Interlaken Trail Running Double Header
A big vert trail running mountain marathon linking two peaks
Each summer, I have some big trail running objective from my home. Thankfully, this is easy to do from Interlaken. The town is a hub for four different ridges, each requiring well over 1000-meter climbs. For one of those summer objectives, Kim Strom and I decided to do a link up of two of the high points out the back door - two big climbs totaling 3000+ vertical meters in about a marathon distance.
For this guide though, we'll start the route from where visitors might launch, the Wilderswil train station, just outside of Interlaken. After a 3km flat warm up, the trail climbs a steep 1500 meters from the Bödeli (the valley floor) to the Loucherhorn. If done on an early summer morning this start is guaranteed to have you soaked thanks to chest high flowers dripping with morning dew.
This climb has one critical section near the top which is ideally done when snow free. Just before the final switchbacks there is a traverse (fitted with chains) beneath a black wall that can hold snow into late June. I've encountered this several times and it must be crossed very carefully as a slip will result in a long slide. Typically, the snow has separated from the wall, allowing for a passage between the snow and rock. The distance is only about 30 meters. It's up to each individual about how to manage this section if there is snow.
To understand if there is snow before even starting, a scan of the ridge line from Interlaken is necessary. If you still see snowfields along the rim, odds are you'll have it for this traverse. If it's entirely green, that should be a green light to go.
I've done the Loucherhorn Trail about 40 times and seen exactly two people, but when you roll over the top you immediately merge onto the Schynige Platte Grindelwald Trail, thick with tourists still fresh from a train ride up to the Schynige Platte.
You'll "Entschuldigung, excuse, sorry, pardon me" against the traffic until almost the Schynige Station (food, water and even rooms available, if necessary). There, you begin the long, and once again solitary, trail descent to Zweilütschinen which is little more than a train station where the Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen trains split. Thankfully, there is both a water fountain and vending machine at the station. Across the street is the start of your next climb, another 1400 meters of vertical.
A mountain hut, the Lobhorn, sits near your highpoint which conveniently serves one of the region's best Haslichueche and homemade ice teas. The Lobhorn Hut is actually a 5 minute detour but well worth the extra effort. In addition to the fueling stop, the views are some of the best in the region with the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau dominating the skyline.
From the hut, the trail continues for another ten minutes to the start of the traverse of the Tschingel, a rocky amphitheater beneath the east face of the Sulegg. Like the Loucherhorn Trail top, this section also holds snow and might require some careful footing.
After this traverse, you've reached your final highpoint at 2000 meters. The Bällenhöchst itself is a worthy 20 minute detour that'll have you on top of steep cliffs with big views of much of what you've done, and have yet to do - which is a giant drop back to town.
The descent begins with a cursing of cows. The farm you'll immediately encounter at the beginning of the descent is a mess of cow pies, mud, and destroyed landscape thanks to way too many cow hooves. It's all part of running in Switzerland, and thankfully brief. But you'll want to clean up your shoes after you pass.
After the farmhouse the trail descends steeply through forest until it hits a dirt road. To avoid a nasty descent trail, we've decided to take you to Saxeten (water available) and into the Saxetbach Canyon for a faster running route back to Wilderswil.
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Start: 46.666165, 7.869512
Even with numerous water sources, carry plenty of water, the southern aspects get very hot.
- With countless trail options and turns, navigating this route is complicated. Download and keep the route handy using the GPX Track as your guide.
With Interlaken in the background, climbing steep, wet, flower lined trails early in the morning
Nearing the top of the Loucherhorn Trail with the Hardergrat and Brienzersee behind
After the Loucherhorn climb, this is your new landscape to move through, the Schynige Platte
Welcome to the views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau
Trailside cheese stop & shop
Cleaning up ahead of a stop at the Lobhorn Hut
Water sources with some cultural flair
Just past the Lobhorn Hut near the top of the final climb
The Tschingel traverse and final section of up & down before one giant down
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