Hiking the Trans Swiss Trail – Stage 20 Seelisberg to Erstfeld

Stage 20 of the Trans Swiss trail is 24 km long with 300 m ascent and 620 m descent and goes from Seelisberg to Erstfeld. This stage was long but varied and very beautiful. Stunning views of the lake from above and then after a steep descent on many many stairs, stunning views from shore. When we reached the end of the lake, the hike continued alongside the Reuss river which was really lovely as well. My only complaint about this section was that getting to the start from where we live was a bit of pain as it took two trains, a bus a ferry, and a funicular and then another bus or a ten minute walk. Worth it though.

Detail Summary
Where:Seelisberg to Erstfeld
Canton Uri, Switzerland
Train/Bus: Zürich HB -> Seelisberg, Dorf – 2 hr 33 min

Erstfeld -> Zürich HB – 1 hr 25 min
What: Trans Swiss Trail – Stage 20 – Seelisberg to Erstfeld
Yellow trail markers Red and White- Trans Swiss Trail Route 2
One section is a red and white mountain trail
Skill: Medium – About 6 hrs 10 min
Length 24 km, Ascent 300 m, Descent 620 m

Additional Information

Photo Stories for Other Stages
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

Getting There

The Trans Swiss Trail is best done with public transportation as each stage starts and ends at different points. Stage 20 picks right up where stage 19 left off, at the Seelisberg, Dorf bus stop. Like I mentioned above, this was annoying stage to get to as it took two trains, a bus, a ferry, and a funicular and then another bus or a ten minute walk to get to the start. As annoying as it was to have that many connections, we did not have any trouble making any of them. I love Swiss public transportation.

When we got to the top of the funicular, it was either wait 8 minutes for a 1 minute bus ride or walk 10 minutes to the start. Even though this was going to be a long hike, we opted to walk to the start. When we passed the Seelisberg, Dorf bus stop, we were back on the trail. From there the trail begins by following the Seelisberg Gratweg (cliff walk), and the views were amazing.

The Trail

As we hiked along the cliff trail, we were treated to spectacular views of the Urnersee lake. I loved the way the light made the lake two completely different colors depending on which direction you were looking.

We passed a few small towns, in addition to having fantastic lake views, and then headed into the forest. The trail description said that we would pass where the founding of the Swiss Confederation took place in 1291, but I think we missed it somehow. This part of the trail is also part of the Weg der Schwyz (The Swiss Path). If I come back to do that trail, maybe I will see what I missed.

When we exited the forest, we got an overview of the small lake in the first picture (Seelisberg lake). There is a small cable car there that goes to the cliff above the lake. I’m not sure if it was a public or private cable car, though. When we passed the cows in the second picture, it was nice that all four of them looked a the camera when I took their picture.

After another gorgeous panorama of the Urnersee lake, it was time to begin the steep descent down to the shore. I included two pictures of the steps down because there really were a lot steps- more than a thousand, according to the trail description. At the bottom is the town of Bauen. Because of its sheltered location, it has its own micro-climate, so there were a quite a few palm and fig trees growing here. It was a pretty town and there were also number of restaurants here that looked really good. We didn’t eat at any of them, though, as we had packed our lunch. Instead, we found a shady spot by the shore and enjoyed a very nice picnic. (If I do the Weg der Schwyz, I might plan on lunch here.)

After lunch, the hike continued along the shore.

A number of times, the trail was diverted into pedestrian tunnels. And once, because of a rock slide, the trail was rerouted along the sidewalk into the traffic tunnel (third picture). It was little eerie. When not in tunnels, the trail was often sandwiched between the shore and the road. The road was elevated a bit from the trail, so the traffic was not a bother. At about the half-way point in the hike, we reached the end of the lake.

After leaving the lake, the trail goes through a nature preserve, crossing wetlands, meadows and through some high vegetation. It was interesting how the trail kept changing here.

When we reached the Reuse river, the trail followed alongside and didn’t change much until we reached Erstfeld.

This part of the trail was relatively flat and easy walking, which was a nice way to end a very long hike.

Getting Back

At Erstfeld, we crossed the Reuss river and left the trail to go to the train station.

Getting back was much easier than getting there as there is a direct train. It was nice to relax after the long hike. This was a great hike and I’m looking forward to the next stage!

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