Panoramic views of the 4,000-meter peaks, glacial cirques and deep gorges to the south of Grindelwald are the highlights of this terrific hike between Grosse Scheidegg and Bussalp.
Grosse Scheidegg to First
Distance from Trailhead: 3.5 miles (one way)
Ending/Highest Elevation: 7,110-ft.
Elevation Gain: 658-ft.
Take the bus to Grosse Scheidegg, the saddle on the ridge separating Grindelwald from the Rosenlaui Valley to the northeast. (See trailhead directions below.) Signs at the pass direct walkers to the broad dirt track heading northwest toward Schreckfeld, First and the Faulhorn on the Hohenweg 2400.
Follow the path as it ascends on easy grades along the top of the ridge accompanied by ever improving views of the high peaks, including the Mattenberg, the Monch and the Eiger, rising to the southwest. The Wetterhorn towers above the saddle while below the village of Grindelwald lies cradled in an emerald green basin, bound to the west by the Mannlichen ridge.
At 0.8 miles reach a 3-way junction where signs point right (northeast) to Schwarzwaldalp and Kaltenbrunnen (Chaltenbrunnen). The continuation of the road drops left to Schreckfeld, First and the Faulhorn. We leave the road and continue on the Hohenweg 2400 trail, which ascends above the right side of the road, toward First and the Faulhorn.
The trail curves to the left, traveling through pretty meadows along the base of the Schwarzhorn. At 1.2 miles the path descends on easy grades and soon crosses a wood bridge over a stream cascading down a rocky cleft carved into the hillside.
Reach a junction at 1.8 with a trail branch right (northwest) toward the Schwarzhorn. We continue straight ahead on the Hohenweg 2400 toward First. Before long the trail drops down to and joins a broad dirt track. Views open to the Schreckhorn and Klein Schreckhorn, rising along the ridge above the Mattenberg. To the north are interesting rock formations along the cliffs above the trail.
The track now starts ascending on moderate grades, crossing another stream at 2.1 miles. The grade eases at 2.7 miles where a second trail branches right (north) towards the Schwarzhorn. Here we get our first views of the Fiescherhorn massif towering above the Fiescher Glacier nestled in a bowl behind the Eiger.
Follow the trail as it curves to the left (southwest) and soon joins with a gravel road coming up from Schreckfeld. Beyond the junction the ascent resumes on moderate grades. Watch for a trail branching left from the road at 3.3 miles. Follow this trail, which cuts-off a long switchback on the road, as it climbs steeply to First (7,110-ft.) at 3.5 miles.
First, the top station for the Firstbahn Gondola starting in Grindelwald, is situated atop a minor summit with stunning views of the Wetterhorn, Schreckhorn and Eiger. Glaciers spill down the flanks of the massifs into the deep incised gorges between the peaks. Views extend southwest to Klein Scheidegg and the Jungfrau.
First features 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 the 4,000-meter peaks towering above the south side of the valley. The walkway connects with the restaurant’s sun terrace where signs identify the peaks.
First to the Bachsee
Distance from Trailhead: 5.4 miles (one way)
Ending/Highest Elevation: 7,450-ft.
Elevation Gain: 998-ft.
Behind the First restaurant and lift station find a signboard. Head northwest toward the Bachalpsee (50-min), Faulhorn(2-hr 20-min) and Schynige Platte (5-hr) on a wide gravel track ascending on moderate grades through meadows. This section of the trail enjoys non-stop views from evolving perspectives. To the southeast the Obere Grindelwald Glacier tumbles in motionless waves down the slopes of the Wetterhorn, Barglistock and Schreckhorn. To the south the Finsteraarhorn rises beyond the glacial cirque formed by the Fiescherhorn, Monch and Eiger. Reeti rises to the west above the bowl cradling the Bachsee (aka Bachalpsee), a popular lake.
After walking about a mile the grade eases as the path continues heading toward the Bachsee. Reach a trail junction at 5.1 miles where a path 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 trail heading left (south) toward Waldspitz, Bort and Grindelwald.
At 5.4 miles arrive at a junction at the southeastern end of the Bachsee (7,450-ft.). On a calm day the Schreckhorn is perfectly reflected in the mirror-like surface of the small, unnamed lower lake to the south of the Bachsee. The lake basin is a popular picnic spot and a favorite destination for people looking for an easy hike from First.
If the weather is taking at turn for the worse, I advise turning around at the Bachsee and returning to First where you can catch the gondola down to Grindelwald. The total distance for the Grosse Scheidegg to Bachsee to First hike is 7.3 miles.
