Hiking Mount Pilatus in Switzerland should be on your "must-do" list when visiting Lucerne.
Whenever we flew over the Swiss Alps, their majestic beauty always amazed us, but flying did little to prepare us for the breathtakingly glorious experience of hiking them. During a trip to Lucerne Switzerland in October 2006, the weather was bright and sunny, and perfect for hiking, with the added bonus of the leaves turning on their autumn magic in incredible colors of red, orange, and gold.
On such an immaculate morning, we decided to feel the rush of hiking the rugged Mount Pilatus, the mountain with an interesting dragon legend. From Lucerne, we used our Swiss Travel System to take a comfortable trip 90-minute Vier Waldstättersee boat trip on the MS Flüelen to Alpnachstad. It was the perfect way to experience the beauty of Lake Lucerne and see the surrounding countryside displaying rolling green hills, which changed at times to dramatic sheer cliffs.
When we arrived in Alpnachstad, we met Ursula Brun of Pilatus Luzern and together, we took the world's steepest cogwheel railway inaugurated on June 4, 1889. Eduard Locher designed the 4,618 meters (15,151 feet) cogwheel railway with a 48% gradient to reach the summit of Pilatus Kulm at 2,132 meters (7,000 feet altitude).
Riding the red cogwheel train emblazoned with the trademark dragon logo was an exciting experience, as we watched the changing scenery as the cogwheel train climbed higher and higher. When we saw the rugged mountain vista, we eagerly anticipated our hiking adventure.
Finally, we had reached the summit, and we must admit that we could not believe what our eyes beheld. Seeing Mount Pilatus up close was a moment that stopped us in our tracks, so completely drawn into its captivating beauty.
We began our hiking experience with a medium (level of difficulty) 30-minute hike from Hotel Pilatus-Kulm to Drachenweg (via Chriesiloch) (131 feet), and explored the 500-meter (1,640 feet) rock gallery with amazing dragon paintings by the artist Hans Erni, which depict the many legends of Mount Pilatus. The route crosses north to south and provides visitors with the opportunity to stop and reflect from the many vantage points.
We continued with an easy 10-minute hike from Hotel Pilatus-Kulm to Oberhaupt (164 feet). We climbed to 2,106 meters (6,913 feet) and the views were astounding! Imagine a 360° panoramic view of the Alpine range Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau, Schwarzwald, and Säntis, as well as six lakes: Vierwaldstätter, Zuger, Rot, Hallwiler, Baldegger, and Sempachersee. The majestic snow capped mountains appeared so close that we felt we could almost reach out and touch them.
Everywhere we looked, the scenery was almost unreal. It was hard to believe that only one week earlier we had walking the streets of Beijing, China! Our next hike was a 35-minute, medium level of difficulty (197 feet) from Hotel Pilatus-Kulm to Tomlishorn. We reached the echo chamber after 10 minutes, and then continued on the footpath to the highest point of Pilatus (2,132 meters/7,000 feet).
Eyes bedazzled by the sights, and hungry after hiking, we were ready for lunch, and enjoyed a typical Swiss menu of Baked Roesti Turnovers filled with Spinach and Mozzarella accompanied by a mixed salad, and Grilled Pork Sausages with Onion Sauce and Roesti potatoes, paired with Süessmost Natural Apple Juice.
Refreshed from resting and sustained by lunch, we took one last 10-minute medium hike from Hotel Pilatus-Kulm to Esel (164 feet) where we experienced a 360° panoramic view of the Alpine range and the six lakes.
After completing four hikes of Mount Pilatus, we felt accomplished and part of the society of great explorers, which include England's Queen Victoria, King Don Carlos of Spain, Richard Wagner, and Antarctic explorer Lincoln Ellsworth, who had all come to experience its inspirational beauty.
We said our last goodbyes to Mount Pilatus before taking the cogwheel railway back down to Alpnachstad, where this time we boarded the train for Lucerne, again using our Swiss Pass.
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For information on Switzerland, please visit: www.MySwitzerland.com. For information on Lucerne: www.Luzern.org. For information on Interlaken: www.InterlakenTourism.ch. For information on Bern: www.BernInfo.com. For information on Zurich: www.Zuerich.com. For information on Swiss International Air Lines: www.swiss.com. For information on Swiss Pass: www.SwissTravelSystem.ch.
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