Walensee Waterfalls: Hike from Au to Betlis

We’ve always loved the Walensee and this hike is just another reason to love it even more. This 7.5 km hike along the Walensee has beautiful views of the lake and mountains. The main attraction is the tallest free-falling waterfall in Switzerland, which is very nice. While some of it is easy going through quiet villages and forest, this hike also has some steep elevation gain and rocky paths. So no strollers but an experienced 4 year old hiker will be just fine. This hike would be lovely anytime of year, but particularly great in spring and fall, when other mountain transport is closed. Your journey includes a ferry ride, which has a limited schedule so organize well before heading out.

Location: Murg, Quarten, Kanton SG, CH Trail: 7.5 km one way
Car: ~50min from ZH, plus ferry Difficulty: moderate
Train/Bus: ~60min from ZH, plus ferry Theme: no
Open: year round, not maintained in winter Website: www.amden-weesen.ch

Trail Overview

This hike starts in Au on the north side of the Walensee. You’ll take a ferry to Au, on the north side of the lake, hike about 7km west along the lake, some through little villages, mostly in the forest, with some steep elevation gain in the middle of hike. You’ll pass a couple waterfalls and streams. There are some picnic areas with fire pits and cafes at the start and end of the trail. The trail ends in Betlis, where you’ll catch a ferry back to your car or public transportation. You should plan minimum five hours and coordinate carefully with the ferry schedule.

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.

For example, based on the 2015 summer schedule, you could take the 10:42 ferry from Murg West arriving in Au at 10:50.  Walk to Betlis. Then take the 15:55 ferry from Betlis arriving in Au at 16:25. Do not rely on this example for your outing. Check the website for current ferry schedule and prices. Make sure you carefully read the codes on the ferry times. Some boats only run on weekdays, others only Sundays, some boats don’t stop at all destinations.

I’d plan 4-5 hours for the hike. It shouldn’t take that long to hike it, but you’ll want plenty of time to picnic, admire the waterfall, throw rocks, take pictures, etc. I planned for 3 hours, which should have been plenty. But it took our crew almost 5 hours to get to Betlis, which meant we missed the last ferry, had to walk another hour plus to Weesen along the road, take a bus to Ziegelbrücke, then a train to Murg. That was certainly not my first choice, but the wonderful thing about Switzerland is you are never far from public transportation and it all worked out.

Getting There

There are many options, but here’s what I suggest. Get yourself to Murg on the south of the Walensee. Park in the metered lot next to the Murg West ferry dock or at the nearby Murg train station. Make sure to pay for plenty of parking time, just in case you stay longer on the trail than anticipated.

On the ferry, buy a one-way ticket from Murg to Au. In 2015, this cost 7.10chf/adult. At the end of the trip, you’ll buy another one-way ticket from Betlis back to Au, which costs 12.40/adult. Child 0 to 6 ride free, children 6 to 16 are half price. SBB GA, Halbtax and Junior Cards are not accepted.

The below picture shows the Murg West dock at upper left and Au dock at lower right.

Trail Details

Good job! You made it to Au and you’re ready to hike. After leaving the boat, follow the trail with yellow signs pointing to Quinten and Betlis. You’ll be walking west, with the lake on your left. You start low near the lake.

The trail goes up and into the forest.

Very often, you’ll get the view across the lake back to Murg.

You’ll reach the small village of Quinten in just a few minutes. There are couple cafes and little shops. We liked this little shop selling jams, honeys, chutneys, with lots of interesting flavor combos. The lady was really nice and spoke some English as well.

Looking up at the cliffs above you.

Walensee Hike

About 20 mins after Quinten, the trail narrows and gets very steep and climbs 300m over 1km. We were all sweating! But thankfully, our kids didn’t complain.

At about the 4.5km mark, after you’ve started to walk down again, you reach this great picnic area, with fire pits, wood and a little tee-pee when we were there. The kids would have loved to stay here and explore but I was still under the delusion that we might make that last ferry, so I hurried us on down the trail.

We passed a little farm that had the most adorable baby goats that jumped and romped all over. So adorable!

You’ll pass a couple river and waterfalls, as shown below, which are nice. But the big one is still coming.

At about the 6km mark, you’ll reach a bridge that crosses the river flowing from the big waterfall shown above, the Seerenbachfälle, the tallest free-falling waterfall in Switzerland, so they say. FYI: the waterfall is not always running. It’s usually roaring in spring during the snow melt and we’ve seen it running big in fall after some rain storms. But we’ve also been in the middle of August and it was completely dry.

Keep walking and you’ll exit the forest into some big green fields. There’s a short detour to your right, which will take you up very close to the waterfall. I recommend doing it, plan about 20-30 minutes for this detour. There’s also a nice picnic area with fire pits on that detour trail, right before you enter the forest.

Below is the detour trail through the forest, the waterfall lookout area with a bench and small fenced off area next to the falls (you might get wet), and a closeup of the falls in May.

To reach Betlis, continue following the path as it joins a paved road. More details about this part of the trail on my Walensee Waterfall post: The road leads all the way to Betlis, where you’ll find a cafe with a playground and the ferry dock. Along the lake shore, you’ll find some picnic benches, fire pits and and places to swim.

Follow signs across the field to the Betlis ferry dock and catch the ferry back to Murg West. Did you have fun? Did you miss the ferry? Let me know how liked it. Happy hiking!

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Hike along lake through forest to super tall waterfalls. Start with a ferry ride across the lake. Au, Walensee, Eastern Switzerland

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