Wirzweli Witch Trail

The Wirzweli Hexenweg, aka “Witch Trail,” is a theme trail for children in the foothills between Luzern and Engelberg. Lizi, the “herb witch,” tells the story of her forest through a series of interactive and informative stations, including a flying broom zip line, pine cone toss, guessing herbs by smell, a witch’s house, etc. Kids have fun spying various witch artifacts hidden it the trees, like brooms, spiders, bats, owls and other animal statues. The trail is not suitable for strollers, but is mostly downhill and not difficult, recommended for children aged 4 and older. There are many nice picnic spots with grill pits and wood. Back at the gondola, there’s an enormous playground, a rodelbahn, and ponys to pet. It’s a fun day out for the whole family. Another bonus: since Wirzweli is at a relatively low elevation, it opens in late April, earlier in the season than other mountain hikes.

Note 25.May.2015: a couple readers have reported that the Witch trail is not quite ready for prime time yet this season. In early May, the trail was closed all together due to heavy rains during the week. Last weekend, several of the theme trail features were missing or in disrepair. I suspect these issues will be resolved by the time the summer hiking season starts in late June. But you never know. Consider yourself warned. 

Location:   Eastern Switerzalnd
Address: Wiesenbergstrasse 25, 6383 Dallenwil
GPS: 47°11’37.3″N 9°17’11.9″E
Car: 50 mins from Zurich
Train: 1hr45 from Zurich, Adult Return CHF 62
   
Trail: 3km one way, ~1.5 hours
Condition: dirt, lumpy
Skill: easy
Open: late April to end of Oct
More info: www.wirzweli.ch

Overview

Happily, Wirzweli has provided a detailed trail map for the Hexenweg, shown below. Click on the image for an interactive version.

Getting There

Drive to Wiesenbergstrasse 25, 6383 Dallenwil and park in the large metered lot next to the Dallenwil-Wirzweli gondola. It costs 5CHF/day to park. It is also easily accessible by public transportation, taking a train to Dallenwil, then a short bus ride to the gondola.

Tickets & Reaching the trail

Buy return tickets on this gondola and ride up to Wirzweli. In 2015, it cost 10.50 CHF/adult with halbtax, SBB Juniorkarte accepted, children under 6 free. It runs every 20 mins, from 7:40 to 18:20.

After riding the gondola up, you will find a large playground, rodelbahn, a restaurant, picnic tables, grill pits, and other services. I recommend saving this for after the hike so your kids don’t wear themselves out before hiking.

To reach the Hexenweg, walk about 800m, ~10 mins, west on the paved road (shown below), following signs to the Eggwald-Gummenalp gondola.

This Gummenalp gondola is privately owned, so you must buy separate tickets here, cash only I think. Buy a one-way ticket, as you will walk down the mountain. In 2015, one-way fare was 6CHF/adult, 3.50CHF/child, SBB Halbtax and Juniorkarte are not accepted. It runs on demand, typically 8:00 to 20:00, though the staff may take breaks at lunchtime. I also noticed that in 2015 that while the Dallenwil-Wirzweli gondola opens in late April, the Gummenalp gondola didn’t open until the second week of May. So check the website for more information before going and be flexible. If this gondola isn’t open, you can always hike up the trail instead.

Trail Details

At the top of the Gummenalp, there is a restaurant with a view.

Before starting the trail, take a look southeast from the ridge and you get a nice view toward Engelberg.

Now walk through the restaurant patio and west on the dirt road, following signs to the Hexenweg. The path will soon leave the road and become a narrow foot path down some stairs, through a field and into the forest.

The views are not as dramatic as on my favorite Swiss trails, but it’s still quite pretty. Most of the trail is in the forest, but you’ll occasionally pop out and get nice views of the surrounding hills.

At the forest, you’ll enter through this door, which makes spooky sounds as you pass through. My 6 yr old was very scared and we had to go back in the sunshine and work up some courage before entering the forest. The trail itself isn’t scary; the witch elements are just silly and fun. But be aware that some kids might not like it.

There are a lot of things hidden in the trees throughout the forest, particularly lots of brooms.

Lots of animals looming in the trees. The signs tell a story, but they are only in German.

At this station, kids throw pine cones through witch-related shapes, then use the bucket/pulley system to bring the pine cones back to the start.

At this one, kids climb up to smell bags filled with different herbs and try to guess what they are.

This big picnic spot is in the middle of the trail, but was also completely full when we walked by and the crowd wasn’t very friendly, conspicuously taking over more bench space and hammock chairs as we approached. Don’t worry, there are other grill pits later on the trail.

The biggest hit was this witch’s broom on a zip line. It’s a bit crazy and a great pic. Nearby are some bouncy chairs suspended from the trees.

Kids can explore the witch’s house, including her spell book with a recipe for magic tea.

A few more fun bits: a post box so you can write a letter to Witch Lizi, a bucket of magic stones (each child can take one home), a little fox hiding in a magic mushroom.

 

After exiting the forest, we took a detour to the west, along the road and found a very nice picnic spot next to the Steinibach stream (consult the trail map way above). It’s a short walk off the road, in the forest, has a grill pit with wood, benches and a icy cold stream to cool your feet in. Since it’s not on the main trail, it wasn’t as crowded. It’s worth the extra effort.

This is the field next to our picnic spot at the river. So lovely.

To return to the Wirzweli gondola from this fire pit, follow yellow trail signs pointing to Wirzweli. You walk on this fenced path back to the paved road.

On your way back to the gondola, you’ll pass another nice picnic area next to the road with grill pits and tables. It’s right next to the Eulenpfad, aka Owl Path, a shorter stroller-friendly path with live owls to view. The Wirzweli brochure outlines this and other trail options and other attractions, like pony rides and special events.

Happy hiking!

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