The world’s steepest funicular, amazing Alpine scenery, and a mesmerizing sunset above Lake Luzern, all in just a few short hours. The Stoos Ridge Hike is one of those experiences that will leave you breathless, dumbfounded, and utterly flabbergasted. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or a landscape photographer, be sure to have this one on your to-do list.
- Why the Stoos Ridge Hike
- Stoos Ridge Hike At a Glance
- How to be There At Sunset
- The Stoos Ridge Hike Overview
- Preparing for the Stoos Ridge Hike
- Photography Tips
- Can You Do the Stoos Ridge Hike with a Dog?
- Budget Considerations
- Final Thoughts
Why the Stoos Ridge Hike
Stoos ridge hike is a hiking trail in central Switzerland, near the small village of Stoos and just west of Lake Lucerne. The 4.5 km long point-to-point path follows the top of the mountain ridge between two local peaks — Klingenstock (1935 m) and Fronalpstock (1921 m).
As you navigate the narrow walkway in between the steep drop-offs, you’re treated to some incredible Alpine landscapes. Lush-green meadows, cute little settlements in the valleys below, and above it all — majestic snowy peaks far in the distance. Honestly, it doesn’t get any better.
Except it actually does. Amazing as all of this is, the crown jewel doesn’t reveal itself until the very end of the trail. Conquer the last uphill, and you’ll find yourself looking at an absolute stunner of a view.
The curved shape of Lake Luzern stretches out to the west, framed by the harsh outlines of the mountains on either side. Its glittering surface is specked with tiny dots of yachts and boats oblivious to the fact that someone’s watching. The scene is beautiful and serene.
This view alone makes the exercise worth it. One could spend an eternity here just contemplating nature and enjoying being out in the fresh air. And if you’re a photographer, bring the camera — you’ll be happy you did.
Especially if you stay until sunset. Watching the sky light up as the sun goes down behind the distant peaks is a truly unforgettable experience. It’s a worthy conclusion to a wonderful day in the Alps and one that’ll undoubtedly earn you some great photos.
Stoos Ridge Hike At a Glance
Before we dive right into it, here are some basic facts about the Stoos Ridge Hike. These should give you an overall idea of what we’re looking at here.
- Trail type: a marked point-to-point trail (convertible into a loop)
- Total length: 4.5 kilometers (extendable to 9 km or 13.2 km)
- Elevation gain: 200 meters (extendable to 900 m)
- Difficulty: moderate to challenging depending on the selected variation, non-technical
- Time required: 2-7 hours
- Accessibility: summer season, between June and October
- Costs: up to CHF 50 for tickets + food and drinks in the restaurant (optional)
- Highlights: Alpine meadows, summits of Klingenstock and Fronalpstock, sunset views of Lake Luzern
Getting to Stoos Ridge Hike
As if often the case in Switzerland, getting to the Stoos Ridge hike isn’t quite straightforward at first glance. So let’s break it down.
To get to the hike, you first need to arrive in Stoos. Stoos is a car-free village that you can only reach by funicular from Schwyz or a cable car from Morschach. You could also hike up to it, but that adds another 5.5 km and 700+ meters of elevation gain, so I recommend against it.
From Stoos, there are ski lifts to both Klingenstock and Fronalpstock. The classic variation of the trail is to take the first one up, hike the ridge, and descend using the other one. Alternatively, you might not use the lifts at all and hike the entire loop.
The official map above does a decent job illustrating the geography of the area. Stoos sits in the middle with Klingenstock and Fronalpstock right above it. The black lines depict the various means of transportation.
Which Direction to Hike
You can hike the Stoos Ridge trail in either direction. However, most people choose to do it from Klingenstock to Fronalpstock, and that’s what I recommend too. There are several reasons for that.
First of all, the views are better in my opinion. Not because they’re different but because they are in front of you rather than behind your back. Also, instead of starting with arguably the best vista, you gradually work your way towards it instead.
Secondly, the lift to Fronalpstock operates later than the one to Klingenstock. This is especially on Saturdays during the summer season when the last departure from Fronalpstock is at 22:00. So unless you’re fine walking back to Stoos, having it as your endpoint is a good idea.
Lastly, there is a restaurant at Fronalpstock. It may not be important to some but personally, I love a pint of cold brew after a strenuous climb. Somehow, it makes the experience more complete. Not convinced? Well, how about a coffee and a cake or even a schnitzel with fries?
Choosing the Difficulty
Because of its geography, the Stoos Ridge hike has several modifications of varying difficulty. The easiest (and the classic) one is hiking only the main bit from Klingenstock to Fronalpstock. That’s also where the scenery is at its nicest, giving you the best of both worlds.
