Waterfalls and Lakes in the Bernese Oberland

The Bernese Oberland is a paradise. With the rushing waterfalls, blooming wildflowers, and lush greenery; it’s hard not to think you’re in a real fairytale. Even J. R. R. Tolkien was inspired by all the waterfalls in the town of Lauterbrunnen. Rivendell from his famous Lord of the Rings books draws its likeness from Lauterbrunnen. Now, if that hasn’t impressed you, I encourage you to keep reading, because this post is about three beautiful hikes in the Bernese Oberland that should be hiked/seen by everyone!

 #1 Engstligen Falls, Adelboden

Wen-Di Adair, 2017

Engstligen is the second largest waterfall in Switzerland and is quite the sight to see. The waterfall is formed from the joining of several streams in Engstligenalp. At 600 meters high, the power released by the waterfall is so strong, you can feel its presence from the start of the trail. As you make your ascent, there are several stopping points. You can take a moment and enjoy the wildflowers, listen to the rushing water flow down the stream, and embrace the beauty of the Swiss Alps. Not only is the hike up to the waterfall spectacular, but at the top, there is a flat, circular trail that serves as a starting point for many walking trails and mountain tours. Trust me, you won’t want to miss out on the breathtaking panoramic views!

Helpful Tips: If you are staying in Adelboden, you can catch the local bus over to the cable car station (see sample schedule below). 

From the car park and the cable car station, there is an easy ten minutes’ walk to the bottom of the waterfalls. From there you either hike or take the gondola up to Engstligenap (see the current prices on their website). If you decide to hike, it’s about 90-minutes up and an hour down with about 1970 ft. of elevation each way. 

If you’re not interested in planning this trip yourself, you can also experience the Engstligen Falls hike on Alpenwild’s Deluxe Bernese Oberland Traverse or Via Alpina tour, where you will have the experience of two alpine guides who can walk you through the local culture, history, and wildflowers.


#2 Öeschinensee: A Jewel Lake in the Kandertal


The Öeschinensee is a haven for hikers, and a great starting point for other hikes in the area. In fact, the Öeschinensee Lake can be seen on Alpenwild’s Deluxe Bernese Oberland Traverse and Eiger to Matterhorn tour. It is by far one of the most beautiful lakes in the Swiss Alps. 

The Öeschinensee is fed by several surrounding mountain streams, many of which are visible as you walk around the lake. You might wonder where does all the water go? Well, there’s an underground drain that resurfaces in the Öeschibach, which produces electricity and drinking water for the town right below, Kandersteg. 


Helpful Tips: If you’re staying in Kandersteg, the day starts with a scenic gondola ride to the edge of the hanging valley cradling the Öeschinensee (optional alpine slide available from the gondola station). Once at the summit station, follow the familiar yellow signs to the Öeschinensee. It’s a quick 30-minute walk through pretty meadows and pine forests before you reach the lakeshore; which offers great views of the magnificent rock that encircles the pristine lake. 

Once at the lake, take your time to enjoy the setting. You’ll want to walk to the restaurants and hotels at the west end of the Öeschinensee. While it’s not possible to make a full loop around the lake, there are many hiking paths nearby that you can explore. 


#3 Lauenensee 

Roland Gerth – Switzerland Tourism, 2014

Whether you’re booked on Alpenwild’s Deluxe Bernese Oberland Traverse tour or if you’re just looking to get out of the bustling town of Gstaad, I highly recommend taking a nice hike to Lauenensee (which means “two lakes”). These lakes are a real gem tucked away in the mountains. Sweeping meadows, a majestic waterfall and a rustic restaurant to rest your tired feet  await you. Plus, you can reward yourself with a nice slice of apple strudel or a warm cup of coffee. 

Walking around these charming lakes will take roughly 45-minutes or if you are feeling more adventure you can venture to the Gelten hut, which has fantastic views of the glacier mountains and waterfalls.   

Helpful Tips: From Gstaad, you will begin by taking the cable car up to Wispile; if you are lucky, you might just spot some wildlife. The first section of the trial follows the ridge where you are surrounded by the beautiful mountain scenery. From here, follow the ridge line and take in fabulous views over the entire Saanenland region. Descend steeply to the Chirnepass. The path undulates, before a steady descent to serene Lauenensee. 

Ascent: 466 feet | Descent: 2182 meters | Distance: 6 miles

Greg Witt
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