Length 12.7 km (7.9 miles), terrain has constant rise and fall, total gain of 187 meters
Zürich Routes List:
East shore out-and-back
West shore out-and-back
Zürich old-town loop
Uetliberg hilltop trail
For more running routes, see the Route List
Zurich is lined by tall hills to the east and west, and they offer a wooded challenge to any trail runner. So this time in Zurich, I decided to tackle the tallest hill, the Uetliberg, but to save the long run up- and downhill by taking the train to the peak.
The Uetliberg is 869m high, and lies to the west of the city center. It stretches towards the south, lining Lake Zurich along its west side. The hill has a network of hiking trails stretching along its whole length, and -- as I mentioned -- you can take a train to the top. The S10 train line (costs CHF 16) ends just before the peak.
|Sometimes it's narrow along the Uetliberg ridge|
But even with the train ride, this run still has almost 200 meters total rise in it, and it's a great workout, especially the last four kilometers, which have lots of uphill stretches. It is essentially an out-an-back, which follows the ridge of the hill along the "Gratweg" to the Felsenegg restaurant, then back to the Uetliberg train stop. Of course, you can also shorten the route by turning around at any time you please.
The Uetliberg Route
When you get out of the train, you have to continue uphill for a half-kilometer to reach the real peak. The peak has a pair of towers: a red/white TV tower and a triangular outlook tower. There is a restaurant and outlook point, too. The whole peak was once enclosed in an iron-age earthen fort, which you can see just before the restaurant.
|Uetliberg final station: head up to that red/white TV tower|
After reaching the top, continue southwards either by taking the stairs down (follow the yellow sign for "Balderen") or run back the way you came for 100 meters, and then take the first left turn, also following the yellow signs towards Balderen.
|At the Uetliberg peak lookout|
|The Gratweg trail|
|Saturn along the Planetenweg|
After 4.5-km, you'll come to Balderen, at one of the lowest points on the trail, where trails cross from either side. This ex-castle site has an abandoned yellow restaurant that doesn't look like it will re-open soon. The nordic-walking path splits off from the main gravel road here and rejoins with it later, so you can take it, if you prefer.
|The Balderen spring|
At 6-km, you'll pass another radio tower and then the peak station for the Felsenegg gondola lift from the lakeside.
|The Felsenegg gondola lift|
The last 4 kilometers contain a lot of uphill, as you head back up to the Uetliberg peak before running back down to the train stop again.
|View back towards Uetliberg from Felsenegg|