Rigi Panorama Trail

The Rigi panorama trail is one of the best options for Zurich families and visitors if you want to see classic Swiss landscapes and do some easy hiking. The views are spectacular, with mountains, lakes and valleys in every direction. The walking is easy on a wide groomed path, suitable for strollers, options from 1 to 7.5 km. We particularly love this trail because we can do it any time of year, during the shoulder seasons and even in winter.

Note: During 2017, the Kräbel-Scheidegg cable car is not in service. It will reopen until sometime around Dec 2017. In the meantime, you can hike from Rigi Kulm to Rigi Klösterli and catch the train from there back to Goldau.

We started at the top at Rigi Kulm, 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 7.5 km and took us about 3 hours, though you can do a shorter version, noted below. The trail is suitable for strollers and small children.

Location:   Central Switzerland
Address: Arth-Goldau CH (see below for route details)
Car: ~40mins from Zurich
Parking: Chräbelstrasse 44, 6410 Goldau
Train: ~40mins from Zurich HB to Arth-Goldau
CHF 21.80 Adult return with Half-fare
Trail: 7.5 km one way, shorter options available
Condition: dirt, obstacle-free
Skill: easy
Open: about March through Nov
Cost 2017: varies on your start and end point
Sample Adult hiking ticket CHF 62.50,
children under 16 free in July and August
SBB Half-fare and Junior cards accepted
More info: www.rigi.ch

Overview

Here is the Rigi panorama map (click to expand). There are many hiking options as shown here.

This trail is accessed from the Goldau-Rigi Kulm mountain train. The trail starts at the top at Rigi Kulm, passes through Rigi First and finishes at Rigi Scheidegg, where you can take a cable car back down to Goldau in the valley.  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.

Note: During 2017, this Scheidegg cable car is under construction and will not reopen until sometime around Dec 2017. In the meantime, you will need to end your hike at Rigi Klösterli where you can catch the train back down to Goldau.

For a shorter option, you can follow signs to Rigi Klösterli at about the mid-point before you reach Rigi First and ride the train back to Goldau from there.

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 April and November, depending on the weather.

 

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.

Getting There

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

Note: In 2017, the Scheidegg lift is closed. In the meantime, you will need to end your hike at Rigi Klösterli where you can ride the mountain train back to Goldau.

By car: With a car, the easiest option is to park at the base of the Kräbel-Scheidegg lift and catch the mountain train to Rigi Kulm from there. So drive to Chräbelstrasse 44, 6410 Goldau and park in the metered lot (CHF 8/day, cash only). There are lots of parking spaces but they fill up fast on a busy days. You would probably be fine before 10:00.

Walk over the train stop and catch the mountain train (not the cable car) up to Rigi Kulm. If there is no attendant at the station, you can buy your ticket on the train with cash or card.

By train: With public transportation, take the train to Arth-Goldau, then catch the walk over to the Arth-Goldau Rigi Bahnen station, just a couple minutes away, following the signs. Catch the mountain train here to Rigi Kulm. At the end of the hike, you will take the Kräbel-Scheidegg cable car down, then catch the mountain train back to Arth-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.

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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2 comments

  1. We did part of this route and colored the flower walk, came across the most spectacular firepit with 180 degree views of lake Lucerne then walked via to go kaltbad to klosterli (spent 10-6 on the mountain including train from Goldau a4). Thanks for the tips!! Helped immensely

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