Don’t get me wrong, even this short variation is still moderately difficult. Over the distance of 4.5 kilometers, there are a couple of steep uphills and plenty of stairs to negotiate. The path goes constantly up and down (200 meters elevation gain), so it’s not exactly a walk in the park.
On the other side of the spectrum, there is the full loop. You hike up to Klingenstock, cross the ridge, and descend from Fronalpstock without using any ski lifts. This boosts the distance to a rather impressive 13.2 kilometers and total elevation gain to 900+ meters.
This is the most challenging option. You need to be reasonably fit and allow yourself plenty of time — I’d estimate at least 6 hours. But, if you’re up for it, it’s a nice exercise and does save you quite some money on the tickets.
Finally, you could try something in between by taking just one ski lift. Either up to Klingenstock or down from Fronalpstock. The total distance is then a more reasonable 9 km. Still quite demanding, but not overly so, especially if you walk down rather than up.
That’s the approach we chose, hiking up to Klingenstock, then taking a ride back to Stoos from Fronalpstock after sunset. For us, it worked out pretty well — not too easy but not super hard either. A perfect amount of exercise to get the blood pumping after a week in the office.
How to be There At Sunset
Fronalpstock, at the very end of the hike, is an amazing spot for sunset. Whether you’re a photographer or simply enjoy watching the sun go down, you’ll love the view from there. And the good news is, there’s little preventing you from being there for that magical moment.
The obvious approach is to hike up there, stick around until the sunset, then descend at dusk. The last departures from Stoos are at 21:40 for the funicular and 22:10 for the cable car. You’ll have to calculate your return, but it’s certainly doable, especially from mid-August onwards.
Not everyone is comfortable walking the unfamiliar terrain in the darkness, however. Luckily, there’s a much simpler solution. In summer, every Saturday the chairlift from Fronalpstock operates until 22:00 while the last funicular departure from Stoos is at 23:40.
Even with days at their longest, this gives you enough time to photograph both sunset and the afterburn before catching a late ride down. Of course, be sure to always check the latest schedule on the official website in case it changed.
The restaurant at the top is also open until late on Saturdays (normally it closes around 4 PM). That’s perfect for sipping a beer while waiting for the light to happen. Heck, you can even scrap the hiking altogether and just take the chairlift up for sunset if you wanted to!
I have to say, I’m a huge fan of such a setup. It’s not often you see the hiking infrastructure flexible enough to allow being at the top outside the conventional hours. Photographers will appreciate it the most but so will many others, so kudos to the Swiss for giving this opportunity.
The Stoos Ridge Hike Overview
The following few sections outline my own experience hiking the Stoos Ridge Trail in early July. Because staying until sunset was our priority, we went on Saturday. Despite it being a weekend afternoon in high season, the trail wasn’t overly crowded so we had great fun.
Ride the World’s Steepest Funicular
Because we were aiming for sunset, we decided to start a little later arriving in Schwyz around 2 PM. Although the parking lot was reasonably packed, finding a free slot wasn’t much of an issue.
We chose the funicular as our transport to Stoos, mainly because it’s the steepest in the world and I was curious to check it out. Apparently, it’s not the same as the steepest cogwheel railway! Which, by the way, isn’t too far away either — in Pilatus on the other side of Lake Luzern.
Either way, the whole thing is mostly marketing hype in my opinion. The trip only lasts five minutes and isn’t overly exciting. Go for it if you’re keen on ticking that particular checkbox, but otherwise, the Morschach cable car is equally suitable.
You can buy tickets right at the station or online to avoid queues. There weren’t many people at the kiosks when we were there, so it’s really up to you. Credit cards are accepted.
Once in Stoos, have a peek in the local products shop near the station, and look around. You’ll notice Klingensock higher above to your left and will need to decide on what to do next. Hike there or pick the lazy alternative?
Up Towards Klingenstock
The chairlift to Klingenstock is a little further up the road. Hopefully, by the time you reach it you’ve made up your mind. If you’re not in the mood for extra hiking, grab a seat and enjoy the leisurely ride up. But we were feeling rather adventurous so chose to walk.
The path up to Klingenstock is well-marked and easy to navigate. Follow the signs and you won’t get lost. Right off the bat, the trail starts climbing steadily up. You will soon be sweating and panting, the heart pumping in your chest. Especially if you’re out of shape.
That said, I don’t think it’s extremely demanding. It’s steep and relentless, sure. But even if you haven’t exercised for a while, with some effort, you should be able to make it. Make frequent stops to catch your breath, drink sufficient water, and you’ll eventually reach the summit.
The last section is particularly tough, gaining almost 350 vertical meters over the course of 1.8 kilometers. Klingenstock seems deceivingly close, yet whenever you feel you’re almost there, there’s another uphill ahead.
