Updated: Nov 7
To continue with our theme of how to read a Swiss Trail Marker, today we will explore the white-red-white trails, which are also known as mountain trails. If you are new to Switzerland or just visiting, it is important to understand how to read trail makers before heading out on your next excursion. Understanding the Swiss trail system is not only important for getting around easily, but it is also a matter of safety.
Mountain Trails: White-Red-White
White-red-white trails may appear in the following ways: painted as stripes on rocks, in the form of a diamond, arrows, on the yellow trail signs with the white-red-white colors appearing on the tip of the sign, and may be posted/painted on rocks, poles, nailed into trees or painted on the ground. Keep your eyes open for the white-red-white trail markers, which indicate you are on the correct route.
What makes a mountain trail different from a yellow trail?
The white-red-white trails require more experience, fitness and knowledge from the hiker. These trails are located in the mountains and may be steep, narrow in some areas and may include sharp drops or edges. Some areas that are difficult to navigate may have handholds or chains for additional stability.
White-red-white trails require individuals to be comfortable with their hiking skills and aware of potential rock falls and/or avalanches. As stated before, whenever hiking in the mountains, it is essential to be aware of your surroundings at all times!
Never attempt to hike in poor weather conditions and always carry the supplies (backpack, water, food, maps, a layer for warmth, a telephone, wallet, first aid kit, Rega card, etc) you need for the duration of the hike. Be prepared for your hike by knowing the duration of the route, the physical demands of the hike and take breaks when necessary.
Can you hike on white-red-white trails with children?
The simple answer is yes you can, however, you must be prepared! Hiking on white-red-white trails with children requires focus, skill and general mountain knowledge. Hiking with children on mountain trails with strollers is NOT advised and in most cases is not even possible! Remember when hiking on mountain trails, not only are you responsible for yourself, but for your children as well. Keep your children close and on the inside of the trail away from edges, and drop-offs!
We have hiked on white-red-white with our children for over a decade and always enter such environments with extreme caution. We take the time to educate our children on the potential hazards of hiking in the mountains and do our best to provide them with the information they need to hike with caution, yet confidence. We state this not to deter readers from hiking on mountain trails, but to enter the mountains with knowledge and regard for the natural world. Beautiful trails, meadows and mountain inns are only accessible by hiking on white-red-white trails. Don't miss these opportunities, rather hike with consideration by understanding the environment you are entering.
When our children were young, we always brought along a soft-sided carrier that easily folded into our backpack. The carrier served multiple purposes. One, to provide reprieve for tired legs and two, safety. If we were in an area that felt difficult to pass or posed any type of danger, our children were immediately placed in the carrier. We never took risks with them when they were small.
In addition, we were also not shy about harnessing our children in areas that were, in our eyes, not safe. If there was a ridge-line, near a sharp drop, or in an area that felt particularly dangerous, we would put our children's harnesses on. Both of our children had their own harness in the event they required extra stability simultaneously. We purchased their harnesses at a local sporting good store.
Please know how to properly use or fix ropes on your children should you opt to use them in the mountains. Ropes are very helpful, but can be very dangerous if not used properly!
Whenever hiking on white-red-white trails it is essential to wear good hiking boots with adequate tread. Check the tread on your hiking boots routinely! This is also required for your children as well! Hiking boots can be expensive, but they are required equipment for your safety!
It is also a good idea to wear hiking pants, layers for changing weather, sunglasses and a hat whenever hiking in the mountains. Quality hiking socks are a great way to keep your feet happy on the trails!
Please make sure your children are also equipped with the proper gear as well.
If you are ever unsure of the route you plan to hike, please ask a local, the hotel/mountain inn staff, the gondola operators or reference books or maps of the area that provide you with all the details you need to safely navigate the trails. Also be aware of your own skill level and never push past your own personal comfort!
Be aware that weather in the mountains is unpredictable and has the ability to change very quickly. Check the local forecast in the area you plan to hike. If the weather is not expected to be good, stay put until the conditions have improved. If you happen to be on the trail when the weather turns, seek shelter or turn back immediately.
*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!
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!