3.5 to 4.5 hours
All year, especially Winter
climb from 880m to 1090m and back again
Easy, if the snow is clear - otherwise medium. Side trip to Etzel can get icy
Einsiedeln itself is an interesting small town, dominated by the enormous monastery. Before starting this walk, it is well worth taking a peek inside this expansive, impressive cathedral, if only to gasp at the elaborate ornamentation and curious colour scheme before you set off. This walk is an ideal Winter walk, being relatively flat, apart from the optional side trip up to Etzel, easily accessible, and giving good views of many nearby peaks, including the Mythens, the Glärnisch range, Tödi and across to Säntis, Speer and the Churfirstens.
Although the walk passes through many small villages, it keeps to open footpaths for much of the way. Under light snow conditions, the difficulty rating is easy, although at the time of writing (Feb 2003), the sections Galgenchappeli-Meieren and Egg-Hirzenstein are unprepared, requiring some cross-field snow-stomping. It may be better to wait for a few weeks until either the path is flattened or the snow has melted a bit.
There are several options for modifying or shortening this walk, including cutting straight across from Meieren to Egg, or taking the bus back from Egg to Einsiedeln.
View across the frozen Sihlsee to the Glarner alps
Panorama from the sun-baked terrasse at Etzel
The route back towards the Sihlsee and Einsiedeln
Einsiedeln lies South of the Zürichsee on the edge of the Sihlsee. It might be familiar to visitors to Hoch Ybrig, as this is where you change from the train to the post bus. Einsiedeln is the end station on the line South from Wädenswil, which lies on the main Zurich - Chur line.
From Zurich, it is a short journey with just one change in Wädenswil, making it a very easy and pleasant day trip. The train takes under an hour, and a return ticket with halbtax costs just CHF 16.
For a zoomable, scrollable map of this hike, see this online map using Openstreetmap or Opencyclemap.
You can also download this kmz file einsiedeln.kmz to open it in Google Earth or view it in Google Maps in your browser. Or of course you can use programs like Prune to transfer the track to your GPS.
Einsiedeln - Horgenberg - Galgenchappeli - Meieren - St Meinrad ( - Etzel Kulm) - Egg - Hirzenstein - Einsiedeln
Starting from the main rail (and bus) station in Einsiedeln, follow the signs for "Kloster" to join the main Hauptstrasse through the centre of town. After about 5-10 minutes, you should reach the Kloster itself - it is very difficult to miss! The strangely plain side doors lead into a quite eye-opening interior.
From the Kloster, head North with the Kloster on your right, and follow the signposts towards Egg. These lead on a footpath alongside a road out of the town centre, reaching a bus stop at Horgenberg after around 15 minutes. Here the road forks, where you take the left road, signposted Galgenchappeli and Jakobsweg.
Shortly, this road meets a main road, where a tunnel brings you across to the quiet road on the other side. This climbs a short way directly away from Einsiedeln, giving views back towards the town and the Grosser and Kleiner Mythen behind. Out in the open, the way now offers views across to the right, across the Sihlsee to the Glarner alps beyond. Levelling out, it reaches the signpost at Galgenchappeli after around 25 minutes.
Continue straight ahead, signposted Etzel and Jakobsweg, cutting sharply right down a track by a further Jakobsweg signpost. Follow the yellow painted diamonds and the wooden posts to circle around to the left, reaching Meieren after around 35 minutes.
Follow the road downhill, signposted Etzel and St Meinrad, and cross the unusual and narrow "Tüfelsbrugg" (Devil's bridge). Then begins the long climb up to Gasthaus St Meinrad, where you can enjoy the resulting views. Here is also where the optional side-trip up to the summit of Etzel Kulm departs.
The short trip up to the summit is well worthwhile, as it gives whole views over the Zürichsee (and the fog covering it), across to Säntis and the Churfirstens, and a higher version of the St Meinrad views back to the Sihlsee and the Glarner alps. But take care if the surface is icy, as the steep track can be treacherous. Heel crampons would be useful under such conditions. The track is just opposite the Gasthaus St Meinrad, with a signpost giving a fair estimate of 20 minutes up to Etzel Kulm. At the top is a veritable sun terrasse, with a restaurant and plenty of outdoor seating, admiring the expansive views. It's difficult to turn around and head back down the tricky track to St Meinrad!
From St Meinrad, follow the track up to the left hand side of the Gasthaus, signposted Egg, past the little chapel and shortly turn right signposted Egg to drop down between farm buildings. After around 10 minutes there is a right turn off the track, signposted as the "Bauernlehrpfad", which leads down to Egg, taking a right fork at the information board. Alternatively, if you want a slightly longer, but gentler route than this narrow footpath, you can ignore this right turn off the track, but instead continue straight ahead to emerge on a winding road which also leads down to Egg.
After stopping to enjoy the ice hockey, if there is any being played in the village, head through the centre towards the church, signposted Hirzenstein, passing the post bus stop along the way (with buses to Einsiedeln, listed on SBB as "Egg SZ, Post"). To continue, turn left at the church, still signed Hirzenstein, following the track to climb up to Hirzenstein in around 20 minutes.
From Hirzenstein, turn left signposted Einsiedeln, and follow the many signposts for "Einsiedeln" or "Strandweg"
through the nature reserve. Passing not far from the outward journey, but closer to the Sihlsee, the path drops down to
follow the lake shore, using the road for a short stretch, before crossing the bridge to reach Hüendermatt bus stop
after around 40 minutes. From here there are many ways back to Einsiedeln, all of which are signposted, but one pleasant
way is to follow the lakeshore towards Birchli, going past Armbüel to take the Lincolnweg (signposted Einsiedeln)
not far from Guggus. This joins the main road near the cemetery and enters Einsiedeln alongside the Kloster.
Once back in Einsiedeln, retrace your initial route back to the station,
the trains to Wädenswil run roughly every half an hour.
The following are the coordinates for waypoints along this route, obtained from GPS. They can be used either in another GPS, or along with a map, to provide additional references if necessary.
Latitude Longitude Altitude(m) Einsiedeln stn N 47°07'40.2 E008°44'40.4 882 Kloster N 47°07'36.2 E008°45'02.2 926 Horgenberg N 47°08'14.7 E008°45'11.5 878 Galgenchappeli N 47°09'03.9 E008°45'29.4 929 Meieren N 47°09'57.4 E008°46'10.2 889 St Meinrad N 47°10'24.6 E008°46'20.0 950 Etzel Kulm N 47°10'39.4 E008°46'04.3 1098 Egg N 47°09'42.5 E008°46'57.6 855 Hirzenstein N 47°09'32.0 E008°46'10.4 920 Hüendermatt N 47°08'24.2 E008°45'27.7 887
The basis for this walk was obtained from the einsiedeln.ch website, which has many more suggestions for walks in both Winter and Summer (but only described in German) under "Tourismus" - "Freizeit" - "Wandervorschläge", and information about the Kloster under "Sehenswertes".
Another winter option is along the Alpthal (towards Brunni and the Mythens) as far as Trachslau and then either back the same way or by bus. There's a brief description in einsiedeln.ch's suggestions ("Einsiedeln-Trachslau") or at wandersite.ch (also in German). This follows part of the Jakobsweg and makes a flat, easy walk in winter.