Swiss National Park: Bear Theme Trail

During our our summer in the Engadin, we visited the Bärenerlebnisweg, aka bear theme trail near Scuol. There was actually one bear roaming the Swiss National Park this summer and my family was hoping to see it – me, not so much. The bear trail is short, but fun and in a beautiful setting. It has nine interactive fun/educational stations along the trail, teaching you about bears. There are at least three picnic spot with grill pits. We really liked this one and I’d definitely recommend it if you are in the area.

Location:   Engadin, Graubunden, Switzerland
Address: near S-Charl, Scuol CH
GPS: 46°43’04.2″N 10°19’34.8″E
Car: 30 mins from Scuol, 3hr20 from Zurich
Transit: 30 mins from Scuol
Start bus stop: Scuol, Schmelzra
End bus stop: Ravitschena
   
Trail: 1.5 km one way, 1hr+ with playtime
Condition: dirt
Skill: easy
Open: mid June thru October
More info: www.nationalpark.ch

Overview

This short trail has 9 educational stations along the 1.5 km path. The path is easy walking through fields and forest, suitable for strollers. Here’s the trail map. You can also get a map in the Swiss National Park visitor center in Zernez or other TI. A map is not necessary – just follow the green “Senda da L’Uors” trail signs with the bear paw print. It is pretty obvious. The trail is short, about 30 mins if you just walked straight through. But we spent about 3 hours on the trail, including time spent at the interactive stations and a picnic lunch.

The path is between two bus stops, Scoul, Schmelzra and Ravitschana, so you can take the bus back to your starting point. But the bus runs very infrequently so check the schedule beforehand. Museum Schmelzra is technically the end of the trail, but it doesn’t matter which direction you do the trail. We started here at the parking lot, did the trail to the Ravitschana bus stop, then walked back on the dirt road. You could also take the bus back, but it’s not very far and the bus doesn’t run very frequently.

Getting Here

This is too far for a day trip from Zurich, but a great option if you are in the Engadin area. The trail is near the tiny village of S-Charl south of Scoul.

By car: Drive to Scuol then follow signs to S-Charl, which will lead you through Scuol, down to the river and back up the other side of the valley on a winding narrow road. It turns to dirt at some point, but don’t worry – it’s still a real road (unless you took a wrong turn!). Drive past the Museum Schmelzra and park in the nearby big parking lot.

By transit: Take a bus to Scuol, Schmelzra, which drops off at the little museum. The trail ends at the Ravitschena bus stop.

Trail Impressions

The trail begins by crossing the river and stays on that side for most of the trail.

It’s super pretty, with meadows, mountains and rivers. What more can you ask for? Well, maybe a bear.

Sometimes the trail is wide and groomed, sometimes it wanders through a grassy field. Strollers with big tires should be fine either way.

This first interactive station might have been our favorite. Each block of wood represents the weight of a bear at a certain age. My boys loved trying to lift and push the various blocks.

At this station, there was also a picnic table and grill pit. It was too early on the trail to stop to eat, but if you did the trail from the other direction, it would be just right.

Here is a bear quiz on the left. On the right, backpacks with the weight baby bears gain gain over time. My boys thought it was hilarious to try on the different backpacks, adding the bear’s weight to their own.

Lots of bear statues, this one reminding you to not leave trash around, which attracts bears.

The spinning tower on the right had info about about bear food, like honey and bugs.

This maze demonstrating how difficult it is for bears to navigate through areas developed by humans, with roads, fences, etc.

More pretty with big wide fields for running.

Bee hive – very interesting and a bit unnerving to see hundreds of bees zooming back and forth from the hive.

Some of the trail hugs small streams and a larger river – don’t fall in!

Lots of enormous ant hills on this trail as indicated by my husband above. I was very disturbed by these, but no one got bit. It was a little hard to find a picnic spot that wasn’t close to an ant hill.

Another grill pit with an actual grill about 2/3 down the trail.

We picnicked on a little “island” in the river because it was pretty and mostly because there were no ant hills here. We had a little trouble finding enough dry wood for a fire, but it worked out.

After reaching the end of the trail at the Ravitschena bus stop, we chose to walk back on the road instead of waiting for the busy. It took about 25 mins, walking pretty slow.  

This small building a the museum and gift shop. It looked nice, but was a little pricey, so we skipped it.. There’s another picnic area and grill pit between the museum and parking lot.

These charming rocky ruins were opposite the museum. 

This big bear was right next to the museum. The boys are playing a game outside the museum, where you roll the novelty nice then step on the colored bear paw prints that make up the game board. You have to answer different bear questions or perform bear-like tasks depending on which color paw print you land. I thought it was little long, but my boys really liked it and made us play the whole game through.

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