Over the past 50 years I’ve written over a dozen hiking guidebooks and have described and reviewed over five hundred hikes—I honestly don’t know how many—I’ve lost count. I generally avoid declaring one hike over another as my “favorite” or the “best.” These hikes are like my children—I love them all, and don’t want to play favorites. But I’d read so much about the Stoos Ridge Hike and watched so many videos complete with dreamy drone footage that this fabled dayhike was at the top of my list of hikes I had to complete this summer and introduce to our Alpenwild guests. In the many online reviews and videos, the Stoos Ridge Hike is regularly cited as “the best dayhike in Switzerland” or the “best hike in the Alps.”
Does the Stoos Ridge live up to the hype? First—my story. On the morning of August 17, 2021 I drove to the parking garage of the Stoos Funicular. I brought along my video team with all their gear including a drone. As we arrived at the top of the funicular and the mountain resort of Stoos, both peaks—the Klingenstock and Fronalpstock—where the hike starts and ends, were in the clouds. But it’s just a 2–3-hour hike, and we figured the clouds would burn off during the day and we would be able to complete the hike in the afternoon. Time was on our side.
Under Cloudy Skies
We spent the morning walking around the village, riding the chairlifts up and down, and finally having a warming bowl of roasted pepper soup, all the time waiting for the clouds to burn off. They never did. We left Stoos about 4:00 pm and we never once saw the peaks of Klingenstock or Fronalpstock. We weren’t about to waste our time filming such a celebrated panoramic hike in such miserable weather.
I watched the weather forecasts for the next three weeks and planned my return for the best possible weather day. It was September 5, 2021. My video crew was no longer around, so this hike was just for my own enjoyment. When I arrived at the Stoos Funicular station, two tour buses had already disgorged their payload of visitors, who along with another couple hundred individuals were queued up buying tickets. I wasn’t the only person watching and waiting for a clear weather day.
After a 30-minute wait I finally boarded the famously steep Stoos Funicular. With a maximum incline of 110%, no other funicular railway in the world is steeper. Arriving in Stoos it’s a 15-minute walk to the Klingenstock chairlift. The hike is generally done in the Klingenstock to Fronalpstock direction rather than the other way around so that it’s more of a downhill hike than an uphill hike. Starting at Klingenstock also puts the Fronalpstock restaurant and retail services at the end of the hike so hikers can take time and reward themselves at the end.
Departing the chairlift at the Klingenstock summit, the hike can be roughly divided into three one-hour sections.
- The first hour is 1.3 miles with 525 feet of descent to Schutzgrube.
- The second hour is an undulating 0.8-mile trail to Furggeli with a net elevation loss of 140 feet.
- The final hour is a 0.9-mile climb to Fronalpstock with 584 feet of ascent.
There is no water on the trail. There are toilets at the Klingenstock and Fronalpstock mountaintop lift stations.
The Stoos Ridge hike is without doubt the best ridge hike in Switzerland, maybe the world. The two peaks are high enough—both just a tad over 1900 meters—that hundreds of peaks in the central Swiss Alps and dozens of glaciers, are all within view along the horizon. And the views down to the Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne), about 4300 feet below, are breathtaking. At this elevation, and on these grassy slopes, flowers stay in bloom a long time.
Despite being a knife-edge ridge hike it’s not a hazardous route. The exposure is limited and generally protected. The trail is exceptionally well-constructed, well-designed, and receives constant maintenance and care from local volunteers. Because of the quality of the trail, it’s suitable for seniors, families, and small groups. Even though it’s a short hike, I recommend trekking poles and shoes with a good grip. You should expect a hike this great to be crowded—especially on clear summer days. But don’t let your desire for solitude keep you from putting off this hike. Just wait for a clear summer day and go!