The Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge Hike
Imagine hiking through the forest covered mountains of Switzerland and walking across the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge at 1,621 feet long and nearly 300 feet above the ground. Well right outside of Zermatt lies the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge, where you can experience just that. This guide will go over all you need to know to take part of the hike and cross this incredible suspension bridge overlooking the Swiss Alps.
1. Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge Introduction
In July 2017, the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge was officially opened for hikers and adventurers to make the trek up and across it. The bridge itself is not located in Zermatt, rather it is a quick 15 minute train ride away above the town of Randa. To get to the bridge from Randa there is a ~4 hour circular hiking trail that will take you up the mountain, across the bridge and back down to Randa. Depending on fitness level you could finish it in nearly half the time. It just depends on what type of hiker you are and the amount of picture breaks you take along the way. The bridge also happens to be a part of a much longer two day hike – the Europaweg, from Grachen to Zermatt if that is something you are interested in instead.
Before you go make sure the trail and bridge is open. To do so check the Europaweg website and on the right hand side of the page it will say whether it is open or not. Also please be wary in poor weather – there are a lot of steep and rocky sections, which are not ideal in wet conditions.
Here is a map of the hike courtesy of the Europaweg website (with some added text). The trail starts in the town, up towards the bridge, and then back down the other side. The trail also adds in the Europa Hut, which can be ignored if you do not want to add it to the hike.
2. What To Bring
Before you head off to the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge you should make sure to pack up some essentials. Since the hike can take up to 4+ hours, you will want to be prepared. I would advise on the following:
- 1L Water Bottle Minimum (you can refill only in the town of Randa at various fountains. Once you get into the forest, there will be no other opportunities)
- Energy Bars / Snacks
- Comfortable Hiking Shoes (with solid grip)
- Hiking Poles (optional depending on fitness level)
- Layers Depending on Weather (pants / shorts, t-shirt / light zip up jacket)
That should get you going in the right direction. Always better to bring a bit more than less so you will be ready for any situation.
3. How to Get To Randa
To start off the hike, you first need to get to the base of it located in the small charming town of Randa. As mentioned, Randa is just a quick 15 minute train ride from Zermatt which makes this hike the perfect day trip.
There are plenty of trains throughout the day that leave from Zermatt (every 30 minutes or so). Since you must pass Randa when arriving and leaving Zermatt, basically every train will stop there. A roundtrip ticket will cost around 28 CHF (with a half fare card it will be 14 CHF and travel pass holders will be free). For more info regarding trains, read the train travel in Switzerland guide.
4. Get to the Hike Starting Point
Once you hop off the train, you will be at the base of Randa, a small town with picturesque houses located throughout. As you move away from the station and towards the town you will see your first yellow hiking marker sign pointing you in the direction of the hike. For the duration of the hike you can follow these signs that will take you the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge – on the top of the sign you will see “Hauspil – Hangebrucke” with a small bride symbol next to it.
Continue to walk up the hill of Randa passing through the village and ultimately getting onto the trail towards the forested woods on top of the town.
Take a look at some Switzerland guide books to better prepare you for your trip:
5. Hiking to the Bridge
Once you are in the woods, you will now start the counter clockwise loop that will take you to the suspension bridge. This part of the hike is probably the most demanding as it zig zags up and across the mountainside. For the next 1.5 hours or so (depending on fitness level) you will follow the signs through the forest. To your right you will be able to see some of the snowcapped peaks of the Alps out in the distance, and all around you will be some incredible greenery.
6. The Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge
After hiking up for a little while, you will soon come across the bridge itself. Hopefully for you it will not be that crowded (I only saw about 10 people throughout the hike the whole day) and you will be able to take your time crossing the bridge and snap all sorts of pictures along the way. While crossing the bridge can take 10 minutes in itself, you should probably plan on staying closer to 30+ minutes around the area to really enjoy it and take in all the incredible views around you.
Once you cross the bridge you can get a great secondary viewpoint if you want just a few minutes to the right (instead of the left where the trail takes you back to Randa). Here you will be able to really see the bridge in its entirety and how long it really is. Once you get some good snaps from there you can head back down towards the bridge and continue on the path down to Randa by following the signs.
7. Heading Down to Randa
Now its time to head back down to the town of Randa and onto the station so you can hop on a train back to Zermatt. You will see the yellow signs pointing you the way down, so just continue to follow them until you hit the town again. The way down is a bit more steeper than the way you came up so just be careful of your footing especially if it had recently rained. Once you get out of the trees, you will walk through a nice field of flowers before making your way back down through the town.
Note that we did see a few people on our way up to the bridge who were coming down in the same direction. So instead of doing a circular loop, they just went there and back on the same path. I would say that by doing so it would be a bit less steep (but not by much), however you will also be missing out on the other half of the loop. Getting some new scenery in by completing the whole circle would be my recommendation.
Now that your day of hiking to the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge is complete, you can hop on the next train heading back to Zermatt and rest up those legs.
8. Where to Stay
If staying in the town of Zermatt check out some great hotel options on Booking.com using the search below, or check out some of my personal recommendations.
High Rated & Good Value Options
Value: Hotel Elite
Highly Rated: Hotel Bellerive
Luxury: Hotel Firefly
If you have any questions or comments about the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge feel free to write them in below. Check out some of the other Switzerland guides and itineraries I have up on the site for more helpful info. Safe travels out there!