Elm lies in the GeoPark where the Glarner main thrust fault clearly reveals the creation of the Alps. Surrounded by rock bastions, the silted-up Wichlensee lake, resembles an amphitheatre. After the steep Richetlipass, the lonely Durnachtal awaits.
Elm is surrounded by a backdrop of high mountains. Past the church of the Wakker- Prize-winning village, the hiking trail leads through the Gandwald forest protection area. The latter is home to a rare denizen: the Turin master maple forest. With its rich variety of plants it can only grow in areas with warm Alpine winds, such as in the Sernftal Valley. The pleasant forest road makes way for a rocky path and a steep trail meanders past meadows and avalanche barriers. Another short piece of forest and you are in Elm’s ski area with panoramic views of the Tschingelhörner and the 16 m Martin’s Hole through which the sun falls directly onto the church tower of Elm, but this happens only twice a year. Once you’re past the Ämpächli mountain restaurant, the first strenuous uphill part is over. A nice gravelly trail briefly changes to a path near the Steinibach. The horses may be long gone at the hamlet of Hengstboden (stallion land), but what’s left are some picturesque wooden huts built in the 19th century. After a last glance back to Foo Pass you continue through the trees and then the view opens up all the way to the Panixer Pass. When it was crossed by General Suvorov in 1799 countless soldiers died here in the snow during the retreat from the French army. Well into the 20th century, the mountain pass was an important connection leading from Glarus via the Grisons to Italy. The Obererbs ski hut appears a short while later. It can also be reached by bus and may be a possible intermediate stop on Via Alpina’s longest stage (walking time of approx. 9 hrs.). If you choose to continue, take the steep path across the meadows and the Gasichlebach creek. Take a last look back at the Sernftal Valley, Hausstock Mountain and Panixer Pass from the lookout before Erbser Stock and a few minutes later you will see Alp Wichlenmatt ahead of you. The alp looks like an amphitheatre surrounded by rock bastions. The following uphill section to Richetli Pass is quite steep. At 2260 m you have reached the highest point of the hike and crossed the pass. On the way to Unterstafel in the Durnachtal you will descend approximately 800 m. Suddenly, there are marmots everywhere. Every now and then you hear them whistling a warning of danger. Continuing on a wide gravel or paved road, the route turns into a steep forest trail near Stalden. Today’s destination is Linthal, the southernmost village of the Canton Glarus.