August 1st marks Swiss National Day; the day a pact was formed between representatives of Uri, Schwyz and Nidwalden. Little did these men know that their alliance to defend against the Habsburgs would be the birth of a nation whereby the cantons still stand together 723 years later.
Much of early Swiss history is legend. This story goes that on August 1, 1291 representatives of the three republics met in secret at a meadow slightly up the hill from Lake Uri. They signed the Rutli Oath and declared, “We want to be a band of brothers, sticking together through thick and thin!”
The Swiss Path
I recently packed my backpack and embarked on the Swiss Path with my family. This 35 kilometer hiking trail along the southern banks of Lake Luzern (also known as Lake Uri, or the Four Cantons Lake) was built to mark the 700th anniversary of Switzerland. The highlights include:
- the Rutli Meadow, where the uniting pact was signed;
- the Tellskapell where William Tell is said to have escaped his captures and later to have killed the tyrannical governor;
- the Haus zur Treib, first mentioned in 1482 where the five-canton confederation would meet;
- the village of Bauen, the birthplace of Father Zwyssig, the composer of the national anthem;
- the Federal Chapel in Brunnen, where in 1315 the original cantons renewed their contract to defend against foreign influence;
- the largest carillon in Swizerland
Hiking the Trail : My recommendations
My husband and I had big plans for this hike. Unfortunately one of our teenagers didn’t so we saw much less than we had hoped. Having said that what we did see was absolutely gorgeous.
Bellow I have listed what we did and a few alternatives that looked good. But first download the English brochure “The Swiss Path” from the Luzerne webpage so it all makes sense. For topo maps (which are not necessary) you can click here from the Wanderland webpage. The Swiss Path is trail #99.
- Traveling to and from Geneva, go by train and boat. We had a day pass that allowed us to use the trains and boats at a fixed price. Check out my blog on Swiss Train Specials. During subsequent days on the lake, it is cheaper to pay for the boat as you use it.
- If you are a Swiss history buff, make the effort to see the Rutli Meadow. The boat does not come here often so check the schedule. From Rutli we hiked on to Bauen where we spent the night. This was a three hour hike: 60 minutes up, several kilometers long with stunning views of the lake and a 30 minute steep descent. I have to admit that with at least 10 kilos of extra weight on my back, my legs were shaking by the time we reached our hotel. An alternative to the steep hike up is walking to Treib where there is another boat stop and a funicular going up the mountain to Seelisberg.
- On our second day, I would like to have walked to Isleten. The hike is flat and much of it is dug into the side of the mountain so it is an open tunnel. At a distance it looked very cool. From Isleten, one can take the boat across the lake or continue walking.
- We took the boat across the lake to Tellskapelle. I am sure that in the summer this area is packed but we were there in April and we saw only one other couple. Above the Tellskapelle is the largest Carillon (bell tower) in Switzerland. If you are there at the top of the hour you can choose the songs it plays for the next 10 minutes.
- The hike on to Sisikon was nice, though you do get close to a highway for about ten minutes. The weather started to turn dark so from there we hopped on a boat to Brunnen.
- Extra time? Check out Schyz, the capital of Schyz.
As much as I had wanted to hike the entire 35 kilometer trail, I am happily satisfied with our trip of three days and two nights. We briefly walked around Luzern before catching our train home. Cortney, a regular blogger for Living in Geneva, recently spent a long weekend there. Click here to read about her highlights of the city.
We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/