10 Theme Trails to Motivate Lazy Kids

Theme trails are a great way to teach kids how to hike and, thankfully, Switzerland has a lot of them. The interactive play stations along the trail help kids focus on the fun instead of their tired legs. With trails like these, my kids can’t wait to go hiking every weekend. Here are some of our favorites…

1. Toggenburg Tone Trail

The Toggenburg Tone Trail is the gold standard when it comes to theme trails, with over 20 interactive musical “instruments” scattered along this stroller-friendly trail. Your kids will be motivated to keep walking because you can usually either see or hear the next thing to kling, clank, or bang. There are also a few playgrounds, lots of picnic areas, and restaurants along the way. All this in the beautiful Swiss alps, with dramatic mountain peaks and rolling hills filled with wildflowers. Read more…

2. Engelberg Tickle Trail and Globi Treasure Hunt

The Tickle Trail is an old favorite of ours and we go at least once a summer, always with friends. The main attraction is a very short sensory trail around a little pond, where you walk barefoot over surfaces like stones, sticks, bark, mud, and even cow pies. Bring extra clothes-you will get wet! You can take a lift to reach the trail or hike there on the Globi Treasure Hunt trail, searching for treasure chests along the trail to solve a puzzle. There’s also a big playground, a trampoline, alpine slide, water play, etc. Your kids may never want to come home. Read more…

3. Giants Forest at Elm

We love this new theme trail at Elm, with more than a dozen play stations that go along with the “Riesenwald” theme, aka “Giants in the Forest.”  There is a giant xylophone, an oversized picnic table and forest kitchen, an obstacle course, a suspension bridge, and much more. Much of the trail is in the forest, but you still have great views of the surrounding mountains. It’s short and easy, sure to win over even the most reluctant little hiker. Read more…

4. Muggestutz Dwarf Adventure Trail

This trail has play stations along the way that match up with the Muggestutz storybook, which tells about the magical dwarfs that supposedly live in the area. There are swings to simulate an eagle’s flight, a maze, a ladder up to a nest with a hidden treasure, a pine cone drying station, and little dwarf houses, with tables set and laundry drying as if you just missed them. It’s adorable and a fantastically beautiful hike as well. Read more…

5. Wirzweli Witch Trail

This children’s trail near Luzern tells the story of Lizi, the “herb witch,” 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. Read more…

6. Sihlwald Forest Trail

The Sihlwald “Walderlebnispfad” is a short, but enjoyable loop trail through the forest with 12 interactive stations, including a wood log xylophone, a barefoot path, an animal long jump, and raised path through a mysterious bog. This is very close to Zurich, so it’s a good choice for a quick outing. Although it is open all year, it is particularly charming in spring when the flowers are out or October when the fall leaves are changing. Read more…

7. Flumserberg “Wild Man” Nature Trail

Story boards on this trail tell of a little wild man that lived in a cave at Flumserberg, who was unkind to animals and nature. After a change of heart, the wild man is allowed to return to Flumserberg every year for three days to make amends. Each station has an educational game or activity, like matching animals with the plants they eat or comparing your speed to various animals. At the end of the trail, there is a big play area, restaurant and a ropes courses for both big and small. It’s a full day of adventure in the mountains. Read more…

8. Bannalp

This low-key mountain area has a cute little children’s trail, with a story told on picture boards along the way, accompanied by an activity for the kids. The story tells about children searching for a magic crystal protected by dwarfs. There are also little wooden dwarfs hidden along the trail. Searching for these kept my boys motivated to keep walking. Next to the lake, there’s a big picnic area with lots of fire pits and play stuff for the kids. Read more… 

9. Swiss National Park Bear Trail

This trail has nine interactive stations along the trail, that teaching you about bears. Our favorite station was where each block of wood represents the weight of a bear at a certain age. My boys loved trying to lift and push the various blocks. There are several picnic spot with grill pits and lots of nice spots along the river to lounge. Read more…

10. Gargellen Smuggler’s Trail

OK, this one is Austria, but just over the border and we really liked it. The theme trail follows an old alpine smuggling route, with ten interactive play stations, educating little hikers about smuggling. At one station, you had to use binoculars to spot the smuggler on the mountain. At another, you ran in the footsteps of the smuggler, trying to escape the customs police. The area is beautiful, the play stations creative and fun, the playground large, the food tasty, the prices moderate: all the ingredients for a fun family outing. Read more…

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8 comments

  1. We enjoyed the Heidi trail again this week. My kids love racing around looking for the goats and the scenery is a nice treat for everyone. We went all the way to the top this time to check out the panorama and there was already a good amount of snow. So we played around for a while then came back down to conquer the goats and the fall colors. It was a great day. Thanks for all your work you make our adventures possible!

  2. Yes, I agree. I had the Heidi trail already on other top ten lists, so I didn't include it here. I might swap it in though. It's a classic.

  3. Maybe you want to add the Heidi-Trail as well. The Pizol Area offers many hiking trails, starting with this easy and short one, there is also the 10 lakes trail and some for 2 or more days.

  4. This is a great list, I can see my son loving a lot of these and he definitely fits the description of “lazy kid” when we try to go hiking! I think the most we've made it with him is about 100 meters! We will have to try some of these trails out!

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