Hiking the Zürichsee-Rundweg Trail – Stage 5 Pfäffikon to Schmerikon

Woohoo! We made it through stage 5 of the Zürichsee-Rundweg Trail and we are now at the half-way point. At 23 km, this stage was a bit of challenge and while it wasn’t my favorite stage so far, it was still pretty fun. Like every stage, stage 5 too had its charms.

Detail Summary
Where:Pfäffikon to Schmerikon, Canton Schwyz and Canton St. Gallen, Switzerland
Train:Zürich HB -> Pfäffikon – 35 min
Schmerikon -> Zürich HB – 47 min
What:Zürichsee-Rundweg Trail Stage 5 – Pfäffikon to Schmerikon
Skill:Medium – About 6 hr
Length 23 km, Ascent 420 m, Descent 400 m

Additional Info

Photo Stories for All Stages
The Zürichsee-Rundweg is a ten stage trail that starts and ends in Zürich, Bürkliplatz and makes a complete loop around lake Zürich (including the Obersee). Photo stories for each stage here:
Stage 1 – Zürich, Bürkliplatz–Adliswil
Stage 2 – Adliswil–Horgen
Stage 3 – Horgen–Richterswil
Stage 4 – Richterswil–Pfäffikon SZ
Stage 5 – Pfäffikon SZ–Schmerikon
Stage 6 – Schmerikon–Rapperswil SG
Stage 7 – Rapperswil SG–Stäfa
Stage 8 – Stäfa–Meilen
Stage 9 – Meilen–Küsnacht ZH
Stage 10 – Küsnacht ZH–Zürich, Bürkliplatz

Getting There

The Zürichsee-Rundweg trail is best done with public transportation as each stage starts and ends at different points. Stage 5 starts at the Pfäffikon train station, about a 35 min ride from Zürich HB. After arriving at the train station, we were right back to were we left the trail at the end of stage 4. 

The Trail – Pfäffikon to Lachen

The first six kilometers of this hike took us from the train station at Pfäffikon to the town of Lachen. This part of the hike passed through residential and industrial areas often paralleling the train tracks. While this part of the trail offered some variety, it wasn’t a particularly pretty or interesting section of the hike.

That said, the town of Lachen does have a lovely church and marina.

At 23 kilometers, stage 5 is the longest stage of the trail. If you wanted to break stage 5 into two hikes, even though it makes for one very short hike (Pfäffikon to Lachen is only 6 kilometers) and one reasonably long hike (the remaining 17 kilometers to Schmerikon), Lachen is the logical break point given the public transport options.

The Trail – Past an Airport, Wetlands, and Fields

After leaving the town of Lachen, the trail heads across fields and wetlands and passes by the Lachen-Wangen airport (German only website).

We did this hike in October and I really loved seeing all the Autumn crocuses that were blooming. The fields were covered in pink flowers.

We were now about 10 kilometers into the hike so when we came to a couple of benches on the other side of this field, we took a picnic break and ate our lunch.

The Trial – Over the Hill and through the Woods

After our lunch break, the trail headed inland and up a small hill for the first bit of elevation change. Going up the hill, we passed a couple of vineyards and as we rounded the hill, we were treated to a beautiful view of Golfpark Zürichsee (German only website).

As we continued our way to Schmerikon, the path took us through the woods, where it temporarily joined a fitness trail before heading out again into open fields.

After enjoying the sun for a bit, we continued on the trail back into the woods.

As we hiked, we got an occasional peek at the lake and another open view of the mountains. We also passed an entrance to one of the many military bunkers found here.

The Trail – Along the Canal and around to Schmerikon

When the trail exited the forest for good, we came to Grynau Castle – the 13th century castle tower located on the Linth canal. We had previously seen this castle when rafting, so it was fun to see both the castle and the canal again from a new perspective.

From here, the trail heads along the Linth canal towards the Obersee. Along with the Linth, there is another smaller canal (Steinenbach) that also flows into the Obersee here along with the Aabach stream. After hiking along the Linth canal for a short way, we crossed over the Steinenbach canal on a metal pedestrian bridge and then over the Aabach stream through a cute wooden covered bridge.

The final stretch of the trail parallels the Aabach stream before heading into the town of Schmerikon.

Getting Back

Stage 5 ends at the Schmerikon train station right on the shore of the Obersee.

Stage 5 was a long hike which took us just under six hours to complete. Looking forward to stage 6, which at only 11 kilometers and 70 meters of elevation gain, promises to be a much easier walk.

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