The Swiss Path: Bauen to Flüelen

This section of the Swiss Path is a flat, stroller-friendly trail on the shore of Lake Luzern, with pretty views of the surrounding mountains. This hike is one part of the much longer “Weg der Schweiz,” aka Swiss Path, was built to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the Swiss Confederation. The whole Swiss Path is 35 km, but is broken into 7 sections, each easily accessible by public transportation, so you can walk as little or much as you like.

This post covers sections C and D, the only two stroller-friendly sections, about 10 km from Bauen to Flüelen. It’s a flat, easy trail hugging the lakeshore, with lovely views of the lake and surrounding  mountains. There are lots of sculptures and art pieces along the way, celebrating the culture and history of Switzerland. Unfortunately, much of the trail is right next to a busy road and some even inside a tunnel with windows, which is not my ideal hike. But it’s still a good time and I would recommend it if you need a low-key, easy walk with a view. It’s also a good option for the shoulder season when higher altitude trails are closed.

I’ll tell you all about sections C and D below. But you might also be interested in sections A and B, from Rütli to Seelisberg to Bauen, which are much prettier, through lush forests and flowering alpine meadows, but also more challenging, with steep ascents and lots of stairs. I’ve also written an overview of the Swiss Path.

Location:   Central Switzerland
Address: Flüelen Bahnhof, CH-UR
Car: 1hr from Zurich
Train: 1hr15 from Zurich
Trail: from 2.8 – 10 km
Condition: easy
Skill: easy, elevation gain 40 m
Open: year round, weather dependent
More info: www.weg-der-schweiz.ch

Getting there

This hike starts in Bauen, in a very tiny town on the west shore of Lake Luzen. You can drive there, but I’d recommend instead driving to Flüelen, parking in the metered lot, taking the ferry to Bauen and walking back to Flüelen. The map below shows how to get to the Flüelen train station, which is adjacent to the ferry dock.

Planning your day

Buy a one-way ferry ticket from Flüelen to Bauen. This costs CHF 9/adult, SBB Halbtax and Juniorkarte accepted. I recommend buying a one-way ticket because then you can decide later how far you want to walk and how you want to get back. A couple pics of the ferry ride…

You don’t have to walk the whole 10 km back to Flüelen. You can take a ferry back from Isleten after 2.8km or catch a bus at any point along the trail, since the trail follows the road. However, the ferries and buses run rather infrequently, about once every couple hours, even less so from Sept-May. So check the schedule beforehand so you know your options.

We intended to take the ferry back from Isleten but then realized that it only stopped on Sundays at the time we planned. The bus wasn’t coming for another 2 hours either. So we just walked the rest of the way and made it there at the same time as the bus.

It took our family about 1 hour, including lots of breaks and playtime, to walk from Bauen to Isleten. Then about 90 minutes from Isleten to the restaurant and playground near the nature reserve. Then about another 40 minutes to our car in Flüelen. We could have spent much more time at the playgrounds, but it was quite a cold day so we didn’t linger too long. In total, we spent about 4 hours here, including the ferry ride.

Trail Details

Here is a map of sections C and D, from Bauen to Flüelen. See map in more detail here.

The map below is an excerpt from the printed “Weg der Schweiz” brochure, available in English at the ferry ticketing booth, which includes short descriptions of the trail. I found the map quite accurate and helpful. You can see the whole map on my Swiss Path Overview post.

Section C: Bauen to Isleten

Here’s Bauen, where you’ll leave the ferry.

Once in Bauen, follow the yellow trail signs for “99 Weg der Schweiz,” walking south along the road. Section C from Bauen to Isleten is 2.8 km.

Enjoy the views from Bauen now before entering the tunnel.

I was not excited when I realized the trail was inside this tunnel. Aaaaaahhhh! But it wasn’t quite as bad as I expected. It was certainly unlike any other trail we’ve done; I’ll give it that much for sure. As shown on the right, the car traffic and foot traffic separate ways. The tunnel wasn’t lit, but it had lots of “windows” as shown from the inside (below left) and outside (below right). Sometimes it was very dark in longer sections between windows and my 7 year old got a little nervous.

Many of the open areas are decorated with these strange rotating columns with carvings of Swiss life and history.

