Hiking options Wengen area early April

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5 posts
new member
Oct 25, 2015 - 9:56 AM

Hi everyone,

We will be in the Wengen area for 4 days in early ( 5th-9th) April 2016. From research it appears that a lot of the funiculars will be closed and a lot of the hiking trails still too muddy or snowy to pass.

Can anyone suggest the best day hikes to do in this period that are likely to be accessible? ALternatively, should we consider another area to base ourselves in that may have better hiking option for early April?



6862 posts
Oct 25, 2015 - 5:33 PM in reply to kaiser

Hi Matt -

Welcome to the forum. I see that yiu have done your homework. You are right about hiking conditions.

Although the Jungfrau area is served by the cograil train between Grindelwald, Kleine Scheidegg, Wengen and Lauterbrunnen, not only the few funiculars are likely to be closed, so are many of the Luftseilbahnen ( gondola cars) and chair lifts. Since there is still skiing sometimes at that time of year, you may find some lifts open.

The walk on the floor of the Lauterbrunnen Valley from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg (where the Luftseilbahn goes up to Gimmelwald and Mürren, and onward to Schilthorn) should be possible, and there is a bus route there to help you out.

A very nice rail -trail in the sunny and warmer Rhone Valley is accessible by train via Spiez and Hohtenn. It usually gets cleaned of winter debris, rockfalls, etc., early in April Easter is often an opening day.

I have walked it from Hohtenn to Ausserberg in early April before it was cleaned up and had no trouble. And, the sausage stand above Raron was open. I love the trail and have walked it many times. Y0u get great scenery across the Rhone Valley and insights into historic Swiss village and "bisse" culture on the mountainsides. In the middle ages, the Swiss developed an extensive and well-engineered set of water supply mechanismes (the "bisse" or Wasserleitungen) to bring snow melt out to the warm dry valley wall. Actually, rather interesting. Still in active use.

Worth some consideration.

www.myswissalps.com/hi king/hohtenn-lalden.

As far as other regions, you basically are looking at lower altitudes to get earlier snow melt. Early April can be beautiful and dry, (as it was in 2014) or cloudy and rainy. Spring. Changeable. The area around Lake Lucern has many scenic hikes/walks, and various altitudes. Some nice mountains, too. The highest areas may not be open, but there are plenty of options at lower levels.

www.myswissalps.com/la kelucerne/activities

www.myswissalps.com/lu cerne/activities

www.myswissalps.com/hi king/bauen-seelisberg

www.wanderland.ch/en/w anderland.html

One you get to lower altitudes, you don't have the close up experience of the Alps. But, there are marked trails all over Switzerland, and good maps. The trails that are marked and well-maintained are called "die Wanderwege."

A detailed map:

map.geo.admin.ch/?topic=swisstopo&lang=e n&bgLayer=ch.swisstopo .pixelkarte-farbe&layers_timestamp =18651231&X=170200.00& Y=647200.00&zoom=3&lay ers=ch.swisstopo.zeitr eihen&layers_visibilit y=false

At higher magnifications, trails are shown,

Paper maps available all over Switzerland - if they have the Wanderwege marked, they are "Wanderkarten."

www.swisstopo.admin.ch /internet/swisstopo/en /home/products/maps.ht ml

If you want to do maps, I can explain more.

Some comments on the "Wanderwege."

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/where-to-find-hiking-trail-maps-in-switzerland

www.myswissalps.com/hi king


Last modified on Oct 25, 2015 - 11:46 PM by Slowpoke
5 posts
new member
Oct 26, 2015 - 9:26 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Thanks for the very informative reply Slowpoke, much appreciated. We had our heart set on doing the hike to First but it seems we have chosen the wrong time of year. Would we have better luck in the Engadine region or is it pretty much the same conditions there? I've heard that is generally considered a dryer area compared to Bernese Oberland? We like to do hikes with breath taking views, walk past waterfalls, streams etc. Stupid of me to not remember that the alpine areas I wish to hike would still be muddy/snowy in April.

Given the above information you provided - does Wengen still make sense as a good area to base ourselves in for the 3 nights. Still getting our head around the Swiss travel card options - but as this stage we had planned to get the 50% discount card and train direct from Zurich airport to Wengen. After Wengen we plan to catch a train to the Italian Lakes region (Lake Orta via Milan probably).

I have some more research to do.......

6862 posts
Oct 26, 2015 - 12:18 PM in reply to kaiser

<<"Thanks for the very informative reply Slowpoke, muchappreciated. ">>

Hope it helps.

