Hiking the Zürichsee-Rundweg Trail – Stage 8 Stäfa to Meilen

We are making great progress on our hike-through of the Zürichsee-Rundweg Trail. This past weekend, we completed stage 8 – Stäfa to Meilen.

Starting and ending at small waterfalls in the Risi and Meilen ravines respectively, stage 8 meanders though the southern Pfannenstiel foothills providing beautiful open-views over lake Zürich and of the mountains and calming passage through forest and farmland. The day we hiked was rather foggy, so we could only just make out the outlines of the mountains. Appearing as many delicate layers of gray, they were beautiful in person, but sadly, almost impossible to capture with my camera.

Detail Summary
Where:Stäfa to Meilen, Canton Zürich, Switzerland
Train/Bus:Zürich HB -> Stäfa, Wanne – 41 min
Zürich HB -> Stäfa, Metzg – 35 min
Meilen Bahnhof ->Zürich HB – 16 min
What:Zürichsee-Rundweg Trail – Stage 8 Stäfa to Meilen
Skill:Easy – About 3 hr 10 min
Length 12 km, Ascent 340 m, Descent 380 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 8 starts in Stäfa in the Risi ravin. (To get from the train station to the ravine, we simply followed the yellow trail markers for “Risi”.)

After hiking about 15 minutes from the train station, up to the ravine, we were right back where we were when we left stage 7.

The Trail – Out of the Ravine to Schützenhaus

When we arrived back at the waterfall, we had a choice. We could take the path up the right side of the ravine and rejoin the Zürichsee-Rundweg trail immediately, or we could take the steps up the left side of the ravine and rejoin the path a few hundred meters further along. We decided to take the steps so we could see something new. It didn’t end up being that exciting – just some forest path and that’s about it. A few hundred meters down the path, we rejoined the Zürichsee-Rundweg trail and exited the forest.

After exiting the forest, the view really opened up and we had a great view across the lake in every direction.

After we had been on the trail for just over a kilometer, we came to an area of wide open fields. Here there were a few things to note. First was the water fountain (first picture below). One of the great things about Switzerland is how clean the water is and most water fountains are drinkable water. This one was labeled “Kein Trinkwasser,” meaning it was not drinkable water. The sign above it didn’t explain exactly why the water wasn’t drinkable, but it was interesting. According to legend, this fountain was once used by Saint Verena – the patron saint of Stäfa, but in reality, she was probably never at this location. Considering she was born in the 3rd century in Thebes, Egypt, died in the 4th century in Bad Zurzach, Switzerland and that Wikipedia describes her 13th century followers as a cult, I’m thinking there is lot more to her legend than this sign covers (but that will have to be an information rabbit-hole for another day.)

The second interesting thing we noticed was the shooting range (Schützenhaus in german) up on the hill (second picture above). Looking at the map, it showed us that we were only a few hundred meters from the Stäfa, Schützenhaus Wanne bus stop. If you followed the recommended public transport option from Swissmobility this is where you would have ended stage 7 and where you would then start stage 8. Finally, we couldn’t help but notice the gorgeous view over the lake.

The Trail – Meandering the Pfannenstiel Foothills

For the next 10 kilometers, the trail meanders along the Pfannenstiel foothills. Although perhaps meanders is not always the right word to describe the trail. In fact, at one point the trail was peculiarly, unnaturally, straight, even to the point of building up the trail as a land-bridge to cross a small gully.

Turns out, this is because the trail was following an old tramway line – the Wetzikon- Meilen Bahn, an electric tramway that ran from 1903 to 1950. As for the rest of the trail, meanders was definitely the right word. As we continued the trail, it wound its way through fields and residential areas, and forest.

Another good word for this trail? Panorama. This trail can boast some really outstanding wide-open views of the mountains and lake Zürich. Even on a foggy day, the views were impressive.

The Trail – Castle Ruins and into the Ravine

Just before entering the Meilen ravine, we passed a few beautiful historic half-timber buildings and the ruins of Friedberg Castle. Built in the 13th century, this castle once included a deep well and a moat. Today, only the foundation and the well remain.

After passing the castle ruins, we headed into the forest and down into the ravine.

After the trail passed a small pond on the right, the path back to the train station in Meilen diverged from the Zürichsee-Rundweg trail.

Getting Back

After leaving the Zürichsee-Rundweg trail and crossing the bridge to hike down to the train station, we got a great view of this small double waterfall.

This is where we’ll be picking up the trail again for stage 9. To finish the hike we walked down the ravine path and into the town of Meilen and to the train station – about 15 more minutes. Can’t wait for stage 9!

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