Etzel Kulm loop hike

A short loop trail to a beautiful viewpoint over Lake Zürich and Swiss countryside with a restaurant and playground with panorama views.

I’ve wanted to climb to Etzel Kulm for awhile but the official hike is a long tough climb that I’ve been avoiding. Happily I figured out a shortcut so my son would join me and not complain. We simply drove to the pass, parked on the side of the road and started the short 1 km hike to the top. Then an easy loop back to our starting point.

At the top, you get beautiful views over Zürich lake and over the green rolling countryside towards Einsiedeln. There’s a restaurant at the top that is re-opening 11 May 2020, with distancing measures. There’s a big playground with a view and lots of rooms to spread out. A fun little outing close to Zürich.  

Location:   Zürich Region
Address: Etzel Pass, Einsiedeln
Car: 30 mins from Zurich to Etzel Pass
Train: 45 from Zürich HB to Feusisberg, Gemeindehaus
   
Trail: 3 km by car, 5 km by public transport
Elevation: highest point 1068m
Condition: narrow dirt paths, no strollers
Skill: moderate, 150m up/down
Open: year around, weather dependent
best late April through October
Cost: free
Services: restaurants, playground, picnic area with fire pit
More info: www.etzelkulm.ch

Trail Map Overview

This trail is southwest of Zürich, in the hills between Einsiedeln and Thalwil. We drove to the Etzelpass, parked our car on the side of the road and hiked to Etzel Kulm, the highest point in this area. Then we hiked down the other side of the peak and looped back around the mountain returning to our starting point.

The trail is short, about 3km, gaining about 150m to the top. The path is not difficult but it’s lumpy with rocks, not suitable for strollers or bikes.

By public transport: Since there is no bus service to the Etzel Pass, you would need to do a different trail altogether. I recommend starting in Feusisberg, Gemeindehaus, hiking up to Etzel Kulm. Then hike down the other side and end at  at the Pfäffikon SZ, Abzw. Etzelpass bus stop. These bus stops are serviced by bus 190 that connects Schindellegi and Pfäffikon SZ. It runs hourly, so the check the schedule carefully before heading out.

Longer option: This path is part of the Zürisee Rundweg – Stage 4: Richterswil–Pfäffikon SZ, which is 17 km starting and ending on the shores of lake Zürich.

Getting There

Since the Etzelpass is only accessible by car, I’ve given those instructions below. See the alternate trail above for those using public transport.

By car: Drive to the Etzelpass (Etzel 12, 8847 Egg SZ). There is a larger parking lot next to the St Meinrad restaurant, but that is for customers only. So park on the side of the road just below the pass, as shown here.

There’s room for about 10 cars. I suppose you could park on the side farther down the road, but don’t count on it. It was quiet when we went. But I suspect parking is a problem here on busy days. 

 

Starting the trail

Follow signs to Etzel Kulm, starting on the paved road that goes behind the farmhouse on the street.

Here is the paved road lead towards the forest, with the farm on your left.

At the fork, stay right to go up to the top, following the sign to Etzel Kulm. You’ll return on the trail to your left.

The trail gets steeper once you reach the forest. You’ll gain about 140m over 700m. So it takes effort but it’s not long and there are switchbacks to make it easier. There are some rocky portions with some stairs as shown below.

There is a little detour showing where stone has been quarried for the renovation of the Einsiedeln Kloster. There are some cool rock formations there.

At the top at Etzel Kulm

When you reach the top, you’ll break out of the forest and have views on both sides of the peak.

You can see Zürich lake to the east.

You can see Sihlsee to the west.

There is the Etzel Kulm restaurant with lots of outdoor seating. The restaurant opens again 11 May 2020. You cannot picnic at these tables, but there is a picnic area later on the trail.

There is a nice playground with a view.

Hike back down

Walk past the restaurant on the dirt road.

After a few minutes the trail will fork to your left.

Follow the green 84 trail towards Wollerau for now. We’ll turn left in a bit to loop back to our starting point.

The trail descends through the forest and gets a bit steep for a few minutes, but not too difficult.

Eventually the trail breaks out of the forest again to some lovely grassy fields.

Looking back at the forest we just exited.

Amazing views from here.

Detour to picnic area

When you reach the junction, you’ll see a picnic area to your right. There is a table with benches and a grill. But I didn’t see any firewood. There’s lots of wood, but there are signs saying it’s privately owned and you can’t use it. You’ll have to gather loose wood in the forest.

View from the picnic area.

Looping back to your car

To loop back to your car, go back to the junction on your left and follow the path back around the mountain.

Follow signs to St. Meinrad, which is where you parked your car.

You’ll pass a couple benches with a fire pit.

Those buildings in the foreground are where you started.

Eventually you’ll join the trail where you started.

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4 Responses

  1. What a beautiful hike and so close to Zurich! We are so grateful for your site. You have helped us create many wonderful memories here in Switzerland!

    1. Thank you for coming back here to leave this nice comment, really appreciated!

  2. Thanks for the adjusted trail! My husband and I did this yesterday. It was just enough to break a sweat but not too much on my knee (been having problems lately…) Thanks for all the resources – it’s nice to see all the details and pictures. We don’t have kids but we still appreciate the details about the trails so that we can understand how easy/hard it is. Hope all is well during this weird time!

    1. So glad you enjoyed it! Lots of people without kids use the blog, that’s one reason I changed my name from Moms Tots Zürich to Swiss Family Fun, to include every family no matter what it looks like. Wishing you many more happy adventures.

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Hi! I’m Tanya and our family has been living & hiking in Switzerland since 2005, collecting dozens of fun hikes and activities for all ages and abilities. More about us…

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