Probably the best of three day walks I did in Switzerland in July 2022, Schynige Platte to First via Faulhorn offered truly epic scenery, and some memorable train / cable car rides to start and end the day.
Even walking to Wilderswil station from central Interlaken was a scenic experience, if slightly time pressured to catch one of the first trains of the day up the mountain.
The Schynige Platte Railway opened in 1893 with steam locomotives and was electrified in 1914. Climbing around 1,420m over 7.3km, it is one of the highest mountain railways in Switzerland. It uses a rack system to handle inclines of up to 1 in 4. It climbs through the woods before opening up to quite spectacular views.
After about 40 mins the train arrived at Schynige Platte station, 1,987m above sea level. The panoramic views from here were pretty stunning in the morning light.
Behind the station, missed by most people in their rush toward Faulhorn, was the attractive Schynige Platte alpine botanical gardens, filled with beautiful flowers.
Rather than take the most direct path toward Faulhorn I walked part of the loop track at the start, with great views of the towering 2,099m high Gumithorn Peak.
From the top of Daube I could see Interlaken between the beautiful lakes of Thun and Brienz.
The views of the track and surrounding area were pretty epic.
As were the view from Oberberghorn, reached by a series of steps.
I then joined onto the main path toward Faulhorn, loving the mountain scenery. Having arrived into Interlaken the previous evening from the almost flat in comparison scenery of South East England I found the views quite overwhelming. It took me a while to adjust to my new surroundings.
As is seemingly standard in the Alps the signage is excellent.
Also standard is the sight of cows, and the constant ringing of their bells, the sound of Switzerland.
It was a hot day, approaching 30C, and there is almost no shade along the track. I was lucky to stop at the final small patch of shade to eat my lunch, taking in the views, and listening (and seeing) fighter jets from the nearby military base pass overhead.
I continued on through this impressive landscape.
The path headed up toward Manndlenen pass, which in classic Alps style was home to a cafe. I found it telling that Switzerland only has one (small) national park. Everything else seems to be open to cafes, hotels, railways and cable cars in the mountains, pretty much the opposite to New Zealand where over a third of the country is protected from development. As a hiker there are pros and cons to both approaches.
More dramatic scenery followed.
At the top of the 2,656m high Faulhorn (on the right of the bottom photo) is a hotel / cafe facility.
It is a very popular lookout, with many people taking the easier route to the summit from First, where I would finish the day. The track became significantly busier and easier from here on.
Above Faulhorn were the ever present paragliders that appear to fly off most of the nearby peaks throughout the day.
The track was then downhill the whole way to First, passing three mountain huts for shelter, and a couple of attractive small lakes.
It was a boringly wide and easy to walk path, if scenic and enlivened by this selfie taking girl with all the technology.
At the end of it though is the rather cool First Cliff Walk, not for those who don’t like heights, though there was quite a queue for people to pose for photos at the end of it.
After a decent day of walking all that remained was to catch the impressively long (takes 25 mins) cable car ride the long way down from First to Grindelwald to catch the train back to Interlaken.