It’s summertime in Switzerland and, in case you didn’t know, that means hiking.
Easy trails to gorges. Pretty trails to car-free villages. And difficult trails with plenty of vertical climb.
The first portion of this week’s trail was the latter: a steep vertical climb from a famous waterfall called Trümmelbach into the high alpine landscape of Wengernalp. From there, the mountains opened up to us and the trail followed meandered less steeply to Kleine Scheidegg and then up to Männlichen.
If you’re looking for a challenging day hike, you’ll find our route below.
If you’re looking for something more moderate but still extremely scenic, the hike from Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg to Männlichen will let you soak up the high alpine views. And for something very easy? Take the train to Kleine Scheidegg and hike to Männlichen on a mostly slight uphill slope (or take the cable car to Männlichen and hike to Kleine Scheidegg on a slightly downhill slope).
The start of the hike is rocky and narrow, with cables drilled into the walls to help you up. You’ll mostly be surrounded by forest, but occasionally the switchbacks will emerge into scenic viewing areas with sweeping views of the valley below.
Perhaps an hour in, you’ll come to the gorge where the Trummelbach waterfall comes roaring out of the high Alps and cutting into in the rock. It’s stunning, but go through quickly. Signs warn that if a piece of the glacier breaks off, a massive wave can sweep through the gorge.
Eventually, the forest opens up into high Alpine fields. This time of year (July), there are plenty of wildflowers and you might have to pass through herds of cows.
Once you reach Wengernalp and turn toward Kleine Scheidegg, you’ll very quickly come into view of the truly high peaks here. The rest of the walk is backdropped by snow-capped rock-faces.
(Psst, this post may contain affiliate links, which means if you purchase something through one of my links, I get a commission at no extra cost to you.)
Want to experience the hike for yourself? Here are some relevant details:
Bergweg vs. wanderweg
In the German part of Switzerland, you’ll typically see two different designations of hiking trails. A wanderweg is a walking trail. Typically, these are well maintained and require basic surefootedness. The trails also tend to be wider and if there’s a steep dropoff, there’s usually some sort of fencing or rock wall to keep you from falling.
Bergwegs are mountain trails and they typically require more experience and awareness. They might have steeper drop-offs, thinner ridges to cross, and narrower trails. They’re also usually very quiet, as not many people know about them or attempt them.
The first section of the above route (from Trümmelbach to Wengernalp) is a bergweg. The other sections, I believe, are wanderwegs.
Hiking times and local transportation
To get from Lauterbrunnen to the trailhead, you’ll need to either hike along the valley floor (about a 40-minute walk along an easy, well-marked trail to Trümmelbach) or take a bus and get off at the Trümmelbach stop.
From the Trümmelbach entrance, to get to the bergweg, you’ll need to walk along the road toward Stechelberg (if you’re facing the Trümmelbach entrance, turn right and follow the road). The first driveway you come to on the left is the start of the trail. You should see a trail sign at the end of the drive. Walk onto the property and left around the garage (you’ll see white and red sticks – these are trail markers pointing the way). Straight back to the cliffs you’ll find the bergweg.
From there, follow trail signs in red and white to Wengernalp. Once you reach the top, there’s a bunch of trail signs, one of which points you toward Kleine Scheidegg. Once you get to Klein Scheidegg, you’ll see signs pointing you across the train tracks to hike toward Männlichen.
From Männlichen, you can take the cable car to Wengen and the train from there to Lauterbrunnen (this is what we did).
If you want to extend your day and still have the stamina, you can also hike back down to Wengen via Kleine Scheidegg (moderate hiking level) or hike down the extremely steep trail from Männlichen to Wengen (difficult trail, plan accordingly). From Wengen, there’s an easier trail to Lauterbrunnen, or you can take the train.
Our own times on each stretch were as follows:
Trümmelbach – Wengernalp: 2.5 hours, including a stop for a picnic lunch
Wengernalp – Kleine Scheidegg: 1.5 hours
Kleine Scheidegg – Männlichen: 1 hour
The bergweg is marked with red and white stripes and the wanderwegs are marked with yellow trail markers. Both trails are well marked.
Dogs on trails
Dogs are welcome on Swiss trails. Make sure you clean up after yours and keep in mind that the bergweg above is steep, narrow, and rocky at parts. I kept Luna on the leash so that she didn’t fall off the mountain.
It’s also worth noting that cows can be aggressive toward dogs, especially if the dog is barking at them or otherwise bothering them. If you come across grazing cows, keep your dog leashed and controlled. If you have a small dog, it might be wise to carry them through.
What to bring
Wear good hiking or trail running shoes (I like Salomon women’s speedcross) and bring a jacket no matter what (once you get high enough, there’s always a chance of cool weather) and poncho if there’s any chance of rain. The weather here can change on a dime.
I saw two or three water fill-up stations along the way, but definitely bring plenty of water as well.
Since I’m hiking with a middle-aged small dog and occasionally she’s had some knee issues, I also hike with a dog backpack. Here’s the one I’ve been trying out (and really love – I think it’s my new go-to).
All photos taken with my Sony a6000.