Hiking the Goldauer – Bergsturzspur Loop

The Goldauer – Bergsturzspur Loop (route 828) is an 8km long hike with 540 m elevation change – so not a particularly long hike, but relatively steep. This hike takes you through the Goldau landslide area. On September 2, 1806, after many days of rain, an enormous mass of rock and dirt slid from this hill into the valley where it buried 102 homes under approximately 400 million m3 of debris. The landslide was so large, it even reached the western shore of Lake Lauerz where it caused a flood wave. Overall, 457 people lost their lives in this catastrophe. You can see evidence of the landslide everywhere on this hike. On a much pleasanter note, this area is also a cantonal plant reserve, and home to a number of rare flowers.

Detail Summary
Canton Schwyz, Switzerland
Train/Bus:Zürich HB -> Arth-Goldau – 40 mins
Car:Zürich -> Arth-Goldau – 27 mins
Parking available at the train station.
For navigation, the parking lot address is: Güterstrasse 6, 6410 Goldau
What:Goldauer – Bergsturzspur Loop

Trail Map
Yellow trail markers, route 828
Skill:Medium – About 3 hrs
Length 8 km, Ascent 540 m, Descent 540 m

Getting There

This is a loop hike that starts and ends at the Arth-Goldau train station making it a very easy hike to do by public transportation. If you plan to drive, as we did, there is parking available at the train station.

From the parking lot (picture one), we could see the hill we would be hiking on. To get started, the hike begins with a brief walk through town (picture two).

The Trail – Hiking Up to Bergsturzspur

When the trail leaves town, it starts the up-hill climb. All along the way, there are lovely views of Mount Rigi. And, just as we leave town, we were already seeing evidence of the landslide. Standing in the fields were the unusual tumbled landslide blocks you see in the second picture below.

Very quickly the trail headed into the forest and I was grateful for the shade the trees provided. In the forest, the trail was very steep and it was slow going. We stopped for a drink of water from the fountain by the cabin in the second picture and then stopped again for a rest at a bench with the fabulous view of Mount Rigi (fourth picture).

After leaving the viewpoint, we headed back into the forest and continued the climb up the steep trail. In the forest, the trail wound its way up through huge landslide blocks. As you can see, the blocks aren’t solid rock, and it is easy to imagine how the rain seeped into the rock and soil resulting in such a massive landslide.

This trail only goes about half way up the hill we were hiking on. When we reached an open field (with yet another fantastic view of Mount Rigi), we were just about at the high-point of the hike.

In the field, we had a little trouble following the trail as there was our trail, the Schwyzer Höhenweg  (route 63), and several cow trails. We weren’t always sure which trail was which.

As we weren’t quite sure which was our trail and because we were at the high-point of the hike, we decided to take a break, sit on some of the rocks and have our lunch. What a fantastic view for our picnic!

The Trail – Hiking Back Down to Arth-Goldau

After finishing our lunch, we began the hike down. From our picnic spot, we headed down to the road just below. If we were on a cow path or on the official trail, I’m not sure. But either way, once we were on the road, we were definitely back on the official trail. From there, the trail followed the road passing farms and a fairly large cherry orchard.

When the trail left the road, and headed back into the woods, it again got very steep. Here, too, we passed more of the landslide blocks. This area is a cantonal plant reserve and as we did this hike mid-June, I was hoping that we would get to see some Lady Slipper orchids. Just as I was beginning to think we were too late, I finally spotted the beauty in the second picture below.

The rest of the hike down, looked very similar to the hike up – steep, forested trails with landslide blocks and debris strewn about. All of my pictures of the trail here look so similar, I’m just including one here. When we exited the forest, the trail leveled out and we hiked the rest of the way along the road and into town.

After a short walk through town, we were back at the train station and at the end of the hike. Tired, sweaty, and thirsty, but happy. This was a really nice hike, and definitely one worth trying to do when the Lady Slippers are in bloom (early to mid June).

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