Hiking in Switzerland

A Child friendly hike to the three mountain lakes: Ritom, Tom and Cadagno, Switzerland.

Take a walk to these three breathtaking beautiful mountain lakes that are to be found in the Piora Valley in the Canton of Ticino. There are many hiking trails around this valley but you and your family don’t need to walk very far to get to one of Swiss most beautiful lake where your kids can dip their little toes in the cool water.

The beautiful Piora Valley has more than 20 alpine lakes and among those are the beautiful lakes Ritom, Tom and Cadagno. These three lakes lay only about 30 km away from the exit of the Gotthard tunnel so many are using the tunnel without knowing that just close by are those gorgeous mountain lakes.

There are two ways to reach the lakes.

First option is to take The Ritom funicular, 20 km away from the Gotthard tunnel and right by the exit of the highway. To put on your GPS is, Piotta Centrale FPR, 6776 Quinto. The funicular you will be riding on is Europe’s second steepest with a 87.8% maximum gradient and 786 m of difference in altitude between the departure and arrival station! Once up, you have to walk about 1-2 km to Lago di Ritom. As the funicular doesn’t leave very often, only once every hour, it is better that you schedule your arrival according to the departure of the funicular. The funicular is normally open every day from approx. mid May until mid October but you can find more information, the timetable and price for the funicular here. Incase you need to wait for some reason, there is a huge playground and toilets by the funicular station.

The second option is to drive all the way up to the free parking by the lake and the Restaurant Lago Ritom. To put on the GPS, Lago Ritom. For more information of how to get there by car please click Here.

There are so many trails that leadto one of these three beautiful mountain lakes but let’s start with the biggest, the closest and the easiest one, a child friendly hike around Lago Ritom.

Lago Ritom

The photo is taken from the other end of Lago Ritom.

If you choose to park your car directly by Lago Ritom, the hike round the Lago Ritom takes about 2-3 hours to complete. Only half the lake is accessible for a stroller as the other half of the trail goes through the woods.

 A hike round the lake.

To be honest, I find the 7 km walk around the lake Ritom quite boring because you will only see one lake. It’s a waste of energy and time when you can spend your day seeing all of the three lakes Ritom, Tom and Cadagno! But if you have less time you could walk to the other end of the lake where you will have a beautiful sandy beach and a waterfall. 

Lago Tom

Although the lake Ritom is beautiful, I rather suggest you to skip the walk round the lake but instead walk towards the Lago Tom. I know I have said many times “this is my favorite lake” about other Swiss mountain lakes….but Lago Tom IS my favorite Swiss mountain lake! While Lago Ritom is rather blue, Lago Tom is a shimmering green. Just have a look! 

From the restaurant Ritom/the parking, the 20 minutes walk is on a gravel dirt track along the shore of the lake, which is actually a dam.You will see a path on your left that leads you to this beautiful exotic looking sandy beach, perfect for the small one to splash in the water. Once you turn left, it is about 20 minutes of gentle uphill up to the Lago Tom.

Don’t miss it as Lago Tom might become your favorite Swiss mountain lake aswell!

Photo: Here

The groundhogs are everywhere. But if you can’t see them, you can hear them for sure! They have a high-pitched scream/whistle to warn the other members of their colony when danger is around. For me, they sound like a bird.

It takes about 30 minutes to complete the walk around the Lago Tom. We wanted to find a good spot to have a picnic and ended up settling down right by the sandy beach…it is an obvious picnic spot isn’t?! The first time we where here we saw a tent on the other side of the lake. I asked a lady if it is allowed, she said yes as long as the cows are not grazing around the lake, which they are on a certain time of the year. 

Please keep in mind that around Lago Tom, there is zero shades so bring a parasol if you plan to chill by the lake all day! We had our umbrella which was to little, but provided enough shade for then our tiny Mirabelle.

Lago Cadagno

The distance of this hike is 9 km with about 400 metre of elevation gain. If you want to see all the three beautiful lakes which I highly recommend, from Lago Tom you will have to climb the scary looking hill. It looks scarier than it is! I have to admit that the ascent is not like a walk by the beach, the climb is steep but short of about 150-200 metre of elevation gain, but with a motivation you can do it! Then from Lago Cadagno you can return to the car or the funicular via the forest path along Lago Ritom.

Photo: Here

Once you are on the top that hill, you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the Piona Valley and the two lakes, Ritom and Cadagno.

We have been hiking around these three lakes twice and did the hike in the other direction so we were walking up from Lago Cadagno and down to Lago Tom. As you can see, there are many buildings around Lago Cadagno. One of the building is the restaurant  Canvetto Cadagno (only German and Italian). The other buildings at the end of the lake are actually the Piora cheese factory! During the summer you can find about 500 grazing cows in the Piora valley. The annual cheese production reaches about 3000 pieces! If you have time and energy, please have a look at the cheese factory! More about it Here and Here.

And yes, if I am not mistaken, you can drive all the way to Lago Cadagno! Forgive me, I just didn’t want to reveal the secret before you got to hear about all the hiking options!

Hundred of grazing cows by lago Cadagno in the Piona Valley, Switzerland.

As I have mention above, there are endless of hiking trails to choose from. We did once a hike above Lago Ritom to Lago Cadagno which I don’t recommend as it was nothing out of the ordinary. But I wish that we could once do The seven lake hike where you will have a gorgeous view of all the three lakes Ritom, Tom and Cadagno all together at once.

A strenuous hike above the Lago  Ritom, Switzerland.

So what do you and your family think? Do these three beautiful Swiss mountain lakes in the Piona Valley tempt you to do a family hike together?

Family Earth Trek


  1. All these lakes are beautiful! Definitely a dream to visit on a Switerzland trip! I love that you included the precise directions on how to get to the lakes. I’m an avid hiker, so I love venturing into the wilderness. But most times the hikes I find are so “secret” you’re not provided directions. So I sincerely thank you! Also, is that actually a ground hog?! It looks kind of like a Marmot, a larger version of the rodent, but Maybe they are bigger in Switzerland, ha!

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