Rigi Panoramaweg

The Rigi panorama trail is an obstacle-free hiking trail at about 1500m with panorama views of the surrounding alpine landscape. Rigi, the so-called “Queen of the Mountains,” is a popular mountain area southeast of Luzern, with two cog-wheel trains leading up to the 1797m Rigi Kulm peak and many hiking options. We started at the top, hiked down to Rigi First (near a midway station), where we joined the Rigi Panorama trail which winds its merry way along cliffs and around mountains peaks, spectaculars views in every direction. The trail ends at Rigi Scheidegg, which has a big playground with trampolines and a view and a chairlift that takes you back down to the valley. The whole trail was about 9km and took us about 3 hours, though you can do a shorter version, noted below. The trail is suitable for strollers and small children. Rigi is beautiful any time of year if the skies are clear (check webcams). But since Rigi railways are open year round, this is a particularly good choice for early spring and late fall when other mountain transport is closed.

Location:   Central Switzerland
Address: Goldau, Luzern, CH
Car: ~40mins from ZH
Train: ~50mins from Zurich
Trail: 9 km, shorter options available
Condition: dirt, obstacle-free
Skill: easy
Open: about March through Nov
Cost: for hiking day pass:
Adult CHF 50, children under 16 free in July and August
SBB Half-fare accepted
More info: www.rigi.ch

Overview

You will take a cog-wheel train from Goldau up to Rigi Kulm, hike to Rigi First where you’ll join the Panorama trail, continue hiking to Rigi Scheidegg, ride the cable car down to Kräbel, then take the cog-wheel train back to Goldau. This mountain transport is generally open year round, but check this webpage (click the Wetter and Offungszeiten link) to see if the Rigi Scheidegg cable car and Scheidegg-Kaltbad Panoramaweg are open. Probably best between March and November.

The Rigi Panorama trail officially starts at Rigi First (in the middle of the mountain) and leads to Rigi Scheidegg. But since Rigi First is not on the train line, we recommend starting at the top Rigi Kulm and hiking down to Rigi First, adding more fantastic views and about 3km to your journey.

The Panorama trail from Rigi First to Rigi Scheidegg is groomed gravel and dirt, suitable for both strollers and wheelchairs. The section from Rigi Kulm to Rigi First is also obstacle free, but it has some steep sections, which I would only do if my stroller had good hand brakes.

If you want a shorter, easier trip, you can hike the opposite direction, downhill from Rigi Scheidegg to Rigi First. Instead of continuing uphill to Rigi Kulm, now hike downhill to the Rigi Klösterli cog-wheel train stop, where you can ride to the top for more views or ride back down to end your trip.

You might also be interested in the many other Rigi hiking options.

Getting There

Note: For this hike, you’ll need to use the Rigi mountain transport from Goldau on the east, not Vitznau on the west.

Get yourself to Goldau, east of Rigi on the southern tip of Lake Zug. With a car, drive to the Goldau A4 stop at Chräbelstrasse 12 and park in the metered lot. With public transportation, take the regular SBB train to Arth-Goldau, then walk over to the Arth-Goldau Rigi Bahnen station, just a couple minutes away, following the signs. This is a one-way hike, so you’ll take the train up to the start of the trail, then hike to Rigi Scheidegg where you’ll take a lift down Kräbel, where you can catch the cog-wheel train back to Goldau.

The cog-wheel train runs about once an hour, while the Rigi Scheidegg-Kräbel cable car runs every 20 mins or more frequently when busy. So plan your schedule carefully. But also be flexible. The day we were there, the train came 15 minutes earlier than the posted schedule and we saw more than one an hour go by. I asked the train workers why the train came early and they said “Do you want to go up or not?” I tripled checked the schedule and the clocks. It was early by all accounts; I can’t explain it.

A sample schedule. Catch the cog-wheel at Goldau A4 at 10:12 arriving at Rigi Kulm 10:47. Wander around the top for awhile (30 mins). Hike to Rigi Scheidegg (3 hours plus time for breaks). Spend time at the playground and cafe at Rigi Scheidegg (1 hour). Ride down the Rigi Scheidegg-Kräbel cable car at 15:25. Catch the cog-wheel train in Kräbel at 15:36 arriving in Goldau A4 at 15:48.

