Winter hike from Heiligkreuz to First and Hasle

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Winter hike from Heiligkreuz to First and Hasle

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The Entlebuch Biosphere, in the heart of Canton Lucerne, is a natural area rich in environmental treasures. As the first Biosphere Reserve in Switzerland, designated by Unesco 20 years ago, Entlebuch offers many opportunities for relaxation and recreation in contact with nature and promotes a gentle and environmentally friendly tourism. Looking for the last snow of the season, our hike starts from Heiligkreuz to first climb up to the Bergrestaurant First and then return to the valley, in Hasle.

Heiligkreuz

We love... the Entlebuch Biosphere!

Located in the heart of Switzerland, between Lucerne and Bern, the Entlebuch Biosphere is a natural area full of treasures. Covering an area of about 400 square kilometers, the reserve offers many opportunities for lovers of leisure, relaxation and untouched nature. Established more than twenty years ago, Entlebuch is today a popular nature and hiking destination. Few regions in Switzerland have such a variety of intact natural and cultural landscapes: peat bogs, alluvial and fluvial forests, cave systems such as the Schrattenfluh and the Napf area. Today the area is also strongly oriented towards eco-sustainable tourism and promotes the production and sale of local products, for which the special label “Echt Entlebuch” has been created.
Our excursion starts from the pilgrimage town Heiligkreuz, in the heart of the region and where, according to tradition, a piece of Jesus’ cross is kept. From here, we will hike up the mountainside to the Bergrestaurant First and then back down into the valley, first to Heiligkreuz and then over the hills to Hasle. At the time of our visit, the little snow still on the mountain was already frozen, so it is advisable to take along and wear ice spikes. And for a safe and risk-free winter hike, remember to read our tips at this link!

How to get there

Arriving by public transport

Bus stop "Hasle LU, Heiligkreuz Kirche"

arriving-train

Heiligkreuz is easily accessible by public transport. From Lucerne train station, an hourly train takes you to “Hasle LU” in about 35 minutes. From Hasle station, you will need to take PostBus line 233 to the “Hasle LU, Heiligkreuz Kirche” stop, which you will reach in about 15 minutes.
Tickets and travel options can be found through the SBB website or the SBB App, which we still recommend you use to check schedules and line operations.

Arriving by car

Bus stop "Hasle LU, Heiligkreuz Kirche"

arriving-car

Heiligkreuz is also easily accessible by car by taking the charming Road 10 through the hills of Entlebuch. Road 10 can be reached from major Swiss cities via the Swiss highway network. Once you reach Heiligkreuz, you can park your car here. However, there are only a few parking spaces on the main square and in the surrounding streets, which is why we recommend that you use public transport to reach Heiligkreuz.

Hike overview & map

The hike we are proposing is a linear route that starts in the town of Heiligkreuz and, passing the Bergrestaurant First, a little higher up, returns to the valley through Heiligkreuz and Hasle (LU). This is an easy route of about 11 km that can be covered in about three hours and 15 minutes at a relaxed pace. The path is well marked along the entire route and develops, in the highest part, along snow-covered but not prepared roads. In our case, given the little residual snow, it was sufficient to wear good waterproof hiking shoes. But given the icy ground, the advice is to bring ice spikes to help friction and reduce the risk of slipping. No picnic areas are available along the route, but you will find a good hotel-restaurant (Hotel Kurhaus Heiligkreuz) in Heiligkreuz and the Bergrestaurant First at the summit. This last one has variable opening hours depending on the season, so we suggest you check in advance on their website. At this link, you can also consult the “Heiligkreuz-First” webcam (at the bottom of the page), for a more accurate check of the weather and snow conditions in the area.

Hasle-elevation-profile

Arrival in Heiligkreuz

We arrive at the Hasle train station on a sunny March day. From here, a small shuttle PostBus takes us in about 15 minutes to Heiligkreuz, a small pilgrimage town. According to legend, a piece of the Cross of Christ is kept here. This is, of course, a legend, but it explains why over the centuries this place has become so famous as a pilgrimage destination and, above all, why it is still known today as a place of strong spiritual energy, so much so that in recent years it has become one of the most popular destinations for lovers of relaxation and spirituality. In fact, the peacefulness of the place and the green pastures that surround it inspire a certain level of mental serenity and visiting this small town is always a pleasure, both in summer and winter. In the small square of Heiligkreuz we find the Capuchin church, a hotel-restaurant and a public toilet. We won’t find any others along the route, so we suggest you to take advantage of them! From the square we also start our walk to the First Restaurant, at an altitude of about 1400 meters.

