Hiking the 5-Seen-Wanderung at Pizol + Mountain Carts

The very popular Pizol 5-Seen-Wanderung (or 5-lakes Hike) is an absurdly beautiful trail with gorgeous lakes and amazing expansive panoramas. Regardless of the exact numbers (one source says it is 11k with 553 ascent and 911 m descent and another says 10k with 640 m ascent and 1000 m descent), this is a reasonably challenging hike with a lot of steep ascents and descents, and I certainly felt it the next day. Still, absolutely worth it – the Wildsee (picture above) was one of the most stunning views I’ve ever seen.

Detail Summary
Location:Wangs-Pizol (Pizolhütte)–Wangs-Pizol (Gaffia)
Valley Station Wangs, Pizolstrasse, Wangs, Canton St. Gallen  Switzerland
Zurich HB -> Wangs, Pizolbahn – 1 hr 10 min

Car:Zurich – > Wangs, Pizolbahn – 1 hr
What:5-Seen-Wanderung (or 5-lakes Hike)

Red and White Mountain trail
Part 1 to the first lake – Pizolhütte – Wangersee – Pizolhütte
Part 2 to the second through fifth lakes: Pizolhütte – Wildseelugge/Wildsee – Schottensee – Schwarzsee – Baschalvasee – Gaffia

Part 2 will also sometimes be labeled “5-Seen-Wanderung.”
Skill: Hard – About 4 hr 30 min 

I wasn’t able to track the distance/elevation change myself but one source says it is 11k with 553 ascent and 911 m decent and another says 10k with 640 m ascent and 1000 m descent.
Cost 2021: 5-Seen-Wanderung Hiking ticket
Adult/46 CHF, Child/23 CHF

SBB Halbtax/ 23 CHF
Mountain Carts:Cost one ride: Adult/13 CHF, Child/10 CHF

You can purchase the Mountain car ticket at the top of the Gaffia chair lift.

Additional Info

Getting There

To get to this trail we took the train to Sargans and then a bus to the Pizol Bahn in Wangs. If you drive here, there is a large parking lot at the Pizol Bahn. For our hike we purchased the 5-Seen-Wanderung hiking ticket that includes the gondola ride up to Furt, the chairlift to Gaffia, and the second chairlift up to Pizolhütt, where the hike starts. The hike ends at the top of the Gaffia chairlift and this ticket also includes the return ride on the Gaffia chairlift to Furt, and the gondola from Furt to the parking lot. This is a very popular hike, and when we arrived at the gondola base station, there was a very long line to buy tickets. If you can, I recommend buying your tickets on-line before going.

After riding up the gondola and the two chair lifts we were at the Pizolhütt and the start of the hike.

Hiking the 5-Seenwanderweg (5-Lakes Trail)

The first part of the 5-Seenwanderweg trail goes to the Wangsersee lake and then returns back to the Pizolhütt before heading to the other four lakes. It is strongly recommended that you not start this hike after 11:00 am to ensure you get back in time to catch the chairlift down. As it was already 10:50 am and I’m a slow hiker, we opted to skip the first lake. Perhaps, we’ll go back and do it another time. The next lake is the Wildsee. The hike to the Wildsee starts with a fairly steep ascent, and some gorgeous panorama views. As I mentioned, this is a very popular hike. If you take a close look at the first picture in the bottom row, you can see the steady stream of people making their way up the trail. This trail is about the spectacular scenery and not about getting away from it all.

The last picture above shows a look back at the Pizolhütt before cresting the ridge. If you look closely, you can see the Wangersee lake just beyond it. After cresting the ridge, we came to the mind-meltingly gorgeous Wildsee. My son Max, who normally does not take pictures on hikes, couldn’t resist and took these three great photos. The trail here stays quite a bit above the lake. This was nice as it made it possible to get at least one picture of the lake without the crowds.

After passing the Wildsee, with one look back at it over the residual snow, we then turned and looked down to see the next lake, the Schottensee.

Unlike the Wildsee, you can hike down to the shore of the Schottensee. There were quite a few people here taking quick jumps into the lake, yelping about how cold it was, and then hopping right back out. We were content to just admire the turquoise water from dry land.

I have to also thank Max for the picture above. He really captured these two lakes better than I did. After leaving the Schottensee, we passed a small pond that is not one of the lakes on the hike, and saw lots of grazing sheep. The Pizol website mentioned that guard dogs are on site here to guard the sheep. Guard dogs do their job, so while they generally do not react to hikers, you are warned not to leave the hiking trail. After passing the sheep, it was time for another steep climb.

About half-way up we got a good look back with a peek at the jewel-like blue Wildsee and Schottensee lakes. When we reached the top, we rested a bit and took in the panorama views.

From there, it was another steep descent down to the next lake, the Schwarzsee. The color of this lake was a dark almost black green. Very beautiful but in a completely different way from the bright turquoise Wildsee and Schottensee. We saw a couple of swimmers here too, but like the swimmers at the Schottensee, I don’t think anyone stayed in the water for more than a second.

From the Schwarzsee, we had another steep climb ahead of us. Fortunately, there were also some lovely views.

When we reached the top, there was an extensive rock garden with many rock piles. And, of course, marvelous panorama views in every direction.

From here, we began the decent, but first we passed the final lake – the Baschalva. There was a swimmer in this lake, too. But, considering that the cows were also in the lake treating it as both pool and toilet (as cows do), it was the least appealing lake for a swim.

And now the final descent to the Gaffia station. This part of the hike was steep enough to be quite hard on my knees and toes. I was very glad to have my hiking sticks for this section.

I was running out of battery, so I only took a few pictures. You can see the Gaffia station, aka the end point of the hike, in the picture above. We were a bit sunburned and exhausted but happy when we reached the end.

Mountain Cart Ride

We were tired and considered just taking the chairlift down, but we couldn’t resist doing a mountain cart ride down instead. At the Gaffia station we purchased tickets for the mountain carts, got outfitted with helmets and carts, and then we were off!

The mountain cart track is a 2 km long, extremely bumpy dirt path with many hairpin turns. It was a lot of fun, but I prefer the mountain cart path at Elm. At the bottom of the path, we returned our carts at the Gaffia chairlift and then took the gondola back down to Wangs. There, we got our bus back to the train station and our train home.

The 5-Seen-Wanderung is a spectacular hike, and as it so close and easy to reach from Zürich (just 1 hr 10 min by public transportation) it is no wonder it is so popular. If you’ve got the physical fitness for this trail, and you don’t mind the crowds, the 5-Seen-Wanderung is, in my opinion, a must-do hike.

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