Klöntalersee Lake Hike

The Klöntalersee is a big alpine lake surrounded by mountains, a lovely place for a picnic and leisurely walk. We discovered this by accident and even though it’s quite popular, it still seems like a quiet secret place to me. The forested trail along the lake is nice, but our favorite thing is that you can build a fire pretty much anywhere along the lake instead of only in designated fire pits. So we usually just walk until we find a good spot and settle in for an afternoon of rock throwing and perhaps swimming if it’s warm enough. There are two campgrounds on the lake and I keep meaning to camp there, but not yet. We’ve gone in May, August and most recently in October and the pics in this post come from all these seasons. I’ve heard it’s also nice in winter, so I’ll have to try that sometime.

Location: Glarus, Eastern Switzerland
Address: , Switzerland
GPS: 47°01’59.3″N 9°00’23.9″E
Car: 1hr from Zurich
Train: 1hr15 from Zurich HB
Trail: 6.2 km one way, about 2.5 hours
Condition: dirt, partially obstacle-free
Skill: easy
Open: year round, weather dependent
More info: www.kloental.com webcam


Here is a map of the lake, showing the trail along the southern end of the lake. The trail starts on the east side near the campground as a dirt road for the first couple km, suitable for strollers and bikes. Then it narrows to a lumpy dirt footpath not suitable for strollers or bikes.

It’s possible to walk one way along the lake and take the bus back. But the bus runs infrequently, it would be best to take the bus first, then walk back to your car, so you don’t risk missing the bus.

Here is a sample bus schedule for weekends in 2016. Check www.sbb.ch for current schedule.

Klöntal, Rhodannenberg to Klöntal, Plätz – 9:01, 10:01, 11:01, 13:01
Klöntal, Plätz to Klöntal Rhodannenberg – 11:36, 14:36, 16:36, 17:36 18:36

There are many informal picnic areas along the lake, with old fire pits and loose wood to gather in the forest. There are restaurants and cafe at both ends of the lake, but no services in between. You may swim, but the water is chilly so save that for a hot day.

Getting There

Drive on the A3 south toward Chur and take the exit 44 toward Glarus. You’ll drive through a couple small towns and commercial areas. Before you reach the town of Glarus, take a right at the sign for Klöntal and continue to follow signs to Klöntalersee. It is also possible to get here by post bus from Glarus.

Here’s what you’ll see in early May as you drive up to the Klöntalersee.

After leaving town, continue on a narrow windy road for about 10 mins that will suddenly spill out to the lake when you least expect it. Post buses travel this road, so be careful. Seriously, it’s quite narrow and you may have to back up to let by oncoming traffic. But it’s worth it. When you reach the lake, there’s a restaurant on your left and on your right, a road over the dam. Turn right and drive over the dam and follow the road to the metered parking near the campground (not the campground parking).

Trail Details

You will start your walk by continuing down the same road, past the campground. This pic is looking up from the parking lot (in October), right next to the campground.

Here’s the dirt road that starts at that campground. After about 1 mile, it turns into the lumpy rocky trail shown on the right. It’s not difficult and all-terrain strollers will make it on this trail, but it will be a bumpy ride. We took our bikes this last time, because I thought perhaps the dirt road went all around the lake. When the road ended, the trail was too rocky for our little crew and I was pretty disappointed. But we walked another about 15 mins down the trail and found a great spot for our campfire and still enjoyed our afternoon.

Here’s some of the trail around the lake. It’s about 3.5 miles (5.6km) all the way to the west side of the lake, where you’ll find the second campground. There is a narrow paved road on the north side of the lake, not great for walking, but ok for bikes if you are careful with the traffic.

More of the pretty trail.

Here’s the lake, stunning in fall, but lovely in all seasons (pic from early October)

If you just want to picnic, simply walk until you find a nice spot and make yourselves comfortable. About a 15 minute walk from the parking lot, you’ll find this big grassy area, plenty of space to run around. There are some portable toilets near this area if you don’t fancy taking care of business in the wild.

Here we are in August a couple years ago at this same grassy spot. We built a little fire, ate lunch, swam in the lake, and simply lounged, soaking in the sun.

You can make a fire anywhere and you’ll see lots and lots of informal fire rings. There are a few more formal grill pits with an actual grill and stools and maybe a table. You can usually find wood laying around, but last time we brought a few firewood logs and were happy to have them.

It’s nice for swimming on a hot day, but it still is quite cold (this was in early August)

Near the campground, a river empties into the lake. Several families were sunbathing, swimming and grilling right here.

When we were there in August, the river was running very low. So we spent a lot of time building dams and catching frogs.

Here’s the Güntlenau campground, right next to the lake. I think I’ll reserve a spot here for next summer. There is a Kiosk at the campground if you need some supplies (only open in the summer season).

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Lovely alpine lake, great for leisurely picnics and hiking with kids. We love it in all seasons, but particularly in fall when the trees change colors. Glarus, Eastern Switzerland

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