Hiking in the Nature Parks in the Canton of Vaud | myvaud

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The regional nature park Gruyère Pays d’Enhaut
©Parc naturel régional Gruyère Pays-d’Enhaut

Hiking in the Nature Parks in the Canton of Vaud

Hikes are the best way to enjoy the canton of Vaud’s nature treasures.

Whenever they have the opportunity, grandma and grandpa take their three grandchildren aged 2, 8 and 12 outdoors to explore nature and protected sites. As soon as the sun shines, each member of the small group get ready for a hike in the canton of Vaud. Wearing hiking boots, a cap and a knapsack with a picnic, they’re off!

Two regional nature parks

During these privileged family moments, the two seniors pass on their love of preserved countryside and nature reserves to the younger generation. As fans of sustainable tourism, the family chooses to use public transport whenever possible.

The children follow their grandparents in a good mood towards the two regional nature parks of the canton of Vaud: the Vaudois Jura Park to the west and the Gruyère Pays-d’Enhaut Regional Nature Park to the east. The beautiful surroundings of these regions offer many lovely hikes. Each route offers a vast array of activities for children and adults, who will lovingly remember the discoveries made during their hikes.

Lac de Joux
© Sébastien Staub

Vaudois Jura Park

infographie parc jura vaudois en

Siméon Fir Tree Trail (end of May to mid-September)

In Vallée de Joux, a 45-minute loop from the top of the Marchairuz mountain pass is accessible with an all-terrain pushchair. Grandpa uses the information panels on the secrets of the Vaudois Jura Park to explain that the name of the trail comes from Siméon Meylan. This man, who delivered the post on foot, would have a rest beneath a large white pine tree before tackling the mountain pass. The entire family is dazzled by the view of Mont-Blanc, the Alps and Lake Geneva they can enjoy from two vantage points.

Col Mollendruz-Romainmôtier (all year round)

The retired couple take the older two children on an autumnal hike to the Col du Mollendruz, and then along the Jura crests through wooded pasture grounds. When they start feeling hungry, they stop somewhere along the way and sit down on a rock in the sun to enjoy a sandwich. The stroll then takes them down in the direction of Juriens and Romainmôtier. A visit of the famous abbey church impresses the children! The return trip toward Croy is a pleasant walk along the banks of the river Nozon. When they arrive at their destination, they all warm up with a cup of good tea.

Tour of Lake Joux

Grandma takes her 12-year-old grandson on a Sunday walk around part of the tour around Lake Joux. The vastest water expanse of the Jura massif offers unique landscapes in every season, with wild beaches and many vantage points. How invigorating the air is at the edge of the forest, the lake or the reed bed! Passing by the region’s typical watchmaking farms, the grandmother tells her grandson that they used to be inhabited by farmers-watchmakers.

Having a picnic and playing at the edge of the water are my favourite moments.

– DAVID, aged 8

Chemin de la Dent de Vaulion

Our couple of retirees are take advantage of a clear day to go on a hike with their older two grandchildren. From Le Pont on the shores of Lake Joux, they tackle an easy ascent through the woods and pastures up to Dent de Vaulion. The panorama is spectacular from this vantage point at 1,483 metres above sea level! A 360° view of Vallée de Joux, French-speaking Switzerland and neighbouring France, the Alps and Mont-Blanc. On their way back down, the four gourmets stop at Chalet de la Dent de Vaulion to have a cheese fondue before reaching Le Pont and catching a train back home.

Trail “Ballade à Béatrix”

The grandparents are planning a picnic in the Vaudois Jura Park with their three grandchildren aged 2, 8 and 12. To whet their appetite, they choose the trail called Ballade à Béatrix. This path between myth and reality shows the history of the castle of Saint-Cergue, in the region of Nyon, which was destroyed during the Burgundy Wars. Information panels help them to tell this story to their spellbound grandchildren. Then they have fun in the Vieux Château picnic area. Their grandparents keep an eye on them while admiring the view of the Alps and Lake Geneva.

Randonnée automne

Gruyère Pays-d’Enhaut Regional Nature Park

Path of the Narcissi (Blooming in May)

In May, the meadows above Montreux Riviera are covered in white. It isn’t snow but a carpet of narcissi! This is one of Switzerland’s rare phenomena but among the countless flower shows visible in the canton of Vaud throughout the year. You won’t forget the ascent with a Belle-Epoque funicular to Les Avants! From there, the path takes hikers through forests and across meadows. The grandparents take turns in showing their grandchildren Les Dent de Jaman, Les Pléiades, Les Avants and Caux. A stop at a bench with a view of Lake Geneva and Dents-du-Midi lets them catch their breath. They admire the 360° view from the Cubly viewpoint, which leaves them all speechless.

