Switzerland – a hiker’s paradise

Switzerland – a hiker’s paradise

Switzerland is an amazing country. It’s a paradise for hikers and mountain lovers. Ever since my trip to the country back in 2009, I wanted to go there again. And in 2020, I finally did. Surprising as it may seem, it was thanks to the corona outbreak which made me stay in Europe longer than I had wanted or planned.

I went to Switzerland mainly as a railway fan. I wanted to take the famous mountain express trains. But I’m glad to have been able to combine my train adventure with a couple of hikes.

I did the following 5 hikes:

  1. Mt. Pilatus – Alpnachstadt (village): near Lucerne
  2. Schynige Platte – Faulhorn – Bachalpsee – Grindelwald (village): near Interlaken
  3. Lauterbrunnen (village) – Tanzbödeli – Obersteinberg – Stechelberg – Lauterbrunnen: near Interlaken
  4. Alp Grüm – Sassal Mason – Lago Bianco – Ospizio Bernina – Bernina Pass: near Poschiavo
  5. Sfazù (hamlet) – Lagh da Saoseo – Pozzolascio (hamlet): near Poschiavo

Hike #1

Mt. Pilatus (2.128 m) – Alpnachstadt (435 m)

Hiking time: 2 hours .:. Distance: 8 km

Mount Pilatus is a very popular destination near the city of Lucerne. There are multiple ways to get up to the mountain. You can hike either from Lucerne or the village of Alpnachstadt. Alternatively, you can take a cable car. Another option is the Pilatus rack railway. Finally, you can combine some of these options.

A huge railway fan that I am I went for the rack railway. I took a train from Lucerne to Alpnachstadt where the rack railway starts. As it it fairly expensive I only took a train up and then hiked down.

When the weather is good, the peak offers great views of the surrounding area including the city of Lucerne and the lake of the same name as well as another lake, Alpnachersee.

If you decide to hike bear in mind that it’s a strenuous hike along a very steep terrain. At least from Alpnachstadt. I am not sure about the path from Lucerne.

The view from Mount Pilatus – the rack railway on the left and the hiking path on the right
Mount Pilatus – the top station of the rack railway, the hotel and the Esel peak
Mount Pilatus – the top station of the rack railway, the hotel and the Esel peak
The view from Mount Pilatus

Hike #2

Schynige Platte (2.076 m) – Faulhorn (2.681 m) – Bachalpsee (2.265 m) – Grindelwald (1.034 m)

Hiking time up: 2 hours 40 minutes .:. Hiking time down: 2 hours 15 minutes .:. Distance: 21 km

Interlaken is a city situated near the most famous peaks in the Swiss Alps such as Mönch, Eiger and Jungfrau. You could spend weeks, or possible months going on a different hikes in the area.

I only decided where to go hiking in the morning. Business as usual. I figured I’d hike from the village of Wilderswill to Schynige Platte, a mountain ridge in the Bernese Alps and then hike on. But again, being a big fan of trains I decided to take a train up to the ridge. It’s a rack railway, too. It turned out to be a good decision because then I was able to do a long hike up in the mountains and see more.

From Schynige Platte I hiked to the Faulhorn peak. The standard hiking time is 4 hours 10 minutes, but I made it in 2 hours and 40 minutes. When I started hiking the weather was great but by the time I reached Faulhorn it had changed. There were clouds all over the ridge I was hiking along. Annoyingly, the ridges on the other side of the surrounding valleys were bathing in sunlight.

I spent an hour at the top and then hiked further to a lake called Alpnachsee. Afterwards, I hiked down to Grindelwald, a picturesque village offering numerous activities to its visitors.

Signposting is clear and reliable in Switzerland
Hiking up to Faulhorn
Happy hiker at the top of Faulhorn
I love the contrast in the landscape
The valley with the Grindelwald village
Coming to Grindelwald – everything is clean and neat in Switzerland

Hike #3

Lauterbrunnen (802 m) – Tanzbödeli (2.133 m) – Obersteinberg (1.778 m) – Stechelberg (910 m) – Lauterbrunnen (802 m)

Hiking time up: 3 hours 15 minutes .:. Hiking time down: 3 hours .:. Distance:  26 km

This was by far the longest and most demanding hike I went on during my holiday. Again, I only decided to do this hike in the morning. I took a train to Lauterbrunnnen, another stunning village close to Interlaken offering a lot of options to the more active travellers. Stechelberg is a much better starting point than Lauterbrunnen but transportation was very expensive and so I relied more on my legs which became the heroes of the day.

