The hike from Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg, high above the Lauterbrunnen Valley in Switzerland, is beautiful. But parts of the route are an absolute killer. We walked the route in summer a couple of years ago, when higher temperatures made the already challenging path even more difficult. I’d say that the views made up for the difficulty, but that’d be slightly over-optimistic, even for me.
Starting at the meadow-side railway halt at Allmend, the path leads up to the highest point on the Wengernalpbahn railway: Kleine Scheidegg, where a historic hotel and busy station in a remarkable alpine pass sees many thousands of visitors pass by every year on their way to the Jungfraujoch. The hiking trail leads up through the forests and affords wonderful views across to Grütschalp and Mürren, with the distinctive peaks of the Lobhörner on a ridge across the valley sticking up like toes from a gigantic, buried foot.
The forested section of the hike is quite lovely and many of the old-growth pines provide some welcome shade from the sun, which arcs through the midday directly in front of you as you head up towards the next small railway station on the route. As the forest begins thinning out, the gravel path turns steeper and steeper. Instead of winding pleasantly, it drives relentlessly straight up the mountainside. By the time you get to the bench where the path begins curving around the lower slopes of the Lauberhorn, a welcome break allows you to enjoy the views back down to the village, nestled below the Männlichen ridge, and regain some energy.
Although the high peaks of Jungfrau and Mönch are already visible when driving into the Lauterbrunnen Valley, the mass of glaciers and monumental cliffs first reveal themselves properly when reaching the lower reaches of Wengernalp, and the train station shows the true perspective between the forests and green meadows, and the blue-grey and white spectacle ahead.
From Wengernalp, the main focus of the walk is the massive cliffs, with their myriad waterfalls, snow patches and dwindling glaciers. Far above, the metallic Sphinx observatory glints in the sun and the very distinctive point of the Silberhorn, which has begun to shrink noticeably in the past decade, hangs onto the top of its own glacier.
The path from the station at Wengernalp to our final destination at Kleine Scheidegg is a gentle uphill walk over a couple of kilometres for those who have had the sense to get the train this far, but for those of us who had already slogged up 500 metres of ascent over three kilometres, it’s still pretty tiring. Once we’d made it to Kleine Scheidegg and had a break and some food, I sent my drone up again – once to the east of the station and once to the west – to capture aerial views of the spectacular destination of our walk.