Sledding with Kids: Elm

A favorite Swiss pastime is the super long, slightly dangerous sled run. Our first experience with this was at Elm with their 4km long sled run which takes about 20 minutes. You take the gondola up from the parking lot and sled back down along a country road that is covered in snow. It’s super fun, but also fast and curvy so be careful. I wouldn’t recommend taking under 3yr olds on this one, though I have seen both babies and dogs riding along.

Elm is also a small, but fun ski resort. For details, see my post on Skiing with Kids: Elm.

Location:   Glarus, Eastern Switzerland
Address: Elm, Glarus, CH
GPS: 46°54’48.7″N 9°09’46.0″E
Car: ~1hr15mins from ZH
Train: ~1hr45 from ZH
Trail: 4 km sled run
Lift type: cable car for sled run
Sample Prices 2016: single ride 10 CHF adult
day pass 36 CHF adult
sled day rental 22 CHF adult
Half-day discount: afternoon tickets and partial day refund tickets
More info: www.sportbahnenelm.ch – webcams – piste map 2016

Overview

The sled run is maintained by the resort and used only by sleds (not skiers). It follows a winding mountain road, covered in snow. The map below shows the Elm-Ämpächli cable car and the #1 path which is the sled run.

I like this sled run because the many turns give you opportunity to frequently check your speed and regain control. The sides of the path are usually built up high with snow to prevent you from leaving the path.

Check the snow conditions before you go, as sled runs are usually at a lower elevation and don’t always have snow even if the ski resort does. I prefer it on a powder day or slushy spring day when the snow has some give. Icy days are terrible for sledding as you can’t dig your heels into anything to stop.

You can pay per ride or get a day pass (see rates here). Kids under 6 ride free on the cable car. We took our 4 yr old and he liked but after two runs, he was done.

You can bring your own sleds or rent fancy sleds there, which are large enough for two people. I really like the rental sleds (example shown below), which are comfortable and easier to control than plastic sleds.

We have also used our wooden Davos sleds, which also have good control and give a smooth ride. I’ve seen kids do this run on cheap plastic sleds with hand brakes, but I tend to flip those quite easily. I recommend that kids ride with adults until about 7 or 8 years old, when they can confidently stop the sled and not slip off the path onto a sleep ski slope.

This is a dangerous sport as the sled is difficult to control, especially to brake. Plus other sledders can be totally reckless and run into you. Definitely wear a helmet and sturdy winter boots with ankle support, since you will be using your heels to brake and steer. I also recommend goggles and a scarf or buff, especially for kids, as the snow tends to fly in your face as you are digging in your heels.

I don’t recommend using child sled seats that attach to the sleds. You have to twist and turn hard as you sled and our child sled seat eventually snapped under the pressure.

Getting There

The sled run is accessed with the Elm Sportbahn (cable car) which is west of the town of Elm.

By car: drive to Elm and follow signs to the ski area, west of the main town. Park in the big lot (free) next to the cable car station. On very busy days, you may have to park on the side of the road and/or take a shuttle bus from Elm.

By transit: take a train to Schwanden, then a bus to Elm. It will drop you off directly in front of the cable car station.

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