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Thru Hike - Via Surprise - Route 32

Ever wanted to give a thru hike a go, but feeling intimated by the duration and time required to do so? The Via Surprise (Route 32), takes hikers through Baselland and Solothurn via six stages spanning 87 kilometers, gaining 3,500 m ascent and descent. It's the perfect local route for those ambitious enough to try a thu hike, without having to cover hundreds of kilometers. Though short in physical distance, don‘t underestimate this trail as you will be engaging in significant climbs and downhill sections.

This trail is classified as moderate and earns that rating, despite being a T1 trail. If you are new or a long term resident of the area, the hike makes the ideal location to become better acquainted with the beauty that surrounds you. You will weave through Solothurn, the Jura Mountains and the Basel area gaining greater appreciation for the natural landscapes and villiages located in your "backyard." The circular route starts and concludes in Dornach and is easily accessible with public transportation (though always check schedules that rely on bus transportation on Sundays.)

The stages can be completed as outlined on the Schweizmobil website, or should you elect to cut the longest days (17 km) shorter, you have some flexibility with this route.

Each stage is unique and provides the hiker with fresh perspectives. From rolling hills, beautiful meadows, to mountain peaks, to dense forests and open vistas, this route is special throughout. The Via Surprise proves that you don't have to travel far to experience timeless beauty.

6 Stages Overview:

Stage 1: Dornach to Seewen

  • 14 km

  • 580 m Ascent

  • 320 m Descent

  • Roughly 4 hours (allow more time for stops and picnics)

  • On this leg of the route you will pass the Roman Catholic Church located in Arlesheim and will witness Ermitage to your left. Schönmatt is the perfect location to stock up on regional products such as jam, dried fruit, honey and other goods.

Stage 2: Seewen to Wasserfallen

  • 12 km

  • 660 m Ascent

  • 280 m Descent

  • Roughly 4 hours

  • Interesting fact about this route is you will pass through Reigoldswil, a modest village once known for its weaving of silk ribbons.

Stage 3: Wasserfallen to Beinwil

  • 17 km

  • 740 m Ascent

  • 1,100 Descent

  • Over 51/2 hours (this portion of the hike is classified as difficult) We totally agree with that classification. Bring poles for the long downhill section.

  • This portion of the hike will reach the highest point of the route. You will hike through the Thal Nature Park navigating through the Jura and Wasserallen. Climb the the peak of the Volberg mountain for impressive views of Napf located in the Swiss Plateau.

  • This one is a challenge with no easy options to cut short!

Stage 4: Beinwil to Zwingen

  • 17 km

  • 520 m Ascent

  • 760 Descent

  • Roughly 5 hours

  • The Chaltbrunnen Valley is the highlight of this route. With incredible vegetation and the impressive Ibach River, you will feel as though you are in a natural oasis.

  • Tip: if you want to cut this one short, there is a parking area at 11km in the Chaltbrunnental, and a Bus Stop about 1km away (Himmelried, Schindelboden).

Stage 5: Zwingen to Mariastein

  • 11 km

  • 540 m Ascent

  • 380 Descent

  • 3.5 hours

  • The most impressive aspect of this route is the Mariastein Abby known globally as a location of healing and refuge. Pilgrims come to the location to witness the „Maria im Stein Chaple of Grace,“ which is located in the depths of the church.

  • Tip: if cutting the last 3 stages into 4, the Bus Stop (Blauen, Dorfplatz) may be a good option.

Stage 6: Mariastein to Dornach -The final stage!

  • 16 km

  • 440 m Ascent

  • 660 m Descent

  • 4.5 hours

  • This route is utterly pleasant leading hikers through the Chälengrabe gorge and on to the impressive Aesch vineyards.

  • Tip: if cutting the last 3 stages into 4, the Bus Stop (Hofstetten SO, Bergmattenweg) may be a good option

Special Features:

  • The route is void of crowds.

  • The Via Surprise is a fantastic series of hikes. It will help you become better acquainted with the local area.

  • Nature is plentiful along the route with streams, rivers, gorges, meadows and mountains.

  • The Wasserfallen area is of particular interest offering hikers restaurants, a rope park and other forms of outdoor recreation.

  • This trail is ideal for those with hiking experience.

Be Aware:

  • Some trails are hiked infrequently, therefore, you will experience overgrowth of vegetation. Use patience in these areas.

  • Pack plenty of provisions on the long days. That includes enough water, food, rain gear and hiking poles.

  • Having cash and pocket change is advised for small markets or restaurants along the way.

  • Some of the trails provide little shade and are fully exposed. Have sun protection at all times.

  • The days on the trail are long and not suitable for strollers or young children. Our son participated in this hike and at 15, was able to easily handle the long days.

  • You will pass through grazing pastures for cows and livestock. Please use caution and remember the guard dogs in Wasserfallen are working. Do not approach the dogs who are there to protect the sheep from predators.

  • The Wasserfallen Lift Station does not accept Halb-Tax, however, they do accept the Junior Card.

  • There are few toilets and water filling stations throughout the six stages. Be prepared.

  • Be aware of ticks, as the trails are often narrow and through dense forestation.

  • If cutting the last 3 stages into 4, our suggested stages would be:

    • Beinwil to Himmelried

    • Himmelried to Blauen

    • Blauen to Hofstetten

    • Hofstetten to Dornach

Why Get Out There?

  • The views from Wasserfallen are stupendous.

  • The quiet serenity the trail offers is remarkable.

  • We cannot think of a better way to get to know your local area.

  • Have you ever felt the euphoria that washes over you when you set ambitious goal and actually finish it ? It's an incredible feeling!


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