Last weekend we checked off the first of my summer hiking goals by hiking high above the Oeschinensee near Kandersteg. Apparently it is also one of the top 15 most beautiful hikes in Switzerland (which means I have a few more hikes to add to my list for this year and next.) It is also a Unesco World Heritage site thanks to the gorgeous glacial turquoise waters, alpine meadows, waterfalls, and high peak views.
It was a gorgeous, warm day and the two hour drive from home to base of the gondola was a good opportunity to catch up on podcasts and let Reese nap before hitting the trail. After riding the gondola up in late morning, we set off down the wide path meandering down to the lake past the summer toboggan run along with a number of other hikers and summer lake visitors. A few small hotels and restaurants sit around the lake and quite a few cows were happily munching in the meadows and lakeside (including just at water’s edge). We decided on the panoramic hike and took a few minutes for a quick snack and drink for heading up the trail.
The trail had some steep and rocky points, but otherwise we were too enthralled with the views to complain. After winding our way along the lake and up some steeper switchbacks (as you’ll see in the pictures), we paused for lunch at Oberbärgli, drink, and a mountain cheese plate. Reese especially loved stacking some rocks and splashing in the creek. Then we headed back through the higher meadows and when we joined up with the main path, we turned back down to the water for a very refreshing (though not freezing) swim. The weather was so cool and clear and it was nice to just float while Reese played with sticks and splashed on the edge. Then we slowly made our way back to the gondola.
All in all, it was a very fun and rewarding day in the mountains for all of us. I’m already looking forward to returning for another hike, like this one this one up to an Alpine hut on the other side of the lake (number 9 on the map below) , or a trip to the nearby Blausee.
The panoramic hiking route we took is of medium difficulty and just over 7 miles and ca. 3 hours long with minimal stopping. The route goes from the gondola to Heuberg to Oberbärgli (where we ate lunch) and then back to the lake.
Our route is highlighted in orange below, and you can see the map and elevation profile record by my Garmin watch below.
Click here from more details on other hikes around the Oeschinensee.
The drive from Zurich to the Kandersteg gondola is just about 2 hours (via Bern or Luzern). We drove a loop route past Luzern on the way there and back on the highway nearer Bern. The train trip is around 2.5-3 hours depending on the selected itinerary. A round-trip fare up the Oeschinensee gondola is CHF 26 for adults (CHF 13 with Halbtax/half-fare card) as of the date of this post. Find full prices and schedule here.