Niederhorn Ridge Hike

This spectacular ridge hike has dramatic views over cliffs on one side and a sweeping panorama of the Jungfrau region mountains on the other. The ridge was easy walking for our kids and a great place for a picnic with a view. The hike down to the middle station is a bit more work, but so beautiful and varied, through rocky forests and grassy knolls. We loved this hike and can’t wait to go back and try more hikes in this area. Even if you don’t want to hike, the views from the top are worth the ride up.

Location: Berner Oberland
Address: Beatenbucht (Beatenbergbahn), 3658 Sigriswil, Switzerland
Car: 1hr45 from Zurich
Parking GPS: 46°41’08.3″N 7°44’49.8″E
Train: 2hr from Zurich HB to Beatenbucht
Adult return with Half-fare CHF 70
Trail: 7.2 km loop, about 3 hours, shorter options available
Condition: dirt alpine trail
Skill: moderate
Open: June through October
Cost 2016: Funicular/Cable car: Adult return full fare CHF 47.50
SBB Half-fare and Junior Cards accepted
More info: www.niederhorn.ch – webcam

Overview

The mountain transport brings you to the top of the Niederhorn where you’ll find a restaurant, a playground and an observation deck. It’s nice to hang out here and enjoy a meal even if you don’t want to hike.

There a lot of hiking options in this area as shown in the Niederhorn panorama map below. We did the ridge hike to Burgfeldstand, then down to Vorsass. You can easily wander back and forth along the ridge enjoying the view, without doing a difficult hike. If you want a longer hike, there are many options, some starting on the ridge, which I describe below. In any case, the views are amazing and you’ll have a great time.

Getting There

To reach Niederhorn, you will take a funicular train from Beatenbucht on Lake Thun up the mountain to Beatenberg. From there you’ll take a cable car to Niederhorn. If you have time, start in Thun, then take a ferry to Beatenbucht.

By car: Drive to Beatenbucht and parking in the metered lot just south of the funicular station. Parking costs CHF 5 for the day.

By transit: From Zurich, take a train to Thun, then a bus or ferry to Beatenbucht. From Interlaken, take a bus to Beatenbucht.

Timetable

The funicular train leaves every 20 mins from about 8:00 to 18:00. The cable car from Beatenburg to Vorsass and Niederhorn has three cars that leave every 10 minutes or so. The last car down changes depending on the season. It runs late on certain weekends. See online timetable for current schedule.

Prices

Niederhorn is part of the 10 CHF UBS Mountain Offer that runs through 30 Oct 2016.

In 2016, a full fare adult hiking ticket cost 47.70. SBB Halbtax and Junior Cards are accepted. This hiking ticket includes transport from Beatenbucht to Niederhorn, then return trip from Vorsass to Beatenbucht.

Niederhorn offers a family discount, where you pay for 1 child and additional children are free if accompanied by a parent. There are usually combo offers for public transportation that include the ferry. Check with www.sbb.ch for current offers.

Hiking Options

Hike: Niederhorn – Burgfeldstand – Alp Oberburgfeld – Vorsass

We hiked along the ridge to Burgfeldstand. We planned to keep going to Gemmenalphorn, but we were a little short on time. So we hiked back a bit, took trail #4 to Alp Oberburgfeld, then a sharp right toward Vorsass. The total distance was 7.2 km, total ascent 157m, total descent 541 m. We were on the trail for about 4 hours, which includes lots of breaks and slow meandering. You could walk it much faster.

The first kilometer of the ridge could be done with a stroller, but in summer you’d have to carry it over a few cow gates. After the first km the rest of the trail is a narrow lumpy dirt path, not suitable for strollers. I’d recommend bringing hiking sticks for the second half of the trail where you descend through the rocky forest, with some tricky footing.

Hike: Niederhorn – Vorsass

The most popular hike in this area is the #1 trail from Niederhorn to Vorsass as shown below. Our hike joined the second half of this trail which was not obstacle free but possible with an all-terrain stroller. I saw the top half of the trail from above and it looked about the same. Pics below so you can judge for yourself.

This hike has three “Orientierung Lauf” (aka OL) options, where you use a compass to find specific landmarks. It looks like you can stamp a pass as you find the landmarks and get a prize at the end. We’ll have to try that next time. Details for this hike on the Niederhorn website.

Hike: Niederhorn – Gemmenalphorn – Vorsass

Here is the hike we planned to do, along the ridge to Gemmenalphorn, then back to Vorsass. I’ll report back on that hike hopefully next summer. Let me know if you do it.

Top of Niederhorn

The view from the ride up the funicular to Beatenberg.

At the top of Niederhorn, there is a restaurant and small playground with a zip line and dragon slide. We ate at the restaurant several years ago and really enjoyed our meal.

A very short walk above the restaurant, there is a lookout over the cliffs. It was cloudy when we first got there.

Ridge Trail

You can get quite close to the edge. Be careful with small children or anyone that doesn’t have common sense or good balance.

View over the cliffs.

You can see the trail going along the cliffs.

This first 1 km of the ridge trail is very mild and possible with a stroller. In fall, the cow fences were down but in summer, the cow gates would be up and you’d have to carry your stroller over a couple gates. So not ideal.

Continue following the trail signs to Bergfeldstand. Later we came back to this point and followed the trail down to Alp Oberburgfeld.

Now the trail gets more lumpy and heads uphill. No strollers here.

There is a little sculpture garden halfway up.

This lookout is Burgfeldstand. All the people we saw on the trail stopped here then hiked back.

We wanted to continue on the trail shown below to Gemmenhorn. But we were short on time, so we headed back.

Walking back towards Niederhorn.

 

That trail sign up ahead is where we turned left towards Alp Oberburgfeld. Or you could simply walk all the way back to Niederhorn and ride down.

This house is at Oberburgfeld. We turned right and followed signs to Vorsass.

Here the trail joins the popular #1 trail from Niederhorn. The trail was pretty wide the rest of the way, possible with an all-terrain stroller.

The only picnic area with fire pits that we saw. There was plenty of wood stacked up here.

The restaurant next to the Vorsass middle station. There is a little playground here and a small barefoot path.

You can rent a Trotti scooter to ride down to Beatenburg. The red scooters are small for children, probably a 5 year old could use it. My 9 year old took the bigger blue bike. There are helmets to use as well. For families, you pay for 1 adult and 1 child (CHF 12 each), then additional children are free.

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