Switzerland - 3 hikes in the Lötschen Valley offf the beaten path
What to say about one of our new favourite place in Switzerland? It is the Lötschental (Lötschen Valley). It is in the region of the Valais. It is not really far from where we live - but somehow we have only visited this valley once before when the weather was really bad (so we did not like it very much). In early spring this year we decided to make a first relaxing hike in the region as it is often warmer there than in the rest of Switzerland and the sun is shining more often. That was the reason why we came here in May. 2 visits followed later in the summer with hikes getting longer and more difficult.
For those interested, we have some information about our hikes. You can be sure, on those hikes you will mostly find locals and only very few tourists. But also be aware that english is not always spoken here (you might be more lucky with french).
Hike 1: On the Lötschtaler Südrampe from Ausserberg to Brig
The Lötschtaler Südrampe is a famous train track where trains go from Switzerland to Italy. The last stop of the trains in Switzerland is Brig and then they go through the Simplon tunnel to Italy with the final destination being Milan. In fact, the train ride from Berne to Milan only takes 3,5 hours! Coming back to the hike: it follows more or less the train tracks but passes some beutiful mountain scenery and offers great views of the Rhone Valley. In between you can stop in some old picturesque villages along the way. The hikes starts in Hohtenn and goes via Ausserberg to Brig. As it was our first hike of the season and we were not in shape at all, we descided to start in Ausserberg and go the last part down to Brig. Ausserberg is an amazing village with very old houses and an amazing botanical variety. We walked around this village for nearly 1 hour before we startet the hike. The hike is easy and mainly goes slightly downhill. It is also very well signed! Nevertheless it was 16 km to go to Brig. So if you plan to do the full hike (which we highly recommend), you should consider a night in Ausserberg. You reach Hohtenn, the start of the hike easily by train from Berne. Once arrived in Brig (there is really not much to see in the city - no need to plan much time here) you can either continue by bus to the Aletsch Glacier region or take a train back to Berne or Zermatt.
Hike 2: Lötschentaler Höhenweg
This was real surprise for us and the stunning nature and landscape of the Lötschental Valley left us speechless. We took the train from Berne to Goppenstein. Here we changed to a bus that brought us to the Fafleralp, the last village in the valley (about 30 minutes drive). We got of the bus and were greeted by the warm morning sun and cristal clear sky. This is a nature lovers heaven with hikes for everybody. Withing 2 hours you can reach the glacier by foot, just relax at the river or enjoy a fresh coffee in a cosy hut. And what more: you can taste the specialities of the region: special cheese, ham and an amazing bread with some white wine. As the hikes are really widely spread, the bus load of people quickly disappeared and we were nearly alone. We went up a little hill to the mountain hotel Fafleralp. This is a very old hotel that was internally renovated and has a great atmosphere. This is Switzerland! We enjoyed a nice coffee on the terrasse enjoying the quietness and the sound of nature. From here starts the 6 hours walk in the Lötschentaler Höhenweg. It is a panoramic hike which offers stunning views of the valley. In fact, one walks along the south mountain range on the whole length of the valley and finally descends back to Goppenstein. On the way we enjoyed amazing views of the Bietschhorn, which is the queen of the Lötschen Valley being the highest peak. We passed little villages, lots of cows and enjoyed the botanical variety. We picked wild blueberries and raspberries - they were so very tasty! First we reached Tellialp than continued to Lauchernalp, Kummenalp and finally to Faldumalp. From here it was a steep climb down to Goppenstein. For the brave ones - if it is warm enough there are plenty of possibilities to take a dip in a mountain lake or a small stream to fresh up. Technically the hike is easy and can be done by everyone without special experiences. But again - this hike is nearly 17 km long.
Hike 3: Lauchernalp to Kandersteg via Lötschenpass
As we had really fallen in love with the Lötschen Valley (this place is free of stress - it is so peaceful), we returned there another day for another very special hike (and lot of more hikes are waiting for us!). Our goal was to start in Lauchernalp and walk all the way to Kandersteg. This is a famous and very old alpine crossing from the southern alps to the northern alps. It is again about 15 km long and it is 600 meters of altitude uphill and 1.500 meters of altitude downhill. The hike can be walked in both ways. Again we took the train from Berne to Goppenstein. From here we changed to the bus and got off at Wiler/Lauchernalp Gondola. We took the gondola up to Lauchernalp. As it was early in the morning, we walked a few meters up in the village to a nice little hut where we first had breakfast. What a wonderful breakfast by enjoying the sun rising behind the Bietschhorn! A great start of the day.
It is about 2,5 hours up to the Lötschenpass. First you hike up through the village, cross the skiing area and continue with a fairly steep walk up. After about 1 hours than a big surprise. Not to far away from us there was a whole family of capricorns. You rarely spot them in the mountains. But we were really close when we got aware of them. They were peacefully enjoying the sun. We did not want to get closer, so the pictures are not great. But the time being able to observe them was a great gift from nature. We were so grateful! Once we reached the pass, the sun disappeared and there was a cold wind. This often happens in this region as by passing the Lötschenpass you cross over from the Southern Alps to the Northern Alps. We had a hot tea in the hut to get warm before we started our long climb down. The first part of the climb was steep, rocky and we sometimes had to use our hands. It was not difficult but it would be better to have some alpine experiences when you walk this way. When it is foggy it can be really tricky to find your way. But you are offered great views down in the Gasteren Valley and of the glacier world of the region. After the first rocky part, we climbed down a long way along a morain which was steep and slippery. Then we had to cross the glacier. But it was an easy way over the glacier which can be easily done with regular hiking boots. Not further equipment is needed. And then it was down some grassy hills and steep forrest trails till we reached the Gasteren Valley after 2 hours. We got the feeling - well, we made it, now it is just an easy walk out of the valley. Well, the walk is easy. But it was still 3 hours to go to Kandersteg. We got really tired nd the valley seemed to never end. But the landscape is sooooo beautiful! In the end of the valley there is a steep waterfall and the way is getting steep again, too. Well, our faces were not so relaxed any more - our legs were burning! But we were still smiling when we reached Kandersteg after 7 hours. What a great hike!