Photo: Looking along the cliffs from Obergrenchenberg.
A ridge walk through some impressive landscapes with views over the Swiss plateau and off to the Alps to one side, and over the Jura and off to the French Vosges / German Black Forest on the other. This is one of my favourite hikes near Solothurn.
Route: Grenchenberg – Hasenmatt – Hinterweissenstein – Weissenstein.
Length: 11km, +520m, -580m. 3.5 – 4 hours.
Season: Late spring – Autumn.
Arrival/Departure: Getting to the start and end is possible by public transport. Weissenstein is much easier to reach with a cable car running a constant series of gondolas everyday of the week (drive or train to Oberdorf). Bus 38 runs up from Grenchen Süd station to Unterergrenchenberg and back roughly every 2 hours from 9am on Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday and holidays (official bank holidays and also school holidays, check their timetable), expect it to be busy on nice days. You can also rent a Trotti (scooter) for 15 CHF from Untergrenchenberg to ride down the mountain to the ‘Grenchen, Holzerhütte’ bus stop on the outskirts of Grenchen which has more frequent buses down to the station in Grenchen.
Supplies: Restaurants are scattered along the route at: Untergrenchenberg, Obergrenchenberg, Althüsli, Hinterweissenstein, Weissenstein.
Alternate routes/shortcuts: The climb up to Hasenmatt isn’t significant, but can be skipped by following the road past Althüsli. There isn’t anyway to reduce the length, even dropping down to the villages on the train line below would add as much length and requires dropping 1000m down.
Exposure/Hazards: Parts of this like the Küferegg, west side of Hasenmatt, and Kitziflue are north facing narrow paths which might be blocked or at least made tricky by snow into April. You can divert down to wider lower lying paths if need be.
- Simply follow Route 5 of the Jura-Höhenweg marked on the footpath signs.
- This also follows the Planetenweg with the Sun by Weissenstein and (an outdated) Pluto is 7.35km away.
- Page with useful info on the hike (German)
Notes along the route
Starting at Untergrenchenberg you pass by the ski lift which is useful for locals but is less than 0.5km of piste, and in recent years probably hasn’t had many good days. There were a few patches of snow left. Nothing that presented any problem to the route through (unlike when I fought my way through in April a few years ago).
Initially you pass through some forest and meadows, then you find yourself atop the cliffs and the view opens up.
You pass by Bettlachstock which is being added onto the UNESCO world heritage list. It is too far out of the way to detour on this route, and it is a dead-end there and back from Bettlach below.
Following along the ridge leads to Hasenmatt at the halfway mark which is the highest point in Canton Solothurn. At 1445m it puts Solothurn at 18/26 in the ranking of Cantons by highest point which is adorable by Swiss standards. But the peak is prominent so the view is good, especially given it rapidly drops off 1000m to the south.
From Hinterweissenstein it is an easy (and probably somewhat busier) walk along a gravel road to the Kurhaus Hotel and cable car station at Weissenstein. If you still have time and energy you can push on to Röti.
Cable car down from Weissenstein. There is one train an hour from the adjacent station down to Solothurn (plus an additional train an hour that carries on to Olten at weekends and holidays) so try and head down 15 mins before it is due to avoid a long wait (or take the 5km walk down to Solothurn).