When researching for great hikes in the Jungfrau Region of Switzerland, one that seems to pop up high on most people’s list is the one going from Schynige Platte cog railway station to the First cable car station. If you look at the Jungfrau Trail Map site, the longest published route is the Schynige Platte to First hike, clocking in at an estimated 6h10m. Here is a highlighted look at this hike.
Here are the hike specifications as taken using my GPS Tracks App. I did this hike on the date shown with my 16-year old daughter. We accomplished the hike in just over four hours, and I managed to do this with a small tear in my right meniscus. Most physically active and healthy people should have no problems.
I have to agree with the general consensus that this is probably the best single day hike you can find in the Jungfrau Region. Of course I look forward to going back and trying to find a better one. Here are 5 Key Things to Know About This Hike:
1. Starting Point
The recommended starting point is at the Wilderswil train station where you will either be getting off of another train or parking your car there. Pay about 30 euros pp and ride the cog railway train up to the Schynige Platte. Check the Train Schedule (Wilderswil-to-Schynige Platte) here.
2. Ending Point
After the hike, you take a nice relaxing ride on a cable car down from First to the touristy village of Grindelwald. Depending on the time of year, check the time of the last cable car. Otherwise you’ll have to hike down to Grindelwald. During the peak weeks between July 2 – August 14, the last time is 18h30. I have found several places on the web which fail to mention that. You will most often see the deadline is 17h00. Double-check using the above link. After reaching Grindelwald, it is about a half kilometer walk to the train station where it is possible to catch a train back to Wilderswil (direction Interlaken Ost).
3. Hungry, Thirsty or Tired?
For those needing a meal, drink, or even a bed will find the Berghaus Männdlenen a little over half way from Schynige Platte to First. I stopped for a very good bowl of gulaschsuppe. No refilling water bottles here. You must pay for it. Bring cash. There is also the Berghotel Faulhorn on top of the Faulhorn. At both Schynige Platte and First, there are also places to buy food and drink.
4. Faulhorn Peak is Optional
Between the Berghaus and First, there is the Faulhorn peak. To get to this peak requires the most exertion on the entire hike. It also happens to be the last significant climb before a steady supply of descents (direction Schynige Platte-to-First). It is a steep path but you do not need any special equipment. For those tired of the uphill can take the bypass path, called “Wanderweg” which meets back up with the main path on the other side of the peak. This was not noted on the tourist map, so it was a bit confusing at first when I encountered the split in the trail.
5. The Scenery Is Amazing
It is asking a lot for the ever-changing weather to stay clear for an entire hike. We were not so lucky and at the highest elevations around Faulhorn, where some of the best views are reputed to be, we were completely covered by clouds. At no time were we able to see the Eiger, Mönch, or Jungfrau. But the vistas that we were permitted to see of hidden valleys, blue lakes, striking ridges, and rock-strewn landscapes were amazing enough to keep the legs churning without complaint. Some of the views remind me a lot of Ireland and Scotland. One of the beauties of this hike is that it requires more than one passing just to be able to see every view.
Bonus Key. Bring Along a Beer
Make a Dionysian journey out of it by bringing a local brew. There are not many to choose from in the area, but a Rugenbräu Spezial Dunkel, brewed in nearby Interlaken, makes a great choice. If you forget, you can also grab a brew at the Berghaus. And remember, itsabrewtifulworld!