From Grindelwald, the sheer south faces of the Wetterhorn, Mattenberg and Eiger, split by deep glacial gorges, soar above the south side of the valley. Hidden from this perspective are an amazing set of 4,000-meter peaks, including the Schreckhorn, Fiescherhorn and the Finsteraarhorn.
This scenic hike, traveling from Grosse Scheidegg to Bussalp, features magnificent panoramic views of all these peaks and more from a variety of different angles. Along the way the path travels through lovely meadows, traverses rocky ridges and meanders through pretty pastures.
Starting in Grosse Scheidegg, hikers are treated to intimate views of the Wetterhorn towering overhead along with side views of the Mattenberg, Monch and Eiger. As the trail traverse the base of the Schwarzhorn, views open to the Schreckhorn and Klein Schreckhorn, rising along the ridge above the Mattenberg. Soon the Fiescherhorn massif make an appearance, towering above Fiescher glacier nestled in a bowl behind the Eiger.
At the First viewpoint we are treated with dazzling views of the Grindelwald glacier, tumbling in motionless waves down the slopes of the Wetterhorn, Barglistock and Schreckhorn. The Finsteraarhorn rises beyond the glacial cirque formed by the Fiescherhorn, Monch and Eiger.
From First the trail ascends to the Bachsee, where the Wetterhorn and Schreckhorn form the perfect backdrop for this pretty little lake. Our path now turns south and we leave the majority of hikers behind as the trail climbs along the eastern flanks of Reeti to Spitzen, with splendid panoramic views of the Finsteraarhorn soaring above the Ischmeer glacier.
Soon the trail turns southwest again, traversing Reeti’s southeast ridge and then the peaks’s south face with terrific views looking directly into the deep glacier carved gorges to the south of Grindelwald. Above the gorges the Grindelwald, Ischmeer and Fiescher glaciers lie cradled in rugged cirques and spill down the flanks of Grindelwald’s high peaks. To the southwest the Jungfrau, Breithorn and Tschingelhorn form the backdrop for Kleine Scheidegg on the ridge between the Eiger and Mannlichen. As the trail nears Bussalp the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau dominate the views to the southwest and we see the Wetterhorn, Schreckhorn and Fiescherhorn from a new angle.
While it is possible to walk to Grosse Scheidegg to start the hike, I strongly recommend taking the bus so you can get an early start. Clouds frequently form in the afternoon, obscuring the view of the high peaks.
Beyond first there is no place for refreshments along the trail until you reach Bussalp. Hikers are advised to carry water and snacks.
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 directions below.) Signs at the pass direct walkers to the broad dirt track heading northwest toward Strechfeld, First and Faulhorn on the Hohenweg 2400.
Follow the path as it ascends along the top of the ridge on gentle grades with 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 at Kuhmatten-scharm where signs point right (northeast) to Schwarzwaldalp and Kaltenbrunnen. The continuation of the road drops left to Schreckfeld, First and Faulhorn. We continue along the Hohenweg 2400 toward First and Faulhorn on a trail ascending above the right side of the road.
The trail now curves to the left (west), traveling through pretty meadows along the base of the Schwarzhorn. At 1.2 miles the trail 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. Continue straight ahead along 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 on 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 Streckfeld. Beyond the junction the ascent resumes on moderate grades. Watch for a trail branching left from the road at 3.3 miles. Follow the trail, which cuts-off a long switchback on the road, as it climbs steeply to First (7,110-ft/2167-meters) 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 to 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 ends on the restaurant’s sun terrace where signs help you 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 Bachalpsee (50min), Faulhorn(2h 20min) and Schynige Platte (5h) on a wide gravel track ascending through meadows on moderate grades. 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 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 trail heading left (south) toward Waldspitz, Bort and Grindelwald.
At 5.4 miles arrive at a trail junction at the southeastern end of the Bachsee (7,450-ft/2,271-meters). On a calm day the Schreckhorn is perfectly reflected in the mirror-like surface of the small, unnamed lake to the south. 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 return 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 trail junction the path branching to the right (northwest) skirts the eastern side of the Bachsee toward Faulhorn and Schynige Platte, an excellent hike you should take on another day. Our trail turns left toward Spitzen (20min), Feld (1h) and Bussalp (2h), 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 small 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 eastern 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 at 6.1 miles, situated on the ridge extending southeast from Reeti.
Spitzen enjoys splendid panoramic views of the Finsteraarhorn looming above the Obers Ischmeer glacier, the Fischerhorn massif, the Fiescher Glacier, the Streckhorn and the Eiger. To the southwest the Jungfrau forms the backdrop for Klein Scheidegg, the saddle between the Mannlichen ridge and the Eiger.
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 the 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 descending traverse heading west/southwest along Reeti’s south 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 grade moderates briefly as the path curves around to Reeti’s western flanks and then continues its descending traverse through meadows on a very steep trail.
At 7.2 miles the grade abates as the trail curves around a grassy ridge to the junction above Feld (7,087-ft/2,160-meters). The trail, dropping steeply to the left (south), leads to Feld and Grindelwald. We continue along the trail heading northwest toward Bussalp.
The easy grades end 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 will also get you to the bus at Bussalp but is 0.6 miles longer, traveling on a road that takes a circuitous route. As you descend enjoy grand views of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfau to the southwest. Below Bussalp lies nestled in a lovely alpine basin.
Follow the trail as it drops steep through pastures, crossing a few small streams along the way. Just before reaching Bussalp pass a trail branching to the right toward Faulhorn. Continue descending to the road. Trail signs along the road direct you south to the Bussalp Restaurant (5,905-ft/1800-meters) at 8.9 miles where you take the bus back to Grindelwald.
From the Grindelwald Bahnhoff (Train Station): Walk east from the train station a short distance along Dorfstasses (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 to bus from one of several bus stops along the main street. Each stop is named with a sign. Logon to sbb.ch/en/ (or get the app) to see the departure times from the stop nearest your accommodations.
From Meiringen: Take the bus from the Meiringen Bahnhoff 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: In the tiny hamlet of Bussalp, the postbus leaves from the Bussalp Restaurant. The ride to the Grindelwald Bahnhoff (train station) takes 28 minutes.
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