<<"We had our heart set on doing the hike to First but it seems we have chosen the wrong time of year. ">>

I have had that surprise as late as early June. I wanted to walk the trail from Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg, and it was snowed in. I still find it difficult to think "snow" when Spring is well advanced in April and May at lower altitudes.

<<"Would we have better luckin the Engadine region or is it pretty much the same conditions there?I've heard that is generally considered a dryer area compared to BerneseOberland? We like to do hikes with breath taking views, walk pastwaterfalls, streams etc. ">>.

I can't speak from experience at that time in either the Upper or Lower Engadine. I do recall one early day in June in St. Moritz years ago when lifts were not yet open for hikers, and skiing was pretty well finished.

After going in June to Ftan and Guarda quite a few times, we shifted to September. We like that end of the valley better than St. Moritz, but a walk to meet and exceed your standards is the one from Muottas Muragl to Alp Langard.

www.myswissalps.com/hi king/muottasmuragl-alplanguard

My first thought would be to check altitudes and then look at annual temperature vs. date information on the internet. St. Moritz is certainly sunny. I don't know one way or another about drier. Perhaps Arno or Annika can add some information. I also recall weather forecasts in the newspapers that give the altitude for the zero degree celsius line and the altitude at which it snows. That is more useful when you are already there, I guess.

The Rhone Valley is definitely dry and often sunny.

<<"Giventhe above information you provided - does Wengen still make sense as agood area to base ourselves in for the 3 nights. ">>

I hesitate to make that judgement call for you. The scenery is there, but you'd see it from the cograil train or the lower altitude trails, or from Wengen itself.

I personally would not do it, but my hiking standards are very different. As much as I like the Alps, I am quite happy walking in the Emmental. And, I'd go in May, usually. April is risky for rainy weather, compared to May.I would simply choose to go walking there. Different kind of scenery. I took a chance on mid-April in 2014, and stayed at lower altitudes. Even May is problematic above Wengen.

Attached is a panoramic image I took from above Sumiswald in the Emmental on April 17th, 2014, when there was unusually dry and sunny weather for about a week. I was standing at about 800 meters; the village of Sumiswald ( lower left) is at about 660 meters above sea level. The major lakes are all at about 400 meters. Wengen is at about 1300 meters; Lauterbrunnen at about 800 meters; First about 2200 meters.

<<"Still getting our headaround the Swiss travel card options - but as this stage we had plannedto get the 50% discount card and train direct from Zurich airport toWengen. ">>

Arno and Annika are the forum moderators and expert on the transport passes. The do their best when you have a specific itinerary in mind.

www.myswissalps.com/tr ain/ticketspasses

Last modified on Oct 26, 2015 - 2:03 PM by Slowpoke
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14100 posts
expert &
Oct 26, 2015 - 1:29 PM in reply to kaiser

Hi Matt,

Early April is end of Winter in the Engadine. The valley floor is pretty high, from 1800 m around St. Moritz to about 1000 m near the Austrian border. So hiking in the mountains won't be possible. People will still be skiing on the higher slopes, and even a few Winter hiking trails may still be open (which are beautiful as well). In Summer there are many more trails though. If you're not looking for snow and Winter sports, the warmer/lower regions may fit your plans better. Like the lower part of the Rhone valley, Lake Geneva and the Ticino. That's where more trails should be accessible. Of course it all depends on the amount of snow fall coming Winter and the temperatures after that.

If you choose to stay in Wengen, you can most probably hike in the Lauterbrunnen valley, and also around Lake Thun and Brienz.

Last modified on Oct 26, 2015 - 1:32 PM by Arno
5 posts
new member
Oct 28, 2015 - 9:05 AM in reply to Arno

Thank you for the replies Slowpoke and Arno, and beautiful photo too - those are the kind of landscapes I love and I'm also an avid photographer.

I'm looking to see if the Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg winter walk is a viable option. The Grindewald-Mannlichen cable car closes the day afer we arrive (according to this years table) - so we would only have one shot at it and be at the mercy of April weather.

I guess if we couldn't find much to do in Wengen we could train it to Lake Thun or another busier area - although this becomes expensive. Some more research to do...

14100 posts
expert &
Oct 29, 2015 - 6:19 AM in reply to kaiser

Hi Kaiser,

Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg is one of the trails that is accessible in Winter (subject to weather). But, April is low season and Winter starts to come to an end. I don't know whether this trail is still being cleared of snow around that time, but I don't think it was accessible last time I was there in April. Trails at that altitude that are not being prepared for hiking will be muddy or covered in snow (more likely). A no go area in fact. The local tourist office will know exactly which trails are open when you're there.

All of this will not stop you from taking pictures from lower trails or around any of the train or cable car stations. I'm sure you'll have a good time if the weather cooperates.

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