Bike Ride: Pfäffiker Lake

Pfäffikersee is a beautiful lake east of Zurich with a protected nature preserve along much of the lakeshore. There is a great path around the lake for walking or biking, with lots of fun distractions for the kids, including Jucker Farm, swimming in the lake, and a lakeside playground in Pfäffikon. We’ve also been camping at the Pfäffikersee a couple times and we always bring our bikes so we can ride over to Jucker Farm for meals. We’re ridden there in all seasons and it’s always pretty.

Location:   Central Switzerland
Address: Oberstrasse 14, Hausen am Albis, Canton Zurich, Switzerland
Car: 30min from ZH
Train: 30min from ZH
Trail: 8.7 km loop, about 2 hours with kids
Condition: dirt, obstacle-free
Skill: easy
Open: year round, weather dependent
More info:

Overview

You can begin your ride at any point along the lake. I like to start on the opposite side of the lake from Jucker Farm, parking at Strandbad Pfäffikon or Camping Auslikon. That way we can do half of the ride before we get to Jucker Farm and half after.

Here’s the map that shows the bike path and walking path. I saw this map at least three times around the lake, maybe more. I’ve searched for this online, but couldn’t find it. If I do later, I’ll add the link.

Here’s a map I plotted out based on what we actually rode. Plenty of bikes are on the walking paths, but sometimes walkers might be annoyed by you. Use your best judgement.

It took us about 40 mins to ride from Strandbad Pfäffikon to Jucker Farm, riding south and around the bottom of the lake. Then it took us about 25 mins to ride from Jucker Farm to our car, completing the loop around the top of the lake. That’s actual riding time. It took us longer because took breaks along the way and stopped to look at stuff. You could spend as little as 2 hours or the full day on the lake.

Getting There

Let’s assume you are starting your ride at Strandbad Pfäffikon, a lake swimming area just south of Pfäffikon. Use the map below to navigate to the metered parking area next to the Strandbad.

If you are taking the train, the Pfäffikon stop is the closest to the bike path. The Kempton stop is ok, but you’ll have to ride a few minutes through a pretty busy town before you get to the bike path. Do not get off at the Aathal station, which requires you riding up, up, up to Jucker Farm and then down to the lake. Too much work for little kids (and me!).

Trail Details

You should try your best to follow the bike path. Before I had seen the map and knew where to go, I just followed the bike tracks. I figured if other bikes had gone there, we could too. But then we got yelled at by a few walkers who said we should be on the bike path instead. So when I found the map, I studied it carefully to figure out exactly where the walking path and bike path diverged. Try to follow the red bike path signs, like the one shown below, but not necessarily path 41 or 86, since those paths don’t go all the way around the lake. Turn toward the lake if you ever have a choice. My map above shows the path.

If you start at Strandbad Pfäffikon, you’ll start on a paved path that passes by a Roman Castle as shown in the upper right pic.

After the Roman castle, you follow the paved road to the left for a tiny bit then turn right, onto a dirt path. It’s mostly smooth and not difficult, passing through fields with occasional views of the lake. Try to follow the red bike signs. The official map shows the bike path veering off to the left, but we’ve always ended up on the walking path during this section. Whoops.

After a few minutes, you’ll reach a paved road. If you took the official bike path, turn right following the red bike path sign and ride down the paved road until you see a little bridge on your left (shown above). If you were on the walking path, you can just cross the road and continue over the bridge. Just fyi, at the end of the road is Strandbad Auslikon and the adjacent campsite, which you can read more about here.

After the little bridge, you’ll ride down a dirt path through pretty fields. Pretty, eh?

Very quickly, you’ll come to another paved road and you’ll turn left away from the lake. Don’t worry, you’ll come back to the lake eventually. Follow those red signs and you won’t get lost.

If you took the walking path instead, you’ll be right by the lake and you’ll get views like this one, with Jucker Farm across the lake. This is where we got yelled at by some grumpy walkers. Live and learn.

The bike path will take you into town for just a couple minutes. Don’t worry, it’s pretty quiet. Just follow the signs and you’ll quickly be back on the dirt path through the fields. There’s a fountain in town if you need to fill up your water bottles.

Here’s the path after you’ve left the little town. In this photo, we’re riding back the other way, away from Jucker Farm and back to the campsite.

When you reach the lake again, the bike path will turn away from the lake, up the hill. You can do that and park your bikes at Jucker Farm. But we don’t want to ride uphill, so we always continue straight (not the official bike path) and park our bikes by the lake and walk up to Jucker Farm. There are bike racks right next to the Jucker Farm entrance shown in the photo above. So just walk up the hill and enjoy lunch at Jucker Farm. There is also a grill pit with a picnic table right next to the lake (shown in lower right photo).

Back down at the lake, there is a swimming area with changing rooms (shown in lower right photo), a diving platform, and a primitive WC (I’ve never used it, I’d rather hike back up to Jucker Farm for that). There are some grassy fields next to the lake where you can dry off in the sun.

From the swimming spot, you can continue riding and in a couple minutes you’ll join back up with the official bike path. You’ll continue through lovely fields for a few minutes, then you’ll sadly diverge from the lovely walking path (seriously lovely! we rode our bikes on it once before we realized we weren’t supposed to ride there) and end up on a paved road. When you reach the main, busy road, you need to cross the road, where the bike path continues on a wide sidewalk next to the main road. When you reach the Pfäffikon city center, the bike path spits you onto the main road for a couple minutes.

We always turn to lakeside at this point so we can see this…

This is Pfäffikon’s lakefront area, which is very quiet and beautiful. There is a nice playground here, a little kiosk, and benches for relaxing. At this point, you are only a couple minutes away from your car at Strandbad Pfäffikon. So don’t worry about the kids getting too tired to make it the rest of the way.

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