Hike Bannalp

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Bannalp is one of these small quaint mountain top areas that offers the perfect combo of just about everything you can ask for when you hike in Switzerland.

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And when I say everything, I really mean super sick views! The photos above are what it looks like on a sunny day. The lake water is an amazing shade of glacier green.

This is a hidden gem, for me at least, because I have been living 15 minutes away for a total of over 5 years of my life (do I get a little break because they weren’t all consecutive?). You drive through one of my favorite enchanted swiss valleys on the way there, a short 7 minutes from the main highway connecting North and South. It is the route to Engleberg, a quintessentially-Swiss mountain village tucked into the alps. Oberrickenbach is even smaller and more authentic because its still a secret to tourist. Just before you start to make the climb in altitued and swerve around all those nausea inducing switchbacks, you take a left in Wolfenschiessen (translated as wolf shooting) and make the climb into the little tiny (farmer town) of Oberrickenbach. By the way on your way out, do not pass the Gasthaus Post Restaurant (Dorfstrasse 4 6387 Oberrickenbach) with out stopping for fondue. It really is the best place to share a pot of flavored cheese with a friend, or many!

PROPER DIRECTiONS anreise_klein

There are 3 gondolas up to the top of the cliff that forms a wall at the end of the valley, theres really no way to miss them because the road just ends. Take your pick of trails and decide which is a most strategic landing spot and then off you go. Warning: The gondolas up to Bannalp are private, translation: they do not offer a halbtax discount. I think its kind of expensive, but if you have a few hours to spend hiking take a one way and hike down- it saves a little money and is good for you!

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A few weeks ago we picked one such route and promised a friend with kids who was going with us that this was a “gentle decent” and that her double knee replacement should be no worries. That was before we accidentally left the map at the bottom of the gondola station and decided we could figure it out. I had been there for a short hike before and there aren’t a whole lot of choices so I felt pretty confident.

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We did the circle around the lake for a warm up and took some beautiful photos of the moody clouds that were so inconsiderately blocking our views, when Sparticus serendipitously ran across  a discarded map along the trail, and confidently proceeded to guide the way.

I wonder if you can tell where this story is headed yet? (Yes I blame him). We found our self headed down hill, as in a pretty steep downward mountain trail that was wet and extremely EXTREMELY muddy.

I have never seen a swiss trail in such bad shape. There were workers on it trying to make repairs while we struggled to stay upright and dry. There were a few times when I had to tell my self to “pick up those feet soldier” because I was going to sink in the mud if not, and more than once I felt like I was stepping out of my shoes that were cemented into the mud- squish squash squish squash.

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The boys loved it and scampered ahead of us, occasionally slipping in the mud to see how dirty they could get. It didn’t take long (about 2 minutes in) for me to start voicing my concerns about the direction and our guide. He was not appreciative about this line of questioning and threw the map back in my direction landing in the wet mud. But determined- I fished it out and of course- I WAS RIGHT. We were not on the path we had planned and instead on a treacherous steep path that weaved around the shady side of the mountain range.

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Too far gone, we pressed on, and on, and on. We were mostly happy little hikers because the weather was cool, and we had no rain and lots of friends to keep us entertained. AND THE VIEWS!!!

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At least hiking through the shady muddy wet forest did provide for some moss love.

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I have to make a few confessions, I have not been working out at the gym (or elsewhere ) in months. Work and home life are consuming. I was incredibly sore after that hike. I can not say that it’s only from being out of shape. I think that the trail was in such bad shape, my muscles must have had to compensate more than normal to just keep from sliding down the mountain. My friend who did the hike with us also complained about the pain for days after, thats my story and I am sticking to it!

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No pain no gain. I will be back after snow season to check out the “right trail”.

Mountain Playgrounds perfect for some fun and relaxation.

Near our house there are a few great mountain playgrounds with nearby restaurants and scenic hiking paths. All are accessible by public transportation, however if you prefer to take the car you can park at the lifts. A few on this list can even be reached with-out the gondola, just park your car nearby the playground and walk.

Our top 2 favorites are with in about 10-15 minutes from our flat in Ennetburgen.

Stockhutte– -is open from 8:30 to 12:00 / 13.00 – 17.30 clock / descent from Stockhütte 12.50 clock
Weekend-continuous operation.

buy a Gondola ticket:

  • adults are 18 chf- with 1/2 tax 9chf
  • kids are 9 chf -with Junior Card Free

We love stockhutte for many reasons, it’s close to our house, we enjoy renting the trotti-bikes, they have great walking paths, the kids can spend hours on the playground, and they have a large enclosed rabbit pin where you can go inside and play with the bunnies.

