Oeschinensee: Hike to Lake

For a short, easy walk with spectacular views, I recommend Oeschinensee lake, accessed by a cable car from Kandersteg. This is a great choice for anyone, but especially when you have young kids too big to carry and too small to walk very far. The path is easy, short and suitable for strollers. The lake is impressive with its icy blue color and mountain peaks shooting up all around it. There is a sculpture garden on the shores of the lake and a couple of restaurants with lake views. It’s a lovely day out with very little work.

If you want a more challenging hike for families in this area, we love the 8km panorama loop.

Special note: this lake often freezes enough in winter that you can ice skate on it. It is usually open for skating in late December, early January. See website for news.

Location:   Berner Oberland
Address: Öschistrasse 50, 3718 Kandersteg CH
Car: 2hr from Zurich
Parking GPS: 46.497312, 7.682427
Train: 2hr20 from Zurich HB to Kandersteg then 1km walk to cable car
Adult return half-fare CHF 75
Trail: 2 km each way, about 45 mins each way
Condition: dirt road, strollers ok
Skill: easy
Open: May to October
Cost 2017: Adult CHF 26, Child CHF 13,
SBB Halbtax and Junior Card accepted
Services: restaurant, fire pit, sculpture garden, rodelbahn
More info: www.oeschinensee.ch  – webcam  –  weather

Overview

After taking a cable car up, you will walk about 2 km on a service road to the lake, which took us about 30 minutes with a 4 year old walking. At the lake shore, you will find a restaurant, fire pits, a sculpture garden and lots of places to lounge. There isn’t an easy trail around the lake, so don’t plan on that. You can return the way you came or take a narrow trail through the sculpture garden that loops back to the cable car station. There is an alpine slide at the cable car station. Click on the map to view a larger interactive version.

When we went in late May and mid October, not very many people were there. But it can get really busy here on a nice summer weekend. Once in late July, we got there around noon but we couldn’t find parking anywhere in town, so we went somewhere else.

Getting There

By car: Get yourself to Kandersteg and follow signs to the Oeschinensee cable car. There’s a parking lot by the cable car station and some in town, but it can fill up fast on a busy summer weekend. So get there early.

By public transport: Take the train to Kandersteg, then a 1km through town to the cable car.

Click through for a larger interactive version of the map.

Tickets & Opening Times

The summer season is from early May through mid October. The cable car runs generally from 9:00 to 17:00, longer during peak season. In 2016, an return ticket cost 26 CHF/adult. They accept SBB Half-fare and Junior cards. See website for current information.

Trail Details

Once you go up the cable car, you have a lovely view of the valley and a Rodelbahn (toboggan run) if you want to start with a little excitement. To access the lake, head out on the dirt service road toward the mountains.

Along the trail…

Approaching the lake below. With strollers, probably best to stay on the trail to your right, toward the restaurant.

If you take the trail to the left, toward the river, you’ll cross a little bridge and then enter the forest and the trail turns into some switchbacks, a little tricky with our stroller, but we managed.

From the narrow trail, the lake is especially pretty, as seen through the forest.

When you reach the lake, you’ll pass through a sculpture garden, not specifically designed for kids, but interesting.

Here’s the lake shore, lots of room to spread out. It’s muddy and dusty, so I recommend bringing a picnic blanket.

You can fish there, if that’s your thing. Ask at the restaurant for a permit.

There’s a huge empty riverbed, with mud and rocks to jump around on, endless entertainment for my boy.

For food, there are four restaurants overlooking the lake and there are lots of grilling stations along the lake. Several years ago, we ate at the restaurant just below the hotel and it was super yummy.

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