Just keep pushing. It took us around two hours to emerge on Klingenstock, but I’m very happy we chose this path. It’s a proper challenge but the views are fabulous throughout. And they’re different from the ones on the ridge, too. Green Alpine meadows, cows going about their business — all very idyllic.
Klingenstock to Fronalpstock
Klingenstock is a basic station with little more than a couple of restrooms and a large picnic table a bit further to the side. It’s a good place to sit down, rest, and eat a snack you brought to restore energy before heading further.
It is also an official starting point of the Stoos Ridge Hike. Over the next 4.5 kilometers, you will be walking a thin path separating two downward slopes. But don’t worry — it’s not dangerous unless you do something really stupid. We did it with our dog and never felt unsafe.
And boy, is it gorgeous! The trail goes up and down, winding along the bends of the ridge. Every new turn reveals a view even more magnificent than one before it. Expect to be stopping a lot. Not because you’ll be tired but simply to soak in the surrounding splendor.
Some 50 minutes in, you’ll encounter an optional detour to a nearby peak of Huuser Stock. The short sidetrack dead-ends at the top and you’ll have to retrace your steps back to the main path. This adds some 20 minutes to your hike. If not too tired, go for it, but we decided to skip it.
After Huuser Stock, the trail takes a deep dive into the valley before the final ascent. Once again, the last uphill is the toughest of all. If you hiked from Stoos as we did, you will surely feel it in your hips.
Luckily, it’s not very long and soon enough you’ll see the long-awaited sight ahead. The cross of Fronalpstock and the restaurant right next to it. Ready for that cold beer? You’ve earned it.
Sunset at Fronalpstock
To me, Fronalpstock is a perfect conclusion to an excellent hike. The view west to Lake Luzern and mount Pilatus is gorgeous. One could spend hours watching the tiny sailboats glide the water far below or the dreamy hills stretching into the horizon. It’s beautiful.
Speaking of which, Mount Pilatus that you see from Fronalpstock is another wonderful destination in Switzerland that I highly suggest visiting. I even wrote an entire article on it.
There’s also a playground for kids and a restaurant with a large terrace. It’s a great place to sit down and sip a cold beer to celebrate your achievement. I don’t know about you, but I was definitely looking forward to it while climbing that last uphill!
There’s food and snacks too if you’re hungry. Don’t expect gourmet dining, but overall it’s quite decent. Just keep in mind that the restaurant’s opening times align with those of the Fronalpstock chairlift. Unless you go on Saturday, it might close around 4 PM, so don’t arrive too late.
Grab yourself a drink, get comfortable, and just enjoy life for a while. If you’re aiming for sunset (and I encourage you to do so), I would plan the hike for Saturday afternoon. That way, you’ll get to Fronalpstock just in time to catch the evening golden light and watch the sun go down.
If you’re a photographer, spend 30 minutes or so scouting the location and picking the best spot. Once the sky starts turning golden, everything happens very quickly. You don’t want to be running around scrambling for composition during that fleeting moment.
From Fronalpstock, you can either hike down or take the ski lifts (there are two in total, one after the other). In good weather, these operate until 17:30 daily except Saturday when they’re running until 22:00. So if you want to stay until sunset, Saturday is the best choice.
If the weather isn’t cooperating during the weekend or your schedule doesn’t allow it, you can still watch the sunset on a weekday. However, this means you’ll need to walk down on your own. Luckily, the descent isn’t overly hard. Bring a headlamp, and you should be fine.
Keep in mind that you still have to catch the last transport down from Stoos. The last gondola to Morschach on weekdays is at 22:10. Since the hike down requires 60-90 minutes depending on your speed, you’ll have to be careful with your timing.
Other than that, it’s a pretty straightforward 4.5 descent on a well-marked gravel path that shouldn’t be too difficult. Because there are two consecutive chairlifts down from Fronalpstock, you can also go for the mixed approach, taking a ride for the first leg, then hiking down the rest.
Preparing for the Stoos Ridge Hike
Stoos Ridge Hike is a relatively easy trail that doesn’t require much preparation. Still, to make it go as smoothly as possible, there are a few simple things to remember.
- Try to pick an afternoon with clear sunny weather. When it’s too cloudy, instead of epic panoramas you might only see fog and mist.
- Hiking boots are highly recommended. In summer, casual sports shoes work too but it’s not the best choice in my opinion.
- Bring enough water. Especially if you’re attempting a harder variation of the route. There is no water anywhere on the trail except in Fronalpstock, so you’re limited to what you have on you. I recommend at least a liter per person.
- The same goes for food. You will need an energy boost long before you reach the restaurant, so pack some snacks.
- Even in summer, it may be quite cold on the summit. The temperatures are up to 12°C lower than in Lucerne, and it gets properly chilly towards evening. If you stay until sunset, pack some layers and a light jacket.
