Hiking & Walking
Before going on a hike read the safety information at the bottom of this page.
Geneva is surrounded by a hiker’s paradise and there are a great variety of walks you can do. There are mountains, forests, lakes and vineyards in Switzerland and neighboring France. Geneva has two mountain ranges close by; the Alpes and the lower altitude Jura Mountains. Below is a list of suggested hikes you can do when the weather is good during the Spring, Summer and Fall seasons. You should always have a map if you hike and we have provided hard copies you can borrow from a red binder in study room 1. In addition there are the navigation apps and the trail signs you can also use to navigate.
SwitzerlandMobility navigation app:
Navigation app for France:
Suggestions around Geneva
Mont Saleve, France – 1379mts
The closest mountain is La Saleve in France. This hike is popular and has great views Mont Blanc and the Rhone Valley, restaurants and bars. You can get to it easily with the Number 8 bus to the French border crossing (Veyrier-Douane), do not take the number 8 Veyrier-Tournettes bus which goes to a different destination. From the bus stop you walk across the border to begin the climb up. The cable car is scheduled to be out of operation from September 2021 until a new one is built in 2023, so this means you have to do a quite demanding 800 meter assent on foot. This is for people who are physically fit and equipped, and during the winter you may need crampons.
There are volunteers who guide hikers up every Sunday morning. Meeting at 10am at the Veyrier-Douane bus stop. You should check their website and contact them to confirm the walk is happening:
The Association Genevoise: www.rando-saleve.net
Explore the local countryside and vineyards. The vineyards may be open to the public on Saturdays. This itinerary is long so you may want to do just the first half.
Entre Arve et Lac – Geneva
An outing to the magnificent Genevan countryside through the vineyards between the Arve river and the lake. From Hermance, you pass through the villages of Anières, Corsier, Gy, Jussy and Lullier to reach Choulex.
Vallon de La Laire
Check out the Vallon de La Laire: here some of the best Swiss wines are grown and the charming river scenery beckons. Starting point La Plaine train station:
Saint Cergue – Chemin de La Dôle, Vaud – 1600 mts
Some great local hiking to be had here in the Jura mountains. You can start your walk from the Givrine train station – 1.15 mins train journey from Geneva. It offers spectacular views of the lake valley from the summit.
Les Vignobles de Lavaux
A great walk through the vineyards near Lausanne is called the Balade dans les Vignobles de Lavaux, a UNESCO heritage site. Start your walk from Saint Saphorin – only an hour and a half from Geneva. This is normally offered as a free day excursion at the beginning of the fall semester.
Chemin des Narcisses
Photo Maude Rion, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons. This thematic walk should be done in the spring (May to June). That’s when blossoming daffodils turn the hillsides above Vevey and Montreux into a white sea of flowers. Locals call this rare phenomenon “Neige de Mai” or May Snow.
The Toblerone trail
Another walk that has an historical WWII connotation would be the Toblerone trail: here you can follow a trail of cement blocks that the Suisse placed in the 40′s to stall any attempted German invasion of Switzerland: www.toblerones.ch
Saint Gervais les Bains – La Prarion 1900mts, France
Neighbouring Chamonix the Saint Gervais resort is excellent for hiking. You can take a direct train from Eaux Vives train station to Saint Gervais – Le Fayet train station. It takes 1.5 hours and cost approx. 40chf return.
Other suggestions in Switzerland
Zermatt – Valais: Great view of the Matterhorn
Fafleralp – Valais: Immersed in the valley of Lotschental
Hängebrücke Belalp – Riederalp – Valais: Aletschji – Grünsee suspension bridge
Bisse du Tsittoret – Valais: unique views of the most majestic summits in the Valaisan Alps!
The Creux du Van – Neuchatel: A sheer sided rock arena
Trans Swiss Trail / The William Tell Path – Lucerne the trail that is dedicated to Switzerland
Sentiero Verzasca – Ticino: the Swiss white water trail
Lake Klontal – eastern Switzerland: Like a fjord in the Swiss mountains
The Swiss National Park – eastern Switzerland: Val Trupchun
Lake Cauma – eastern Switzerland: A turquoise lake surrounded by evergreens
See also: Swiss Alpine Club SAC
For organised hikes and professional guides see:
Hiking can be a lot more enjoyable and less risky if you hire a professional guide. Guides will show you safe routes and are trained to deal with emergency situations. To find approved guides you should contact the tourist information office of the resort or region you want to go to. You can also try the links below for organised hikes:
https://www.sac-cas.ch/en/The Swiss Alpine Club
www.scig.ch Geneva Ski Club – also organises hikes in the Winter and Summer
www.alpinehikers.com Guided package tours for one week – American company
www.geneverando.ch Guided tours
Hiking in the mountains is enjoyable but it can also be physically demanding and dangerous. Common mistakes for walkers to make are to go out without the right clothing, equipment and provisions, to go out in bad weather to get lost, to do hikes that are too difficult.
The right conditions: Always check the weather forecast before hiking. Do not go at altitude if bad weather is forecast.
The right knowledge: Always have a detailed map and compass. Navigation apps on smartphones can make finding your way a lot easier, but they will not work if you lose cellphone reception in the mountains. Signs can be moved or blown over, so you should not depend on them. If you are planning a long – high altitude hike you should hire a professional guide. Hike in groups of three or more. Don’t hike alone!
Do itineraries that suit your ability and fitness. Most hikes are done between 600 and 2500 meters. At 2500 meters you have the Summer snow line and hiking above this height normally requires more specialized equipment and knowledge. The human body’s ability to absorb oxygen starts to reduce from 2100 meters (see: wiki/Effects_of_high_altitude_on_humans ). Hikes that involve a lot of ascending and descending are far more demanding than those which are on quite flat terrain.