Bachalpsee Hike – Grindelwald First

The Grindelwald-First area is full of fun attractions for families and fantastic views of the famous trio: Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. At the top of the First cable car, there’s a short, safe, and slightly scary cliff walk with a sky bridge. From there, it’s a relatively easy hour hike (possible with strollers) to the lovely Bachalpsee, a perfect place for a picnic. You can optionally continue hiking down to the middle station at Bort (or hike back to First and ride down), where you’ll find a great playground with an amazing view and story-telling hour on Wednesdays. We really liked this area and will definitely come back to try more of the hikes here.

Location:   Berner Oberland
Address: Grindelwald, Switzerland
Car: ~2hr from Zurich
Train: ~3hr from Zurich, 3 connections
Trail: 3 km one way to lake, about 1 hr
7.75 km to middle station, about 2 hours
Condition: to lake: dirt road, obstacle-free
to middle station: narrow alpine trail
Skill: moderate
Open: early May thru late October
More info:

Overview

The below map shows Grindelwald First is situated in the Jungfrau Region. See whole map here.

On the below map, we hiked from First on trail #1 to the Bachalpsee, 3km one way and about 1 hour walking time. This section is on a wide gravel road, which is possible with strollers. There is a very short section with some rocks and a couple steps that you’ll need carry the stroller over. But besides that, it’s fine for sturdy strollers with good brakes. Small children that are willing to walk for an hour will do fine on this trail.

We then hiked down to Bort on red trail #4 (about 4.75 km and 2 hr walking time), which is a narrow, bumpy dirt path, not suitable for strollers. Halfway down, the trail briefly connects with a road, shown on the below map as yellow. At Waldspitz, the trail leaves the road down about 1km of steep switchbacks, where I was happy to have my hiking sticks for balance and support. This part of the trail isn’t super difficult but it will require some endurance for small hikers.


(click map to view larger – original map here)

Here is the whole trail we did:

There are many other hikes in the area, including a new Marmot Educational theme trail. Here are some links with more info on the trails:

Getting There

Get yourself to Grindelwald, southeast of Interlaken, and make your way to the First cable car on the north side of town.

By car, follow signs to the Firstbahn and park in one of the nearby metered lots. Parking in Grindelwald is obscenely expensive and hard to come by. In 2015, the lot right next to the cable car station was 10chf for 4 hrs, 15chf for 6 hrs and 25chf for all day. I found this price offensive; even Täsch, entry to Zermatt, only charges 15.50chf for the day. There is a parking garage about 800m from the cable car, below the Tourist Info office, which is about the same price, but allows you to pay at the end, so you don’t have to worry about estimating your time and hurrying back before the meter runs out. We paid for 6 hours and had to cut our time at the playground short to make it back in time. In any case, get there early before the spots are all full. At 10:00 on a late September Saturday, we got one of the last spots in the lot next to the cable car. I imagine that in July, the spots are gone much earlier.

By train, settle in for a long trip. It’s about three hours from Zurich, stopping in Bern and Interlaken on the way. At the Grindelwald, Bahnhof stop (not Grindelwald, Grund where you can catch the Kleine Scheidegg train), you’ll need to take the 123 bus to the Grindelwald, First stop.

Tickets

From Grindelwald, take the Firstbahn all the way to the top. We bought one-way tickets because we weren’t sure which hike we would do. We ended up hiking down to the Bort middle station and buying another one-way ticket down from there. You can pay in cash or with a card at all locations on the cable car line. With SBB Halbtax, the mountain transport is surprisingly affordable for such a touristy area. In 2015, it cost 29chf adult return with SBB Halbtax (58chf full fare), children free with SBB JuniorKarte. We paid 14.50chf to go up to First, 7.50chf to go down from Bort to Grindelwald. This made up for the pricey parking.

Impressions

When you get to the top, the view looks like this:

And this:

Cliff Walk

Before heading out on the trail, be sure to do the short cliff walk next to the top of the First cable car. When you exit the cable car, follow signs to the Cliff Walk, which leads you northeast around a small hill, starting on the same trail you will later take to the Bachalpsee. The trail continues wrapping around the hill until it turns into a metal walkway built into the cliff. This is a one-way path, hugging the cliff, until you return to the restaurant and cable car station. After admiring the view, you go back to the same place you started at the cable car station and continue straight to the Bachalpsee.

FYI, they also offer an 800m zipline ride at First, called the “First Flieger” for 27chf/adult 19chf/child aged 6-15. Four people can ride at the same time.

Hike from First to Bachalpsee

After leaving the First cable car, follow trail signs to Bachalpsee. Everyone else is going to the same place, so you won’t get lost. The start of the trail looks like this:

The trail is easy but uphill, so it takes some effort. It’s a popular trail in a popular area, so you’ll be walking with many of tourists in inappropriate footwear carrying their lunch in plastic Coop bags. But don’t worry. Once you get to the lake, there’s plenty of room to spread out.

Most of the trail to Bachalpsee is wide and flat, as shown on left. A very small section section, just a few meters, is a bit bumpy as shown on right. Sturdy strollers with good brakes will do fine on this trail.

Here’s your first view of the “two” lakes.

Find a bench and grassy spots around the lake for your picnic.

Hike from Bachalpsee to Bort middle station

Most people hike back to First and ride down. So if you choose to hike down, you’ll leave the crowds behind. The trail down starts on the west side, between the two lakes, where the trail splits. The trail going up is #3 and will take you Feld and Bussalp, which I very much want to do next time. The trail going down is #4 and will take you to Waldspitz and Bort, which is what we did this time. The trail is narrow and bumpy as shown below, not difficult but quite muddy the day we were there after some snow melt. I recommend waterproof hiking shoes for this bit.

Be sure to make time for some portraits.

About 2.5km after the lake, the trail will split at a barn. Continue following signs to Waldspitz and Bort. Just before you reach the road, you’ll see a nice waterfall, a good place to take a break.

When you reach the road, turn right towards Waldspitz. You’ll walk on the road about 10-15 mins until you reach a cafe.

Across from the cafe, on your left, the trail sign points down the hill towards Bort. For the next 1.5km or so, the trail consists of narrow switchbacks in the forest. Time to break our your hiking sticks.

Just before reaching Bort, you’ll pass a little river and a very nice fire pit and picnic area.

At Bort, you’ll find this great playground, with lots of climbing structures, swing, slide, mini trampoline, water play, etc. They do a story-telling hour in German every Wednesday at 14:30 from July through October. There is a restaurant nearby. You can ride the cable car down to Grindelwald from here or ride a trotti scooter down, available for rent here (18chf, ages 6+).

Happy Hiking!

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4 comments

  1. Hi,

    I accidently came across your blog, while planning a short Easter getaway to Jungfrau region. Though this is not our first time in the region, it will be our first time to Grindelwald Bachseealp and first cliff walk.
    Happy to have found your blog, from now on, I will plan my trips by referring yours blogs..

    Thanks a lot. Good Going…

    1. I don’t know for sure whether strollers or wheelchairs are allowed on the cliff walk. I tried to look on their website but there is no info about it. If I had to guess, I would say no, they would not be allowed because the walkway is too narrow and I have seen other similar walkways where it was not allowed. It might also have some stairs but I can’t remember. You can get the same views from the restaurant terrace above the cliff walk, which should be accessible. The path from First to Bachalpsee is obstacle free and suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. You might also be interested in this website that catalogs obstacle free routes in Switzerland: http://www.wanderland.ch/en/obstacle-free-routes.html

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