Hiking the Swiss Alps is no joke. Our guides informed us that it was rated a 3 out of 5 on the difficulty rating and considered a "family-friendly" hike. I suppose that Swiss people are generally more fit than Americans and hiking up high altitudes is a common family activity - as we found it fairly difficult!
The three valleys hike is just outside of Kandersteg and we split it up into two days so we could experience staying in one of the huts on the mountainside in the Ueschinen Valley. The hike up to the hut has a good incline and is challenging enough for novice hikers. You can still get some amazing views on the way to the hut.
But to see the three valleys, you have to keep going up. The inclines get steeper and and trail gets narrower. Parts of the trail are difficult to see. There are also places where we couldn't stop because of the possibility of falling rocks, and the trail was just wide enough for one person – some spots with sides steeper than 45 degrees down the mountain on one side and sharp, pokey edges of rocks on the other. The top of the ridge is windy and narrow, and it didn't help that more than half of us have a fear of heights. But once we reached the top we were greeted with awe-inspiring views and a mountain-high feeling of accomplishment.
After enjoying the views and finding a place to relax and have some lunch, it was time to start our journey back down. The trail down was different than the one up, and took about twice as long. We crossed over to a different valley, and had long zigzags down the mountainside because it was so steep. At some points we were bouldering down -- which is like rock climbing but with no harness.
Hiking the Three Valleys ridge from Kandersteg is one way to get a good taste of the landscapes and mountain ridges in Switzerland. This hike is your chance to visit three different valleys on the same trip.
A guide is necessary for this hike, as paths are not always clearly marked or obvious.
Additionally, you can learn more about Switzerland’s culture by reading Switzerland - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture.
The Path of the Hike
It starts off on the first day with a 3 hour walk/hike into the Ueschinen Valley (the Inner Üschene) and up to the Ueschinenhütte. This part has some amazing views by itself and can be quite challenging for some folks.
We stopped at the hütte, had lunch, and then did some intro level rock climbing in the afternoon before enjoying dinner and conversation at the hütte and spending the night.
The following morning we headed up higher with a stop at a grassy cliff edge with spactacular views just before the top. We then worked our way up a narrow steep edge - making it up to the Schedelsgrätli ledge - which provided some spectacular views of the Alps and Adelboden.
Crossing the ledge, you pass under - and in front of - Tschingellochtighorn (a.k.a. “Kit-kat mountain”), and to the highest point of the trek, reaching an elevation of 2735m.
Next, we crossed the Engstligengrat - took a short break to eat our sack lunches - and then descended over Schwarzgratli, and down to the Schwarenbach Hotel for a much needed restroom break and an ice cream bar. We then continued down the path - past some fields - to arrive at the Sunnbüel cable car which takes you back down - even farther - to Kandersteg.
I'm very happy to say that we all made it down safely, with no major injuries only a few blisters. Was it worth it? Absolutely! Would I do it again? Possibly. I'd like to go on some other new adventures first!
Have you ever hiked the alps? Where do you think we should hike next?
If you’re looking for cheap Day Trips and Hikes in Switzerland, like this one, you can find them here: “Best Switzerland Tours”. Additionally, you can explore some alternate itineraries and affordable tours here: “Great Deals on Switzerland Vacation Packages”.
Switzerland is a hikers dream, and the landscape is simply mind blowing. No wonder it has been used as the filming location for a number of hits such as the James Bond films (the Contra dam in the Vezasca Valley from Goldeneye, Schilthorn mountain from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Furka Pass from Goldfinger, and the slopes of St Moritz from The Spy Who Loved Me), Star Wars Episode III (the mountains around Grindelwald in the Jungfrau region for Alderaan), Iron Man 3, X-Men: First Class, and even Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
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Jenny & Bradley of EatWanderExplore