Themed Nature Hikes
With the start of the warmer season, exploring the beautiful Swiss landscapes by hiking becomes even more enticing. And you don’t have to go far! While the Alps certainly offer fantastic hiking opportunities that should not be missed, there are also many gorgeous hiking paths in the Basel region, including some themed trails that will captivate the whole family with artful pieces dotting the way. You can discover mysterious and enchanting fairytale creatures on the Skulpturenweg in Reinach; educational sculptures representing our solar system on the Planetenweg in Laufen; art pieces by Swiss and international artists in Langenbruck; or markers telling of the history and the stories of the surrounding area along the Rehberger–Weg24 Stops. Some of these trails also include the option to picnic along the way.
For more suggestions on themed hiking trails in Baselland, see https://www.baselland-tourismus.ch/entdecken-erleben/themenwege
Skulpturenweg Reinach (Reinach Sculpture Trail), Reinach, BL
Take an artistic nature walk through the Leywald forest in Reinach, which is filled with frightening creatures as well as mysterious and enchanting characters, including witches, trolls, fairies, elves, Pinocchio, various animals, dragons, and much more. In the spring of 2005, 10 artists sawed, carved, and filed a total of 12 stunning fairytale figures that comprised the original Holzskulpturenweg (wooden sculptures trail). Four years later, the trail was expanded with an additional 12 beautiful sculptures, followed by 4 more in 2009 and 18 in 2011, for a total of 46 figures by 22 artists. Allow yourselves to be surprised by the variety and creativity of these sculptures, and let your kids tell you about or create the fairytales that go with the sculptures. Bring some marbles for the marble run that will mesmerize the kids. To get to the sculpture trail, take tram 11 to the stop “Reinach Süd” and continue along Fiechtenweg, past the Schulhaus Fiechten, all the way to the edge of the forest (about 1.4 km, or just under a mile); follow the signposts. If you go by car, you can park at the Schulhaus Fiechten or at the Friedhof Fiechten (cemetery) and walk to the edge of the forest (about 1 km or a little over half a mile). The entire trail is about 600 meters long and should take about 1 hour, without any breaks. You can make a half-day outing out of it by bringing a picnic lunch or food to grill. There are two BBQ/picnic areas on the trail; the first one can be reached in about 40 minutes and has a fireplace, firewood, tables, and benches. The second rest area, about 5 minutes later, has a grill area and benches, which is ideal for the simple roasting of sausages and marshmallows. As this trail is managed by Reinach’s local council, it is free for everyone. You can download the graphic of the trail and its various sculptures at www.bgreinach.ch/kulturelles_holzskulpturenweg.php.
Planetenweg (Planet Trail), Laufen, BL
The completely renovated Planetenweg near Laufen was reopened in May of last year. It invites the public on a galactic hiking adventure that is suitable for the whole family, with fairytale reinforcement in the form of a forest troll. Welcome to the Planetenweg (planetary path) of Laufen, where the solar system has been recreated at a scale that allows you to hike through the galaxy—the Earth and the moon are separate by a mere 38 centimeters, and a barbecue area is located between Saturn and Uranus. This planetary path can also be discovered with the lively forest troll “Moggä” as a helper. Always at his side are the clever meadow elf “Rinchen,” the bickering squirrel brothers “Zangg” and “Öpfel,” as well as a six-legged, blind passenger named “Siebäbei.” This interactive fairy tale, which is available as a picture book and can also be played on the smartphone via QR code, serves as an audio guide and turns the hike into a galactic adventure for the whole family. The book “Moggä und das galaktische Abenteuer auf dem Planetenweg” (Moggä and the galactic adventure on the planet path) is available for purchase in the Avec Shop at the Laufen train station and in the toy shop Amsler in the Laufen city center. The Panetenweg Laufen has been completely redesigned—in addition to the route, the planets, stars, and information boards are also new, and the exhibits are also intended to appeal to art-savvy space lovers. The exhibits were created by stone sculptor Stefan Schnell from Nenzlingen. The trail has a length of 6.2 km, and like the orbit of a planet around the sun, it is now a circular route. Including the start and finish of the path from the Laufen train station, the entire distance measures 8.3 km. The total walking time is roughly 2.5 hours and can be accomplished with relative ease because the terrain is mostly flat. Laufen can be reached from Basel by car or train in about 30 minutes.
Skulpturenpark Kloster Schönthal, Langenbruck, BL
Embedded in the picturesque landscape of the Jura, the Schönthal sculpture park, which was opened in the year 2000 near the former Schönthal monastery, shows works by international and Swiss artists inspired by nature. The artists familiarize themselves with the monastery, its history, and the archaic landscape, and then develop site-specific sculptures for the meadows and forests around the monastery that was built in approximately 1140. The collection slowly grows with the spirit of a “work in progress.” Currently, 31 works by 22 artists are lining the paths. You can go to their website to download a map of the art works (“Wegplan”). Guests are welcome to find their own way across the approximately 100 hectares of land at their own pace; solid footwear is recommended. The hike will last anywhere from 1.5–4.0hours, depending on how much time you take to encounter the art and enjoy the nature. The sculpture park is accessible all year round, irrespective of weather. Entry costs CHF 10 for adults or CHF 20 for families at the ticket office at the monastery, where you can also buy a map showing the location of the works of art. They are a private initiative and maintain the monastery buildings and the sculpture landscape without any public support, so they kindly ask you to place your admission fee in the box if the ticket office is closed. In addition to the sculptures in the park, there are also temporary exhibits that take place inside the monastery that can be viewed on Fridays from 14:00–17:00 and on weekends from 11:00–18:00. The current travelling exhibit is by xxx artist Andrea Wolfensberger, who has been tracking voice movement patterns for several years now. Corrugated cardboard records the up and down of selected soundtracks, cement becomes a store for faded bird calls. The unique exhibition of art that transposes into a haptic topography and onto the plane of a sheet of paper takes place in the architectural setting of the former Romanesque abbey church, in the abbey courtyard, and in the abbot’s room. The Schönthal monastery can be reached in about 30 minutes by car from Basel, but can also be easily accessed by public transport by taking the Postbus from Liestal to Langenbruck, followed by a 15-minute walk to the monastery; the way is signposted.
24 Stops Rehberger–Weg, Riehen to Weil am Rhein
Covering a linear distance of about five kilometers, the Rehberger-Weg links two countries, two municipalities, two cultural institutions—and countless stories. The path runs between Riehen and Weil am Rhein, between the Fondation Beyeler and the Vitra Design Museum Campus. Guided by “24 Stops”—24 way-markers created by the artist Tobias Rehberger—walkers can explore a uniquely diverse natural and cultural landscape. The project was installed in two stages in the fall of 2015 and spring of 2016. With its mosaic of vineyards, fields, traditional orchards, woodland, and a nature reserve, the Tüllinger Hill reveals a great deal about the flora, fauna, viticulture, and agriculture in this region. The neighboring urban areas sketch a brief history of architecture through the juxtaposition of buildings representative of an international architectural avant-garde with others deriving from a farming tradition, groups of listed buildings, and 20th-century urban development concepts. The Rehberger-Weg and its way-markers therefore provide an opportunity to get to know the history and the stories of the surrounding area and its inhabitants and to tell them again, as well as encourage an excursion into nature. Check their website for a full view of the path and its starting points and to download the “Walking Map.” The 5-km trail can be walked in both directions, or from March to October, you can opt to take the 24-Stops shuttle service between the Fondation Beyeler and the Vitra Campus (€ 6 or free for kids under age 8). You can also download the app through the iTunes Store or visit them through Instagram at www.instagram.com/24stops/.