Lake Walen, Switzerland

Lake Locations:

Switzerland - Glarus - St. Gallen -

Also known as:  Lake Walenstadt, Lake Walensee

Lake Walen spans almost 6,000 acres between the cantons (states) of Glarus and St. Gallen in the mountainous terrain of northeastern Switzerland. Lake Walen is also known as Walensee (see=lake) and Lake Walenstadt. With majestic beauty, year round recreational opportunities, and the lure to visit the setting of the classic children’s book, “Heidi”, tourists create lifetime memories with their time spent here.

In the mid 18th century, the outflow of Lake Walen was where two rivers, the Linth and the Maag, connected. Spring snow melts caused flooding at the juncture of the two rivers, raising water levels on Lake Walen and creating swampland along the shoreline. Seasonal swampy conditions impeded agriculture and led to water-borne diseases among residents. Conrad Escher from Zurich masterminded the solution to this problem by creating a channel that made the Linth River flow into Lake Walen. A second channel, named the Linth Channel, was constructed at the outflow to connect Lake Walen and Lake Zurich, thereby eliminating the Maag River. This channel improved area living conditions by lowering the water level in Lake Walenstadt by 16 feet, drying up the swamps and decreasing water-borne diseases. In addition, the land between the lakes, known as the Linth plain, created a fertile area of approximately 5,000 acres needed for farming and food production. Today, Lake Walen’s primary inflows are the Linth River, Seez River, and Murgbach River, with the primary outflow being the Linth River.

All around the shores of Lake Walenstadt, opportunities for fun await your visit. Vendors have pedal boats, flipper tread boats, row boats, and motor boats for rent to add to your enjoyment on the water. A certified diving school will provide lessons on the art of diving to allow you to explore the underwater world of the lake. Volleyball fields have been constructed on the sandy shores for off-water fun. With consistent and stable breezes blowing across the lake, the conditions are always great for sailing and windsurfing. If you prefer to just lie back on the sandy beach and relax, the action on the water will keep you entertained, watching as others splash through the water as they water ski or jet ski. Guide services are available for those who want to wet a line and try their hand at fishing for pike, perch and lake trout.

Lake Walen is at the center of many beautiful and historical Swiss towns and villages that offer their own distractions and entertainment. Steep cliffs, some up to 3,200 feet, surround the lake which makes travel sometimes difficult by car. The mountainous terrain offers challenging and popular hiking and mountain biking trails. Many travel packages are created for the outdoor enthusiasts who want to see the country at their own pace, either by foot, bike, boat or a combination. Small villages along these routes provide overnight accommodations and great cuisine for visitors as they explore the country.

The small village of Quinten can only be reached by foot or boat on Lake Walen, but the trip is worth the effort. The steep mountain wall protects it from bad weather and provides an almost Mediterranean type climate. Grapes, kiwi, figs and other fruits flourish here and are used to make the local wines that are the village’s only industry besides tourism.

On the northern shore of Lake Walenstadt, the Seerenbach Falls tumble over a cliff 2,300 feet into the Rin Spring which is the source of the Rin River. The falls can be accessed from the village of Betlis, only by foot, but the scenery is spectacular and worth the walk. While in the village, take time to explore the ruins of Strahlegg Castle that dates back to the first century B.C. which is thought to be used by the Romans as a watch tower.

The area from the western part of Lake Walen to the town of Bad Ragaz is known as Heidiland in honor of the setting of Johanna Spyri’s classic children’s novel, “Heidi”, first published in 1880. A village renamed Heididorf has created a Heidi Trail that starts at a museum showing how Heidi would have lived over a hundred years ago. The trail then winds up through pastures to a chalet that symbolizes her young friend, Peter the Goatherd’s, hut. The trail continues winding up higher to the location of where Heidi’s Alm-Uncle lived. The trail eventually winds back down through picturesque scenery and lush meadows to the starting point in Heididorf.

Near Heidiland is the world renowned home to natural healing thermal baths that have attracted visitors since the middle of the 13th century, Bad Ragaz. Today the area is a resort that offers many medicinal and wellness packages that include time soaking in the magical warm water. Visitors to the spa also have access to golf courses, biking and hiking trails that offer exercise as well as beautiful glimpses of the Swiss Alps and crystal clear mountain lakes like Lake Walen.

During the cold season, all of this turns to a winter paradise that attracts skiers from around the world. The area offers multiple ski areas, for downhill skiing, carvers, snowboarders, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and winter hiking into addition to sledding and tobogganing. Trains and chair lifts from small villages operate during the season to transport visitors to the top of the slopes for access to all the fun.

No matter where you travel around Lake Walen, vacation rentals are plentiful. Self-catering holiday homes, apartments, villas, chalets, and cottages are available for your accommodations. Spa and resort rentals offer a wide range of packages for many budgets. During the winter, one village even offers igloos for an overnight stay. Historical grand hotels to farm stays offer tourists overnight choices in many locations. Along the many trails, campgrounds, hostels, and small inns are accessible to meet your needs.

For many years there has been a debate whether Heidi was based on a real character, but there is no debate over the beauty of the area around Lake Walen. With so much to do and see, it does not matter which season you choose to visit. As you make your plans, be sure you pack your camera, comfortable walking shoes, and an appetite for adventure; you do not want to miss anything!

Things to do at Lake Walen

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Tobogganing
  • Museum
  • Ruins

Fish species found at Lake Walen

  • Lake Trout
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Trout

Lake Walen Photo Gallery

  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lake Walen Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 5,977 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,375 feet

Average Depth: 344 feet

Maximum Depth: 495 feet

Water Volume: 2,026,783 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 1.425 years

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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