Green Trail on the Via Alpina

The Green Trail is the baby of the Via Alpina at only 14 stages – if you are at all intimidated by the physical challenge of the other trail colors, especially with some of the highest mountain peaks on the whole European continent, then the Green Trail is for you. Or, perhaps it can be a nice relaxing finish to a long, hard trek on the rest of the Via Alpina. The elevations on the Green Trail are much gentler than the rest, with only the mountains of the two countries of Liechtenstein and Switzerland to overcome. The other great thing the Green Trail has going in its favor is that it travels as a very straight shot – it is nearly impossible to get lost on it.

The Green Trail takes off from the second smallest country of the Alps, the Principality of Liechtenstein. Though the shortest section of the Via Alpina, it still covers five cantons and guarantees each visitor a plethora of geological, cultural, and historical features. The Green Trail integrates with the Swiss national “Route Number 1” which can take you all the way to Montreux (and great music festivals!) on the eastern banks of Lake Geneva.

With a total size of just 62 square miles (or about 161 square kilometers), Liechtenstein is a frequently overlooked and missed jewel of the Eastern Alps. The Green Trail is the best way to visit, as it crosses the Valley of the Rhine where over 1,600 species of flora make the Rhine so famously green. So many species in such a small area reminds us to respect the diversity of nature as we pass through without leaving a damaging trace.

Like the Purple Trail, the best place to lodge overnight is the mountain huts and hunting lodges so common on the Via Alpina. For true adrenaline junkies with no fear of heights, you spend a day paragliding on the area’s renowned thermal drafts in this area of the Alps. A number of paragliding companies in the area can set you up to see border-to-border views from the air – check with staff and other guests at the huts for the best.

To top off a great mountain hike, consider pampering yourself for a night or two in the capital city of Vaduz.  In Vaduz very posh and high class hotel rooms can be had for relatively good prices. Treat yourself to a glass of fine local cognac next to a crackling fire overlooking the Rhine Valley. Or take an afternoon to duck into the Royal Hofkellerei wine cellars to taste some Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays that were once only the private domain of the Emperor Charlemagne.