Right after I finished the first three days of my hike along the Rhine River, I started making plans for the next leg of the trip. This time a dear friend joined me. We packed our backpacks and took the train to Schaffhausen where Day 4 of the ViaRhenana begins.
Day 4: Unlike the last time I started out, we didn’t have to worry about the weather at all. There was nary a drop of rain in sight and so we left the rain gear at home and packed our swimsuits instead. The sun shone brightly in Schaffhausen as we crossed the river and started walking towards Rheinau (14 km / 8.7 mi). In Neuhausen, where the famous Rhine Falls are, we stopped briefly to catch a glimpse of the waterfall. We were passing along the southern bank of the river where the castle is, and the view is not quite as spectacular if you don’t pay to go in. But I highly recommend going in when visiting. Watching the river rush down and around the rocks is an amazing experience.
For the most part, the trail is right along the river in the shade of the trees. As it was a hot day, we were glad we weren’t walking in the bright sun. It is late summer and the trees are slowly changing from bright green to yellow. The light is dappled and golden at times.
Before long we found ourselves in Rheinau. Rheinau is best known for the Rheinau Abbey, a former Benedictine monastery. Today, the monastery is dedicated to music, providing seminars, a hotel and a place to rehearse for musicians and music lovers. We can definitely recommend stopping at the restaurant with the lovely terrace right on the river.
Rheinau also boasts many pretty buildings and is home to the Staatskellerei Zürich, which makes delicious wines. Founded in 1862, the original purpose was to supply hospitals and psychiatric institutions with wine. Today, the company is one of the largest producers of wine in the Canton of Zurich and processes grapes from over 90 vinyards within the Canton.
On a side note, this covered bridge leads to Germany on the other side of the river. On the other side of the bridge customs officers wer checking cars and bicyclists crossing the border. Due to Covid, everything is a bit different at the moment. This part of the river is very quiet and extremely clear. It seems to be a place where scuba divers practice because we saw many either getting into the water or actually swimming below us and under the bridge- their bubbles climbing to the surface a sure giveaway.
Day 5: This was our longest day (20 km / 12.5 mi) from Rheinau to Eglisau, but also the most beautiful. Early in the morning the mist still hung in the trees and over the water.
We left our hotel and walked alongside a vinyard before heading down towards the river. This was once again a day that was spent mostly along the river. First it was through a forest and then later through a nature preserve before it was back into a forest. We were very happy with that, again because it was a hot day.
We actually crossed the river in to Germany. Unlike last time, the ferry was up and running. But we didn’t spend much time in Germany and within three minutes we were already back in Switzerland. But we did have a bit of fun straddling the border and standing in both countries at the same time. This is where the nature preserve began and we saw many birds, fish, lizards and frogs.
Shortly before noon, we found ourselves in a small village and were talking about stopping to drink something cool. At that moment, we passed a gelateria which would be opening in 15 minutes. Not one to say no to ice cream, especially if it creeps up on me like that, we sat down at the side of the road, ate our lunchtime snack and then treated ourselves to delicious Italian gelato. It was hard not to just stay there and eat more ice cream. But we knew that a dip in the cool river was waiting for us in Eglisau and on we went.
Day 6: This leg of the trip from Eglisau to Rümikon (14 km / 8.7 mi) was trying. Not only was it not particularly scenic, it was loud due to the trail running parallel to the highway and it was beneath the approach path area for airplanes preparing to land Zurich Airport. It was bothersome and knowing that there are still less flights now than there usually are, made it worse. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like when airport operation is at 100%. As we sat in Kaiseraugst, a pretty little town, we decided to cut the hike short and not hike all the way to Bad Zurzach as originally planned. In the end, it was a very good idea. Looking at the map, we didn’t miss out on anything at all. The trail would have continued on along the highway and through an industrial area.
Once I was home again, I took another long look at the map and decided to leave out Day 7. This leg of the trip is 31 km / 19 mi and not only doesn’t run along the river for a large portion of the trail, but is parallel to the highway and the railroad tracks. It also passes a nuclear power plant for good measure. I think I can skip this portion of the hike with a clear conscience and finish the hike in another three-day jaunt.
Thank you to my dear friend for joining me, and I can’t wait for our next hike together!
Paulangelo Gelateria: Perfectly creamy and delicious gelato.