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Seeking input on solo female hiking in Switzerland

Hello fellow travelers! I've looked around for a post similar to my question, but have not come across one.....

I would like to travel Switzerland and hike here and there - nothing crazy, just your average hikes. How safe is that for a solo female? Just as an example, there's a hike in Appenzell that is only 1.5 hours, follows a stream through meadows and forest - is that goofy to think I can just take off like that on my own? It's not a difficult hike, just isolated. Any females out there have experience hiking on your own in Switzerland? Good signage to follow? Did you feel safe? I have read that there are plenty of people hiking popular trails like the North Face above Lauterbrunnen and to not worry because you won't be alone. I'll be 60, but am in good shape and hike weekly here in the PNW. (BTW - I would be pretty much following RS 2 week train itinerary, so if any has done that, I'd like to hear from you as well!)

Thank you for any input you have. My other option is the My Way Alpine tour, but it doesn't visit many of the places I'd like to experience in Switzerland. At least that way there's someone giving hiking advice, knows which hike you are doing that day, and will be there to worry if I don't return! And perhaps others who would join together to do some hikes here and there.

Thanks to all!

Gabrielle

Posted by
37 posts

Thank you - I will read it.

I solo travel frequently, but have not incorporated hiking into the itinerary. The isolation outdoors hiking is where my concern is. I will enjoy learning from your report.

Thanks!

Gabrielle

Posted by
755 posts

I enjoy hiking as well, but the altitude in Switzerland was difficult for me. Perhaps you are prepared for that.

Posted by
2782 posts

I pay for data for my phone when I travel. Even when I was walking in the middle of the Swiss Alps, my phone always knew where I was. The maps feature on my iphone worked very well there. So, having a working phone with data might make you feel more comfortable when out walking alone in case you get lost or injured and need to call for help.

Posted by
8009 posts

Not a female but I have hiked in mid-May two times and in July 2 times there; one is never really isolated hiking there. The only isolated parts I found are for advanced hikers and I turned around because too difficult for my 54 year old self.

Posted by
16730 posts

I have not hiked alone in Switzerland, as I have always been there with family members. But I would have no hesitation hiking alone there, even at my age (older than you). As long as you stay on the popular well-marked trails, you will not be alone—-others will be on the trail with you. Stop at the local Tourist Information office in the village where you are staying, and ask for a (free) trail map and some suggestions.

Or post here where you will be staying, and I and others can come up with appropriate suggestions. I am sure you will find some good ideas in Carrie’s trip report as well.

Posted by
392 posts

There are few truly isolated places in Switzerland and almost total cell phone coverage, even in the mountains. The countryside has farms and small settlements scattered around and it’s rare that you walk for any length of time without seeing anyone else. That being said, if you’ll be doing longer hikes, hiking in more remote areas away from villages or just want to be extra safe, it’s always a good idea to inform someone of your plans and expected return time etc. Could be your host at a b&b or simply checking in/ messaging with a friend or family back home.

Posted by
1000 posts

As a former member of a mountain rescue team that has had to take bodies out in body bags, it is my opinion that you should hike solo in the Swiss mountains or any mountains for that matter. Every we have about 120 - 130 fatalities here in Switzerland of which about 40% are hikers. If you were you were to trip, loose consciousness and slip into a mountain stream you'd be dead long before any of your electronics would help us find you.

Be aware that we will charge very significant fees if we have to come get you, so make sure you are well insured. It's not unusual for the invoices to $150k - $200k in these situations.

Posted by
497 posts

Carrie’s trip report gives some good tips. Also agree with people saying don’t go off on trails that aren’t frequented by many other hikers and always tell your hotel where you are going and when you expect,to be back.

Posted by
1998 posts

Switzerland is actually a small country with a high population density. What people often do not realise is that our landscape is not a wilderness. It is more a giant park.

If you stick to normal walking trails you will find that these are well maintained, well signposted, and well used. Even away from the tourists hot spots the trails are well used, as the locals like to use them too, for hiking, jogging, or just walking the dog.

I see women jog by themselves, so that should give you an idea. The country is very safe.

I do however agree that I would not go on a mountain hike on my own. However some mountain trails are so popular that you won't be alone there either, even if you go on your own.

Posted by
8538 posts

My son likes to hike solo. I bought him a Garmin in reach mini . It is satellite linked, has an emergency “help” button, and allows for simple texts. It automatically locates you for rescue. I’d have to confirm that it also works in Switzerland, but something like that might give extra support for safety.

I lived next to Olympic National Park for years. It seemed like every year a solo hiker would go missing. Some hadn’t even left a notice of where they were hiking. Sometimes they were eventually found not far from a trail but with an injury. Often they were not found in time.

So, let someone at your accommodation know your plans. Have a way to communicate in an emergency, Use walking sticks for balance and to ease pressure on joints. Take about 3 times the water you normally would because you will need it at altitude.

Honestly, to me, the My Way Alpine Tour sounds like a good starting point.

Posted by
530 posts

Hello Gabrielle,
I am female, similar age as you, from the PNW (Canadian side) and have been living in Switzerland for 5+ years now. I hike 2-3 times a week, almost always alone. I have always felt safe!

Unlike in the PNW, you do not need to be vigilant about bears or cougars (ticks are still a problem). You are very often within shouting distance of a farm and might even find there are too many people around you, especially on popular trails.

Most hiking accidents happen because people underestimate the trail and overestimate their ability.

Trails are marked with yellow directional signs. If they have a white/red/white stripe on the end then the trail is more demanding with exposed sections, etc. When hiking alone I usually stick to the yellow wanderweg paths.

I use a hiking app with tracking on, if only for the fact that there are so many paths and I want to be sure I am following the one I intend to. Also, the app is kept up to date and will let you know of any closures or changes to the route.

I use Switzerland mobility, but there are others that people here use as well.

Feel free to DM me if you want to know about any specific hikes, if I have done them I can share my experience with you.

Posted by
58 posts

I'll add in to what Jim from Switzerland said ... I could never support or recommend anyone hike in the mountains solo. Just too many things that could go wrong out of your control. I've hiked, biked, skied, hunted and fished the mountains for decades, and would never do it alone. Yes, the Swiss mountains are likely more regularly travelled than the rugged Rockies here at home, and likely more "safe" with more marked trails and numbers hiking. Can I read into your post that you more concerned about two vs four legged creatures?

Best analogy I could think of is seat belts. You could drive your whole life without wearing one ... but then that ONE time .....

Posted by
37 posts

Thank you so much, everyone - I really appreciate you all taking time to share your wisdom. I have put down my deposit for the My Way Alps tour for 2024, September. My hiking buddy, another retired teacher, is joining me! So excited!

Posted by
1243 posts

I like My Way Alpine for the mix of solo and convivial opportunities. It is a tour I would consider taking again. Enjoy!