Thur River Trail

This easy river walk is a good choice in any season, but especially in spring, when mountain trails are closed. The whole trail follows the Thur river from Watwil to Nesslau, but we walked a shorter section from Krummnau to Neu St. Johann, about 5km. We enjoyed this section enough to want to go back and walk the whole 15 km trail next time. There are plenty of spots along the river to throw rocks and picnic. The path is possible with strollers, but there are a few bit with short steep inclines or stairs that will take a bit of maneuvering.

Location:   Eastern Switzerland
Address: 47.248968, 9.167753
Car: 1hr10 from ZH
Train: 1hr30 from ZH
Trail: from 5 km to 15 km
Condition: paved and dirt, mostly obstacle-free
Skill: easy
Open: year round, weather dependent
More info: #24 Thurweg trail

Overview

The #24 Thurweg trail follows the Thur river from Watwil to Nesslau, about 15 km, as shown below. The train runs parallel to the trail, so you can start anywhere on the trail and take train back. There are train stations are about 5 km apart, at Watwil, Ebnat-Kappel, Krummnau, and Neu St. Johann. I recommend walking southeast, so the Churfirsten mountain peaks are in view as you walk.

We walked the section from Krummnau to Neu St. Johann, about 5 km, as shown below. The train runs about once an hour, so check the schedule beforehand.

Near New St. Johann, there is a big picnic area with picnic tables, fire pit, and toilets, indicated by the star on the map. It’s privately owned and can be rented for large groups. But I think the posted instructions said it’s ok for individuals and small groups to use if it’s not rented out. I didn’t see other official fire pits along the trail but there are some places in the forest but the river where you could probably build one. In the towns you pass through, there are cafes, stores, and toilets at the train station.

The path is mostly dirt, relatively smooth and flat, easy walking for kids. I wouldn’t say this was a stroller-friendly path, but we had three big strollers in our group and they all managed. There were some stairs and short steeper rocky sections where we had to carry the stroller a bit, but it wasn’t a big deal. Mostly it’s smooth riding.

Getting There

Drive to Watwil, then park at the train station where you want to start your hike. We parked at the Krummenau train station, which had free parking.

Trail Details

If you start at the Krummnau train station, you’ll walk southeast on the road until you reach the campground. Then walk through the campground, over the river bridge, and turn left on the dirt path along the river. Follow this path all the way to Nesslau. The trail generally hugs the river but sometimes crosses through the town on a some local roads or passes through some fields.

In general, follow yellow hiking signs and signs for the #24 Thurweg trail.

Now for some photos. We did this the last weekend in March 2016, before the trees and bushes were green again. But it was still very nice.

Don’t be put off be the crowds in my photos. We went with a large group of 50+ people, but otherwise the trail was lightly traveled.

The train tracks parallel the trail and sometimes you are walking by the tracks, but the train runs so infrequently that it didn’t detract from the enjoyment at all.

Not an official picnic spot but a nice place to sit by the river. Careful that little kids don’t get too close and fall in. The river is small but fast moving.

Another area where leave the trail and explore a bit next to the river. There is a little waterfall here and slippery rocks, so be careful.

Here’s the waterfall where the river narrows and move quickly.

A little scrubby in March but still pretty. Can’t wait to see it in May when it’s all green.

The beautiful Churfirsten peaks above Toggenburg in the distance. I loved having these in view as we walked along the river.

One of the safer spots for kids to get close to the river and throw rocks.

See: strollers on the trail.

The bridge leads to a tiny island in the middle of the river where there is a big picnic area with picnic tables, fire pit, and toilets. As I said above, it’s privately owned and can be rented for large groups (call 071 995 51 51). But I think the posted instructions said it’s ok for individuals and small groups to use if it’s not rented out. I didn’t see other official fire pits along the trail but there are some places in the forest but the river where you could probably build one. In the towns you pass through, there are cafes, stores, and toilets at the train station.

We had a lot of mouths to feed.

We left the trail at the next bridge at New St. Johann, but the trail continues a bit to Nesslau on an obstacle-free path #968 Nesslauer Rundweg. It eventually loops back around to the Neu St. Johann train station.

End of the trail at the train station. It was a short ride back to Krummnau.

After the hike, you might consider visiting the Thur Waterfalls, which are about a 10 mins drive up the road to Unterwasser, then a 10 min walk to the lookout over the falls. More about the waterfalls

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