Family Bike Ride: Greifensee Lake

The bike route around the Greifensee is a great choice for families, with clearly marked paths mostly separate from car traffic, though often next to the road so it can be a bit noisy. Much of the land surrounding the Greifensee is a nature preserve, so its very lush and pretty, especially with all the flowers in springtime. It’s an easy ride, without any big hills but long enough to qualify as exercise. The bike route is also suitable for skating, while walkers can use narrower dirt paths closer to the lake shore. There are plenty of other amusements in this area. You can swim in the lake at Strandbad Uster, with a slide, diving platforms and floats in the lake. There are many picnic areas with grill pits, particularly clustered on the lake shores near Uster. A ferry crisscrosses the lake and you can rent your own row boat. It’s a delightful recreational area close to Zurich that we plan to take advantage of much more in the future.

Location:   Zurich Region
Address: Greifensee, Uster, ZH, CH
GPS:
Car: ~20mins from ZH
Transit: ~15mins from ZH
Trail: ~19 km
Condition: dirt, road
Skill: easy
Open: all year, weather permitting
More info: www.veloland.ch – Camping on Greifensee
Boat rental at Städtli-Café, Im Städtli 22, 8606 Greifensee 079 524 82 59

Overview

This ride is about an 18 km loop around the Greifensee. You can start anywhere on the lake, but I give suggestions below on where to start and how to get there. There are no big difficult hills, but there are some sections that slowly ascend and may be difficult for beginning riders. If you need to cut your trip shorter than the full loop, there is bus service around the lake and ferries criss-cross the lake and allow bike transport.

You can two bike routes choices, the dirt walking path close to the lake or the paved official bike route that parallels the main road. Both have their pros and cons. After riding both, we highly prefer the dirt walking path, which is prettier, quieter and safer with kids. However, on busy days, it could be crowded with walkers and difficult to navigate with bikes.

Option A: Dirt bike path along lake. With kids, I recommend riding on the dirt walking path closer to the lake as shown on the map below. This is not the official bike route, but official Greifensee signboards indicate that slow bikes are allowed on this path unless specifically marked “pedestrian only”. The path is often right next to the lake, on a wide smooth dirt path, only the occasional small hill. City bikes are fine, you don’t need a mountain bike. We particularly liked that there are many picnic areas with fire pits along this path, usually right next to the water.

Option B: Official paved bike route. Alternatively, you can ride on the official bike route, purple #72 Greifensee Skate, which is paved and suitable for both bikes and skates, the map shown below. This path is mostly on a paved path, separate but parallel to the main road. Sometimes it dips closer to the lake shore, sometimes passes through quiet neighborhoods. Although you are near the road (with the road noise), you are also driving by beautiful fields and forests, usually with a view of the lake and the surrounding countryside.

For children, it’s important to note that on this official bike route, there are some short sections where you will ride on local streets without a bike lane. It’s not particularly dangerous but you will need to take extra care on these sections to ensure the safety of your children.

Getting There

You can start your ride anywhere along the Greifensee, but we started in the town of Greifensee, as shown on the map below. On Schwerzenbachstrasse, there is a metered parking lot right next to the bike path. For GPS, you could use the address of the nearby Gasthof zur Krone (Schlossstrasse 4, 8606 Greifensee) then follow signs to the parking.

By train, it’s easiest to ride to Nänikon-Greifensee or Uster. Both stops have bike shops nearby where you can rent bikes. See Uster bike shops and Greifensee bike shops.

The Greifensee parking lot is shown below with the bike/skate path passing right next to it. The walking path is separate, so follow signs with a bike symbol.

Bike Route Details

In general, you will follow the purple #72 Greifensee Skate route and Greifensee Rundweg. Sometimes various bike and skating paths leave the lake. If in doubt, stay on the “Greifensee Rundweg” shown on the red sign at the bottom, even if the other routes go somewhere else.

Here’s the bike path, mostly staying next to but separate from the road.

At the north side of the lake, you’ll ride a couple km on bike paths next to the road (as shown below) through town and one annoying section on local roads with no marked bike path. It wasn’t particularly dangerous but kids tend to veer into the middle of the road and I had to keep loudly reminding them to stay on the side. It’s slightly tricky to follow the signs in this part as you must make a few turns through the neighborhood, so watch out and if you get lost, make your way back to the main road as the bike path parallels that road for most of the rest of the ride.

The path often leaves the road and dips into the fields, forests, and little neighborhoods on local roads.

 

Much of the time the path is next to the road, which can be noisy. At first, I was annoyed, I’d rather be away from traffic where it’s quieter. But then I’d probably have to be mountain biking. So for an easy bike route for families, this route was just right and very pretty, if a bit noisy.

Even through the haze, we could see the snow-tipped mountains in the distance.

At the south side of the lake, you pass some low grasslands, a little swampy when we were there. We also had a short construction detour in 2015, but that’s probably gone by now.

Entering Riedikon, on southeast side of lake.

Stork nests

Entering the main picnicking area, just west of Uster.

Here’s a map showing where the picnic areas and grill pits are along the lake in this area. You’ll also pass a lake swimming area, Strandbad Uster, and the ferry dock. There are plenty of services in this area including some cafes and public toilets.

One of the lakeside picnic areas. I’ll bet on a summer weekend, these are all full.

In April, the yellow flowers were out in force.

In this section, the bike path sometimes diverges from the walking path. You are allowed to ride slow bikes on the walking path unless the signs say otherwise, like below. Notice that blue sign only shows pedestrians, so don’t ride down that path. Sometimes that blue sign also has a bike symbol, then it’s ok to ride on the path.

After the big public park in Niederuster, the bike path leaves the lake side and parallels the main road until you get back to your car at Greifensee.

Easy safe bike ride for kids around lovely lake, with cafes and swimming areas. Zurich Region, Switzerland.

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