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Heart of Switzerland

134 km Distance
2,611 m Ascent
2,611 m Descent

(7 ratings)

Featuring almost 50 kilometres of climbing, this loop calls for fitness and a love of adventure.


The road starts climbing the moment you leave Altdorf – moderately as far as Bürglen, birthplace of William Tell. That is where the ascent proper to the Klausen pass starts, one of the classic passes of the Tour de Suisse.  You soon find yourself entering the Schächen valley, which boasts a spectacular waterfall on the far flank.  The road just before Unterschächen features a slight descent for 1.5km – welcome respite before the final 12 kilometres of climbing, where the gradient is never less than 7%. The summit at alt. 1948m is finally reached after 24km of climbing.  The descent amid the cliffs is spectacular. The route flattens out for a few kilometres through the Urnerboden, a high-level valley dotted with farms where time seems to have stopped still.  A few more hairpins and you arrive in Linthal then Glarus. The next challenge is the Pragel pass up a narrow, tranquil road. The first part of the climb is steep, reaching Lake Klöntal ringed by awe-inspiring cliffs after 5km. This level section helps you gather your strength in readiness for the last 10 kilometres of pass road, culminating at alt. 1548m. It is closed to traffic at weekends.  The downhill to Schwyz is steep – thankfully the loop is not in the other direction! The return leg to Altdorf follows the craggy shoreline of Lake Lucerne.