Not your typical hike: Trekking in Grindelwald

by Jason Park
Stripes Europe

For many, Switzerland invokes images of skiing down clean, white snow or paragliding through the beautiful valleys flanked by imposing mountains. All those images come alive in the Jungfrau region, but I also discovered during my short stay that there is more to Switzerland than high-adrenaline sports. Hiking in the Jungfrau region is a one-of-a-kind experience.

The Jungfrau region provides a multitude of trails for everyone from adventurous, fit hikers to families with young children. My favorite route is the First to Bachalpsee Lake trail in the Jungfrau region. I would recommend this trail to families looking for a pleasant excursion. You can get to First by taking the First Aerial Cableway from Grindelwald, a town in the Jungfrau region. Round-trip tickets will cost about 58 Swiss francs. Once you arrive, I suggest you go on the Sky Walk. When I was there, the fog obscured the mountains. But on a clear day, there are breathtaking views of the Alps, a glimpse of what is to come. Venture forward to Bachalpsee Lake and prepare for a scenic hike.

The trail is relatively easy compared to many of the trails in Jungfrau. It has a gentle incline at the beginning and lenient slopes. While experienced adventurers might not like the easiness of the trail, they will enjoy the scenery. The huge mountains of the Swiss Alps will be visible on a clear day, as well as the Jungfrau region, an awe-inducing view! The green fields of the region nicely contrast with the rocky backdrop. The hike is estimated at 50 minutes, but if you love taking pictures like I do, it will take longer.

When you arrive at your destination, you will soon discover a sight to behold. On a clear, sunny day, you can expect to see fields and mountains bordering Bachalpsee Lake. When I arrived, it had been snowing, but what I saw was still incredible. The lake had become partially frozen, and the grassy meadow was replaced with snowy fields. It was like walking in a winter wonderland.

If you take the original route back to Grindelwald, you will see the scenery from a different perspective, one you might find more beautiful. Although it’s somewhat hidden, there is an alternate route you can take to see steep cliffs and get a closer look at of Jungfrau. After hiking midway, look carefully to the right; you might be able to see faint hints of the trail. You will have taken the right route if you see two benches facing toward the mountains.

Instead of taking the same route back, there are several harder trails back to Grindelwald. You can find more information in the Wandern Hiking pamphlet, found at any train station in the Jungfrau region.

Helpful information: When visiting Jungfrau, there are many towns you can choose to set up as your base camp. The town I chose, Grindelwald, is a convenient location in terms of distance from the mountains and trails. It has a number of hotels and restaurants. You may find that the prices are higher than your typical European excursion, with a meal typically ranging from 16 to 40 Swiss francs. The Derby Hotel’s restaurant has a nice selection in that price range. If you are traveling alone and don’t mind sharing a dorm with three other people, try the Mountain Hostel. One night with breakfast costs about 33 Swiss francs, definitely a more budget-friendly inn.

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