The Uetliberg Planet Path in the hills west of Zurich is a lovely stroll through forests and farmland, with occasional views of Zurich lake and even the alps in the distance. It is also a theme trail, with the planets (and educational signboards) appearing along the path. There are lots of picnic spots along the path with grill pits. The trail is mostly a wide dirt road, easy to navigate with strollers, with only a couple short bumpy sections to give you trouble. It’s nice in all seasons, but particularly in fall with the changing colors.
|Address:||Uetliberg, Zurich, Switzerland|
|Car:||~15 mins from Zurich|
|Train:||~15 mins from Zurich HB|
|Trail:||5.5 km, about 2 hours|
|Open:||year round, weather dependent|
This trail starts at the Uetliberg train station, with 12 planet stations along the way to the Felsenegg cable car that takes you down to Adliswil, where you can take a train back to Zurich. This trail is best done with public transportation as you cannot park near the trail. There are restaurants at the beginning and end of the trail, a playground at the start, lots of places to build a fire and picnic, a pretty views all around. You can walk on this trail year round. In winter, the snow is sometimes flattened for walking, but not always.
Plants appear along the trail, at distances proportional to the actual distance in space. Each meter along the Planet Trail corresponds to one million kilometers. The first six planets are very close together, then they are spread very far apart, as you can see in the map below. Pluto appears three times, showing on its varying distance during its orbit.
Here is the trail map. The trail is about 5.5km and took us about 2 hrs, walking slow.
You cannot park near the trailhead. So the best way to access this trail is by public transportation. Take the S10 train to Uetliberg, about 27 mins from Zurich HB. Walk the trail until the take the Felsenegg cable car and ride down to Adliswil. It runs every 15 mins, from about 9:00-20:00, till 22:00 on Saturdays. It’s a short walk to the Adliswil train station, about 5-10 mins, follow the signs. Then return by train from Adliswil to Zurich, about 23 mins.
If you choose the option outlined above, buy the “Albis Day Pass” (aka Albis-Tageskarte) which covers all the zones needed to access this trail and return by public transportation (in 2014, 8.40 CHF with Halbtax), including the Felsenegg cable car.
If you are coming by car outside the city, please note that you cannot drive all the way up to Uetliberg. You can park near one of the S10 train stops, like Uitikon Waldegg or Ringlikon, and take the train from there (or walk up). There is a big parking lot on Birmendorfstrasse (before you reach Uitikon, between Albisriederstr. and Zürcherstr.). There is also blue zone parking (15 hrs, I think) on Langwiessstrasse in Uitikon and you can hike up from there. However, remember to plan how you will get back to your car. If you want to take public transportation, I might recommend parking at the bottom of the Felsenegg gondola and taking public transportation to Uetliberg, so you end your hike at your car in Felsenegg.
Of course, you can start this trail at different points, do shorter sections of this trail, and/or simply walk back to where you started. Be creative!
The Uetliberg Planet Trail starts with the sun near the Uetliberg train stop, as shown below. There is also a small playground next to the train stop, on the west side of the tracks. You won’t see it when you get off the train because the train is blocking it. Just walk around the front of the train to access the playground. There is also a kiosk if you need some snacks.
Follow the trail up, toward the Uto-Kulm viewpoint. Before you reach the top, the planet trail will split off to your right. But before continuing the Planet trail, I recommend first taking a detour up to the viewpoint, climbing the tower, and enjoying the view of Zurich lake for awhile. Here are pics of the tower you can climb; the view is worth it. See the Uetliberg Viewpoint post for more information about enjoying your time up top.
At the Uto-Kulm viewpoint, you will see yellow trails signs on the southside leading you down a lot of steep stairs. If you take these stairs, you will rejoin the Planetenweg, but you will miss a few of the planets. So instead, continue back the way you came, taking the split (shown on the right below, but it will be on your left as you retrace your steps), following the Planetenweg trail signs. The trail goes below Uto-Kulm on the west side, heading south.
Note: Before I knew what I was doing, I took those stairs at the top with my jogger stroller. Big mistake. There are a lot of stairs, very difficult to manage with a stroller. So if you have a stroller, definitely go back to the Planetenweg to continue your walk. But if you’re just walking and you don’t mind missing some planets, the stairs are a nice way to go. Here are pics of the stairs just so you know.
After you rejoin the Planetenweg, you’ll start seeing planet markers as you walk.
The trail follows the ridge line shown below (pic taken from Uto-Kulm tower).
The trail is mostly a wide dirt road (below left), with a few sections that veer off into the forest on narrower, bumpier trails (below right).
The trail alternates between open areas along farmland and the forest.
Periodically you’ll get long views east to Zurichsee or west over the countryside.
It took us almost 2hrs, with a very slow 7 year old walking at his own leisurely pace. At Felsenegg, we took the cable car (runs every 15mins) into Adliswil, walked about 5 mins to the train station and caught the train back to Zurich.
Here are some trail signs at the Felsenegg station.
A map of the area, showing the variety of trails.
Why for kids?
close to town so you can get back for naps
flat, paved trail is good for strollers (assuming you bypass the stairs)
playground at the Uetliberg train station
the Uto-Kulm tower is fun to climb – my toddler loved this and wanted to climb multiple times
the Planet trail markers provide incentive for kids to keep moving
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