Grosse Scheidegg - First - Bachalpsee - Faulhorn hike

Switzerland, Grindelwald

The trail from Schwarzwaldalp (starting at 1,456m above sea level) to the Faulhorn peak (2,681m above sea level) has an increase of more than 1,200m. It’s a demanding hike, but the rewards far outweigh the pain, as the route features panoramic views of the UNESCO enlisted mountain Jungfrau (4,158m above sea level) as well as its picturesque neighbours Monch and Eiger. Along the way, you’ll also come across the Grindelwald First restaurant terrace and its thrilling cliff walk as well as the tranquil Bachalp Lake which perfectly mirrors the enchanting scenery. Finally, the highest point of the trail is the mountain lodge from atop the peak of Mount Faulhorn, rewarding you with endless views of the beautiful landscape.

Please note that the route listed here is measured one way, so if you plan to hike back to the parking area at Schwarzwaldalp you should multiply the time and distance by two.

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Initially, during the planning stage, I was prepared to set off from Grosse Scheidegg, but on arrival it appeared that the pass road shortly after the Rosenlaui glacier gorge is closed for private transport only (with the exception of Swiss Post buses). Nevertheless, the views are too majestic to quickly pass by in a car, so it’s better to hike. The toll for the road to the Schwarzwaldalp parking area is 8 Swiss francs per day, or 16 Swiss francs for 10 days (the parking cost is included).

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Immediately after my departure by foot from the Schwarzwaldalp parking lot, I was surrounded by stunning scenery: the snow-covered mountains of the Jungfrau region on one side, numerous winding footpaths going up toward the peak of Schwarzhorn (2,928m above sea level) on the other.

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It is possible to go to Grosse Scheidegg via bus, but I decided to take a small detour through a marked hiking trail which shortly later joins the road. The reward is the opportunity to fill your water bottles with natural cold drinking water in an authentic Swiss environment.

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This route approaches the main Grindelwald sights from an unusual direction, as most tourists are based in Grindelwald or even Interlaken, and do not see Grindelwald from this angle. That's why this hike is so spectacular; here you can be alone with nature. Standing on a rock in the middle of a wrinkled plateau, thoughts of glaciers carving the valley millions of years ago came to mind. Those glaciers were like artisans crafting unique landscapes, and, all those years later, we’re able to enjoy the beauty of those creations.

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Grosse Scheidegg is the highest point of the pass and after it the road nicely winds towards Grindelwald. The area is very popular among cyclists, so the buses use loud and sometimes musical horns at most of the curves in the road. That adds to an already pleasant mix of cow bells, marmot whistles, and rushing mountain rivers, creating a unique mountain anthem.

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Schwarzhorn (2,928m above sea level)

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There are many waterfalls in Switzerland. In fact, adjacent Lauterbrunnen Valley is referred to as the valley of 72 waterfalls. So, it is not surprising that there are many photogenic streams here, like this Milibach stream as it is seen from the Grindelwald First observation platform.

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First Cliff Walk by Tissot is one of the major attractions in the Grindelwald First area. The walk consists of an approximately 40-metre long one-rope suspension bridge, climbing stairs, and a 45-metre long observation platform.

I had to queue for 10 minutes at the winding observation deck to enjoy the view of the surrounding Alpine pastures, the valley, the waterfall, and the imposing 4,000+ metre mountains, but it was worth the wait. There were also a lot of paragliders in the air, creating a perfectly colourful scene for a photo.

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Grindelwald First to Bachalp Lake is an easy walk with a gentle ascent, leading wanderers to an idyllic setting. If you ask any local in the region about the must-do walk in the region, they would surely name this particular trail.

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The path ascends gently, offering breathtaking views of the valley, stone glacier sentinels, green meadows, tiny streams, and fields blanketed with colourful wildflowers.

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After about an hour I came to Bachalp Lake which is divided by a natural dam. The place is so peaceful that I imagine nobody could resist sitting down for a while to admire the green marshland and the stunning mountain views. Thoughtful Swiss people put numerous benches all around the lake, so everyone is able to find a quiet spot and contemplate the surrounding natural beauty.

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This photo of the distinctive Schreckhorn Mountain (4,078m above sea level) and its reflection in the waters of Bachalp Lake is my favourite from this region, and it reminds me of the Five Lakes Walk near the Matterhorn.

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After a little bit of relaxing at the lake I headed for the Faulhorn peak via the former mule track. The ascent wasn't gentle anymore, and soon the crowds disappeared. Despite the hot mid-July summer, many parts of the trail were covered with deep snow. On the way down such snowdrifts made me recall my skiing skills.

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After a while, Bachalp Lake became a small distant pond; it looked like an azure gem placed into the necklace of the mountain range. I'm not the first to give high praise to the landscapes here, as many seasoned travellers emphasise the beauty of the trails in this area.

One of the major highlights of the trail is the flower-carpeted Alpine meadows, as the Jungfrau region is famous for its flowers. There is an informative Alpine garden nearby at Schynigge Platte where all the flowers are properly marked, so it’s interesting to get there and learn the names of the local plants. For example, you may have heard of edelweiss, but not many know what it looks like.

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After the final and the most energy-consuming ascent, I came to the Faulhorn summit where a very old mountain lodge is located. In 1832 it was Europe's highest hotel. The restaurant terrace offers majestic views of Reeti Mount (2,757m above sea level) in the foreground and Schreckhorn (4,078m above sea level) in the background. At this height flora and fauna become rare, so it feels like a kingdom of rocks and snow.

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Several meters above the Faulhorn mountain lodge, at the very peak of the mountain, there is a natural 360-degree observation platform with several wooden benches for hikers’ convenience. The day I hiked to the Faulhorn peak the southern view was completely obscured by clouds, so I missed a wonderful view towards Brienz lake. Nevertheless, it was one of the most epic hikes for me so far, and I believe the Grindelwald area from its glaciers to Brienz Lake is a must-do for anyone interested in Switzerland and nature.

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