Hiking in Switzerland - White-Blue-White Trail Markers
Updated: May 9
Of all the trails in Switzerland, the white-blue-white trails pose the greatest risk!
These trails are known as Alpine trails and for good reason. They often require special skills and equipment (ice axes, ropes, crampons, and perhaps even a compass). When you hike on these trails, having solid hiking and mountaineering experience is a must! Individuals must be extremely physically fit, not fearful of heights and must be able to navigate difficult terrain. When hiking on white-blue-white trails it is imperative those entering such environments are aware of all the potentials risks. Often, these trails take individuals up to higher elevations requiring them to hike over snow fields and/or glaciers.
How are white-blue-white (Alpine trails) indicated?
Alpine trails are marked with paint, in the form of arrows, stripes (white-blue-white), or appear all in blue on the trail signs. Whenever you see the blue markers, please know these are not for families!
Note: On the picture below, the bottom blue trail markers indicate Alpine trails.
There is a sign of caution listed below the trail markers to indicate these trails often require special equipment and Alpine skills!
Are white-blue-white trails safe for families?
In our opinion, absolutely NOT! We do not hike on these trails with our children as the risk is too great. I will never forget when a women recalled a weekend hike with her family. She admitted that they were new to hiking and she did not know how to read trail markers. Their family-friendly outing quickly turned to a hell hike when they ended up on a white-blue-white trail. The ordeal was fresh in her memory as she relayed the situation with terror in her eyes. Turns out, they were ill-equipped, physically not capable and her children were too small to hike with any level of safety on an Alpine trail. Please do not let this happen to you! Know the route, know your abilities and never put your children at risk!
Are there alternatives to Alpine trails in Switzerland?
We believe there are plenty of family-friendly options for hiking in Switzerland that do not include the Alpine trails. Leave the Alpine trails to the experts and enjoy the yellow and white-red-white trails with your family. That is not to say that the above mentioned trails (yellow and white-red-white) do not require equipment, physical fitness, proper attire, weather updates and general knowledge because they certainly do!
Did you know?
Did you know that the Swiss trail system is broken down as follows:
63% of all trails in the country are yellow hiking trails.
36% of the trails are Mountain trails or white-red-white trails and
only 1% of the trails are Alpine trails or white-blue-white trails?
Thanks for the helpful information Jungfrau Region!
Still need more information on trail markers?
To understand white-red-white (Mountain trails) click here.
To understand yellow (Hiking trails) click here.
*Please note that all of our books provide a thorough and in-depth explanation of the Swiss trail system. We provide this information here for those who may not have a copy of our books or simply need access to the information.
We NEVER claim to be experts when it comes to mountain safety, but after 15 + years of Alpine hiking, we hope the knowledge we share with our readers is helpful. Our primary goal is to help keep you informed and safe, but that often requires further investigation and preparation on your part!