Bike Ride: Aare River

My boys and I biked along the #8 Aare Route last April after visiting the nearby Frey chocolate factory and we quite liked it. The path is flat, easy and mostly away from car traffic, good for families. The path is often in the forest, passing many picnic and grilling spots along the way. Although it follows the river, the path is on the other side of embankment, so you actually can’t see the river, which was a little disappointing. But we still liked the ride would definitely recommend it.

Location:   Central Switzerland
Address: Gösgerstrasse 3, 5012 Schönenwerd, Canton Aargau
Car: ~45 mins from Zurich HB
Train: ~40 mins from Zurich HB
Trail: 7 to 25 km one way, about 3 hours
Condition: paved and dirt, flat, obstacle-free
Skill: easy
Open: year round, weather dependent

 

Overview

The official bike route is #8 Aare Route (and #5 Mittelland Route). However, after our ride, I realized that we didn’t follow the official paths. While the official paths are on the north and west sides of the river, we were on the south and east sides, and sometimes in the middle on the little islands. There are a lot of paths along the river and it doesn’t matter much which paths you take. As long as they aren’t marked “Pedestrian only”, it’s ok to bike there.

I’ve shown on the map below what we rode. Either way, you’ll be fine.

I planned to ride from Aarau to Brugg, but my boys were tired so we quit halfway at Wildegg. That’s the nice thing about riding along the train route. We always had a way out. We parked our bikes at Wildegg, parked the car, then drove back to get the bikes. But the train had rooms for bikes and it would have been fine to take them with, assuming we were outside weekday afternoon commute hours (them’s the rules).

Getting There

Of course, you can start and stop anywhere along the route, which conveniently parallels the train route so you can easily get back to your car or simply ride the train home. The path is basically flat but with kids, I recommend riding downstream, since slightly downhill is easier than slightly uphill.

We started in Aarau, parking at Freibad Schachen near the river and bike path. In retrospect, I wouldn’t do this again as the Aarau train station is quite far from the Freibad and up a big hill (it looked closer on the map). So at the end of our trip, we took the train back to Aarau, then had to take roundabout bus to the Freibad, making for a long trip home.

Instead, I recommend parking at the Schönenwerd train station (one stop past Aarau, Bahnhofstrasse 4, 5012 Schönenwerd), which is right next to the river and bike path. It adds a bit to your ride, but is more convenient.

To get back to your car at the start of your ride, you’ll need to take the train back. The trains run generally once an hour. Here are the distances from Schönenwerd to train stations along the way:

  • to Aarau – 5km
  • to Rupperswil – 11.5 km
  • to Wildegg – 15 km
  • to Schinzbachbad – 19 km
  • to Brugg . 25.km

Bike Route Details

From wherever you start your ride, follow the #8 Aare Route signs to ride on the official bike route. From the Schönenwerd train station, the bike route is one block north of the train station on Baumstr and Aarestr.

Here are some of the signs you’ll see. Keep to the #8 sign to be on the official path.

We stayed on the south side of the river, not the official path, and the path looked like this.

After riding through the forest, we saw a sign saying part of the trail was pedestrians only. So watch out and be courteous if you make a mistake, like us. There were plenty of places to stop for a break and throw rocks or feed the ducks.

Here’s an example of where the bike path diverges from the walking path. On the left, the red and white circle sign means no wheeled traffic, including bikes. Bike take the path shown below on the right.

We crossed a lot of bridges along the way.

This was the prettiest part of the ride, even though we couldn’t see the river on the other side of the embankment on the left.

We passed several picnic areas with fire pits. I didn’t see firewood, but I could have missed it.

Close to Wildegg.

I hope to go back and ride more of this route. If we do, I’ll post more pics.

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