Niederried Augstmatthorn Graaggetor Loop
Steep & big vert for a quick visit to the Hardergrat
This is our go to run when we want quick and efficient vertical that gets us into a dramatic landscape. Of all the access trails to the Hardergrat, none feel as relentlessly steep as the trail up from Niederried.
There are several key elements that trail runners will appreciate about this run. There are two water sources on the way to the ridge, at 1500 and 1650 meters, and I've never seen these fountains dry. Besides the opportunity to refill bottles on the way up, where the trail intersects the ridge is the exact point where the Hardergrat stops being a rooty, muddy mess and becomes a masterpiece of mountain terrain. The Niederried Trail lets you skip the entire first section of ridge that really isn't so much fun. But that comes with the trade-off of 1500 steep meters without a break. It's not for everyone, but for those that enjoy this sort of thing, it's one of the best climbs in the Berner Oberland.
The run begins in Ringgenberg, 10 minutes by bus from Interlaken or an additional 5km run. Warm up with a 3.5km stretch of flat running along the shoreline of the Brienzersee. Once in the village of Niederried you'll point your toes skyward and get down to business. Settle in, it's a grind.
Once meeting the Hardergrat, the trail continues to the summit of the Suggiture, a sharp triangle seen from Interlaken. From the Suggiture, the trail rolls along the ridge until the Augstmatthorn, the day's high point. For those doing the entire Hardergrat, the Augstmatthorn is the moment of truth. Looking east towards the end of the Hardergrat, far, far in the distance brings a sobering reminder that there is a whole lot of ridge ahead.
But for this loop, you get to turn around and retrace your steps for about 200 meters to the Lombachalp Trail down to the north side. This is the trail most Hardergrat hikers use to access the ridge and get the views. After about 600 meters of distance, a trail cuts left traversing beneath the ridgeline, that will merge onto the Hardergrat very close to where the Niederried Trail joined the ridge. Now, you are back on the main Hardergrat Trail where you'll head west until the Graaggetor Trail which, much like the Niederried Trail, drops steeply off the south side all the way back to Ringgenberg and your starting point.
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Start: 46.702058, 7.895698
If you've never tried poles, this might be a good day to start.
- Don't underestimate the vertical. Remember, in less than 5km you'll climb 1400 meters. A pizza might be handy on the ridge.
- The Graaggetor descent includes a section of trail beneath steep cliffs. Don't linger in the amphitheater beneath the walls where there's the potential for rockfall caused by chamois.
Headlamp starts are good for beating the heat and treating yourself to a sunrise high in the Berner Oberland
The rare runnable section of Niederried Trail
From lake shore to ridge line, now it's time to run on a perfect trail
Headed for the Suggiture on the Hardergrat
Leaving the Suggiture behind for the Augstmatthorn highpoint
The view east from the Augstmatthorn is what you would have to do if you were doing the whole Hardergrat - next time
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