The Swiss Hiking Federation says «Merci»

It is only thanks to the efforts of volunteers that the 65,000 kilometres of hiking trails on Swiss territory are in such good shape. It is time to say thank you.

Hiking is the most popular sport in Switzerland. Around 4 million Swiss people regularly hike and undertake an average of 15 hikes per year, each lasting three hours. At an estimated hiking speed of around 4 km/h, this means that almost 800 million kilometres are covered on Swiss hiking trails every year. This corresponds to a distance of around 20,000 circumnavigations of the earth! Record-breaking, isn’t it? 

Carefree hiking enjoyment is only possible thanks to volunteer support

The umbrella organisation Swiss Hiking Federation or Schweizer Wanderwege, 26 cantonal hiking trail organisations and more than 1,500 volunteers are responsible for the unspoilt hiking enjoyment. On 65,000 kilometres of hiking trails throughout Switzerland, they clean, install or replace signposts, paint intermediary markings or, depending on the canton, also carry out simple maintenance work. 

One volunteer is Peter Schaffner, who has been volunteering with Zürcher Wanderwegen for seven years: «Hiking is my passion. My commitment is a matter of the heart,» the Kloten native explains. «From time to time, hikers approach me during my control tours and thank me for my work – that is my greatest reward. Nevertheless, it is nice when our achievements are also appreciated publicly,» he adds.  

Get to know Peter better. In the video he takes you on one of his control tours.

100,000 hours of volunteering per year

Nationwide, all hiking trails are inspected at least once a year by the volunteers of the 26 cantonal hiking trail organisations. Thus, more than 100,000 hours of volunteer work are accumulated annually. Without the contribution of volunteers as well as the financial support of private donors, companies and the public sector, the free provision of attractive and reliably signalled hiking trails would not be possible. This is because the paths on the official hiking trail network must be freely accessible by law. 

There is always something to do on the hiking trails of the Swiss Hiking Federation. Andrea and Rolf Guntli in action. © Schweizer Wanderwege 

The Swiss Hiking Federation says «Merci»

According to the Swiss Hiking Federation it is high time for a «Merci» and, with its national online campaign, is putting the focus on the commitment of 1500 volunteers for the second time after 2021. «The volunteers of the 26 cantonal hiking trail organisations do enormously valuable work as silent helpers. Our intention was to raise awareness and make their commitment visible,» says Andrea Boillat, Head of Marketing and Communication at the Swiss Hiking Federation.  

Would you like to say «Merci» too?

Use #merciwanderwege on your social media channels or donate an amount of your choice now on for the maintenance and preservation of hiking trails in Switzerland. On the website you can also find out more about the Swiss Hiking Federation and its work and have the opportunity to meet other volunteers. 

This approach gave rise to the idea for a nationwide campaign. «We hope that this will not only give us recognition and clarification that hiking trails are not simply a ‹public service›,» she continues. «The umbrella organisation Swiss Hiking Federation is 65 per cent financed by private patronage and donations. The cantonal hiking trail organisations, where the coordination of volunteer work takes place, also rely on membership fees. Only in this way can the continuation of the high-quality hiking offer in Switzerland be secured in the long term.» 

26-year-old geology student Yohualli Muñoz says «Merci» and joins the campaign. 


«I am grateful for the well-maintained hiking trails»

One of the protagonists of the campaign is Yohualli Muñoz: «I am grateful for the well-maintained hiking trails and the reliable markings. This way I can discover impressive landscapes and go on carefree tours with my friends. But I hardly ever thought about who takes care of the hiking trails in the past. Today, I gladly help to make the achievements of volunteers better known and to give something back with my ‹Merci›,» says the 26-year-old geology student, explaining her motivation to participate in the campaign

What was your absolute hiking highlight? Tell us and in the comments. 

Heinz Egli on Tour


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About the author


Anna Kocher has been responsible for sponsorship and partnerships at Swiss Hiking Federation for a year now. Together with its partners, it implements large and small projects on a daily basis, all of which ultimately benefit hiking trails in Switzerland. She never once needed to question the meaning of her work. Anna spends the rest of her time outdoors with her two sons and her husband – in summer on hiking and biking trails, in winter on and off the ski slopes. 

In the mountains

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