logo Walking Switzerland

Immensee to Hinterbergen
Walk 8113

Canton - Schwyz - Rigi

Author - Aubrey Whitear

Ascent - 1000 metres / 3300 feet

Descent - 400 metres / 1320 feet

Grade - moderate

The Rigi is a well-known mountain in the pre-Alps, occupying a spectacular location above the Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Luzern) and offering on a clear day splendid views south to the Alps as well as north back to the area around Zurich. The Rigi featured in a book by Mark Twain and in a number of paintings by J.M.W. Turner.

Its proximity to Zurich and Luzern make the Rigi a magnet for tourists visiting the area and it is busy on summer weekends. Whilst the Rigi topping out at 1,796 meters may not sound imposing compared to the mountains of the Oberland, it rises more than 1,300 metres out of Lake Luzern, offers many splendid hiking opportunities and earns its name "Queen of the mountains". This hike as described begins from the Rigi Royal hotel in Dorf Immensee on the shores of lake Zug, a small hotel in a six star setting. The walk could also be commenced from Immensee bahnhof, a short train ride from Luzern.

From the Rigi Royal hotel (417 meters) proceed up hill along Eichlistrasse away from the lake. Pass under the railway line and freeway and proceed straight over at the cross roads on Gisibachstrasse taking a moment to admire the beautiful old Swiss barns on the corner. (If you are beginning from Immensee bahnhof, exit the station on the high side and proceed along Bahnhof Weg with Lake Zug to your right. Eichstrasse is a hundred meters or so ahead. Turn left to reach the cross roads to join Gisibachstrasse). Follow signs to Seebodenalp. Shortly, turn left along Obereichliweg, a street with houses (another sign to Seebodenalp) and then after another hundred metres or so look for small flight of concrete steps by a shrine off to the right. These lead you up climbing steadily, initially behind houses on a grassy track, then along a farm road through meadows and eventually into woods where the track zig zags its way up to Seebodenalp (1,030 metres) after about an hour and a half.

At first you will have splendid views back to Lake Zug but soon after entering the woods views down to Lake Luzern will begin to appear and then a suddenly, through an opening in the trees, there is a splendid view of Mt Pilatus. At Seebodenalp the track flattens out and there is an opportunity for refreshment at the Seebodenalp Hotel. From here, follow signs to Chanzeli and Rigi Kaltbad (1,464 metres) initially on a wide, flat gravel track but then climbing again on a narrower track zig zagging over meadows and through trees. You should reach Chanzeli with its magnificent lookout over Lake Luzern about three hours after leaving Immensee (plus whatever time you spend in the Seebodenalp hotel!). Rigi Kaltbad, where there is opportunity for a well earned lunch on a sunny terrace, is no more than ten minutes on a level track past Chanzeli but on the way take time to look at an amazing old church wedged in the rocks.

From Rigi Kaltbad you have a number of options for getting to Vitznau:

1 - You could retrace your steps to Chanzeli and continue your climb to Rigi Kulm (1,796 metres) before descending to Vitznau by cog railway

2 - You could either walk or take the cog railway straight down the 1,000 metre decent from Rigi Kaltbad to Vitznau but if you walk the path is steep and hard on the knees

3 - Best of all, take the preferred route on the broad level track to Unterstetten (1,422 metres) to enjoy wonderful views towards the mountains of the Oberland and Lake Luzern. At Unterstetten, the track bends left across a disused railway bridge immediately after which there is a turn off to Hinterbergen to the right beginning with an uphill pitch of a few hundred meters before beginning a more or less continuous descent. Along the way you will come to a choice between a longer and a steeper route to Hinterbergen. The steeper route is no real problem but can be quite muddy after rain. Just before Hinterbergen (1,100 metres) the track meets a road.

Here you turn left then after a short distance take the marked track descending steeply off to the right to rejoin the road where you should turn right. The cable car to Vitznau can be found a short way ahead. (If the cable car is not manned, you can get a token from the nearby Hinterbergen restaurant). The walk from Rigi Kaltbad should take about two hours. At the base station of the cable car proceed directly down hill to the lake to join the steamer for a delightful relaxing ride back to Luzern - Timetable. On a sunny day the price of a first class ticket is well worth it to enjoy the view from the top deck! From Luzern return to Immensee by direct train or train and post bus via Kussnacht.

Suggested Maps

No maps have been recommended by the author.

Recommended Books

Tour of Mont Blanc

Tour of Mont BlancAn essential guidebook for walking the Tour of Mont Blanc. The 170km route typically takes 11 days to trek around the Mont Blanc massif. The TMB is recognised as one of the world's classic treks. The book describes both anti-clockwise and clockwise directions, with variants and information about huts, refuges and facilities en route.

More information

Walking in the Valais

Walking in the ValaisComprehensive guidebook to the Valais region, describing 111 day walks and 10 multi-day tours. Home to the Matterhorn and Dent Blanche, the routes are in the Fieschertal and the Aletsch glacier region, the Lötschental, Saastal, Mattertal, Turtmanntal, Val d'Anniviers, Val d'Herens, Val de Bagnes, Val Ferret and Vallée du Trient.

More information


Stay Safe

Do enjoy yourself when out walking and choose a route that is within your capabilities especially with regard to navigation.

Do turn back if the weather deteriorates especially in winter or when visibility is poor.

Do wear the right clothing for the anticipated weather conditions. If the weather is likely to change for the worse make sure you have enough extra clothing in your pack.

Do tell someone where you are planning to walk especially in areas that see few other walkers.

Do take maps and other navigational aids. Do not rely on mobile devices in areas where reception is poor. Take spare batteries especially in cold weather.

Do check the weather forecast before leaving.

Do do not exceed your capabilities.

Please Note - These walks have been published for use by site visitors on the understanding that Walking Sitzerland is not held responsible for the safety or well being of those following the routes as described. It is worth reiterating the point that you should embark on a walk with the correct maps at the most detailed scale where possible. This will enable any difficulties with route finding to be assessed, and corrective action taken if necessary.