Pilatus is a mountain near Lucerne, Switzerland. Jurisdiction over the mountain is divided between the cantons of Obwalden, Nidwalden, and Lucerne. The peak is in Obwalden right on the border with Nidwalden.
The top can be reached with the Pilatus Railway, the world’s steepest cogwheel railway from Alpnachstad, operating from May to November (depending on snow conditions), and the whole year with the aerial panorama gondolas and aerial cableways from Kriens. Pilatus has the longest summer toboggan track in Switzerland (0.88 miles or 1.350 km) and the biggest suspension rope park in Central Switzerland.
During the summer, the “Golden Round Trip” – a popular route for tourists – involves taking a boat from Lucerne across Lake Lucerne to Alpnachstad, going up on the cogwheel railway, coming down on the aerial cableways and panorama gondolas, and taking a bus back to Lucerne.
Pilatus was named after a local legend which alleges that Pontius Pilate was buried there.
Numbered amongst those who have reached its summit are Conrad Gessner, Queen Victoria and Lenin.
Whether you admire Mount Pilatus from the centre of Lucerne, whether you stand in Hergiswil beneath its steep slopes, or whether you stand in Eigenthal gazing at the rugged mountain chain towering behind the valley, the mountain always reveals its immense size and shape – although these appear different from every location.
From a geological aspect, Mount Pilatus is the northernmost branch of the Alps. The geological edge of the Alps stretches right through Lake Lucerne. Along this border run the sedimentary layers which traverse the whole of Switzerland and, with the lakes in the Alpine foothills, create some of Switzerland’s most stunning scenery.
The first written reference to Mount Pilatus was made in the 13th century. But Celtic herdsmen already inhabited the extensive heights in much earlier times.
But the real story of Mount Pilatus began with the completion of the Gotthard route. Suddenly, not only local people stood at the foot of Lucerne’s “own” mountain, but also travellers from the whole of the then-known world.
Legends & Myths
Since time immemorial, the rugged cliffs above Lucerne have been enveloped in mysterious myths and legends. in the Middle Ages, people believed that a dragon with healing powers and spirits inhabited the rocky crevices. It was said that the restless ghost of Roman governor once found lasting peace in Lake Pilatus. And so for a long time it was forbidden to climb the mountain – for woe betide any one who disturbed Pontius Pilate!
On its climb from Alpnachstad to Pilatus Kulm, the world’s steepest cogwheel railway passes meadows carpeted with Alpine flowers, crystal-clear mountain streams and fascinating sheer cliff formations. With a little luck you may spot ibex, chamois, colourful Alpine roses, arnica or gentian on your journey. Over 900 species of plants are native to the Mount Pilatus area, many of them officially protected.
Hiking & High-Alpine Paths
Enjoy an easy stroll along the Dragon Path through the rock gallery on Pilatus Kulm – or make a short detour to the «Oberhaupt», the «Esel» or «Tomlishorn». In summer, these Mount Pilatus peaks are accessible along good paths, within an easy 10 to 35-minute walk from the Mount Pilatus hotels.