Stage 23 of the Trans Swiss trail is 13 km long with 720 m ascent and 120 m descent and goes from Andermatt to Passo del San Gottardo (top of the Gotthard Pass). Over the October break, we planned to hike both this stage and the next stage so that we could get over the Gotthard pass before winter weather sets it. When I made the plan, the weather report said clear skies. However, the weather in the mountains can change fast and when we set out to hike, it was already overcast and by the time we reached the top of the pass, we were completely clouded in. Because we weren’t able to see much of the end of the hike, when we went back a week and a half later to do the next stage, we decided to re-hike the last two km of this stage to see what we had missed. I’m so glad we did, the top of the pass is absolutely beautiful!
| Andermatt to Passo del San Gottardo
Canton Uri and Canton Ticino, Switzerland
| Zürich HB -> Andermatt – 2 hr 3 min
Passo del San Gottardo (Gotthard Passhöhe) -> Zürich HB – 2 hr 33 min
Note: Bus service is seasonal. Bus service was still available on October 8th when we did this hike but when we came back on October 19 service had ended for the season. Taxi service (we used Taxi Christian Fry) from Andermatt to the pass was available (Andermatt train station to Passhohe cost about 60 CHF).
| Trans Swiss Trail – Stage 23 – Andermatt to Passo del San Gottardo
Red and white trail markers – Trans Swiss Trail Route 2
Note: Snowfields possible into summer months on high-level sections. The Andermatt website includes a snow report.
| Medium – About 4 hrs
Length 13 km, Ascent 720 m, Descent 120 m
|Stage 1 – Porrentruy to St-Ursanne
Stage 2 – St-Ursanne to Soubey
Stage 3 – Soubey to Saignelégier
Stage 4 – Saignelégier to St-Imier
Stage 5 – St-Imier to Chézard-St-Martin
Stage 6 – Chézard-St-Martin to Neuchâtel
Stage 7 – Neuchâtel to Murten
Stage 8 – Murten to Laupen
Stage 9 – Laupen to Bern
Stage 10 – Bern to Worb
Stage 11 – Worb to Lützelflüh
Stage 12 – Lützelflüh to Langnau i.E.
Stage 13 – Langnau i.E. to Eggiwil
Stage 14 – Eggiwil to Schangnau
Stage 15 – Schangnau to Sörenberg
Stage 16 – Sörenberg to Giswil
Stage 17 – Giswil to Flüeli-Ranft
Stage18 – Flüeli-Ranft to Stans
Stage 19 – Stans to Seelisberg
Stage 20 – Seelisberg to Erstfeld
Stage 21 – Erstfeld to Wassen
Stage 22 – Wassen to Andermatt
Stage 23 – Andermatt to Passo del San Gottardo
Stage 24 – Passo del San Gottardo to Airolo
Stage 25 – Airolo to Osco
Stage 26 – Osco to Anzonico
Stage 27 – Anzonico to Biasca
Stage 28 – Biasca to Bellinzona
Stage 29 – Bellinzona to Tesserete
Stage 30 – Tesserete to Lugano (Comano)
Stage 31 – Lugano (Paradiso) to Morcote
Stage 32 – Morcote to Mendriso
The Trans Swiss Trail is best done with public transportation as each stage starts and ends at different points. Stage 23 picks up right where stage 22 left off, at the Andermatt train station.
After a brief walk though town, we were on our way.
The trail starts out fairly flat, even overlooking a golf course. As it was October, we also got to enjoy some bright Autumn colors along the way.
As we continued towards Hospental, the trail followed along the Reuss river.
After we passed Hospental, we began the real ascent of the trail following alongside the road and the Gotthard-Reuss river as we made our way towards the top of the pass.
In the second picture is a an air vent for the tunnel below. Google gives it 4.5 stars. As air vents go, I suppose it is pretty great. The last picture is a look back down the valley just before we cross from Canton Uri into Canton Ticino. Very dramatic.
As we got closer to the top of the pass, the weather started to get bad, with a bit of rain and sleet, but we still had enough visibility to see some of the windmills ahead.
That didn’t last long. For the last 2 kilometers or so, we were right in the center of cloud, barely able to see anything.
It was a bit nerve-wracking hiking with such low visibility. Even the statues we saw looked creepy.
My original plan had been to continue on with stage 24 hiking down to Airolo, doing both stages 23 and 24 in one day. With this weather, though? That would have been a terrible idea and so when we reached bus stop at Passo del San Gottardo and the end of stage 23, we called it a day. I was disappointed, but it really was best to end our hike and take the bus down from the pass.
We were heading to Sardinia for the rest of the week, so I didn’t think we would get back to hiking this trail anytime soon. I was so hoping to get through the pass before winter weather set in. Luckily, shortly after we returned from our trip to Sardinia, the weather was perfect and we went back.
Re-hiking the Last 2 km
The bus to Passo del San Gottardo is seasonal and by mid-October it had already stopped running. Rather than completely re-hiking stage 23 and then hiking stage 24, we got a taxi from Andermatt (60 CHF) up to the top of the pass. From there, we hiked the last 2 km of of stage 23 to see what we had missed.
After getting some photos, and having a picnic lunch up on the rocks overlooking the lake and hotels, we continued on with stage 24. I’m glad we came back to see this part of the trail in better weather, the views were fantastic!