To make our lives a bit easier, we drove an extra couple minutes from Goldau to Kräbel, up a one-lane country road, by-passing the extra train ride from Kräbel to Goldau at both ends of our trip. This way we wouldn’t have to worry about missing the cog-wheel train back from Kräbel to Goldau at the end of our hike, which runs only once an hour. There is no hiking trail from Kräbel to Goldau and walking down the road is not a good option with kids. There are lots of metered parking spaces (8chf/day) by Kräbel but they fill up fast on a busy days. You should be fine before 10am.

Trail Details

Whew! You’ve made it to Rigi Kulm. Enjoy the view! Don’t hurry yourselves onto the trail. Just enjoy the view and wander around the top.

Above the Rigi Kulm station, there is a panorama area where you can wander around and take lots of pictures.

The view from the top in summer…

At Rigi Kulm, there’s a restaurant and toilets and again at Rigi Staffel and Rigi First. But after that, it’s a long stretch with no services until Rigi Scheidegg.

The trail starts at the Rigi Kulm station and basically follows the tracks down to Rigi Staffel. This part can be a little steep for strollers, so plan to use your breaks. In November…

And in summer…

At Staffel, cross the tracks and follow yellow trail signs to Rigi First. When the trail splits, go to your left away from the tracks. The trail on the right along the tracks leads down to Rigi Kaltbad.

Looking back up to Rigi Kulm.

Just after the split, there is a Feuerstelle with wood and picnic tables tucked up under the cliff. But keep walking; there’s an even better one in just a few minutes, with a big open view southwest before you walk down to Rigi First. Firewood was stacked on the side of the hut. Even if you’re not building a fire, this is still a nice place to lounge in the grass and catch the view.

The trail down to First.

Looking down the valley towards Goldau, in summer.

A couple different trails merge in First, shown below. There are a few restaurants here. I didn’t see any public toilets, but I’m sure you could use the facilities in one of the restaurants.

Follow the signs to Felsenweg, which is part of the Panoramaweg. This Felsenegg, aka cliff walk, is a short segment along the cliffs before it joins back up with the main trail. This section is not open in winter and sometimes closed in bad weather. If this part is closed, simply follow the yellow signs to Rigi Scheidegg, aka “Scheideggweg,” which is a dirt road on the opposite side of the cliffs.

Here is the Felsenegg, my favorite part of the trail. It’s narrower than other parts of the trail, but you can still take strollers here.

These benches would be a nice place for a picnic lunch but it’s tough to get a spot.

After the Felsenweg, the trail rejoins the dirt road that leads to Rigi Scheidegg.

In a few minutes, you’ll pass another Feuerstelle, again with wood and picnic tables. Continue walking on the road towards Scheidegg. If you want to work a bit harder, the trail splits just before the Feuerstelle and goes straight up and over the mountain peak, then rejoins the road to Scheidegg.

The road is slightly uphill but not difficult, nice views to the east. We stopped here for lunch.

As you near Scheidegg, the trail will split again, both directions leading to Rigi Scheidegg. The road will take you to Scheidegg at a slightly lower elevation. If you don’t have a stroller, leave the road and take the split to your left up the mountain. Below my son is walking up that trail from the road. It’s steep and bumpy at first. But it has great views once you get up to the top.

See what I mean?

Here’s the end of the trail at Gersau, just before you reach the Rigi Scheidegg cable car. There are a couple restaurants here and a great playground with a view. There are three trampolines, a slide, climbing stuff, etc.

Keep walking to reach the Rigi Scheidegg cable car. It runs about every 30 minutes, but check the schedule before you go as it may have a limited schedule on weekdays and off season. The cable car only carries about 10 people, so on busy days, you might need to wait in line a bit. The cable car drops you off in Kräbel where you’ll need to catch the cogwheel train back to Goldau. That train runs once an hour so try to coordinate before riding down. There’s nothing to do in Kräbel while you wait.

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