For 30 years, our editor Roland Hügi has been exploring Switzerland on two wheels. Note to keen cyclists and mountain bikers: he shares with us his favourite routes throughout the whole country. From the Jura to Engadin, he unveils places of particular beauty and gives tips for inspiration.
Through the Entlebuch Biosphere Reserve by bike
Alongside Val Müstair, Entlebuch is one of only two UNESCO Biospheres in Switzerland. Our cycle tour starts just outside the actual reserve, in Schachen in the canton of Lucerne, from where the road leads us in the direction of the Rengg pass. After just a few hundred metres, a side road lets us ride along pleasantly, undisturbed by cars – even if it does mean cycling uphill. The murmur of the Rümlig brook and the distant revving of motorbikes on the Rengg road are punctuated by the sound of crickets chirping in the wide meadows. At the farm in Fischenbach, a small pub invites passers-by to make a brief stop. The first high point comes near Lutersarni and is marked by a giant wind turbine almost 120m in height.
Entlebuch cycle tour
Route length: 40 kilometres
Duration: 3 hours
Noteworthy: the tour is also suitable for e-bikes. A few kilometres are on dirt tracks, but these are in good condition.
Entire route to download
The GPX file can easily be opened on Google Earth, using apps like SwitzerlandMobility, Komoot, Outdooractive, the SAC tour website or on your smartwatch (e.g. Polar, Garmin, Suunto, etc).
The basis for planning the tour was the bike map (no. 10, Emmental) at a scale of 1 : 60,000 from Kümmerly + Frey. In addition to all official SwitzerlandMobility routes (nationwide cycling and biking routes), the map also contains numerous VCS (Swiss Association for Transport and Environment) route recommendations on mostly low-traffic roads.
The sounds of nature
Now we're already in the heart of the Biosphere landscape, where the narrow roads lead us up to Finsterwald through meadows and cool forests where nothing can be heard other than the soothing sounds of nature. The name – meaning 'dark forest' – is misleading: up here, at an altitude of around 1,200 metres, the landscape opens out to reveal views of the Entlebuch mountaintops. The route takes us down through flowery meadows and moorlands – for which the Entlebuch Biosphere is highly renowned – to the village of Finsterwald.
Here, at the junction to the main road, we experience the ultimate contrast. In the blink of an eye, we're forced to say goodbye to peace and quiet. While not too bad during the week, on nice summer weekends hundreds of motorbikes thunder incessantly up and down the Glaubenberg Pass road. Not the sort of thing your average cyclist enjoys. But all of Switzerland's well-developed Alpine passes are now fated to be overrun by motorised traffic. After about two kilometres downhill, riders are happy to leave this motorcycling hotspot behind.
In the heart of the Biosphere
The route now takes us along a narrow side road into the heart of the Biosphere, otherwise known as Entlebuch. If you're feeling peckish, you'll find plenty of places offering food and drink here. Once again, we have to put up with moderately heavy road traffic for a few minutes – although mostly in the cycle lane.
At Ebnet, we return to nature: following the Entlebuch cycle tour signpost, the narrow road involves a bit of a climb. It's worth stopping here briefly to enjoy a last look at the Entlebuch Biosphere, with its wide valleys, gently rolling hills and the Napf massif. Soon enough, the road takes us back into the woods and at the Staldig rest area, with tables and a fire pit that make it ideal for picnicking, we leave the Entlebuch route behind and follow the trail down to Schachen, where we began.
Pilatus at its most beautiful
A short downhill, followed by an easy climb and we're almost there. Shortly before Farnbühl – home to a majestic spa hotel a few generations ago – comes the final reward of the tour: a view of the magnificent Pilatus massif, stretched out over its entire length.