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Best Hiking on the GAS Tour?

Hi Everyone -

We are signed up for the June 25th GAS tour, and are as excited as kids waiting for summer vacation! We are avid hikers, and can’t wait to hit the trails in between all of the amazing tours and scheduled events that are planned for us. We’d like to get at least a small hike or bike ride in at each of our destinations. Can anyone recommend their favorite trails?

Also, what are the trails like for the most part in GAS? I’m assuming they are well maintained, I’m just trying to plan ahead in terms of footwear. We live close to the Sierra Nevadas, and are used to hard backed dirt trails and granite. There are times where we can get by with simple trail running shoes - I’d like to find a shoe that could do a bit of “double duty” working for both town and on the trails. Does anyone have a lightweight trail shoe that they wouldn’t leave the US without? Is it important for them to be waterproof or water resistant?

Annddd....for one final question - what is one piece of advice you wish you knew before you went on your adventures to GAS?

Thanks for reading this - I’ve really enjoyed all of the advice I’ve read on this forum so far! We’d also love to hear from anyone else who is going on this trip as well!

Posted by
2441 posts

The only place that really was where we could hike was in Switzerland. We were too busy seeing the sites to hike many other places when I was on this tour. But don't worry, you get plenty of daily miles walking around.

The trails we covered in Switzerland were well marked with the time it is estimated it would take a Swiss grandmother to walk it (it took our group about double that time, but then we were not really in a hurry) and well worn by large numbers of hikers. I wore boat shoes, my choice for every RS tour I have taken, and had no issues. On one of the higher elevation hikes we were passed by a woman pushing a double baby stroller. She was wearing high heels. And smoking a cigarette.

Posted by
3935 posts

Trier, Baden-Baden, Munich, Salzburg, and Vienna, are all cities from which you'd have to get out of town to find real hiking trails. There are, of course, nice parks with walking paths in the cities. You can find trails at whatever difficulty level you want in Mürren, but most of the trails we saw and walked were well-maintained and well-used gravel paths. Wear whatever shoes you wear at home. There are no hikes included as part of the tour, just on your own in the free time. We did the 45-minute optional walk from the Trummelbach falls to Lauterbrunnen to catch the cogwheel train up, but that was all level sidewalk.

Advice? Dont overplan. You'll figure it out when you get there. Actually, that's the same thing I learn on every trip.

Posted by
340 posts

There are many trails to hike from Murren. I enjoyed this hike because you can make it as easy or hard as you want. It is almost an all day hike with plenty of great vistas and a lot of resting stops along the way.

Begin the hike from Murren to Gimmelwald. It is mostly downhill and Gimmelwald is a small village easy to explore. Then either hike or take a gondola from Gimmelwald to Stechelberg gondola station. There is a beautiful waterfall near the station. You can then either walk from there into Lauterbrunnen or take a bus. You will go past Trummelbach Falls which I believe is already on your tour. Lunch in Lauterbrunnen. Then take the gondola to Grutschalp from Lauterbrunnen and hike back to Murren. You will see forests, meadows, mountains, waterfalls and streams all along this hike. Enjoy your tour.

Posted by
6258 posts

Your guide may have suggestions as well.

On Day 1 in Muerren first thing in the AM we went up as a group to the top of the Schilthorn as the weather was good. Our guide also offered to meet anyone at 1PM that wanted to go up the funicular to Almendhubel to hike down. He got everyone started on their hikes then headed down on his own.

Day 2 we walked as a group from Muerren to Gimmelwald, took the gondola down to Stechelberg, met the bus, drove to Truemmelbach Falls. After seeing them, the bus took us to Lauterbrunnen where most of us took the cog train/gondola up to Mannlichen and hiked across to Kleine Scheidegg. We took the cog train back down and gondola/trail back to Muerren.

This sounds complicated but it’s not!

There are aggressive hikes you can do. I just wear my usual Europe travel shoes which are Altra Lone Peaks and they are fine on the easier trails in the Lauterbrunnen area. To be honest, I’d not bother with the weight of your heavier boots. The Altras are my go-to shoe for travel. I’ve never had waterproof ones altho I’ve recently purchased their latest waterproof model. I don’t think that time of year you’ll need waterproof. I have horrible feet and these keep my feet in good shape for long days of travel. I also wear them in cities.

Some people also hiked a bit in Baden Baden. It was scorching when I was there so I was not looking for that kind of activity.