Bachsee to Bussalp
Distance from Trailhead: 8.9 miles (one way)
Ending/Highest Elevation: 5,905-ft.
Elevation Gain: -2,001-ft.
(Note: The final segment of the hike gains 456-ft. and then loses over 2,000-ft. as it drops to Bussalp.)
To continue to Bussalp, return to the trail junction after enjoying the views around the Bachsee. At the junction a path branching right (northwest) skirts the east side of the Bachsee toward the Faulhorn and Schynige Platte, an excellent hike you should take on another day. Our trail turns left toward Spitzen (20-min), Feld (1-hr) and Bussalp (2-hr), curving to the south as it travels along the north and then west shores of the small lake to the south of the Bachsee.
At 5.6 miles reach the southwestern end of the lake and a trail junction. Here the trail to the left heads to Waldspitz, Bort and Grindelwald. We continue straight ahead on narrow path ascending steeply along the east facing flanks of Reeti. At 6.0 miles the trail crests a minor ridge and then drops into a bowl with a small pond. Beyond the pond a short climbs leads to Spitzen, situated on the ridge extending southeast from Reeti, at 6.1 miles.
Spitzen enjoys splendid, panoramic views of the Finsteraarhorn looming above the Obers Ischmeer Glacier, the Fiescherhorn massif, the Fiescher Glacier, the Schreckhorn and the Eiger. To the southwest the Jungfrau forms the backdrop for Klein Scheidegg, the saddle between the Eiger and the Mannlichen ridge.
The trail, marked with red and white blazes, now climbs steeply up the north side of the ridge, just below the crest. At 6.3 miles the grade abates as the trail crosses the ridge and then climbs a short distance along the south side of the ridge to a small day-use hut and shelter. This is the high point of the hike at 7,906-ft.
Beyond the hut the rocky trail starts a steep descent heading southwest along ridge’s southeast face. Rock outcroppings near the hut and large rocks along the trail offer great spots to take a break or eat lunch while gazing at the magnificent scene of 4,000-meter peaks across the valley. The path soon curves to the right (west) as it continues its descent through meadows, now along Reeti's south facing slopes.
At 7.2 miles the grade abates as the trail curves around a grassy ridge to the junction above Feld (7,087-ft.). A path, dropping steeply to the left (south), leads to Feld and Grindelwald. We continue along the trail heading northwest toward Bussalp.
The easy grade ends at 7.5 miles as the path crosses an avalanche chute and then starts descending southwest on moderately steep grades. Turn left at the junction at 7.8 miles on a path descending toward Mittellager and Grindelwald. The trail straight ahead, signed for Bussalp Oberlager, will also get you to Bussalp but is 0.6 miles longer since it takes a circuitous route that travels along a road. As you descend enjoy grand views of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau to the southwest. Below the trail, to the south, Bussalp lies nestled in a lovely alpine basin.
Follow the trail as it drops steeply through pastures, crossing a few small streams along the way. Just before reaching Bussalp pass a trail branching right toward the Faulhorn. In Bussalp the trail joins a road. Head south along the road following signs to the Bussalp Restaurant (5,905-ft.). Reach the restaurant and bus stop at 8.9 miles. Here regularly scheduled bus return to Grindelwald.
From the Grindelwald Bahnhof (train station) to Grosse Scheidegg: Walk east from the train station a short distance along Dorfstasse (the main street in Grindelwald) to the main bus stop (Buswenderplatz) on the south side of the street. Purchase bus tickets at the small ticket booth for Grosse Scheidegg. Take the bus bound for Grosse Scheidegg or Schwarzwaldalp and get off at Grosse Scheidegg. The trip takes 36 minutes.
If you are staying in town, you can also catch the bus at one of several bus stops along the main street. Each stop is named with a sign. Logon to the SBB website or download the app to see the departure times from the stop nearest your accommodations.
From Meiringen to Grosse Scheidegg: Take the bus from the Meiringen Bahnhof to Schwarzwaldalp. At Schwarzwaldalp, change for the bus to Gross Scheidegg. The entire trip takes a little over an hour, including the wait for the connection at Schwarzwaldalp.
Return from Bussalp to Grindelwald: In the tiny hamlet of Bussalp, the postbus leaves from the Bussalp Restaurant. The ride to the Grindelwald Bahnhof (train station) takes 28 minutes.
The Bernese Oberland
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