It was again a strenuous hike up a steep path and especially the last stretch took its toll on me. So once I reached the top, Tanzbödeli, I needed to lie down and catch my breath. What is great about this place is that you get a 360-degree view from up there and the snowcapped mountains seem to be super close. I spent and hour there enjoying the scenery. The weather was amazing. There wasn’t a single cloud in the sky.

Going down, I hiked to the Obersteinberg mountain hut first, where there are two paths you can continue hiking along. I went straight down and hiked nearer to the waterfalls and the creek. I passed the village of Stechelberg and hiked on back to Lauterbrunnen.

Mr. Hiker and the Junfrau peak above my head
Breithorn on the left and Tschingelhorn on the right
The stunning stowcapped mountains are just across the valley
The view from Tanzbödeli
The view from Tanzbödeli – the Lauterbrunnen village in the valley and Gimmelwald and Mürren in the mountains
Hiking down to the Stechelberg village

Hike #4

Alp Grüm (2.091 m) – Sassal Mason (2.355 m) – Lago Bianco (2.234 m) – Ospizio Bernina (2.253 m) – Bernina Pass (2.328 m)

Hiking time: 1 hour 50 minutes .:. Distance:  7,5 km

I did this hike while staying in the Poschiavo Valley south of St. Moritz. Although I thought I’d hike up to Alp Grüm I eventually took a train there in order to save some energy for hiking in the more interesting and beautiful parts of the area.

Alp Grüm is a railway station on the Bernina Express line and is a very popular stop as it offers stunning views of the mountains. There is also a restaurant there. I was deciding where to go while hiking. I came up with the idea of going to the Lagh da Caralin (a mountain lake) but the path was closed due to the danger of falling rocks. So I went for the original idea and hiked to the Sassal Mason viewpoint. What a stunning view!

After that I hiked down to the Lago Bianco, which is basically a reservoir sitting at the altitude of 2.234 m above sea level. There is a railway station called Ospizio Bernina which is again on the Bernina Express line. It’s just a few minutes walking from the Bernina Pass.

The view of mountains over the Lagh da Caralin
The view from Sassal Mason – Lagh da Palü, Alp Grüm railway station and Val Poschiavo in the mist
Being photographed by a lady who didn’t own a smartphone
Trulli, stone houses, at the Sassal Mason viewpoint
Lago Bianco in the distance
Lago Bianco
The peaks and the glacier above Lago Bianco
Lagh de la Cruseta and the Bernina Pass in the distance
The view from the Bernina Pass

Hike #5

Sfazù (1.622 m) – Lagh da Saoseo (2.028 m) – Pozzolascio (1.552 m)

Hiking time up: 1 hour 10 minutes .:. Hiking time down: 1 hour .:. Distance: 11.5 km

When I reached the Bernina Pass I wanted to make it to the Saoseo lake. I could have hiked down to the hamlet of Sfazù but it would have been additional 8 km of hiking. At least. And I probably wouldn’t have made it to the lake and then back to Poschiavo before dark. So I reckoned. Let’s try hitchhiking. And I was lucky. An Italian guy who worked in Switzerland gave me a lift. Thank you!

From Sfazù it’s quite a hike to reach the Saoseo lake but the effort paid off. The lake is stunningly beautiful surrounded by pine trees and mountains. I spent quite some time taking in the beauty of the place. The weather seemed to start changing and so I decided to hike down because rain had been in the forecast.

I made it fairly quickly down to a different part of the hamlet where there was the main road to Poschiavo. My hostel was some 13 km away which after all the hiking was quite far and so I decided to try my luck again and hitchhike. I was lucky again. A Swiss couple gave me a ride back to Poschiavo. Thank you!

Mr. Hitchhiker at the Bernina Pass
Lagh da Saoseo
Lagh da Saoseo

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