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 north shore of the Walensee has beautiful views of the lake and mountains. The main attraction is the tallest free-falling waterfall in Switzerland, which is very beautiful. 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 5 year old hiker should 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.
|Address:||Ferry dock: Hauptstrasse 23, 8872 Weesen|
|Car:||55mins from Zurich to Betlis parking
Parking in Betlis: 47°08’09.5″N 9°08’41.7″E
Parking in Weesen near ferry: 47°08’04.9″N 9°05’53.9″E
|Train:||~55min from Zurich HB to Murg train station, then 350m walk to ferry
Adult return trip CHF 27
|Trail:||7 km one way|
|Condition:||lumpy dirt trail, no strollers|
|Open:||best May through October|
|Prices:||ferry ride about CHF 23.50 for adult, child over 6 half price, child under 6 free|
This hike starts in Quinten on the north side of the Walensee (ferry ride required) and goes about 7 km 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 Weesen and continue home in your car or on public transportation. You should plan about five hours with kids and coordinate carefully with the ferry schedule.
We started our hike in Au, but ferry service to Au is so infrequent, that it’s better to start in Quinten.
I’d plan 4-5 hours for the hike. At a slow pace, it should only take about 2hr30 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 our kids walked really slow, chatting with friends, exploring the forest, etc. So it took our crew almost 5 hours to get to Betlis, which meant we missed the last ferry, had to walk another hour 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.
Ferry Schedule – Read carefully!
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.
The ferry runs from mid April to mid October. On most days, the last ferry from Betlis to Weesen is 16:45. On Sundays and holidays, the schedule is different and there is a later ferry at 18:20.
By car: I recommend driving to Betlis, catching the ferry from Betlis to Quinten. Hike back to Betlis. You could also park in Weesen, ride the ferry to Quinten, hike to Betlis, then ride the ferry back to Weesen. But this means you have to make it back to Betlis before the last ferry leaves.
By public transport: You have more flexibility here. You can ride the ferry to Quinten from any stop of the lake, like Weesen, Murg or Unterterzen. Finish the hike in Betlis and take the ferry back to Weesen and continue home by public transportation.
Sample timeline based on 2017 ferry schedule.
Start in Weesen (arrive by car or bus). Catch 11:00 ferry to Quinten, about 25 mins.
Hike from Quinten to Betlis. You have 5 hours until the last ferry back.
Catch 15:15 ferry back from Betlis to Weesen.
This sample journey costs about CHF 23.60 for an adult. Kids over 6 are half price. Kids under 6 free. If you park in Betlis, your ferry cost drops to CHF 12.50 per adult, plus parking fees of CHF2/hr.
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.
Getting to the Ferry
There are many options, but here’s what I suggest.
By car: The most convenient option is to park in Betlis. Drive to Weesen, then follow the narrow road along the north side of the lake to Betlis. This will take you on a narrow one lane road along the lake. Traffic on this road is controlled, meaning that traffic flows only one direction, switching every 15 minutes. So you can drive to Betlis at :00-05 and :30-35 each hour. This gives enough time for the cars to drive the 2.7km to Betlis before cars start driving the other direction.
In Betlis, there is room for about 50 cars to park. It costs CHF 2/hr, payable in coins. On busy weekends, the spots can fill up fast. Make sure to pay for plenty of parking time, just in case you stay longer on the trail than anticipated.
From the car park, follow trail signs to the Betlis ferry dock. Alternatively, park at the Weesen ferry dock and take the ferry to Betlis.
By public transport: Take the train to Ziegelbrücke, then a bus to Weesen, See. The ferry dock is directly opposite the bus stop. Catch the ferry from here to Quinten.
On the ferry, buy a one-way ticket to Quinten. In 2017, this cost CHF 14.20/adult from Weesen, a bit less from Betlis. At the end of the trip, you’ll buy another one-way ticket from Betlis back to Weesen, which costs 9.10/adult. Child under 6 ride free, children 6 to 16 are half price. SBB GA, Halbtax and Junior Cards are not accepted.
Here is the ferry picking up in Betlis and continuing to Quinten.
Let’s assume you made it to Quinten and you’re ready to hike. Good job! After leaving the boat, follow the trail with yellow signs pointing to Betlis. You’ll be walking west, with the lake on your left. You start low near the lake.
The small village of Quinten is charming, with a 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.
The views across the lake are nice too.
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.
Continue to Betlis
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 Weesen. If you miss the last ferry, don’t stress. Just walk along the paved road back to Weesen. It takes about an hour. We did it and survived.
Did you have fun? Did you miss the ferry? Let me know how liked it. Happy hiking!
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