Hi Suri- as promised
Giessbach to Iseltwald
Notes about descending from the trail (coming from Giesssbach) to Iseltwald.
Here is what the Hotel and Tourist Office wrote:
<<”From tourist office:
We recommend to walk the part from Giessbach to Iseltwald. This route is not very steep, only at certain parts. There is a nice picnic area in the middle located in a wonderful forest. As there are small rocks on the path it is recommendable to have a stroller with bigger wheels. “>>
I agree that you should walk in that direction. I am concerned about their comments about “steep parts.” So, I have marked up a map to help you understand that better.
Attached map, a marked-up screen grab from SwissTopo, shows the main route and alternatives.
I think it is good enough to use in one piece, but, I have also provided one version where I have cut off the right end and made the remainder bigger. The cut-off version includes all of the options.
The key issue for me is how to best descend from the main trail, marked with red dots, which is well above the town and lake, to Iseltwald itself, with a stroller and young children. By myself, I’d consider any of them, except possibly not #1 because it goes on roads that are not marked as trails.
I believe once you have reached the part where you have options to descend, you might possibly have come too far to turn back. Maybe, maybe not. It is 3 ½ km from Giessbach.
There are four options. I shall discuss them in the order in which you will reach them as you walk along the route, and I put numbers 1 through 4 on the map to show where they start. After I list them, I’ll describe the good and bad parts of the choices, in the next few paragraphs.
1.- Pick up the road at Number 1, just above the Glooten interchange with the autoroute, and follow the road all the way down to Iseltwald (Blue dots).
2.- Pick up a descending trail about 200 meters further along, at number 2, descend to the trail along/on the road, and walk to Iseltwald. (Green dots).
3.- Continue on along the main trail (red dots)until you have almost reached the Mülibach Falls, but turn off on a shortcut (yellow dots) which does not make either the short steep climb to the falls, or the following steep descent alongside the falls.
4.- Follow the main trail (red dots) all the way to Mülibach Falls. Then take the steep ascent and descent beside the falls, and the less steep descent to the town .
Positive and Negative Issues with each choice -
1.- Choice number 1 is the simplest and smoothest. However, it takes sections of road which are not marked with the yellow trail color on the topo map. That part of the route which is on the very first roads is not shown as a trail. I suspect that it is unsafe, perhaps with no way to avoid the cars. You will be able to see for yourself when you reach that point, but I worry that it is not safe. It may be the entrance road for the autoroute.
2.- Choice number 2 (green dots) puts you on some trails which descend moderately steeply for about 400 meters after you leave the main trail, and before joining the trail along the road. I do not know the quality of those trails. You might ask at Brienz Tourist Information. If they are generally OK or (better) for strollers, that seems like the easiest safe route to me. There is one short stretch of about 40 meters where the descent is about 10 meters. That is the steepest section. The parts on the descending trail, , and particularly, that short steeper section, is the one that I would ask about specifically, for usability for strollers. I would also ask about the safety of the long stretch on the road, down into town. That is the way I walked in 1996. I do not remember any particular safety problems, but that is not very reliable information.
This route (green dots) follows marked trails only, although some is on or alongside roads. I am unsure about how safe that is, but, other hikers use it. And, I did.
3.- Maximum avoidance of roads. Follow the main trail until you reach the shortcut (shown as yellow dots) not far from Mülibach Falls. The shortcut descends about 30 meters over about 150 meters, and then is parallel to and close to the autoroute. It then goes under the autoroute. I do not know the quality of that shortcut trail. After that, you have the same 50 meter descent over about 200 meters that Option 4 uses, followed by a more gentle descent of about 30 meters over several 100 meters down to the level of the boat dock.
The descent after the going under autoroute is fairly steep, but not extremely steep. It is not a paved trail. Once you have passed under the autoroute and descended a few tens of meters, you pick up a paved village road as far as the boat dock. It is a narrow side road or lane, and it will not have much traffic, so I would not be concerned about safety there.
I do not know the suitability for strollers for the first parts of that descent into Iseltwald. You should ask.
If you want to see an aerial photography image, which you can switch to color map (or the reverse) here is a link:
4.- Maximum distance on the main trail. Follow the main route to Mülibach Falls then go down the hill until you meet the section described in #3, just above and near to the autoroute. It has the maximum possible avoidance of roads, as does #3. It is almost certainly quite well marked, and you reach it if you simply stay on the main trail. Presumably, that part of the main trail is still a good trail.
However, the part near the falls has a very steep ascent, and a very steep ascent. The descent is about 60 meters over a linear distance on the map of about 100 meters.
I would not recommend taking strollers there.
On balance, I think I’d consider option 2 first, because it has the most gradual descent. However, if you are concerned about walking down that long stretch of road, even though it is marked as a hiking trail, then you should consider option 3. #3 has no road travel until you get into the village of Iseltwald, but with a steep descent from the vicinity of the falls.
That is all that I can learn without being there.