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TIP: If you aren’t from around here you and the kids might love trying some of our favorite Swiss soda’s. Try a Rivella- Blue or Red are the kids favorites (you don’t want to know what its made from), Beckenried’s Orangemost (orange soda made in a nearby village), and Apelshorle is my favorite because it’s made with real apple juice and is not terribly sweet. 

Wirzweli-is open from 7:40 until 6:20 and cable cars run every 20 minutes.

Buy a Gondola ticket:

  • adults are 18 chf- with 1/2 tax 9chf
  • kids are 9 chf -with Junior Card Free

playground

 Wirzweli has a fun playground with a large “tree” house, a pine cone slide contraption, teeter-toters and slides and all the normal trappings of a good playground, I wrote about it here. There are large grilling areas if you prefer to picnic and a restaurant if not.

  TIP: The ice-cream sundae’s at the restaurant are delicious and the kids are probably satisfied playing while you watch them from the deck of the restaurant. Lucky for me, my kids usually prefer a popsicle which is far less expensive. 

*also note -May 23  the lift and Playground open for the season (prior to that you can take a bus up to the restaurant and walking trails) There are usually plenty of parking places near the gondola and if you take the train there is a shuttle from the station to the gondola, or enjoy a short walk.

 

Three more favorites are with in about 15-25 minutes from our flat in Ennetburgen.

Seelisburg– is open from 8:30 until 6:30 during warm weather.

Seelisburg can be reached by car, or bus from the stans train station. It is a senic drive. Lake Seelisberg is between the mountains and is filled with stunning turquoise water. There is a playground, BBQ place, Kiosk, Beach Volleyball and toilets. You can rent deck chairs and rowboats. There is also a Camping site which you can use if you decide to stay:). I think there is a small entrance fee of about 4.50 vhf adults and a few franks for kids, they also have a family deal that with 2 paying adults and kids are free.

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Bruni– is open from 8:00 am until 6:00 pm may 24- Oct. 19, and from Oct 19-Nov 23 8:20am -5:00 pm- cable cars run every 20 minutes. Park in the large lot in Engleburg next to the Gondola, or take the train to Engleburg and walk or bus to gondola.

Buy a Gondola ticket:

  • adults are 18 chf- with 1/2 tax 9chf
  • kids are 9 chf -with Junior Card Free

trampolin at bruni

climbing wall at bruni

There are lots of kid oriented activities at Bruni other than just the playground. I wrote about it here. My family loves the summer time toboggan run that reaches speeds of 40 km per hour and is 660 meters long. Click on the link for pricing and details.

Spielplatz Grotzenwäldli– is open from 7:40 until 6:20 . The snow is usually melted by May and thru October.

Getting there:
Spielplatz Grotzenwäldli
Horbisstrasse
6390 Engelberg
Tel. 041 637 15 58
There is some parking near by, but limited and be prepared to walk.  If you decide to take the senic train ride to Engleburg you can ask their about public transportation options, or enjoy the easy walk up to the park, roads are not usually high traffic and on a nice day the mountain views are stunning.

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The Park is one of the more unique and delightful in the area, I wrote more about it here. It’s kiddie heaven! Lots of room for playing, with a little lake to navigate rafts on (rafts are provided-just borrow from the dock- no fee), suspension bridges to cross, towers to climb… There are grill pits for those who want to still the hunger they’ve worked up being outdoors. This playground has a lot to offer, and the kids are sure to love it!

Tip : Pack a swimsuit in the summer necessarily (or change clothes ) a , because only about 50 cm deep lake will your kids guaranteed to dropped fountains entice .

* also note: The Robinson playground Grotzenwäldli is privately maintained and exemplary maintained. The necessary expenditure is financed by donations. It is therefore requested to make a small contribution in the respective point for the barbecue wood used .

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TIP: Its also worth noting the the senic train that runs between Luzern and Engelburg offers a kids “scavenger hunt” promotion from June- October. You simply have to pick up a form (available at the train station, before boarding the train) and fill in the answers along the way. You only have to have a handful of answers correct to redeem the prize and it applies to trips taken originating in Luzern, Hergiswill, Stans, Dallenwill and other stops along the way. The prize last year was a treasure chest filled with lots of goodies from stickers to chocolates!