Red Tape

In Switzerland, everyone is permitted to roam nature freely on foot, with very few restrictions. The basis for this is article 699 of the Swiss Civil Code and article 14 of the Federal Act on Forest. This applies not only to forests and meadows, but also to wasteland like rocks/scree or glaciers.

For the SOTA activator, this means that almost any HB summit that is listed in the SOTA database may be activated, without asking anybody for permission, even though some of these summits may be on private land.

Notable exceptions (no claim to completeness):

  • Designated Wildlife Areas and Wildlife Reserves
    Switzerland has a lot of those. Usually, they do not impose any relevant restrictions to hikers in the summer months. In winter, things are different, and many of these areas may not be entered, or only on designated routes. Most popular summits have at least one designated/allowed route, so it is still possible to activate most summits that are in such areas in winter, but you need to check the designated routes beforehand. You can find more information here: Respect to protect
    The free online maps provided by Swisstopo are also very helpful: map.geo.admin.ch. Type „Wildlife reserves“ and „Designated wildlife areas“ in the search field to display all these areas/reserves on the map. Click an area to show the details on what is allowed and what is not. Designated routes are marked in green.
  • Swiss National Park
    In the Swiss National Park, it is not allowed to leave marked paths. This means that if there is no marked path to a summit, then you cannot activate it. Summits that are located entirely within the park and that do not have a marked path have not been included in the SOTA database at all. However, there are various SOTA summits on the border of the park, and these may only be activated from the side that is outside the park (which may be the more difficult side).

Motor vehicles are not allowed on (unpaved) forest roads, even if no signs that forbid their use are present. Bicycles are allowed (unless signposted otherwise), including pedelecs up to 25 km/h.

Camping and bivouacking are more restricted, and regulations vary by area. The SAC guide has some helpful information.

It should go without saying that these rights to access come with responsibilities: do not litter, do not disturb animals, do not remove any plants etc.

Important: The information given on this page cannot be considered to be legal advice. In no case will HB9SOTA be liable for any direct or indirect damage resulting from the use of information on this website.