“Of all the paths you take in life make sure a few of them are dirt – John Muir”
We chose to have this dirt hike during our summer 2018 Switzerland trip. This hike was the part of “nice to have” itinerary due to time constraint, but it proved to be one of the highlights of our trip and we spent the most magical day on the mountain.
Mount First is one of popular mountains of Bernese Oberland for all sort of adventure sports. Summit is accessible from Grindelwald through cable car, which is an experience in itself. About half an hour in the cable car going up and up over the picturesque green slopes and ended up in a snowy landscape surrounded by stunning mountain peaks.
This cable car line is the first of its kind in Europe. There are similar ones in the USA but views are incomparable. First is on the opposite side of the valley to the North face of the Eiger. To get the best vistas go there on a clear sunny day – like the one we had in August.
We reached First 7113 feet and at the top – scenery is breathtaking! You can see the mountain chain from Faulhorn, Schilthorn over Jungfrau, Eiger, Schreckhorn, Wetterhorn, Engelhörner, Schwarzhorn and many other peaks in between.
The different trails were well marked like the marmot, cliff walk, Bachalpsee etc . Since we were getting late we set off on our hike to Bachalpsee (means lake in German; Ideally lake is not required after Bachalpsee 😀)
Check the signpost (left from the station exit) and walk on the designated hike path, or there are so many people going to the lake, you just have to follow them. From First to the lake takes 50 minutes but it took us around one hour because we clicked many pictures for every angle of the mountains surround. We couldn’t resist stopping to admire the spectacular scenery – alpine meadows, wild flowers and grazing cows. Hundreds of cows grazing and their ringing bells in the background was the added magic for us.
Initially at times there were difficult inclines for about half an hour or so and the steepest part is only at the beginning, directly behind the first bend. Then there is a nice walk on easy and straightforward path its open during winters as well.
The Bachalpsee is divided in two parts. But the large part is the most visited one due to its crystal clear blue water perfectly reflects the mirrored images of surrounding snow-capped mountain peaks at the certain time on the sunny day. The surroundings look heavenly we just sat and enjoyed the peace and serenity of this place with our warm tea and snack. There’s nothing like sitting by the lake in the freshest air ever and the cool crisp breeze. This is the most beautiful lake we have seen after lake Pukaki in New Zealand.
You have different choices after lake. You can go to the Faulhorn and enjoy having a drink and a meal in an in the oldest hotel on this altitude in Europe. We decided to skip the Faulhorn because its elevation gain, weather conditions and time constraint.
Then arriving back at the station don’t forget the short cliff walk (metal structure attached to the mountain face). In between there’s one part where you cross over a free hanging bridge from one cliff to the next. The view point is made of transparent glass, it’s fun to see down and have a fantastic view to the skyline of the Alps especially to Eiger north wall.
To get back down the mountain, you can either take the cable car all the way down again. If not, there are some other options available like the Eagle shaped zip line from the top down to the first station, go karts from the first station down to the second station, Trotti bikes from the second station down to the bottom and obviously there is skiing on the mountain in winter, but I can’t speak about that. We were happy to take the same cable car to ride back down, cable car operates all year.
- Be sure to check the time of the last cable car run to Grindelwald since the walking time from Bachalpsee back to the First cable station will take another 1-1.5 hrs
- Better to plan this as a day trip, pack your water and snacks but be aware it is not an ideal place to go on the rainy day
- If you are hiking with children pack water and snacks since there is no food/water/restrooms on the hiking trail, restrooms are available only at the Bachalpsee
- Hike is not stroller friendly
- Dress warmly with a pair of waterproof hike boots and a jacket
- Carry your tripod if you are lucky to get still water with a sunny day
- Swiss half pass is recommended
Thanks for reading. Happy traveling!!! 👋
|∑ Travel time by cable car||60min|
|∑ Miles walked||3.7|
|∑ Time spent||4 hrs|