From Heiligkreuz to First

Leaving the church behind, we follow an asphalt road right in front of us. The first part of the route is not very snowy and runs on an asphalt road. From time to time, some icy stretches put us in a little bit of difficulty but luckily we brought our ice spikes with us! After the first 500 meters of walking, we leave the residential area behind us. From here, we continue for about 1.3 km along a mountain road that climbs slightly. At about 1.8 km from the beginning of the path we find a fork: we leave the asphalted road and, turning left, we start the ascent towards the Bergrestaurant First. From here, the path is definitely more snowy and from time to time the shoes sink into the snow. We follow the path through a forest and from time to time enjoy magnificent views of the surrounding mountains and valley. The place is not very crowded and this allows us to stop and listen to the silence and the sounds of nature that surrounds us. After about a kilometer and a half of walking we reach the highest point of our excursion, at about 1400 meters. Here, the Bergrestaurant First is closed, as are the ski facilities. We already knew this: the winter season is over and there is very little snow left. However, from up here, the view of the valley below is truly magnificent! So we decided to lie down on the snow in the sun, take a break and eat our packed lunch! A break with a view, in short, before resuming the journey back to Heiligkreuz.

From First to Heiligkreuz

The last part of the trail is downhill and is about 2.5 km long. It first follows the side of the mountain along a serpentine path, and then continues along a sloping ski slope, which at the time of our visit was not in operation but that, anyway, some brave people from time to time still try to use.
Here the trail becomes more icy and slippery, so once again we recommend using ice spikes. After about 2 km from First, we reach a small forest near Heiligkreuz. Here we follow the “Wurzilla fairytale Trail”, a themed trail that runs along wooden walkways in the forest and tells of the adventures of Wurzilla, from the picture book “Wurzilla and the Dragon of Heiligkreuz” by Lisbeth Scheidegger-Lieb. The place is ideal for families with children, but it’s also a nice way to end your hike here by becoming a kid again for a while!
In Heiligkreuz, which we reach in just a few minutes, we decide to take a break at the Hotel Restaurant Kurhaus Heiligkreuz, which offers lunch, snacks and ice cream on its sunny outdoor terrace.
If you arrived here by car, your excursion ends now. However, we have to get to the Hasle train station to return home. We could take the Postbus that brought us here this morning… but the sun is high in the sky and the day is warm, so we prefer to walk until we reach Hasle. The route, after all, is absolutely fascinating and entirely downhill, so not at all tiring!

From Heiligkreuz to Hasle

From Heiligkreuz, the route to Hasle follows the asphalt road for about 3 km. Fortunately, the road is not very busy and cars are not a danger. The post bus to Hasle also passes through here, so at any time, for the first three kilometers of the route, you can decide to stop walking and take the bus. As you walk through forests, valleys, cultivated fields and farms, you will forget all about the snow you left at the top of the Bergrestaurant First and enjoy the wonderful spring atmosphere.
However, after a three-kilometer walk from Heiligkreuz, we suggest you leave the asphalt road and turn left onto a footpath – a shortcut – which will take you to town in about 1.5 km. From here you can easily reach the train station for your return home.

Tips

1

This route is designed for those who reach the town by public transport and, therefore, need to return to Hasle station at the end of the route. If, on the other hand, you have chosen to reach Heiligkreuz by car, you can simply end the hike after the descent from Restaurant First. In this case, you will complete a circular winter route of about 6 km that can be covered in just under 2 hours.

2

This route, with a few minor variations, is also accessible during the summer together with many other hiking options in the area. Take note for the warm season because the summer views here are truly magnificent!

3

About a 15-minute walk from Heiligkreuz is a huge sycamore tree, a living monument whose canopy has grown 30 meters over several hundred years. It is said that this tree, a symbol of life, is a source of great power and can really help recharge your batteries. Believe it or not, why not give it a try?

4

Are you planning an hike here and have doubts or questions about this route? Let us know by leaving a comment below and we will get back to you as soon as possible!

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