Things to know ahead?? If you’ve got the time I hope you’re going to arrive a day or two early to Trier. It’s a fascinating university town! What day of the week does your tour start? Mine started on a Saturday so the locally-guided walking tour was Sunday AM. I made sure to see the churches on Saturday as you can’t visit during services.

You’ll have a great time on this tour. You’ll get plenty of walking in!

Posted by
10575 posts

The hike suggested above is more of a walk, pretty much all downhill or on the level. It is nice, especially in bad weather when the trails are slippery or dangerous. But if you are used to hiking in the Sierras you will find it pretty tame. And if you are hikers like us, you will want to head up higher and sample some different terrain.

I have no idea how much free time you have in Switzerland on this tour, but assuming you are staying in Muerren and have at least a half day free there, I suggest you take a look at this hiking map:

http://www.gimmelwald.ch/pic/inset/wanderkarte.pdf

See the hike labeled No. 4, the north Face Trail. They have it start at Allmendhubel and follow the trail in a loop weastward and then back to the east to return to Muerren. That part takes 2.5 hours (pretty accurate for experienced hikers). We like to add the hike up to Allmendhubel (nice little restaurant up there for lunch), so allow an extra hour to walk and time for lunch.

From Allmendhubel, you traverse around and then down and across the open bowl you hiked up from Muerren, then embark upon an undulating path (well-marked) that offers wonderful views to the Jungfrau massif across the way. The trail has signs with some mountaineering history, talking about the first ascent of each peak you see. We really enjoyed this hike; we saw more wildflowers than people, and enjoyed the views and the terrain. As you loop back around to return to Muerren there are various trail options, one of which I believe takes you past the waterfall, but we did not do that part.

There are other possible hikes listed on the map, and on the gimmelwald.ch website.

As far as footwear, a trail shoe should be fine. The trails can be muddy, and there may be some cow pies here and there, so take that into account. I was wearing my sneakers at this point in the trip, as I had bruised my ankle bone earlier and could not wear my hiking boots. Fortunately, the sneakers (the ones I brought for city walking) did fine. Trail running shoes should be good as well.

Posted by
10575 posts

Pam and I were posting at the same time! It looks like the Lauterbrunnen walk suggested by threadwear is part of the group itinerary. And if the guide takes you up to Allmendhubel on the funicular, you can do the North Face walk I suggested from there. So you are all set.

Posted by
7 posts

For the Murren stop, the Mannlichen-Klein Scheidegg hike in the RS guidebook is wonderful for the amazing views, abundance and variety of alpine flowers and multiple fun train rides interspersed with the hiking. It explores the opposite side of the valley from the RS GAS tour and has views of the Grindelwald Valley as well as magnificent views of Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. We began the hike portion with the RS recommendation of Mannlichen Gipfel peak, well worth the side excursion for a king of the mountain/valley/Switzerland feel. Thereafter the hike isn't challenging if you're looking for that, however, perhaps there is a way to make it so with some add ons somewhere along the way.

I live near and hike in the Sierra Nevada also and use asics running shoes, as I do for travel, and they were fine for the Switzerland hikes.

Regarding your final question, with all the available RS guidance I've read, I felt well prepared for both the GAS tour I took this past year and an independent trip I took in 2012 with my teenage son (which is when i did the Mannlichen-Klein Scheidegg hike described above). The RS guidebooks, Europe through the Back Door and PBS shows are fantastic for advance preparation.

Posted by
6258 posts

It looks like the Lauterbrunnen walk suggested by threadwear is part of the group itinerary.

I think it depends on the guide as to whether they offer this or not. Ours didn’t include hiking down past Gimmelwald.

About half of our group did the North Face hike from the top of the Almendhubel funicular Lola describes. I did the Mountain View hike which was easier and partly paved.

Posted by
2193 posts

If you really want to know what excited is, it is teachers waiting for summer vacation😀

Posted by
590 posts

As others have said there is plenty of hiking options from Murren so I won't go through them.

Because of the weather when we went in May I didn't get to do them but there is a hike up to a castle you can do in Baden-Baden with your free afternoon, and there is a hike you can do to above your lunch stop in Beilstein (you will have to be fairly speedy though for that one).

Posted by
7 posts

Wow - thanks everybody!

We will certainly look into all of these - and try not to plan too much! Love the trail map - that helps a lot. The ropes course looks interesting as well. Has anyone ever done that?

I really appreciate all of your tips and ideas - such a great community to make this travel experience even more unique!

Mary

Posted by
10575 posts

"Ropes course": do you mean the Via Ferrata from Mürren? My husband did that last August and absolutely loved it.

