Details: Eiger Trail

Distance: 3.8 - 8.5 miles (one way)

Bernese Oberland, near Grindelwald in Bernese Oberland

Introduction

The Eiger partially covered by a cloud

The popular Eiger Trail descends beneath the soaring north face of the Eiger (13,025-ft.) accompanied by panoramic views of the Grindelwald Valley, Kleine Scheidegg and the Lauberhorn. The 3.8 mile trail starts at the Eigergletcher Train Station to the southeast of Kleine Scheidegg, a saddle on the ridge separating the Lauberhorn and the Eiger. (See directions to the trailhead below).

Typically hikers reach the trailhead by taking the train/cog railway from either Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg and then switching to the Jungfrau Railway and getting off at the first stop, the Eigergletcher.

Kleine Scheidegg is a very busy place, filled with tourists jostling to catch the trains to various destinations. If time and energy permit, I strongly suggest walking from Kleine Scheidegg to the start of the Eiger trail, a 1.4 to 1.9 mile hike (described below) resulting in a 5.7 mile point-to-point trip that ends at the Alpiglen rail station.

Hikers looking for a long day can combine the Panoramaweg: Manlichen to Kleine Scheidegg trail with the Eiger trail for a highly scenic 8.5 mile point-to-point hike. More information on this alternative is found at the end of the hike description.

The trail can be quite slippery if snow is present, requiring the use of microspikes. Check at the Grindelwald tourist office for current conditions.

The Eiger trail can be walked in either direction. Some parties walk up from Alpiglen to help acclimate and get into condition. The trail is rated as moderately-strenuous is you walk it uphill. I personally prefer to walk down so the best scenery it right in front. Whatever way you walk it is a great hike.

Eiger Trail: Eigergletscher to Alpiglen

Close-up of the Wetterhorn

Note: When riding the train to the Eigergletscher stop you must push the button requesting that the conductor stop at the station. (The stop is what the Swiss refer to as a “Halt on Demand” station.) Announcements will be made in English, along with a few other languages, telling you to request the stop. Be ready to quickly get off the train when it stops.

At the Eigergletscher train station, walk west (toward Kleine Scheidegg) along the tracks, cross the tracks at the pedestrian crossing and then follow the signs for the Eiger Trail and Alpiglen. The path weaves between buildings and then turns right (east/northeast), ascending along rocky slopes beneath the steep cliffs of the Eiger’s west ridge. Along the way the trail passes under a ski lift and then travels by a wall with plaques of famous climbers who have attempted to climb the north face of the Eiger.

Beyond the plaques the trail descends scree covered slopes on steep grades, crosses a small bowl and then ascends to the top of a low ridge. The Eiger’s north face looms overhead. In the distance are fine views of the Wetterhorn towering above Grosse Scheidegg.

After a brief respite atop the ridge the trail resumes descending scree covered slopes on moderately steep to steep grades. In places the scree gives way to rocky meadows and the footing improves. Depending on the time of year patches of snow and ice still cling to the rugged cliffs above the trail.

Views along the trail continually evolve. To the north a ridge, anchored by the Faulhorn, forms the scenic backdrop for Grindelwald sprawled along the valley. The Schwarzhorn, Grosse Scheidegg and the Wetterhorn rim the valley to the northeast. Behind you the Lauberhorn, Tschuggen and Mannlichen fill the skyline. The Eiger’s north face soars above the trail.

At 1.6 miles the grade abates as the trail travels through meadows, crossing a few seasonal streams and passing by small waterfalls along the way. Boulders in the meadows offer good perches for taking a break, enjoying a picnic or simply taking in the views. After half a mile the trail resumes its descent on moderately-steep to steep grades.

At 2.7 miles the trail reaches a photogenic waterfall. Here the trail curves to the left (northwest) and drops down a series of switchbacks. The descent is accompanied by good views of a series of waterfalls and deep fissures channeling small streams. Your perspective of the Eiger has now changed so that you have a good view of the top of the peak.

Reach a junction at 3.1 miles. Here the trail to the Gletscherschlucht and Grindlewald (2h 25-min) branches to the right. We continue along the trail toward to Alpiglen (25-min).

After one more set of switchback the trail descends on steep to moderately-steep grades through meadows, dropping down some stone steps, to the train station at Alpiglen at 3.8 miles. Here a small station sells return tickets to the Grindelwald Bahnhoff.

Kleine Scheidegg to the Eiger Trail

My preferred option is to walk from Kleine Scheidegg to the start of the Eiger Trail at the Eigergletcher Train Station. Upon arriving at Kleine Scheidegg cross to the south side of the rail station and locate the trail signpost near the base of the steps ascending to the Hotel Bellevue des Alpes, an old wood hotel. Here signs point to the Eigergletcher (Eiger Glacier), directing you to climb the stairs and then turn right (south), following a broad track ascending on moderate grades above the left (east) side of the train tracks for the Jungfraujoch.

Ahead are great views of the glaciers spilling down the slopes of the Jungfrau and the Monch along with the high peaks towering above the Sefinenetal valley to the west of Lauterbrunnen. The Lauberhorn rises to the northwest.

