Just 45 mins south of Zurich is the Seerenbachfälle, the tallest freefall waterfall in Switzerland, located on the north side of the Walensee. You can take a short ferry ride from Weesen to Betlis, then walk about 45 mins on a mostly stroller-friendly road/path to the waterfall overlook. The falls and surrounding views are fantastic. This hike is described below. If you fancy a longer, more difficult hike, try the more challenging 7.5 km hike from Au/Quinton to Betlis, which passing the waterfall along the way. Near the ferry dock, there’s little cafe with a small playground. There are also few rocky “beaches” where the kids can splash around a bit, throw rocks and even swim. Any way you get there, it’s a lovely day out.
|Location:||Weesen, Kanton SG, CH||Trail:||2 km one way|
|Car:||~45min from ZH, plus ferry||Difficulty:||easy|
|Train/Bus:||~60min from ZH||Theme:||no|
Before even leaving the house, check the Walensee ferry schedule to make sure the ferry is running and that you’ll have enough time to do your hike before the last ferry of the day. The ferry has a very limited schedule, even on summer weekends but even less so in the shoulder season and winter.
You will need to take the ferry from Weesen to Betlis, do your hike, then return on the ferry from Betlis to Weesen. For example, based on the 2015 summer schedule, you could take the 11:00 ferry from Weesen, arriving in Betlis at 11:15. Plan ~3 hours for hiking and picnic.Then catch the 15:15 ferry from Betlis back to Weesen.
Make sure you carefully read the codes on the ferry times. Some boats only run on weekdays, others only Sundays. If you miss the last ferry, you’ll have to walk along a road for an hour back to Weesen. We’ve done it and it’s not fun.
Ready to go? Get yourself to Weesen, at the west end of the Walensee, and park at the Weesen ferry dock (metered parking). By public transportation, you’ll take the train to Ziegelbrücke, then a bus to Weesen. You can alternatively take the train directly to Mühlehorn, on the southwest side of the lake, and ride the ferry back and forth from there. But that ferry schedule is more limited than from Weesen.
In Weesen, buy return tickets on the ferry to Betlis, which cost 12chf for an adult in 2015. They don’t take Halbtax, GA or SBB Junior Cards. Children under 6 are free. Children 6-16 are half price. The ferry ride takes about 15 mins and adds to the excitement of the trip for the kids. Strollers are easily accommodated on the boat.
View of the falls from the ferry.
Once in Betlis, you will follow yellow trail signs to the waterfall. You’ll mostly follow a road along the north side of the Walensee lake. Just before you reach the waterfall, you can turn left and take a dirt path up the hill to get very close to the big falls. Or you can continue walking straight along the lake on a narrow path to a bridge that crosses the river that flows from the waterfall. I’d do both if I were you. Return the way you came.
While the posted time was 25 mins, it usually takes us 45-60 mins each way with little kids. Our first time, it took us an hour with our almost 2 year old walking most of the way himself. Strollers are ok for the most of the path, though you’ll need to leave them behind when the trail narrows during the last five or so minutes.
There are at least two picnic areas with benches are fire pits, one at “castle” near the Betlis ferry dock, another near the waterfall at the edge of the forest. There is a cafe with a playground near the Betlis ferry dock.
The hike starts with a short narrow dirt trail through some trees, as shown below. It crosses some cow fields then joins a paved road. If you have a stroller, you can avoid this section by instead following signs to the restaurant, left from the sign below, walking through a big field. At the cafe, turn right and follow the paved road, which leads to the waterfall.
If you start on the dirt trail, you will pass the ruins of a little castle, which our kids found interesting. There is also a grill pit with benches next to the castle.
The trail proceeds through this beautiful meadow for a few minutes before joining up with a paved road.
The majority of the trail follows this paved road, easy for strollers. It is not a difficult hike, but it is gradually uphill the whole way so little ones can get tired. But happily that means the way back is all down hill.
Along the paved road, there are farms with goats and cows. Our kids enjoyed this distraction.
Near the base of the waterfall, you turn away from the lake and walk up a grassy hill and onto a dirt trail through the woods.
This grill pit is located just before you enter the forest.
This part of the trail is a little rocky but wide enough for a stroller and not difficult.
Here we are at the lookout over the waterfall – you’ll get a little wet from the spray. From here, there’s a narrow, steep, muddy, rocky trail that goes up from this point so you can get a little closer to the upper waterfall section. It’s not safe for little kids and not really worth the effort in my opinion.
After walking back (all downhill – yippee!), you can stop at Restaurant Burg-Strahlegg, which is about a 5 min walk from the Betlis boat dock. It has a little playground and a lovely view of the Wallensee and surrounding mountains. The food menu is small, with just sausages and salads. But it filled our tummies and it was relaxing.
While you’re waiting for the ferry, there are plenty of rocky beaches where your kids can throw rocks and splash around. Reminder: the ferry doesn’t run frequently (about once every 90 mins) and changes based on the season, so check the schedule online before you go to make sure you’re not waiting for a long time at the dock.
You can swim at various places along the lakeshore. My kids had a great time climbing around on these rocks near the Betlis ferry dock. It gets deep on the other side of these rocks, so put water wings on non-swimmers and watch them carefully.
Near the road that leads from Betlis back to Weesen, there is another shallow area where you can swim. The ground is very rocky and hard to walk on barefoot. You might want water shoes.
Back in Weesen, there is a swimming area on the south side of the river, as shown with the marker below. You can park near the main road and walk a few minutes out to the pebble beach.
It’s shallow enough for wading. We liked that we could build a fire right on the beach.
Don’t forget to Pin this for later…