Posted by
7 posts

Pam - your trip looks amazing - thanks for sharing it with us!

Lola - I had seen the Riggli Climbing Garden on the link that you had sent. Is this the same Ropes Course that you are talking about?

Happy New Year Everyone!

Posted by
72 posts

We're considering doing this tour in Fall 2019 so I don't have any advice regarding trails. As far as shoes, for most of my trips I only bring a single pair. I'm a big fan of the ECCO brand, and my current pair is this model in black. They look good enough when polished so they aren't out of place in a city, but they are supportive enough and have lug soles, so they also work very well for light-duty hiking. I'd recommend wearing them at home for a while to break them in before taking them on a trip.

https://us.ecco.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-US-Site/en_US/Product-Variation?pid=001944&dwvar_001944_color=00101

Upon reading these forums I later learned that Rick Steves himself wears these also. My previous pair was an ECCO "Fusion" model that's no longer offered.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for the recommendation Brian - I’ll look into that brand.

WOW Lola!!!! That link looks breathtaking! Did anyone on your trip do any of those ropes courses?

Posted by
10575 posts

I do not understand what you mean by "the ropes course".

The links I provided just above, to the Klettersteir/Via Ferrara at Mürren, show many pictures of the same course. You start in Mürren rental and follow the cables, ladders, bridges, etc. with a guide all the way to Gimmelwald. You wear a harness and helmet, and are clipped in (attached to the cable) the whole way. Once you start, you have to continue to the end.

The Riggli Climbing Garden is something different. It is a climbing area with 24 fixed top ropes where one can rock-climb various pitches with a belay. The location is below the Birg cablecar station on the Schilthorn. Here is their information (in German):

https://muerren.swiss/de/sommer/product/page/klettergarten-riggli-692/

This website lists both as possible adventure activities in the area:

http://www.stechelberg.ch/en/events-experiences/adventure-activities.html

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for the clarification and additional info, Lola.

I was using the words “ropes course” for these activities, because I didn’t know activities like these by any different name. They look really fun!

Posted by
37 posts

Sounds like you are well covered with ideas for the Swiss portion of the trip!

Baden-Baden has many miles of wonderful (and wonderfully marked) trails nearby. For me, the highlight was the 40-odd kilometer long Panoramaweg that encircles the town. It is split into 5 different stages, and each start/end point is accessible by public transit. The sections aren't long (they range from 5 to 11km) so that could be a great option for you.

I walked it over a couple of days and it is one of my favourite European hiking memories:
https://theamblingadventurer.wordpress.com/2017/11/11/hiking-black-forest-baden-baden-panoramaweg/

But do make sure you have time to go to the baths. As much as I loved the hiking, the baths are the true highlight of Baden-Baden!

Posted by
7 posts

We, too, enjoy hiking and found numerous opportunities to do so while on the GAS tour. The Murren hikes were favorites (especially the North Face Trail!) and we were on the trails each day. But we also used our free time to hike in Baden Baden, Salsburg, and Hallstatt.

In Baden Baden we hiked about an hour uphill through part of the Black Forest to the Altes Schloss ruins. Once at the castle, we climbed many flights of stairs to the castle turret.

In Salzburg we walked the Monchsberg Walk from the Hohensalsalzburg Fortress. We stayed in the woods above the city and ended the walk with dinner and beer at the Augustiner Braustubl - a uniquely fun place.

In Hallstatt we took a 2 hour round trip hike to the absolutely breathtaking Waldbachstrub waterfall. On our way back into town we hopped on the funicular, rode it to the top for amazing views of Hallstatt and the lake and then walked down the mountain, back into town.

Lastly, the walk to Neuschwanstein Castle is a 30 minute uphill hike. You'll also want to walk to Mary's Bridge.

All the trails were not overly strenuous and easily walked in athletic shoes. No need for special hiking shoes.

I think that the best piece of advice I would share is to do lots of research about all the cities and towns that you will be visiting so that you have an idea of what options you have for free time activities. Hiking, biking, gardens, concerts, museums, spas, sidewalk cafes, etc. - there are just so many options! Your guide will undoubtedly offer additional ideas. Knowing what's available will help you make good decisions about the best use of your time.

You will LOVE this tour!!!!

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for the continued great advice, Claire and John! I‘m really loving all of these opportunities that we might not otherwise have known about.

We will certainly highlight these areas. The North Face trail definitely looks to be a winner - I think I‘m going to wish were spending a week in Switzerland!

Claire - your pictures are beautiful!!!