Thumbnail for the map of the custom 'Pilatus Rundweg' (C-108) hiking trail. Opens link to interactive web map.

Elevation Profile

Elevation Profile of the custom 'Pilatus Rundweg' (C-108) hiking trail.
Source1: Bundesamt f├╝r Landestopografie; Drawn with

Useful Links

Free Parking

Short Description

Pilatus is known as the landmark mountain of Lucerne, Switzerland, despite being shared by the cantons of Obwalden and Nidwalden.

It is also a mountain massif comprised of several peaks, rather than there being a “Pilatus Peak”. The most often visited (and most easily reached) peak, which is also the peak most people mean when they refer to “Mount Pilatus” is “Esel”. This is also where the huge tourist complex with cable car and funicular stations, restaurants, etc. is located.

If you’re looking for a round trip up and down Pilatus Esel, starting and ending at the closest (official and public) parking space and with minimal overlap/backtracking, then you might find this custom route of mine useful.

Now when I say custom route, that doesn’t mean unique. I drew it on a map, but due to the limited number of hiking paths, you’re bound to find the same route elsewhere. Not with my route report below though ­čśë


  • Despite the local legends, you are unlikely to find any dragons with healing powers along this route.


Apart from the routes I shot for Schweizmobil and the two two-day hikes I did, I had one more goal left on my To-Go list for this summer: Pilatus as a round tour, without cable cars.

Vierwaldst├Ądtersee, as seen from the ascent to mount Pilatus.

Since the weather played along nicely, and Esel peak conveniently features a webcam to check if there’s any snow yet (or still, if going in early summer), I got the chance to finish off my list.

Little chapel and picnic area featuring a human fence to keep the sheep out.

The ascent along my chosen route was a fairly consistent, moderately steep incline with mostly broad and easy hiking paths, apart from a short, slightly slippery sand and gravel portion near the peak. Great views abound the whole time.

Image of a jackdaw perched on a railing, overlooking the peak visitor complex on top of Pilatus (Esel), Switzerland.
Overlooking his kingdom. Also: The busy Pilatus Esel Station.

Even on a Wednesday, you can expect the Pilatus visitors’ center – or tourist bulwark as I like to call it – to be absolutely packed with tour groups from all around the world and the odd sweaty person with a backpack here and there. Expect to stand in line to climb the stairs to the platform on the actual peak.

View from the top

The view is worth it, though I’d recommend having lunch before or after the peak, if you’d like to eat in peace.

View from the little goat path I chose as my descent route.

Juxtaposed to the peak experience and to a lesser extent the ascent, my chosen descent route was almost devoid of human life. A welcome relief for this introvert.

The trail here was a bit more “interesting” as well, which is another way to say “tiny goat path, careful where you step”.

The Danger Zone (Last image before I sprained my ankle back on the tarmac, with 50 meters to go.)

Back on tarmac, almost at the parking space and car in sight, I must have relaxed a bit too much while being distracted talking to some people I met along the way, missteped, and once again sprained my ankle, almost like I did two months earlier on the way back from S├Ąntis, except this time I also got a bloody knee from the fall. Saved the camera though!

Yes, lesson learned. I guess my weak ankle is back (it was or seemed fine for years until the S├Ąntis incident) and I need to wear a brace, or rigid boots, or maybe tape it for hikes. With the upcoming winter hiking season, I won’t be tempted to use trail runners for a few months anyway.

The hike itself was fun though and I can highly recommend this route.

Would you like to share your own experiences with this hike? Do you have any questions? Something to add? Feel free to leave a comment below ­čÖé

Route Report / Gallery

Full size images without watermarks are available for licensing to interested parties. Check for a selection of my favorites, or contact me for details.


Don’t miss a hike ­čÖé

Basic Data

Date of Hike:2022-10-05
Participants:Roman (Solo)
Technical Difficulty:T2


Net Hours (Est.)6.3
Net Hours (Act.)4.6
Ascent (m)1472
Descent (m)1472
Max. Alt. (m)2115
Cable Car?No
Share this on Social Media

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *