First to the Bachsee
Distance: 3.8 miles
Bernese Oberland, near Grindelwald in The Bernese Oberland
This very popular hike packs a ton of scenery into a very short distance. Nonstop views encompass Grindalwald’s iconic peaks towering above the south side of the valley. These summits form the backdrop for the Bachsee, a gorgeous lake set amid beautiful alpine meadows.
- Distance: 3.8 miles (RT)
- Elevation: 7,110-ft. at Trailhead
Maximum elevation - 7,473-ft.
- Elevation Gain: 363-ft.
- Difficulty: easy-moderate
- Basecamp: Grindelwald
- Region: The Bernese Oberland
Trail Description - First to the Bachsee
First (7,110-ft.) is situated atop a minor summit high above the north side of Grindelwald. Overlooks at First feature stunning views of the summits soaring above the Grindelwald Valley, including the Wetterhorn, Schreckhorn and Eiger. Glaciers spill down the flanks of these massifs to deep incised gorges. Views extend southwest to Klein Scheidegg and the Jungfrau and southeast to the peaks rising beyond Grosse Scheidegg.
The facilities around First include a popular restaurant with a sun terrace and a “Cliff Walk”, a cantilevered metal walkway bolted to the sheer west face of the First summit that leads to a 150-ft. long viewing platform with panoramic views of Grindelwald’s iconic 4,000-meter peaks. The walkway connects with the restaurant’s sun terrace where signs identify the mountains.
After enjoying the views at First, start the hike by walking behind the First restaurant and lift station where you will find a trail signboard. Walk northwest toward the Bachalpsee (50-min), Faulhorn (2-hr 20-min) and Schynige Platte (5-hr) on a wide gravel track ascending through meadows on moderate grades. The trail enjoys non-stop, ever evolving views. To the southeast the Grindelwald Glacier tumbles in motionless waves down the slopes of the Wetterhorn, Barglistock and Schreckhorn. To the south the Finsteraarhorn towers beyond the glacial cirque formed by the Fiescherhorn, Monch and Eiger. To the west Reeti rises above the bowl cradling the Bachsee (aka Bachalpsee), the destination for this hike.
After 0.7 miles the grade eases and the trail soon curves to the left (west) through lovely meadows toward the Bachsee. At 1.6 miles the path reaches a junction where a trail branches right toward the Hagelsee and Wildgarst. Stay on the main track to the Bachsee. A short distance beyond pass a second junction with a path heading left (south) toward Waldspitz, Bort and Grindelwald.
At 1.9 miles arrive at a trail junction at the southeastern end of the Bachsee (7,431-ft.). The lake is split in two by a natural dam, with the lower lake located 20-ft. below the upper lake. On a calm day the Schreckhorn is perfectly reflected in the lower-lake’s mirror-like surface. Views extend west across the upper lake to the Faulhorn, Esel and Simelihorn rising above the cirque at the head of the valley. The lake basin is a popular picnic spot and a favorite destination for parties looking for an easy hike. Get an early start to avoid the crowds.
When you are done enjoying the lake retrace your steps to the First Gondola for a 3.8 mile hike.
From the Grindelwald Bahnhof (train station) to First Gondola: Walk east along Dorfstrasse, the main street in Grindelwald for 0.4 miles. Turn left on an unnamed street across from the vehicle entrance for the Sunstar Hotel. The turn is marked with a sign for the Firstbahn (First Gondola). (If you pass the Gasthof Steinbock with a pizzeria on the ground floor you have gone too far.) Walk up the street to the First Gondola station, just past the Pension Gydisdorf.
Note: The First gondola it a multi-stage lift that goes through intermediate stations. At all stations remain seated. The doors will open, allowing passengers who wish to get off at the intermediate stations to leave the gondola, and then close before continuing the journey to First.
When purchasing lift tickets it is typically less expensive to purchase a round-trip ticket than two one-way tickets.