When it’s cold, one usually feels like staying indoors, but I recommend you make yourself go outdoors for a winter adventure in the forest. After a few minutes on the go walking or sliding downhill you will be warm and having so much fun! Pack your rucksack with snacks and extra clothing and take the family out to any small village in Switzerland where you will find plenty of paths in beautiful forests and countryside.
The forest is a perfect environment for children (and adults too!) Fresh air, space, freedom and plenty of things to look at, smell, touch and make. The forest is highly stimulating for kids and at the same time a stress reliever. Children relate to the world through movement and they are extremely curious. A natural environment fully satisfies these two necessities. In the forest children are completely free to experience many types of body movements and they are completely free to experiment with a wide range of natural objects without worrying if something is going to break, or get dirty, or disturb someone. Spending time surrounded by nature is enjoyable, healthy and cheap!
Walks in the forest can be a relaxing activity for parents to do with our children if we trust their ability to roam around and we are ready and willing to stand by them patiently in their journey to learn how to deal with physical challenges.
Bear in mind that not all children are up to walking long distances because they are interested in wandering around, looking closely and touching things, playing, creating and using their imagination. So I recommend short walks and allowing plenty of time, so several stops can be made without any hurry.
Winters in Switzerland usually come with snow and ice at some point. This is wonderful for kids, and a window of new possibilities opens up. The only essential thing we need is warm, waterproof clothing. We can add sledges to the list.
One day during the Christmas holidays my family (my husband and I, my daughters of 9 and 7) found ourselves driving after lunch through the villages of Dallenwil and Wolfenschiessen, following the only main road that runs through a narrow valley on the border of Nidwalden and Obwalden Cantons. This valley is on the way to Engelberg coming from Lucerne and we discovered several discrete gondola cableways there. The gondola we took was tiny and old-fashioned, it was the only one on the cableway going back and forth to the mountain top. We spotted it after turning left from Grafenort road (Engelberg direction). We parked the car next to a long stretch of open field. We had an awesome time sledging on the slope there. We strolled to the tiny cableway stop and we jumped into the gondola, all very excited. In the gondola we found instructions on how to start it moving. And off we went, up and up, over the forest, and the ride finished not long after at a farm. We were received by an elderly lady who charged us very little for the ride. There was another farm nearby and we stayed there playing in the fields for quite a while. We learnt that the families living there use the gondolas to go down to town. When daylight started to fade we made our way back to the car walking down the mountain on the snowy, frozen path, stopping at a stream, enjoying the view and checking out an open-air wooden hut. What a great winter adventure!
Location in Google Maps:
When you check these websites remember that the recommended route and season to visit are not the only option!
Wasserfallen Region in Baselland
Hiking, scooter and sledging fun, snowshoe hiking and cross-country skiing. I visited Reigoldswill last autumn with family and friends and had a lovely walk following the stream, through the forest, until we reached the top of the mountain (90 minutes), where we enjoyed the views and used the playground before winding our way down (40 minutes). There is a gondola cableway there, so one can use it to go up or down instead of walking.
Easy forest family walk on the outskirts of Wallisellen, near Zürich. Kids and stroller friendly.
Pfadiweg, a walk in the forest in Zurich
This easy path follows a stream from Zollikon down into the east side of Zurich city, easily accessible by tram at both ends of the trail. It’s a great place for an impromptu family stroll and picnic and particularly beautiful in autumn when the leaves are changing colors.
Unique moor landscape at Etang de la Gruère
Switzerland’s largest upland moor, it is a protected landscape and provides a habitat for many different species of plants and animals, some of which are threatened with extinction. Children will love walking over the springy moor soil and crossing the wooden boardwalks and small bridges along the lake trail. I visited with my family this winter and it was amazing; the Etang was frozen, we discovered several animal footprints on the sparkly snow. There are also several cross country skiing trails starting near there.
In the valley of the 72 waterfalls
Plenty of water and panoramic views. One of its many highlights: the Trümmelbach Falls, the largest underground waterfalls in Europe that thunder down over ten cascades, which can be reached via a labyrinth of steps and galleries.
Muggestutz adventure dwarf trails
This easy mountain hike runs mostly downhill over Alpine meadows and forest paths. At various stations, children can immerse themselves in the story of the oldest Hasli dwarf. An adventure of this kind is sure to make tummies rumble, luckily there are two great barbecue sites to stop off at along the route.
Goldi Family Safari
The hike starts with the longest cable car in the world from Beckenried to Klewenalp and is perfect for families with small children (buggy-friendly). With 5 different modes of transport and a leisurely short hiking time (including playgrounds, barbecue areas and bathing spots), the Goldi Family Safari is the most popular summer family hike in the Klewenalp region.
By Sara Goti Jackson
Sara Goti Jackson works as a childhood and sexuality psychotherapist, she uses both movement and dance as an educational and therapeutic tool. She played everyday in the forest when growing up and nature still feels like home to her. She holds a Forest School Leader certificate. She lives in Seltisberg with her husband, two lively daughters and two loving cats, they all amaze her every day!
Illustration by Aleksandra Koroleva
Aleksandra, originally from Moscow, Russia, now lives in Adliswil with her husband and 6 year-old son. She specializes in clinical psychology and started studying illustration after her son’s birth. In her free time Aleksandra likes sleeping, just like all mothers do. https://www.instagram.com/uber_evil