Zurich Nature Walk – Allmend Brunau

Zurich Allmend Brunau isn’t a tourist destination, but rather a nice outdoor escape for city dwellers, perfect for a summer evening stroll or Sunday picnic with the family. This big green recreational space on the southwest side of Zurich has big grassy fields for running and kite flying, lots of picnic areas with fire pits, and easy access to the river for rock throwing and wading. The loop walk I describe here passes through the nature preserve and up and down the riverbanks, an easy walk and suitable for strollers. Bikes are welcome on this path and the trail continues for several km down the river (see separate post). Even though this area is close to the city and freeway, it is peaceful and pretty. Adjacent to the park are lots of amusements including the Freestyle Park, BMX Bike Park, soccer fields and the Sihlcity mall. It’s nice all year around but best in spring and summer.

Location:   Zurich Region
Address: Allmendstrasse 20, 8002 Zürich
Car: ~15 mins from Zurich HB
Train: ~15 mins from Zurich HB
Trail: 4 km loop, about 1 hour
Condition: wide dirt path, obstacle-free
Skill: easy
Open: year round
More info: www.stadt-zuerich.ch

Overview

There are a lot of walking paths in this area, so this walk is just to give you idea of what to expect. This walk starts at the Fork & Bottle restaurant, near some metered parking and the Zurich Brunau train station. You could also start walking from Saalsporthalle or Sihlcity, by simply walking southwest toward the green space and joining the path in the middle.

This 4km loop walk starts through the enclosed nature preserve on the south side of the river. Then you join the walking path following the east side of the Sihl river. After passing under the freeway, you’ll cross over a pedestrian bridge to the west side of the river and follow that path north. When you join the paved path near the big grassy fields, turn right on the dirt path, cross the river bridge and the parking will be on your left.

There are many amenities and services in and close by the park, including picnic areas with fire pits, water fountains, public WC, cafes, etc. You’ll find more amusements north of the park, including the Freestyle Park, BMX Bike Park, soccer pitches open to the public, and Sihlcity mall with restaurants, ice cream, movies, grocery, library, etc. Click through on the trail map to see these items marked on the map.

I will give two small warnings. First, this is a city park and sometimes you’ll see some sketchy characters out there. I think it’s safe during the day. But I wouldn’t hang out here at night or let kids wander too far from the group, especially in the forest.

Second, this is a popular area for dog walking. We’ve had one dog steal our cheese and hot dogs from our picnic basket but otherwise, we haven’t had any problems. But if your kids are afraid of dogs, it could be stressful for them.

Getting There

If you are driving, I suggest parking in the metered parking spots near the Fork & Bottle restaurant (Allmendstrasse 20, 8002 Zürich). If these spots are full, there is more parking in the big lot under the freeway east of Fork & Bottle. This is much cheaper than parking in the Sihlcity parking garage. There is an underground walking path from the parking to the Allmend.

By public transportation, take train to Zurich Brunau (shown below) or a tram/train to Zurich, Saalsporthalle and walk west, across the street to access Zurich Allmend.

If you are coming by bike, there is a bike path from the Zurich HB along the Sihl river all the way to Brunau park. Follow signs to Adliswil. More info on the Sihl River bike path here.

Trail Details

The trail is pretty straightforward, so I’ll just show some pictures along the way. From the parking Fork & Bottle, the trail starts paved with the river on the north side.

On your left, there is a gate to enter the enclosed park and nature reserve on the south side of the river. Sometimes the grass is high with wildflowers, sometimes they mow it short and you can run around in the fields.

One of the picnic areas in this park.

Another picnic area with fire pits and grills on the far west side of the park, with a little urban flavor.

The walking/bike path on the east side of the river. It can get busy on nice weekends, but perfectly fine for little kids.

Crossing under the freeway. Despite the slight hum of traffic above, the park is still very quiet and peaceful. I like the contrast of city and nature but maybe that’s not your thing.

View from the pedestrian bridge that crosses to the west side of the river. The path continues down the left side of the river, all the way to Adliswil and beyond. See also: Sihl River bike path here.

Looking north from the bridge.

Crossing the bridge.

Getting a drink at the fountain on the west side of the bridge.

Settling in for a picnic on the west side of the river. A nice spot for a fire but bring your own wood.

Some open fields for playing catch and splashing in the water.

On hot days, you’ll often see people splashing around in the river. The water is usually very low and not dangerous. But after a storm, the water level can rise quickly and get dangerous as shown below. So use common sense.

Looking back at this are from the big bridge.

Pass by the big bridge and keep riding north to another big grassy field. In May it looks like this:

In winter, it looks like this:

On the west side, there are some protected habitats for birds, reptiles and insects. You probably won’t see much but we always looks. Sometimes we see tadpoles and dragonflies.

Looking north from the big field west of the soccer pitches. We try to fly kites here a lot without much success. So wait until there is a storm blowing in so you have enough wind.

Walk through the middle of this field to reach another bridge across the river and back to the parking. Here’s a pic taken from this bridge in winter, with snow on Uetliberg in the distance.

Another fountain on the paved road south of the river near the parking.

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