Swiss engineering amazes me at every turn. What vision they had even a century ago to make it possible for tourists, not just mountain climbers, to enjoy the high ground! The train that is known as the “BOB” (Berner Oberland Bahnen) dates to 1890, and thanks to Italian engineers, a train takes you to the Jungfraujoch at 11,371 feet above sea level.
Continuing our series on easy hiking in Switzerland, the trek from First to Grosse Scheidegg is magnificent. Usually, one would have to work much harder and deal with more people to have such stunning scenery. The adventure starts with a three-stage ride in the Grindelwald-First cable car, a 25-minute ride of more than 3 miles. Yes, another marvel of Swiss engineering. It is beautiful and it has been possible to take this ride since 1947. If all you have the energy to do is take the cable car, it is a worthy outing. But try to press on and you will be rewarded ten-fold!
From the top of the First lift, a super easy hike is to Bachalpsee. I’ll write about that trek another time. The hike to Grosse Scheidegg is only slightly more challenging and far less crowded.
Grosse Scheidegg is the pass between Grindelwald and Meiringen. A bus makes the trip, which is your easy-hiker return. More on that shortly. After your ascent, stop at the restaurant at the top of the gondola. We always start with a coffee and make use of the facilities. You can also watch the zip-liners on the “First Flyer” and take in the views from the First Cliff Walk.
Heading out, follow the family-friendly Marmot Trail. We’ve not managed to see any of these critters here, but the whistles can sometimes be heard. Children, in particular, may enjoy the informational signs about Marmots. The wayfinding is excellent, so simply continue to follow signs to Grosse Scheidegg on a slightly undulating but generally downhill track wide enough for you to walk side-by-side. Enjoy views of the Schrekhorn, Wetterhorn and the mighty Eiger. Paragliders propel themselves off the cliffs and sail down to Grindelwald and provide delightful photo ops.
After 5.2 kilometers, about 3 miles, you will reach the hotel at Grosse Scheidegg. (It is closed in winter.) From late May until late October, the bus to Grindelwald will stop here. Simply pay the driver on board. This is your easy-hiker, 25-minute way back to town. Schedule here. Or you can hike back to First and take the lift down.
This hike took us about 1H 45M. We are not fast hikers and the downhill section through the Marmot Trail was a little slow. Hiking sticks and good sturdy shoes are highly recommended.
Hi- I enjoyed reading about your Switzerland hikes! We are planning to go this July. Is there a way to combine the hike from First to Lake Bachalpsee and Grosse Scheidegg or do they need to be done separately. If we could only do one, which would you recommend? We are trying to avoid crowds, so it seems Grosse Scheidegg might be the obvious choice, but if Lake Bachalpsee is gorgeous we could still do that. We will have also planned to see Lakes Lucerne, Brienz and Thun so maybe we will be tired of lakes though! Thanks in advance!
Hi Sunny. I am glad you enjoyed reading about the hikes! Yes, you can combine both hikes if you have the energy. You would need to hike to start with the Bachalpsee hike and follow it with the hike to Grosse Scheidegg. That’s a combined total of about 4 hours, but they are pretty easy hikes. You could have a nice break in between with lunch at the restaurant at First. Be sure to check the bus schedule at Grosse Scheidegg so you know how much time you have since the busses are infrequent.
If you can only do one, definitely Grosse Scheidegg so you miss the crowds. The lake is beautiful but the trail to Bachalpsee becomes a conga line!
Lake Brienz and Thun pale by comparison to hiking in the mountains. IMO. How much time do you have in the Jungfrau Region?
Are you aware we have a book, “Walking in Switzerland’s Berner Oberland?” Might be very useful for your trip .