Europe Travel

Hiking the Swiss Alps: Northface Trail Photo Guide

Neal and I hiked over 100km while we were in Switzerland! We did several hikes in Zermatt and the Lauterbrunnen area. I think, of all the hikes, our favorite was the Northface Trail. It had stunning backdrops, interesting varied trail and it took you from one village to another. This trail is an absolute MUST DO.

along the Northface Trail

Getting to the trail head

We had just come down from the top of Schilthorn, off the gondola, and into Murren. Murren is an adorable town that we sadly didn’t spend a lot of time in. In Murren, we got on a funicular up to Allmendhubel. This funicular is short and costs around 7CF. The Swiss Pass does not cover it. But it’s better than walking!

In Allmendhubel, there is a kid’s playground area and signs for the Flower Trail. We thought that was what we would do because an old woman told us we HAD TO do it. So we set out to find it. As we went along, the Flower Trail was boring. I don’t know if we didn’t really find it or if that woman has a low bar for trails, but it was not our thang. We saw a sign for the Northface Trail and immediately changed course.

The Northface Trail

As you can see, at the very beginning, you get the stunning mountain view. Neal and I had a new tripod for my cell and we were eager to try it out!

The trail is both extremely easy and a little hard to follow, just like most trails in Switzerland that we experienced. There are these paved, easier looking trails like you see in the picture above. Then, at the same time there will be a trail cutting across a mountainside like this:

It’s not at all clear which you’re “supposed” to take. Because we cannot resist the urge to take an unpaved trail, of course we went this way!

(By the way, is my arm broken in that picture? No idea what is happening there!)

We did find some flowers along this portion of the trail and sat down to enjoy them with the view for a few minutes.

Throughout the “trail” you stumble across these tiny villages. Here’s a tiny trail leading to a tiny village.

The trail eventually turns into a paved road as the Swiss do actually drive up here.

If we continued down this road, we would have looped back to Murren, I believe. We realized this quickly and turned around. Thank god we did! It continued along the ridge.

And this is one of those trails where you can’t forget to look behind you!

Traversing the ridge

The trail continues and opens up to this incredible view of the mountains. There’s a bench here to rest. A few people were here when we got to this point, and they offered to take our picture!

At this point, we started hearing the familiar cowbell ring that we were getting used to hearing in Switzerland. Lo and behold, there were lots of cows! It was quite the sight.

If you want to hear them for yourself, here’s a short vid.

After we took in these lovely cows and cowbells, we stumbled upon a stream. It was roughly 10000 degrees in Switzerland, so for a minute, I thought it was a mirage. We sat by the water, took our packs off, put our feet in, and relaxed for some time.

When we crossed the bridge, we had two options: up the side of the mountain or down the path that looked to be downhill in the woods. Hell yes, we went for the downhill. We were following signs for Gimmelwald. We started quickly walking in the woods.

Getting to Gimmelwald

Finally, after what felt like a long time in the woods walking downhill, the trail opened again to the wide expanse. Gimmelwald!

But we weren’t done with the trail yet. We had to walk along this narrow path and through some more cows before really getting down into Gimmelwald.

There were paragliders above us.

And cows in front of us!

We were almost there; hot, but walking through wildflowers!

When we got to Gimmelwald, we did what any sane person would do. We grabbed a big beer and relaxed.

After Gimmelwald, we took the gondola down to Lauterbrunnen to relax for the rest of the night.

So why’s it called the Northface Trail?

We discovered pretty quickly why its called the Northface Trail. This trail takes you by several mountain faces and there’s a little plaque at the best view of each telling you about the people who have managed to climb the northface of said mountain.

The first one you come to is Schwarzmonch. Schwarzmonch was one of Neal’s favorite mountains in Lauterbrunnen. (Probably because there is a tiny brewery named after it in Gimmelwald!) These cool signs tell you all about the different trails to take up the mountain face.

Since Neal is super into climbing, this aspect of the trail really bumped up why we liked it so much. There were several others all along the trail.

Hope you enjoyed our story about the Northface Trail! It’s one of the best! It took around 3-4hrs, but it was so worth it!

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1 Comment

  1. What stunning views!! Not sure if/when we’ll get there, but pinning this one for later. Just gorgeous!!

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