Reach the Fallbodensee, a pretty little lake, at 0.6 miles. On a still day the mirror-like surface of the lake is a photographer’s dream, perfectly reflecting the Wetterhorn and the Eiger. On the south side of the lake a small building houses an interesting exhibit showing the various routes climbing the Eiger’s north wall. It’s definitely worth a stop.

At the southeast end of the lake the trail turns right (south) and drops down a gravel track, passing through a culvert going under the train tracks. Beyond the culvert the trail heads south/southwest, resuming its ascent on moderate to moderately-steep grades.

Reach at junction at 1.1 miles. To trail to the left (east) heads directly to the Eigergletscher train station and the start of the Eiger trail (the short route – 1.4 miles). The trail straight ahead leads to the moraine of the Eigergletscher and then the train station (the long route – 1.9 miles).

To take the short route, turns left (east) and climb switchbacks through pastures, passing over an underground railway tunnel. A short distance to the west of the trail you will see where the trains emerge from the tunnel.

Soon the path climbs above the north side of the train tracks, passes along the backside of the Eigergletscher Railway buildings and reaches the Eiger Trail at 1.4 miles.

The longer route to the train station continues straight ahead at the junction and soon crosses a low ridge. Here the trail curves to the left (southeast) as it drops into a small bowl and then climbs to an overlook atop the Eiger Glacier’s moraine at 1.4 miles. The overlooks features stunning views of Eiger Glacier clinging to the rugged slopes between the Eiger and the Monch.

Walk up the moraine toward the Eigergletscher train station. Progress will be slow as you stop frequently to enjoy the spectacle.

At 1.7 miles turn left on a trail that descends from the moraine and soon arrives at the Eigergletscher train station. Walk west a short distance along the tracks to the pedestrian crossing and cross the tracks. On the other side your will find a trail signs pointing to the Eiger Trail and Alpiglen. The path travels between the buildings and reaches the start of the trail at 1.9 miles.

Trail Distances:

  • Eiger Trail (Eigergletscher) to Alpiglen: 3.8 miles
  • Eiger Trail plus the walk from Kleine Scheidegg to the start of the trail: 5.2 to 5.7 miles
  • Walking from Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg adds 2.8 miles to the day for an 8.0 to 8.5 mile hike. For more information see the Panoramaweg: Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg trail description..

Hike Facts

  • Distance: 3.8 - 8.5 miles (one way)
  • Elevation: 7,612-ft. - 5,243-ft.
  • Elevation Gain: -2,369-ft.
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Basecamp(s): Grindelwald
  • Region: Bernese Oberland

 

Elevation Profile

Eiger Trail Elevation Profile

 

 

Driving Directions

From Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg / Eigergletscher Train Station (2 Trains): Walk to the Gindelwald Bahnhoff at the east end of town and take the train to Kleine Scheidegg. In the summer trains generally run every 30 minutes. Get off a Kleine Scheidegg and walk to the south side of the station where you will find the trains heading to the Jungfraujoch. Get on a train heading toward the Jungfraujoch and get off at the Eigergletscher station, the first stop. This is a “Stop on Demand” meaning you need to push the button near the exit door that signals to the conductor that you wish to get off the train. Announcements in English, along with a number of other languages, will tell you when to push the button.

Kleine Scheidegg is a very busy place and boarding the train to the Jungfraujoch can be a tad chaotic. Some cars on the train heading to the Jungfraujoch are reserved for large groups (signs in the windows). Train personnel along the track can direct you to the cars open to the general public.

If you are walking from Kleine Scheidegg to the start of the Eiger Trail, get off the train at Kleine Scheidegg, walk to the south side of the train station and then walk east (toward Grindelwald) to the Hotel des Alpes, a large wood hotel. Here you will find trail signposts directing to the trail heading to the Eigergletscher train station.

From the Grindelwald Bahnhoff to Mannlichen (Gondola): From the Grindelwald train station (bahnhoff), walk a short distance to the east along the main street to the main bus stop and catch a bus to Mannlichen. Alternatively, from the bahnhoff (train station) follow the yellow signs pointing to the Mannlichen lift station, which is to the northwest of the Grund Station on the Kleine Scheedegg line. The walk descends the hillsides to the south/southwest of the train station using a combination of walkways and roads to reach the large carpark for the lift. The lift is located at the west end of the car park. Allocate about 20 minutes for the 0.9 mile walk. The ride up the world’s longest passenger-carrying gondola takes about 30 minutes and is quite scenic.

From Lauterbrunnen to Mannlichen (Train + Cable Car): From the train station in Lauterbrunnen, catch the cog railway heading toward Wengen. (This is the same train that goes all the way to Kleine Scheidegg). Get off the train in Wengen (14-minutes), walk behind the train station to Dorfstrasse (the main street) and head northwest along the street for a short distance. Soon you will see signs pointing right to a road that passes the main tourism office on its way to the cable car station. The cable car ride, which climbs over 3,000-ft., takes about 5 minutes. Keep an eye out for chamoix grazing on the grassy slopes beneath the cableway.

 

Trail Resources

Trail Photo Gallery / Trail Map

Basecamp(s) Information:
Grindelwald

Region Information:
Bernese Oberland

Other Hiking Regions in:
Switzerland