Oeschinensee: The ultimate hike in Switzerland
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I still remember the moment when I first saw a picture of the Oeschinensee in my Instagram feed. I was pretty sure it was just one of those turquoise blue lakes in Canada. I was all the more surprised by the geotag: Switzerland. Pretty quickly I started asking Google about this lake. And pretty quickly, Lake Oeschinen landed on my bucket list. Nevertheless, it took years before I was able to fulfill my dream. But when the big day came, my expectations were relatively subdued. On the one hand because I've read a lot of negative things lately (too touristy, totally overcrowded, not worth it), on the other hand because the weather wasn't exactly on our side. But from the front.
- Facts about the Oeschinensee
- Directions and useful information
- Hike (with dog) at the Oeschinensee
- The route to follow
Where can I find the Oeschinensee?
The Oeschinensee is located in Switzerland, more precisely in the Bernese Oberland, above the town of Kandersteg. The intact mountain lake is fed by the glacial streams of the three-thousander mountains Blüemlisalp, Oeschinenhorn, Fründenhorn and Doldenhorn. The location between the mountains makes the attraction of the Oeschinensee. It lies spectacularly embedded in the midst of the steep cliffs of the peaks. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Oeschinensee is not considered one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in the Alps for nothing.
Another plus point: Lake Oeschinen is just one of the many highlights in the Bernese Oberland. You can see many other main attractions in Switzerland in the immediate vicinity, such as the Blausee, the beautiful town of Lauterbrunnen, Lake Brienz, Lake Thun and the Jungfraujoch.
Arrival and interesting facts about the Oeschinensee
You can reach the Oeschinensee both by car and by public transport. If you are driving, you can park directly at the gondola station (for a fee). If you are traveling by train, you can walk from Kandersteg train station to the gondola in around 15 minutes, or you can take the local bus. Incidentally, there is also a panoramic train to Kandersteg, the BLS Lötschberger adventure train.
You can now either walk to the Oeschinensee or take the gondola. My tip: take the gondola. There are a lot of meters of altitude to overcome to get to the lake, so you save the energy to do a long circular hike by the lake (and you want that!).
The ticket for the gondola costs 30 euros per person for a round trip and can be bought online on the official website of Lake Oeschinen. You can also find up-to-date information about the hiking trails and gastronomy offers on the website. By the way, you can not only hike at the Oeschinensee. Here you will also find a restaurant, a hotel and even a toboggan run. Maybe you've already heard that the Oeschinensee is well developed for tourism. And even if I really like walking on lonely paths, the Oeschinensee is still an absolute dream destination.
Hike to the Oeschinensee:
- Length: 9 kilometers
- Elevation meters: 420
- Walking time: 2:45
- Signage: good
- Arrival: By car or train to Kandersteg, continue with the gondola lift
Experiences: Hiking at the Oeschinensee with a dog
I did the hike in summer 2021 - of course together with Micha and our dog Frieda. We left Interlaken by car in the morning to catch one of the first gondolas. However, the view of the sky was not very promising. It was overcast and a thunderstorm was forecast for the afternoon. As soon as we parked, we met a local resident who strongly advised us not to drive up to the Oeschinensee that day. We would have no sight. We didn't have an alternative day, so we hoped for the best and climbed into the gondola anyway.
We had already compared different routes in advance and decided to do a 9-kilometer circular hike. This starts at the mountain station and runs along the left flank of the lake. You don't circumnavigate the lake, but first climb onto a high plateau, walk past the lake on this left before descending again in a loop and coming to the lake shore on a lower level and finally getting back to the valley station.
Beautiful, more beautiful, the most beautiful - the Oeschinensee
The first part of the hike is still comparatively unspectacular. Arriving at the mountain station with the gondola, you first follow the hiking trail that leads over an alpine pasture. You can't see the lake here, but you can see the dramatic peaks. Eventually the path splits. Straight ahead it goes directly to the lake shore, we walked left and so came to the hiking trail that leads to the high plateau. Steep, but not too steep, you now have to overcome a few meters in altitude. It goes through a cool forest until the view opens up and you can admire the turquoise water of the Oeschinensee for the first time. We took the first break with a fantastic view. Incidentally, the weather was more than kind, although there were clouds on the peaks, the view of the lake was still completely free. Even blue sky showed up.
Then it went on and from now on the lake is always clearly visible on the right side. Incidentally, we are not the only hikers, but it is by no means full. It's still uphill, but the incline is still manageable. The next spectacular vantage points await at the highest point of the hiking trail. The next section of the hike is a little more relaxed. You now always walk straight ahead over the plateau. Steep cliffs on the left, the glowing lake on the right, which changes color depending on the incidence of light. We actually found the descent the hardest. You follow a serpentine, sometimes it gets steep and a bit slippery due to rubble. But with a little care, there is absolutely no problem with a dog. However, we also saw hikers with dogs that were hanging heavily on the leash, which (as a result) had to struggle with the path. By the way, there is a mountain hut in the serpentine where you could take a break.
The view of the lake changes throughout the hike, and you also pass dramatic waterfalls. Once you have made it into the valley, the landscape is reminiscent of Canada due to the many conifers. By the way: Many people only walk this lower path and then turn back, so it's a bit crowded here than on the high plateau. Eventually you get to the lake shore. Here the water doesn't look as turquoise anymore, but the view of the rock faces that drop vertically behind the lake is spectacular. Since the weather was really changing, we only took a short break and walked the last few kilometers back to the mountain station. Incidentally, you can also cover this stretch with a small train. This is particularly popular with families.
Summary of our hike at the Oeschinensee
A dream really came true for us that day. Rarely have I experienced a landscape that is so extraordinary. It's also completely ok not to be on the road all alone. The difficulty of the hike was just right, strenuous enough but not so much that you couldn't enjoy the hike. We have never been to Canada before, so it was all the more beautiful for us to see a landscape that really comes close to it with our own eyes. The gondola lift is (typically Swiss) not exactly cheap, but for us it was worth every penny.
Please imitate: The hike at the Oeschinensee
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