The Alp Sellamatt Snowshoe Trail
– Not Far From Zurich
A Beautiful Trail Under the Churfirsten Ridge in The Toggenburg
This is a beautiful and accessible trail under the impressive Churfirsten ridge in the Toggenburg. The snowshoeing route is close to a number of winter hiking trails and as these are regularly groomed they are easier to walk on and provide a good alternative if you want to make the route less strenuous – or if like us you are faced with deep, beautiful fresh snow and need to adapt the route!
The Snowshoe route starts at the pink pole to the right of the wooden hut
The route is accessed via the Alt St Johann chairlift (CHF24 for return with Halbtax discount available). There is parking at the base of the chairlift and more in the village. As this chairlift also serves some ski slopes it can get busy later in the day. There are bathrooms and a small kiosk selling drinks and snacks. The chairlift itself is a combination of 4 person chairlift and small cabins.
The Snowshoe trail is marked, often with these blue signs on pink poles
At the top of the chairlift there are plenty of clear signs for the various winter hiking routes which all start to the left. The snowshoeing route starts to the right of the wooden hut at the base of the button lift. It is not so clearly signed but once you are on it there are regular pink poles marking the route as it undulates up and down some small but steep dips. After a final climb you reach the main plateau of Alp Selamatt and are greeted by the stunning sight of the Churfirsten range looming above you. From here the peaks look very dramatic and their presence is with you for the entire hike (clouds permitting of course!)
Once you climb the last rise you are greeted with this amazing view of the Churfirsten range
We did this route after the recent and heavy snowfall. There was a lot of fresh snow and once we had passed a group from the local school and a couple out by themselves, we were the first on the trail, walking in fresh snow up to our knees. Trail breaking in these conditions is tough going, but we took turns to lead and relished the experience of walking through such thick, pristine snow. After about 40 minutes the snowshoeing trail joins the winter hiking path, before branching off again to the right to cut off a corner.
Snowshoeing though deep snow, here up to our knees, is hard work- but beautiful
We stuck to the winter hiking path and followed it out to the west, enjoying the easier going although even on these trails snowshoes were useful as there was plenty of fresh snow sitting on top of the groomed trail. After a quick lunch stop on the trail, the wind got up and the clouds came down. We retraced our steps and again decided not to take the snowshoeing route which rose gently to our right and again had not been hiked recently, but to continue on the winter hiking path back to the chairlift station.
Joining the winter hiking path – although even here snowshoes were useful as there was plenty of fresh snow on the groomed trail
Hiking in deep fresh snow is a full-on work out and it is important to take the weather conditions as well as your own fitness into account. It is easy to run into problems or to become exhausted more quickly than you expect and suddenly a day out in the mountains becomes memorable for all the wrong reasons.
The views keep on impressing
The Snowshoe route went up towards the hut, but we chose to stay on the winter hiking path
I hope to return and do the full snowshoeing trail on another day – with better weather and maybe even when someone else has done the hard work and broken in the trail, but even with the detour onto the winter hiking paths this is a beautiful route which I highly recommend.
Heading back to the chairlift on the winter hiking trail
The Alp Sellamatt Snowshoe Trail
Route: 5km – 7km
Ascent/Descent: 220m – 260m
Time: 2.30 – 3 hours
Starting/Finishing point: Alt St Johann chairlift – see Google maps here.
See on the Chaeserugg Website here
Map Courtesy of SwitzerlandMobility. This shows the snowshoeing route (purple with the red dots) and the interweaving winter hiking path in pink. Please note the trail may differ depending on the snow conditions – always follow the signs.
Other Snow Shoe Trails
Article written by and all photos taken by Rhoda Richardson
A former journalist in Luxembourg and the UK, Rhoda now lives in Switzerland where she leads hiking and snowshoeing groups.
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