A stop in the Stoos – Mountains, Cows, Coffee, Oh My!
I knew I made the right choice as soon as I landed and was being transported to my Airbnb on a cloudless sunny day. My flat was located downtown, so I got to experience a rich vibrancy that my jet lag could not minimize.
With a place like Zurich, you could really dedicate weeks tothe city and the surrounding areas. I knew I wanted a day in the mountains, so I had to do some research. I didn't have a boatload of time the day I landed, so I took a train to Konstanz, Germany for the day, after being redirected by a local from my original destination, Rhein am Stein. That same local blessed me with some insight on Stoos.
Although not in the heart of the steepest mountains, Stoos offers a wonderful taste of mountains, water and small-town Swiss culture. Stoos sounded perfect. No cars allowed, cows with bells on their necks, beautiful hiking trails and one of Europe’s steepest trams? I’m in.
The Swiss tram and train system are second to none. I was completely foreign to it and had no cellphone, but was able to efficiently and independently navigate myself to Stoos.
There was a tram stop right outside my flat where I caught the “10” and rode 15 minutes to Zurich Main Train Station. From there I hopped aboard the “IR70” toward “Luzern” and arrived at “Zug”. From there I caught the “S2” towards “Erstfeld” and arrived at “Schwyz”. It sounds complicated. I swear it's not.
Schwyz is an amazing town, but the journey does not stop there. A free bus line runs from the train station that would take to “Schwyz/Schlatti-Stoos.” You get beautiful views of the towns and country side. The surrounding mountains are incredible.
Finally, you arrive at the “Funicular.” This one, is the steepest in the world.
You can purchase a day pass for the funicular and surrounding trams in the mountains for roughly $40 USD. This is worth it as it offers you access to the surrounding peaks and gives you aerial views that you could not get anywhere else.
If you only have a day, which was the case for me, the trams get you to the higher elevations in a reasonable amount of time so that you could focus hiking in the alpine ridgelines.
This hike ran the ridgeline from Klingenstock to Fronalpstock. There is cable car access on both ends to Stoos so no out-and-back hiking is necessary. The hike is roughly 5 kilometers with plenty of elevation and can be completed in 2.5 hours.
Immediately when you start hiking you are guaranteed some up close and personal encounters with the famous “Swiss Cows.” The surrounding alpine meadows are a symphony of bells throughout the entire trek. It is amazing.
The trail itself is very well marked and not crowded whatsoever. The path is mostly smooth with some areas of rocky or steep outcroppings. Some more technical areas have rope/chain handlebars.
It is best to hike towards Fronalpstock as the views become even more astounding in that direction. What starts as a commanding ridgeline views, culminates into vast expanses of blue water that surround and contrast the sharp green mountains. Have your camera ready.
A medium effort is required to complete this hike. Bring a liter of water and a snack, or a small lunch to enjoy at one of the many seating areas that overlook the valley.
Also, Fronalpstock has a café at the top before you ride down and you can’t miss the fun gift shop before your return trip down the funicular.
At the base of the funicular, you ride the bus that runs back to the Schwyz train station where you catch the return trains to “Zug” and then “Zurich Main Station”. I had time and took an extra stop at Lucerne where I walked around the beautifully constructed streets. I recommend this if you have time, as it offers amazing perspectives from all sides of the lake.
I thought this hike made a picturesque day trip. It is just enough to get a good sweat in, and not have any additional worries regarding a lack of daylight. If you are strapped for time, or on a stopover or layover while traveling overseas, and want to experience the mountains, then Stoos should be the next stop for you.