Hiking is one of the most popular sporting and recreational activities in Switzerland with statistics showing that 44% of the population enjoy an average of 20 excursions per year.
The Covid pandemic has strengthened the trend with more people enjoying Switzerland’s hiking trails than ever before and more than 50,000 yellow signs are excellently maintained across mountains and valleys providing information about which direction to follow as well as how long routes should take (based on an average speed of 4.2km!). Protected by the Federal government and maintained by volunteers, these waymarks date back to the 1930’s when a teacher from Zurich was on a hike with his class on the Klausen Pass and grew increasingly annoyed by the number of cars passing them on the mountains. He had the idea to create a network of safe hiking routes away from the roads and founded the Federation for Hiking Tourism, now known as Suisse Rando. The concept proved to be a huge success and other than a period during the Second World War when the army had the signage removed to deter invaders, the yellow signs with black writing that show the various hiking trails throughout Switzerland have been in place ever since.
There are now about 50,000 signs marking more than 65,000km of hiking trails covering the equivalent of one and a half trips around the earth. The individual cantons are responsible for managing the signs and routes and the care given to maintaining the network is reflective of the country and its culture. It’s not unusual to be hiking a route and meet generations of a Swiss family with babies and young children and grandparents on sometimes challenging terrain, enjoying a hike together. Hiking tourism is also popular in Switzerland.