- There is cellular coverage on the trail but I always recommend having a reliable offline maps app just in case. Mapy.cz and Maps.me are both reasonable choices.
- The restaurant in Fronalpstock does accept credit cards, however, I don’t believe that chairlifts do, so having some cash isn’t a terrible idea.
- Accommodation in Stoos is scarce and expensive, so if you fancy staying overnight, book well in advance. This, however, means taking a gamble on the weather.
If you enjoy landscape photography, the Stoos Ridge Hike is a fantastic trail for that. However, it’s important to pack light to save weight. After all, you’ll be lugging your stuff around for the whole day.
As a basic setup, I suggest a camera and a versatile travel lens such as 24-105 mm*. This should be well enough for most shots. Ideally, you also want a lightweight wide angle zoom, such as Tamron 17-28 mm. As for a telephoto, I didn’t find much use for it.
If you intend to photograph the sunset, you should probably bring a tripod. That’s a bit of a bummer because carrying that thing around is no fun. But when the light starts to fade, you’ll be happy to have it for bracketing and longer exposures.
I also tend to use a polarizer filter a lot in bright sunny conditions. It’s not necessary but does help with contrast and saturation.
Last but not least, Stoos Ridge Hike is a dream place for a drone. There are no flight restrictions and the scenery is gorgeous when photographed from above. Just don’t do the same mistake as I did and bring more than one battery. Trust me, you’ll need them!
As with any hike, it’s nice to have someone with you to act as a model. Having a person in the image helps to better convey the scale of the landscape and infuse the sense of adventure into the shot.
And remember, apart from the grand vista at the end, there are plenty of other stunning compositions along the trail. Keep your eyes open and you’ll capture some incredible photos.
Can You Do the Stoos Ridge Hike with a Dog?
Yes! You can totally do the Stoos Ridge Hike with a dog. I know that for a fact because I brought mine along and had no problems whatsoever. There are no sudden drop-offs or sketchy places anywhere on the path, so he didn’t ever require my help.
There are a couple of things to take into consideration, however. First of all, unless you do the full loop, at some point you’ll have to use the lift. They’re large 6-seaters with enough room but not all pets might be accustomed to such transport.
Our dog is quite small, so we simply took him on our lap when taking a ride down. Worked perfectly well but for larger dogs, this might prove a little more troublesome.
Secondly, even despite the higher elevation, it gets rather hot on the trail in summer. Be sure to have a bowl and enough water to give your little buddy something to drink. Lastly, if you decide to hike up or down, there are sometimes cows around, so be careful.
Last but not least, let’s talk money. Switzerland is an expensive country. The more tickets you have to buy, the more painful it’s going to be for your wallet. For the Stoos Ridge Hike, all the relevant prices are summarised on this page.
If you intend on doing only the part between Klingenstock and Fronalpstock, a single-day ticket (CHF 50) is an optimal choice. It lets you use all the transport in the area. Note that for Swiss Travel Pass or half-fare card owners, the price is 29 and 40 francs respectively.
Those willing to extend the hike can save quite a bit of cash. Even without any discounts, you’ll only pay CHF 22 when doing the full loop or CHF 41 if you only use one chairlift. It’s a significant difference, so factor that in when planning the trip.
The hourly rate for parking at Stoos funicular is CHF 1. And of course, don’t expect food and drinks in the restaurant on Fronalpstock to be cheap. Beer goes for around CHF 7, while a meal ranges from 15 to 25 francs.
None of this is extreme by Swiss standards, but together, the costs add up quickly. Even without accommodation, you are looking at potentially 150+ franks in expenses for two people. So do the math and see what makes the most sense to you.
The Stoos Ridge Hike has been on my radar for quite a while. Now, after finally having done it, I can’t help but wonder — what the hell took me so long? This hike is easily one of the best I have ever completed, be that in Switzerland or anywhere else.
It’s perfectly balanced for almost any skill level, the views are breathtaking, and the infrastructure is well organized. The fact that you can even stay there for sunset is a welcome bonus. Honestly, what else is there to wish for?
So if you live anywhere nearby or plan a trip to Switzerland, put the Stoos Ridge Hike on your shortlist. It’s been a while since I has so much pleasure from a mountain walk, and I’m sure you’ll love it too.
I hope you enjoyed this guide to the Stoos Ridge Hike and got something useful out of it. If so, I’d hugely appreciate you sharing it with your friends and on social media to help spread the word. And if have any questions or comments, let me know in the comments.
I also have a bunch of other articles on the blog that might be of interest. Feel free to have a look at the menu or browse some of these picks of mine:
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- Sunrise on Top of the World: Photography Guide to Mt. Pilatus
- Hiking the Julian Alps: 7 Best Trails Near Lake Bled and Bohinj
- Best Landscape Photography Locations in Patagonia
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