Trail Running the Hardergrat
An exposed journey along a ridge from Interlaken to the Brünig Pass
This Run is featured in Run the Alps Switzerland: 30 Must-Do Trail Runs
Θ Point to Point
The Hardergrat trail run has become a classic, and for good reason. There are few geographic features this defined with a trail so long. Of its 35km, about 18km are spent on a sharply defined ridge, with significant, even airy, drops on both sides, in fact... 1500 meters of drop.
It’s not just a trail, it’s a journey. The whole time on the ridge is spent with stunning views of the Jungfrau Region’s highest peaks; the Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau, Schreckhorn and Finsteraarhorn. You'll be as challenged mentally as you are physically. When you reach the first highpoint at the Suggiture, what you see stretching away into the distance doesn't seem possible given what you already have in your legs. A convenient bailout exists at the same point that'll have you at a bus stop in an hour. Or, proceed and commit to finishing it. There are more bailouts, but after the Suggiture/Augstmatthorn area, bailing out gets more complicated and much bigger.
The Hardergrat trail run is not for those afraid of exposure, and should absolutely never be attempted when wet. The route is not an official trail, but a trail does stay on the ridge the entire length, with cables in place at the more exposed sections. However, the steepest section is unprotected and is a down climb if going west to east.
We suggest the entire ridge, from Interlaken's Harderkulm trailhead, all the way to the Brünig Pass. But, there are two options for doing the full length of the ridge:
- Harderkulm Trailhead (Interlaken) to the Brünig Pass : 35km with about 3300 meters of gain. At the Brünig Pass, you'll have to either catch a bus or train back to where you need to be.
- Harderkulm Trailhead (Interlaken) to the Brienzer Rothorn : 27km with about 3100 meters of gain. At the Brienzer Rothorn, if you make it in time, you can take a train down to Brienz where you can catch a bust, train or even ferry boat back to Interlaken. Check in with the Brienzer Rothorn Bahn's site for the train's timetable and know that if you miss it, you're in for a 1700 meter descent to Brienz, an overnight at the mountain hotel or the extra distance to the Brünig Pass.
This is a mandatory stable, good weather summer route and the trail should be free of snow on the north side. An early start is required from Interlaken to avoid being on the ridge in the heat of the day. There is zero water to be found until the Brienzer Rothorn Station. The trail is slow going and parties take up to 10 hours to finish it. Do not underestimate this route! We call it a trail run because for skilled, strong runners, it is possible to run the bulk of the route. But, for most, this is going to be a hike. We encourage you to keep moving and have an early start! The stats are big, but there is an endpoint.
There is more info about this trail on our ALPSinsight's Hardergrat Trip and Story. If you want to warm up on an easier version of the Hardergrat, consider the nearby Löbhorner Loop, which has what we call a "Startergrat" on it. It includes a similar ridge trail but with much less exposure and less steep sides.
Start: 46.69091, 7.86527
Study the route at SwissTopo and have a map available for the run. Many underestimate the route and bail-out from the Augstmatthorn down to Lombachalp from which a bus may be taken back to Interlaken (summer only).
Do not attempt this route when wet or if rain is forecast. Descents are done on grass which becomes deadly slippery when wet.
Take enough water for a full day of exertion in the open sun.
- Trekking poles are highly recommended.
- Our Run the Alps Switzerland guide book has lots more info!
Leave Interlaken early and time your arrival at the Suggiture for sunrise. An early start eliminates time spent on the ridge in summer heat.
The first big view of what lies ahead comes at the Augstmatthorn. You'll either be very inspired, or intimidated. Probably, both.
This is the kind of terrain you'll find yourself in for much of the day.
Steeper sections with the exposure you'll encounter. We weren't kidding about the knife edge ridge.
Nearing the end of the ridge before the Brienzer Rothorn will have you on and off the proper ridge line.
Brody Leven on the final kilometers of downhill to the Brünig Pass. Nearly the entire ridge can be seen in the distance.
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