Col des Mosses - Lake Lioson

Wearing good walking boots, the two older grandchildren and their grandparents start tackling the ascent from Col des Mosses. After a 1.5-hour climb, their efforts are rewarded by a superb view of Lake Lioson 1,850 metres above sea level. “The Pearl of the Alpine Lakes” amazes visitors by its emerald green colour. Now it's time to relax in these tranquil surroundings with a gourmet stop at a terrace, followed by a visit to the zoo. And a dip in the cold lake for those who are up to it!

The Cheese Route - L’Etivaz AOP

In the Pays-d’Enhaut, the grandparents take turns in posing an enigma with the help of their mobile phones. What a challenge! Along the route, the children must be very observant to solve them... Various routes follow the former lines of communication that were used to transport L’Etivaz AOP cheese in the 17th and 18th centuries through woods and pastures to the villages, where this cheese is still made. They all look forward to enjoying a slice of cheese with some bread back home!

Pont Turrian – Cascade du Ramaclé

From Château-d’Oex, the small group walks to Pont Turrian (also reachable with strollers), which crosses the river Sarine. Grandma reads from her guide that Turrian is the oldest suspended bridge in French-speaking Switzerland. It dates back to 1883. Then, when approaching Cascade du Ramaclé, the children get very excited at the sounds of the gurgling water. From the wooden bridge, you can see it foaming and shooting down! While unwrapping their picnic on a table, grandpa gives them the correct names of the brooks: Rosette and Ramaclé.

Hiking in the canton of Vaud allows us to reconnect with nature. We pass this passion on to our grandchildren.

– MARKUS AND RUTH, retirees

The Vanel Gorges

Accessible with a pushchair, this one-hour walk starts in the village centre of Rougemont where the children have fun around the old traditional chalets. They are amazed to learn that the facades are several hundred years old, older than the combined age of their grandparents! Then they get on the La Rite trail and walk along the river Sarine up to the Vanel gorges in a tranquil atmosphere and a verdant setting.

Regional Nature Park - flowers with mountains - summer - Les Mosses
© José Crespo

3 questions to François Margot

François Margot, the coordinator of the Gruyère Pays-d'Enhaut Regional Nature Park, shares his love of the region and the must-do activities to enjoy there. There’s enough inspiration here for your next outing!

Please recommend three must-see activities in the Gruyère Pays-d’Enhaut Regional Nature Park!

Sharing the magical moment of cheesemaking: the carefully organised work to be done by each family member, the log fire, the milk that is transformed in the copper pot, the steam that evaporates when the cheese is transferred to a mould. It’s an outstanding visual, acoustic, olfactory, and sensual ballet! The experience usually ends with the tasting of chalet cream and a piece of L’Etivaz AOP from the previous summer.

The botanical path of Choucas above Château-d'Oex takes us on a wondrous journey that leads to the mountain pub with the same name and then to Les Mérils, where a multitude of colours in the secular meadows have replaced the narcissi carpet in June.

The show called La lumière des moines (The light of the monks) with storyteller Dominique Pasquier immerses visitors in the history of the exceptional Cluniac site of Rougemont. Three indoor and outdoor exhibits between the church and the castle.

Which is your favourite panorama?

I’m unable to choose one. Our diverse landscapes offer so many beautiful sites! In spring, it’s Le Mont in Rossinière, in summer, the rising sun on Rocher du Midi, in autumn the sunset on Lake Geneva from Dent de Jaman, and in winter, the immaculate plateau of Pra Cornet.

Do you have an anecdote to share about life in the Park?

The profound emotion of the representatives of nomadic breeders from Iran, who are fighting for the preservation of their natural pastures, when they watch a désalpe (coming down from the mountain pastures).

François Margot

François Margot

Coordinator of the Gruyère Pays-d'Enhaut Regional Nature Park

Via Alpina montreux

Two iconic trails to explore

Via Alpina

Several demanding trails with splendid panoramas cross the canton of Vaud. The Via Alpina passes by the 14 most beautiful Alpine passes and six Swiss cantons. On Vaudois territory, it leads along the torrent called Torneresse in Pays-d’Enhaut, crosses the typical villages of Château-d’Oex and Rossinière, goes up to the station of the Rochers-de-Naye rack-rail train, before descending back down towards Montreux.

The ridge path (Chemin des crêtes)

The ridge path (Chemin des crêtes) in the Jura forms an arc from Zurich to Geneva. It crosses the beautiful region of the Vaudois Jura, the Vallée de Joux and its lake and leads up to the wooded pasture of Mont Tendre at 1,679 metres above sea level. After climbing up to La Dôle, the trail continues through the woods towards the vineyards and the pretty town of Nyon.