Hill walking in the Jungfrau region
Classic Alpine scenery accessed on well-marked, well-maintained trails makes for a fabulous walking holiday.
The beauty of the Jungfrau region has been attracting tourists to this part of Switzerland for decades, writes local hiking enthusiast Bettina Mumenthaler.
Besides the impressive panorama, the authentic villages of Grindelwald, Wengen, Mürren and Lauterbrunnen and the huge range of outdoor activities make it an Alpine playground with few equals.
For me personally, hiking is the best thing to do here. Walking alongside the world-famous Eiger north face you can really feel the enormous power such a mountain exudes. I’ve only visited a few places in the world that make you feel the power of nature as the vast mountains do here.
Wildflowers and grand views near Mürren
There are four main villages in the Jungfrau region. Each of them has its own particular characteristics or speciality that makes it unique.
Bachalpsee lake above Grindelwald
has clear-blue water in which several mountains are reflected. It’s a place I always like hiking to – but so do many other tourists. If you prefer hiking on less trodden paths, try the hike from Pfingstegg (above Grindelwald) all the way to idyllic Bäregg, a mountain hut above the lower Grindelwald glacier.
The village of Wengen
lies on a sunny terrace high above the Lauterbrunnen valley. Not being linked to the road network, it is only accessible by train, which makes holidays there even more delightful and relaxing. Hiking here is a pleasure, without any disturbance from traffic noise.
Every year in January, the
downhill race takes place
at Wengen. Today’s athletes
hurtle down the slope
at up to 160 km/h.
From Wengen, you can easily reach Kleine Scheidegg, a great starting point for ski days in winter and hiking tours in summer. From Kleine Scheidegg, with its incredible view of the north face of the Eiger, you can also access the highest train station in Europe (3,454 metres) on the Jungfraujoch, with views to the 25km-long Aletsch glacier.
Like Wengen, Mürren
is a car-free village and has therefore been able to wholly maintain its authenticity. The cable car connects the Lauterbrunnen valley and Mürren with the unique mountain landscape of the Schilthorn. There is a great revolving restaurant on top from where you can marvel at all the mountain peaks.
Walking through Mürren
From Mürren, it's a gorgeous hike down to Stechelberg on the Lauterbrunnen valley floor. The surroundings of the village Lauterbrunnen
are totally different from the three aforementioned villages. On each side of the Lauterbrunnen valley, vertical rock faces surround the little village encasing it in the mountain landscape. The valley is also the setting of the famous Staubbachfall and Trümmelbach waterfalls.
The Lauterbrunnen valley inspired Tolkien to create “Rivendell” in The Lord of the Rings.
Wengen and Lauterbrunnen are so utterly different, you wouldn’t even believe that these two places are less than 15 minutes apart from each other by train. Due to all those vertical cliffs, Lauterbrunnen attracts a lot of base-jumpers who get an adrenaline kick by jumping off them, dropping down into the valley at high speed.
TOP 5 EXPERIENCES
1. Hintere Gasse Trekking Tour
This four-day hike from the Lauterbrunnen valley to Kandersteg is one of my favourites. Each day, you walk between 2.5 to 4.5 hours and sleep in traditional, simple mountain huts. The warden of each hut can give you plenty of tips about the surrounding area. Waking up in the morning to be surrounded by the high alpine scenery an amazing experience.
2. UNESCO World Heritage Trails
Mountain trails in the UNESCO World Heritage area of Jungfrau-Aletsch start in Stechelberg. There is a great variety of well marked trails to explore. Follow any route to the upper Lauterbrunnen valley: wild, lonesome and idyllic!
3. Eiger Trail
The Eiger Trail in Grindelwald is the best way to get as close as possible to the Eiger north face. In about 2.5 hours it leads you over steep alpine meadows and rocks along the north face. The finishing point of the hike is Alpiglen station on the Wengernalp railway.
4. Schynige Platte – Faulhorn - First
This day-long hike is simply out of this world! It leads you from the beautiful Schynige Platte to the summit station of the cableway Grindelwald-First, and takes about 6.5 hours to complete. On the way you will be able to marvel at an abudance of incredible natural beauty, like the shimmering Sägistalsee mountain lake and the trio of mighty peaks: the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
5. Grindelwald First – Grosse Scheidegg
This short hike of 1 hour 40 mins is perfect for families. A gently undulating path leads you from First to Grosse Scheidegg which marks the watershed between the Jungfrau region and the neighbouring Haslital region.
WHEN TO VISIT
Best times to go:
A lot of cableways close in spring for maintenance and repairs. That’s why I wouldn’t recommend coming before June due to the risk of not being able to do what you planned because of the cableways being closed. But from the beginning of June until the end of October you should be absolutely fine. I personally love hiking in September because the air is the clearest then and it’s not so hot anymore.
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