There were also many modern styled portraits on the wall (right) in various states of disrepair. I would have liked to know more about them, but there was no information that I could find. Below you can see one of the fire pits inside the tunnel. There was a little wood, but it was soaking wet the day we went.

Here’s another picnic area inside the tunnel, with tables, benches, fire pit with grill and some wood.

The last part of the tunnel was closed due to a rock slide. So for about 400m, we had to walk inside the car traffic tunnel, which was loud and not all nice.

A couple minutes after the tunnel, you’ll reach Iselten, where the ferry infrequently stops. If you want to take the ferry, make sure you time your trip according to their schedule. When we arrived in Iselten, we realized the ferry wouldn’t stop here for another two hours. Same for the bus. So we kept walking. It’s another 7.2 km from here to Flüelen, about 4 km to the big playground and restaurant near the nature reserve, a good goal for the kids.

Outside the tunnel, the path is often next to the road as shown below. Many times the path is below the road and surrounded by trees and other greenery, so its not entirely unpleasant. But the road noise is annoying.

The trail itself is well groomed and pretty, despite the nearby road. On the right are some makeshift fire pits along the trail. There are plenty of places to lounge, even on a crowded day.

The trail does leave the road occasionally, as shown below.

Another section not by the road.

Along the trail, look for the markers shown on the right. Each one shows when a particular canton joined the Swiss Confederation.

There are lots of decorative carvings, both in wood and in the path itself.

At about 6.5 km, after a long stretch on the road, the path finally leaves the road right before passing under the freeway. Here you’ll find a restaurant, playground, fire pits, volleyball courts, hammocks, etc. My kids were exhausted by this point, so I left them here with my husband to play while I walked the rest of the way to Flüelen (about 40 minutes) to get the car, then come back to pick them up.

After passing the playground, you’ll enter the Reuss Delta, which is a protected nature reserve. Here’s a map posted in the area. There are some swimming and picnic areas bordering the reserve.

Here’s what the reserve looks like. Lots of families were strolling around on the wide paths through the reserve. The lower photos show two swimming areas and the nearby playground.

After leaving the reserve, it’s a short walk on the road, parallel to the train tracks until you reach the Flüelen train station and ferry dock. Section D of the Swiss Path starts here and continues to William Tell’s Chapel, another 4.7 km. For more information about the Swiss Path, see my overview.

More hiking in this area…

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Stroller-friendly walk for families on the shores of Lake Luzern, with pretty views of the surrounding mountains. Part of the much longer

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2 comments

  1. Hi, Our family – including two kids (5&10) – will be in Braunwald for three nights April 14/15/16 and then Basel of the next three nights. We would love to get as close to nature as possible. Where should we plan our hiking trips if we hope to see the maximum endangered animals and also so our kids the impacts of climate change? Also, I personally love water excursions incase you have some side trips in mind for us to consider. Warmest regards.

    1. Hi Tedd, What a fun trip you have ahead of you. Unfortunately, most hiking trails in the mountains will be closed during the time you are visiting. I will be posting soon about what to do in the Swiss alps during April and May. I can point you to this older post about shoulder season hikes, but it definitely needs to be updated: http://www.momstotszurich.com/2012/03/shoulder-season-hikes.html/ In short, your best bet is to visit any mountain tops that still have the mountain transport running that weekend and get the views. You can also do valley hikes and lake cruises. Near Braunwald, it would be nice to visit the Walensee waterfalls. http://www.momstotszurich.com/2009/05/wallensee-waterfall.html/ The Klöntalersee is close to Braunwald and very pretty, but not sure it’s exactly what you’re looking for. http://www.momstotszurich.com/2011/03/klontalersee-lake-hike.html/ Re: climate change, you’ll want to see a glacier, but I’m not sure what’s closest to Braunwald. The Jungfrau region would allow you to see some wonderful glaciers, but it’s a bit far from both Braunwald and Basel. Animal life is sparse in Switzerland; the national park in Graubünden is better known for seeing wildlife, but again that’s quite far from where you are staying. From Basel, you might be interested in the Creux du Van http://www.momstotszurich.com/2012/06/creux-du-van-cliffs-jura-ch.html/ Sorry I can’t be more helpful.

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