giant kugelbahn. It was fun and beautiful, but my favorite part was that the trail was all downhill. I’d recommend this as an easy, fun mountain walk with lots of distractions for the kids.
|Car:||1hr from Zurich|
|Train:||1hr50 from Zurich HB|
|Trail:||2.5 km one way, about 1 hour|
|Condition:||dirt, partially obstacle-free|
|Open:||mid-April through October|
Bannalp a small, low-key mountain resort with two cable cars servicing the hiking area. I recommend riding up the Fell-Chrüzhütte cable car (the first one you come to when driving), following the dwarf trail down to and around the mountain lake, then taking the Fellboden-Bannalpsee cable car back down, with a short walk to your car parked next to the first cable car. Using the second cable car means you don’t have to walk back up the trail to the first cable car, for which I was very thankful.
Your return fare (no Halbtax or Junior card, children over 6 pay reduced fare) includes travel by either cable car – you don’t have to buy a special ticket. The cable cars run rather infrequently, so plan your trip accordingly. 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.
Plan on grilling at the picnic area by the river that flows into the lake. There are tables, wood piles and multiple fire pits.
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. Next to the lake, there is a big picnic area with lots of fire pits and play stuff for the kids. Alternatively, there is a restaurant at the hotel when you first reach the lake.
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. You can also take a train to Wolfenschiessen, then a bus to Fell. Our GPS didn’t have Fell, so you could Oberrickenbach instead, which is the bigger town just before you reach Fell.
Let’s assume you’ve made it to Chrüzhutte, the top of the first cable car. To your right, you’ll see the start of the Zwärgliweg, through the colorful gates shown above.
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
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
these silly dwarfs kept our son motivated to walk
the Feuerstelle at the river bed by the lake – I guess you could swim here on a hot day
lots of wood and lots of grill pits spread around the area – this trail must be popular in the middle of summer
play equipment by the grill pit – my boys loved this kugelbahn with golfballs
more play stuff near the grill pits
looking back to the picnic place on the far side of the lake and the “shark tooth” peaks in the distance
last dwarf station – 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
View near the end of the trail around the lake – the big building straight across is a hotel and restaurant if you don’t want to bring a picnic. To get back down to your car, you walk across the dam on the left and then down about 1 min to the second cable car.
Near the end of the trail.
Waterfalls and wildflowers.
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