In the spring, I asked my followers what trip they would send me on, preferably in the eastern part of Switzerland. Monika wrote me that she had never seen us in the canton of Glarus and that it was a pity because it was really beautiful there. And she was right! Not only in that we hadn’t set foot in this canton* in our entire nine years in Switzerland but of course in the fact that it’s beautiful! Even though my daughter and I only saw a snippet of it in one day, even that excited us to return.
*You may argue that we were at Walensee Lake, which is also in the canton of Glarus, but we were in an area that is already in the canton of Sankt Gallen 😉
The canton of Glarus
With an area of 685.31 km2, the canton of Glarus is the tenth smallest canton in Switzerland. As of 31 December 2021, it had 41,190 inhabitants. Large differences in altitude characterize the area of the canton of Glarus: from a flat valley at 414 m above sea level, the terrain rises to over 3,600 m above sea level. The highest peak is the Tödi, which at 3,612 meters, is the highest mountain in eastern Switzerland. Glarnerland is a diverse holiday region, but it also has a long industrial tradition, especially in the field of artistic textiles. The capital of the canton is Glarus, the smallest Swiss cantonal town. Interestingly, since 1861, when a massive fire destroyed the old quarters, the streets of the capital Glarus are arranged in a grid pattern. The official language of the canton of Glarus is German. 83.6% of the population speaks German, and 6.8% Italian.
Among its most famous destinations and places of interest are the aforementioned Lake Walensee, the Klöntalersee, Mettmensee, and Obersee lakes, the car-free mountain village of Braunwald, the tectonic area of Sardona, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Elm, which is perfect for a relaxing winter or summer holiday. And this is where we were headed.
How to get to Elm
From Zurich or Chur, exit the A3 at exit 44 (Niederurnen). Then follow the main road through the town of Glarus and follow the signs to the various holiday resorts. If you want to take inspiration from our day, just before entering the town of Elm, take the fork on the left to “Dorfkern”. Then follow the sign “P Gemeinde”- turn left off the main road, drive past the Gemeinde (municipal house) and you will see the free parking lot behind the school.
What to experience in Elm in one day
1. ELMER Citro Quellenweg
From the parking lot, head towards the bridge over the creek and after a few metres you will reach the children’s playground where the 4.4 km long ELMER Citro Quellenweg loop trail begins. As the name suggests, it is dedicated to the local fizzy drink, which was created in 1927 when local entrepreneur Oskar Schärli mixed local spring water with lemon syrup. Shortly before the end of the route, you’ll come across its highlight: a well full of bottles of ELMER Citro, available for your free refreshment. The well should fill up daily, but if you happen to find it empty (like we did), you can go straight to the ELMER Citro Quellenerlebnis to get your bottle!
2. ELMER Citro Quellenerlebnis
During a visit to the ELMER Quellenerlebnis (production plant), you will learn all about the local mineral springs, the ELMER brand and you can take a look directly into the modernised bottling plant where ELMER Citro is produced and bottled. Admission is free and it is open from Monday to Thursday 08.00 to 11.00 and 13.30 to 14.30, on Fridays 08.00 to 11.00.
3. RiesenWald aka Giant Forest
Just an 8-minute walk from the Quellenerlebnis factory (or a minute by car) is the bottom station of the Sportbahnen Elm cable car (parking is free). The cable car is relatively cheap: a return ticket costs CHF 19/adults, and CHF 10/children over 6 (SBB Halbtax and Junior cards are not accepted). A 2.5 km long loop for children starts at the Ämpächli top station. Be sure to pick up a map, on the back of which you will find the story of the giants that are part of the local mythology. On the trail you will find 17 interactive stations and even 6 (!!!) barbecue spots. Along the way, you will also enjoy spectacular views, for example of the Sardona tectonic area and the Martinsloch, a 17-metre-high and 19-metre-wide rock window that lies some 2,600 metres above sea level below the Tschingelhorn mountain ridge. Four times a year, two days in spring and two in autumn, the sun shines through the Martinsloch directly on the church in Elm shortly before it actually rises. The apparition lasts only about two and a half minutes (some sources say less than 5 minutes). Then the sun disappears, to finally rise about ten minutes later over the mountain ridge. The earliest natural spectacle will take place at 9.32am on 30 September and on 1 October, the event will be repeated at 9.33am.
Before or after completing the loop route, children will certainly not miss having fun on the trampolines. These are located right in front of the restaurant. So while you can enjoy something good from the menu on the terrace, the kids can work off their energy. The trampolines and other play elements are also free!
5. Downhill ride on a scooter or giant tricycle
If you want to experience a little more adrenaline at the end, you can ride scooters or giant tricycles to the valley station. The route is about 4 km long and the ride takes 15-25 minutes depending on how fast you go.
PS: you must have noticed that I didn’t give details of both hiking routes in the article. They are part of another project I will tell you about soon. Until then, you can try to guess 😉
Anyway, I still hope you enjoy your day in the Elm region!