Eiger Trail

Are your kids ready for a bit of a challenge? The Eiger trail is one of my new favorites. It’s a bit more difficult than many other hikes I’ve posted, but its manageable with kids who have experience hiking. My brother is into rock climbing so this trail was a perfect choice, as it’s right underneath the north face of the Eiger, where many climbers have died trying to reach the peak (64 since 1935). Unlike the rock face, the trail itself is safe for little hikers and has fantastic views of the Grindelwald valley and surrounding peaks. It’s also one of the most affordable hikes you can do in the area, costing only about 38 CHF for an adult without SBB Halbtax, a steal compared to the 200+ CHF it costs to go up the Jungfraujoch!

Location: Grindelwald, Jungfrau Region, CH Trail: 6  km
Car: ~2hr from ZH Difficulty: moderate
Train/Bus: ~2hr40 from ZH Theme: none
Open: about July through Oct Website: www.jungfrau.ch

Trail Overview

To reach the Eiger trail, you take a train from Grindelwald up to Kleine Scheidegg. Here you change trains, riding the Jungfrau train up one stop up to Eigergletscher. Exit the train and follow trail signs to Alpiglen along the Eiger trail, which heads north east, skirting under the north face of the Eiger. The hike ends at Alpiglen, where you can catch the train back down to Grindelwald. The trail is 6 km and is posted for about 2 hours walking time, though we spent about 5 hours on the trail, including some slow walking, lots of breaks and picnic time. One of my boys insisting on carrying a few kilos of rocks for most of the hike, which made us even slower. Good times!

Eiger Trail overview on Jungfrau Region website


Trail quality:

This trail is an alpine trail with narrow rocky paths, not suitable for strollers. It is mostly downhill, descending 600m over the 6km. It is safe for children, no cliffs. But it can be slippery at times, with shale rock on the trail. There are a couple sections with steep “stairs” where small children will need assistance.

We went the first week of October and it had recently snowed a bit. Luckily the snow on the trail had already melted but it was icy cold in the shade. In fall when the sun is low, this trail gets a lot of shade, so check the weather report and come prepared with warm layers just in case.



Services:

There are cafes and toilets at the start and end of the trail, but nothing in between. The small train station in Alpiglen didn’t have anything except a bathroom though I think there’s a cafe in the little village there. Take everything you need along the trail, especially water. There are three picnic areas with benches along the trail but I don’t remember seeing grill pits, definitely no wood. However, fires are usually allowed in Switzerland unless otherwise posted.

Trail options:

Instead of riding the train up one stop from Kleine Scheidegg, you walk that distance instead on a very nice trail overlooking the Lauterbrunnen valley and glaciers. However, it is straight up and I didn’t want to tire out my boys before getting on the real trail. So my brother hike this section while I rode up with the kids and waited at the Eigergletscher stop for him.

If you need more of a challenge, simply walk the trail up from Alpiglen to Eigergletscher, instead of down. We saw a few families with kids doing this. But I’m lazy and always prefer to walk downhill.

You can also walk from Alpiglen all the way down to Grindelwald, but unless you need the exercise, I don’t think that section would be very interesting.

Getting There

Get yourself to the Grindelwald-Grund train station, which is below the main town of Grindelwald. By train: this is one stop past Grindelwald on the train coming from Interlaken.
By car: just before reaching Grindelwald, take the first right in the traffic circle onto Grundstrasse, followings signs to Grund or Kleine Scheidegg. Park in the large metered lot next to the Kleine Scheidegg train station.

When buying tickets, indicate that you are hiking the Eiger trail. The train ticket will include a one-way trip to Eigergletscher and a one-way ticket back from Alpiglen at the end of your hike. They accept SBB Halbtax and Junior cards. In 2016, an adult fare for this trip costs about 20CHF, a steal in my opinion.

Trail Details

Let’s get on the trail. Here is Kleine Scheidegg, where we changed trains. We had a few minutes to wait, so we walked around the surrounding hills taking some pictures. There is a cafe, gift shop and toilets here, so take advantage. There are toilets and a cafe again at Eigergletscher, but nothing more after that. You will get on the Jungfrau train with all the tourists going up to the Jungfraujoch. This train can be extremely full in the height of summer, so be aggressive if you need to.

View from Kleine Scheidegg west toward Mürren and Schilthorn.

Here’s my brother pointing up at the Eiger, so excited! My brother is in a lot of these pics but my 7 and 10 year olds were on the hike too. Surprisingly they didn’t complain about the hike, except about the cold, and want to hike it again.

We only rode the Jungfrau train up one stop to Eigergletscher. Make sure you ring the bell and get off fast or you’ll be stuck on this train for another hour up to the Jungfraujoch and will have to pay a couple hundred francs more. At Eigergletscher, you get a beautiful view of this glacier. There’s a restaurant here and toilets.

Below you can see the train tracks entering the tunnel going up to the Jungfraujoch. Walk the opposite way along the tracks until you can cross and follow signs to the Eiger Trail and Alpiglen as shown below.

The trail starts by walking past this ski lift and directly under the tall cliffs.

This wall had handprints of famous climbers who have attempted the Eiger.

We were so happy for the clear day. It was lovely in fall, but I’m sure even better in summer.

You can see the lift in the distance were we started this trail. It was chilly in the shade.

My brothers said that rock climbers camp on this little meadow while waiting for the perfect time to climb. The sign shows a common climbing route up the north face. My brother was full of climbing stories he had read, mostly tragedies. You might want to read one before your hike, or maybe not.

Hiking in the shadow of the Eiger.

Looking across to the panorama trail between Männlichen and Kleine Scheidegg (see trail details).

Looking up at the north face. I have no desire to climb that.

Looking down to the Grindelwald valley and across the First, where you can hike to the Bachalpsee.

Glad to be in the sun, looking at the Schreckhorn peak.

One of the picnic areas.

Most of the way, there is only one trail. After 5km, the trail splits. Go left toward Alpiglen. Only one more km to go.

Headed down the mountain.

Some waterfalls and rivers cutting through the rock.

One short section where my youngest needed a little help getting down these steps.

Almost done.

Waiting at the Alpiglen train station.

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