I’m happy to say that we’ve gotten an earlier start on our hiking season this year vs. last (though we’ve been stalled a bit in the last few weeks). Our first real hike this year was a beautiful, if a little steep, way to start the summer hiking season. It was the last few days of a visit from Martin’s sister and brother-in-law in late May, the weather was glorious, and we were feeling the pull of being on the water but also wanting to hike in the mountains. So, after a little thought, we headed out to the Walensee where we could combine a couple short small ferry jaunts around the lake with a hike along the shore and panoramic water and mountain views.
What is unique about the villages along the north shore of the Walensee is that they located on the southern slope of Ammler rock walls which contributes to Mediterranean-like climate where grapes, figs, and palm trees can easily grow. Our hike (inspired by this momstotszurich post) was a 7.5 km hike along the north shore from Au to Betlis.
We arrived at the Murg West ferry terminal in time for the 11.10am ferry to Au. From there, we hiked at a good pace towards Betlis. The hike itself starts off gently, but then you must steadily climb through the trees over rough terrain as the lakeshore turns to cliffs. It was a hot, hot day and I was thankful that poor Martin was carrying Reese. The trail was narrow but not scary, and we had lots of opportunities to pause and let other hikers pass in either direction. By the time we finally stopped climbing, we were tired, but still glad to be headed downhill on easier terrain (instead of thinking of descending the steep, rocky trail in the opposite direction).
Just over 4.5 km in, we stopped for a light picnic lunch before heading on towards Seerenbach Falls. Seerenbach falls in three different cascades, with the tallest second cascade considered the second tallest waterfall in Switzerland. We detoured off the main path to hike up for a better view, the cooling mist, and some pictures before walking on to Betlis in time to wade in the lake and cool our feet before catching a ferry back to Murg via Quinten (and a refreshing drink respite) at around 2 pm. All in all, it was a great day.
As mentioned above, the hike is 7.5km long along the north shore of the Walensee from Au to Betlis with ca. 4km of solid, steady uphill elevation gain in the first half through the forested cliffs above the Walensee before meandering back down toward the shore as you reach Betlis. You’ll pass several picnic stops. The path is not stroller friendly.
The drive to the Murg West ferry dock is about 45 minutes from Zurich (or 1 hour by train). Parking is limited, so it’s best to arrive earlier and carefully consider your plan for hiking/eating/ferrying as the ferry schedule, even is summer, isn’t well coordinated. Plan to leave earlier or take longer if hiking with small children walking on their own, or if you want to take more breaks. A day pass on the ferry is CHF 29.00 for adults (and CHF 14.50 for children 6-16) as of this post.