Shoulder Season Hikes

What’s an outdoorsy family to do in the shoulder season? As you probably know, most mountain trails and transport (cable cars, funiculars, etc.) close between late October and December and again between early April and late-June, for maintenance and lack of customers. But sometimes we can get lovely sunny relatively warm days during the shoulder season that have us itching to be on the trail. Where can you go??? Keep reading to find out…
There are still plenty of hiking options during both the spring and late fall shoulder seasons. In general, try to pick trails that are lower elevation and don’t require mountain transport. Trails by rivers and lakes are good choices. In May and June, it’s waterfall season and many of those trails start in the valley. If you pick a trail at a higher elevation, the trail might still have some snow or be super muddy as the snow is recently melted. So use common sense and be prepared to abandon your original plan.

Exhibit A: We did not expect snow this day in late October. Also, we thought the restaurant was open – it wasn’t. Word to the wise: check the webcams and websites carefully before heading out.

Here are some shoulder season hikes I’d recommend. Of course, always check the weather report and webcams to make sure your trail isn’t covered in snow or under construction before you go.

Note: Many of these posts are quite old and I’m in the process of updating them. So be kind 🙂

Low elevation with a view:

Zurich Panorama Trail – This trail runs along the ridge west of Zurich from Uetliberg to Felsenegg and beyond. It dips through forests, crosses meadows, and occasionally gets great views of Zurich lake and the alps.

Felsenegg/Buchenegg loop – This trail is shorter section of the full Zurich Panorama trail, good for little kids that can’t go the longer distance.

Pfannenstiel Trail – most of the trail in the forest, but there’s a tower to get this view

Zugerberg Sculpture Trail

Lauterbrunnen valley walk

Forest Walks:

Sihl river walk

Kusnacht Tobel

TĂĽfels Chilen

Atzmännig – lower elevation than most resorts, so they are open on April and November weekends when there’s good weather. Check website to be sure.


Pfäffikersee (more detailed post coming, but this one should help now)


Walensee (ferry boat runs less frequently off season, waterfall not always running, but still a pretty outing)

Biking on the Bodensee

Mountains tops:

Some of the more famous mountains are generally open year round. So you can always go up and get the view, even if the trails are closed for unpredictable conditions and maintenance.

Jungfrau & Schilthorn

Any other suggestions for shoulder season hikes?

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One comment

  1. The Walensee waterfall trail is nice (and snow free right now).
    Not sure about the restaurants or the ferry though.
    We always drive to Betlis, and then take the single track road along to the start of the trail. The grill pits are right by the car park, so it's easy to take a picnic or fire stuff.

    We did the Lichtenstein walk from your Blog last weekend, and that is definitely NOT snow free right now (but still super fun)!

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