Rhein Gorge: Hike down the “Swiss Grand Canyon”

After an easy walk through fields and forests to the dramatic lookout over the Rhein Gorge, you can continue hiking all the way down the gorge to the river below, where you can admire the interesting cliff formations from a different perspective. It wasn’t as difficult as I expected and the view looking up was just as beautiful and interesting as the one looking down. Our 4YO hiked the whole thing pretty easily, with a couple lollipops for encouragement. We loved lounging at the river’s edge, throwing rocks and watching the kayaks go by. It’s a beautiful part of Switzerland that we look forward to exploring more.

Location:   Graubünden Switzerland
Address:
Car: 1hr10 from Zurich to Chur, then 40 min bus to trailhead
Train: 1hr50 from Zurich to trailhead in Flims Waldhaus
Trail: 7.8 km one way, about 3 hours
Condition: half dirt road, half narrow dirt alpine path, no strollers
Skill: moderate
Open: best April to October
Prices: train ticket to access trail about CHF 28 for adult round trip, SBB Halbtax and Junior Card accepted
Services: restaurant, fire pits, small playground
More info: www.flims.com

Overview

This is a one way hike from Flims Waldhaus to the Rhein Gorge lookout, then down gorge to the river below. You could hike back up but we prefer to take the train back.

We hiked to Conn (about 1 hr), then down to the river (about 1hr15), then to the train station at Versam-Safien (about 30 mins), took the train back to Chur (about 20 mins), then another train to Zurich (about 1 hr).

Unlike the trail to Conn, this second section of the trail is not entirely stroller-friendly and the last section is a narrow footpath, with lots of bumps and switchbacks. So if you must use a stroller, just do the loop back to Flims Waldhaus as described in the other post.

Getting There

This is a one-way hike, so you’ll need to take public transportation from Chur for this one. First get yourself to Chur either by car or public transport.

Then take a post bus to Flims Waldhaus, Caumasee (about 40 mins).

At the end of the hike, you will take the train from Versam-Safien back to Chur.

Trail Details

So assuming you made your way to the Flims Waldhaus bus stop, you follow signs to Conn. We started the trail in snow this time – I was worried but my husband was sure it would all work out.

You will pass by the Caumasee, which is super lovely. You can take a little detour to the lake by taking the free mini-funicular down. During summer, they charge to get into the lake area. But off season, the gates are open and you can walk around freely.


free funicular down to Caumasee


a little detour to Caumasee is nice

When you reach Conn, there is a good restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. The service was timely and food delicious. We really liked the housemade raviolis. There’s a bit of play equipment behind the restaurant and some lounge chairs in the field.


restaurant is in this beautiful field … my super yummy lunch of fluffy polenta with mushrooms … gorgeous mountains in the background

Then follow signs to the lookout tower (Aussichtsplatform) and enjoy the view of the “swiss grand canyon” and surrounding mountains.


Aussichtsplatform and view of swiss grand canyon

Now you either retrace your steps and go back to Flims Waldhaus as I described in the first post. Or you can hike down to the river, as we did this time. Although the trail to Conn was very stroller friendly, your stroller will not make it all the way down to the river. It’s not particularly difficult but you will need to help small children on the last section. So just know what you are getting into. If you want to hike down to the river, leave the lookout tower and take the first marked trail to your right, away from Conn. After awhile, the trail signs will start listing “Versam Stn” as a destination. Follow that.


the train down to the river has wide and narrow sections … right before the really steep part, there is a nice Feuerstelle with firewood and tables, as shown above


strollers need not apply in the section of the trail … there were a few silly sculptures along the trail

After 10 minutes or so, the trail to Versam will head right off the main trail. It will descend rather quickly alternatively on dirt roads and narrow switchback paths until you reach the train tracks crossing the river. Go up the steps and cross the bridge next to the train tracks. On the other side, descend the steps and join the trail.


reaching the river, crossing the bridge and looking back up to the lookout tower at the top


After the bridge, the trail continues through a forest and passed another picnic area. The signs are good and have maps showing you exactly where you are on the map. 

After a couple minutes, the trail spills into a picnic area where you can explore the river’s edge and get a good view back up to the lookout tower. The river is too dangerous for swimming, so watch small children carefully. There are lots of places to build a fire and plenty of wood. There’s sand to dig in and lots of rocks to throw.


We spent a couple hours here, made a fire and roasted marshmallows, watched kayaks, got sunburnt, etc.


we found some fun sparkly rocks that split apart when you knock them together

When you’re ready to go home, rejoin the trail and walk on the narrow path over a little hill and back down to the river, following signs to Versam Stn. It’s a very lovely walk right along the river, but keep small children close.

The train runs about once an hour. So check the schedule beforehand do you don’t have to wait too long. There is a cafe next to the train station, but services are very limited. The train ride back to Chur takes about 20 minutes. I recommend getting some Bundner Nusstorte at the Chur train station – so yummy!


Happy hiking!

Related Posts

2 comments

  1. I did this hike backwards and it was pretty steep. The views and the food at the restaurant in Conn made it worthwhile. I love this area. Great pictures, Tanya!

Comments are closed.