Updated: Jul 1, 2021
The very short answer to the question, "Can children really hike to huts," is YES! Of course they can, but that it not to say that as their parents you should not be prepared. Preparation in the Swiss Alps is essential, especially on longer treks.
There are huts/mountain houses and mountain inns all over Switzerland and some are very easy to access. If your child can carry his or her own backpack, is accustom to hiking, lace up your boots! You can do this! But before your rush out the door, there are a few basic steps to be aware of.
The first step to ensure a successful and a safe time in the Alps is to know the basics. Those basics are never to be overlooked. Have a reservation at your designated hut and know the route in which you hope to hike. There are often several different routes up to a single hut, so choose wisely. If you are not sure about your selected route, ask the innkeepers at the hut, who know the area very well. They also have insight into the trails such as: potential trail closures and safety. We recommend you select the route that is most family - friendly and on white - red - white trails or yellow.
NEVER attempt white - blue - white trails with children. Why? White - blue - white trails are alpine trails and require not only a great deal of experience, but also mountaineering experience. Equipment, such as ropes and crampons may be necessary. Due to the unpredictable nature of children, attempting such routes is not wise and nothing short of dangerous. Stick to yellow or white - red - white trails whenever hiking with children. We have encountered families who have unknowingly ventured onto white - blue - white trails with terrifying stories to tell. Do not let that be you.
Have your maps/GPX files available and know the weather of the area you will be hiking. Weather is key in the Swiss Alps and has the ability to change almost instantly. This is where preparation plays a key role in your safety and comfort. Always carry waterproof clothing and watch for any storms in the area, especially if you are hiking above tree line. If you are in doubt of the weather, check Mateo - SRF. Never underestimate the snow levels in the mountains. Snow can linger at higher elevations, making hiking and crossing Alpine passes unsafe or simply not possible.
Sustenance on the trails is paramount. When kids get hungry, believe us, the game is over. You might as well find yourself a train home or to a refueling station. Carrying food and water with you is a
no-brainer, but don't forget it at home as you rush out the door. We always carry snacks the kids love. Nutrient rich food and easy to pack snacks are the way to go. Water is critical and that means enough water for each person in your group.
First Aid Kits are required and should be packed with all the essentials. Keep them in your backpack to avoid forgetting them at home. We promise you will use them often, whether it's for a headache, a scrapped knee, or an insect bite. Having your First Aid Kit well stocked and available is a must!
We could continue to elaborate on what else to pack, but the truth is, we lay out all of the essentials in our newest book - Fresh Air Kids Switzerland - Hikes to Huts. What is most important is your preparation and your desire to experience Switzerland in a whole new way. We cannot tell you how utterly incredible it feels to arrive at your hut after a long day on the trail. The pleasure of either changing out of your sweaty hiking gear and having a shower (if the hut offers such luxurious facilities) and feasting on an Alpine meal is better than any five - star experience. It is natural and beautiful and rich with community. Berghotels provide a glimpse into a simple life. A life where meals are savored, water is coveted and tired bodies rest peacefully among strangers.
It is absolute bliss!
P.S. To go back to our original question, "Can children really hike to huts?" Not only is it YES, but our children have hiked and slept in dozens Alpine accommodations. So yeah, if our kids can do it, so can yours! Happy trails!