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Hike – Triftbrücke (Trift Bridge)

    Trift Bridge

    Photo: At the bridge.

    The Triftbrücke (Trift Bridge) is a suspension bridge up a side valley off the Sustenpass road. I came across it in my initial research when I moved here but didn’t see it for over a year (a first attempt shortly after arrival was stopped by bad weather).

    As impressive as the bridge is, it is another depressing case highlighting how much and how quickly the glaciers are retreating. The original version of the bridge was built in the early 2000s when the glacier still just reached the gorge but was clearly not going to be of much use for crossing to the other side for long (the current version is a sturdier replacement that was put in after the original attracted so many visitors). Now the glacier is far far away. Using the Time Hop function on SwissTopo you can really see how much it has changed. Into the late 1800s the glacier almost reached the location of the modern upper cable car station. Even 20 years ago it was almost at the location of the Trift Bridge.

    Key Information

    Route: Triftbahn (lower station) – Windegghütte – Triftbrücke – Triftbahn (upper station)

    Length: 9.5km, + 1230m, – 800m.

    Date: 2016-July-29.

    Trift Bridge

    I did this as a day trip from Brienz. If you are driving this could be a half-day stop when going over the Sustenpass.

    Practical Information

    Season: Late Spring to Autumn. The cable car runs from the start of June until late October.

    Arrival/Departure: Arrival at the start by bus (‘Nessental, Triftbahn’) or there is a fair amount of parking. Public transport can involve a few changes if you are coming from further than Innertkirchen (it still an easy enough day trip from Interlaken or Lucerne if you really wanted to see the bridge). There are limited direct buses from Meiringen to the cable car station bus stop, or take a train to Innertkirchen and then the Postbus towards ‘Gadmen, Post’. Given that Gadmen is tiny there are a surprising number of buses, but they are a bit irregular so check the timetable when planning the day out.

    Supplies: The Windegghütte and cable car stations offer food (or at least snacks) and drink.

    Alternate routes/shortcuts: The easy way up is to take the Triftbahn cable car (though it is still almost 3km and over 400m of height gain away). This is a rare case in Switzerland where booking a time slot on the cable car ahead of time is pretty much essential. I turned up fairly early on a Friday morning and was surprised to find that the next available ride up was 3 hours later. It saves about 1.5 hours, so I decided to walk up and reserved a slot to come down again afterwards. Reading reviews online the staff seem to have a reputation for not being very friendly or flexible. An alternative I had in mind was to go up to the bridge then over the Furtwangsattel to Guttannen (14km, +1440m, – 1740m from the upper cable car station). If I had planned this out then it would have been fine, but I only thought of this last minute and had no idea of the route length or connecting buses.

    Exposure/Hazards: The route is steeper than many people expect (430m of height over 2.8km from the upper cable car station to the bridge) and has very little shade.

    Given the low capacity of the cable car there are not going to be all that many up there, but those that do go up are obviously going to be mostly going to the bridge too. It is famous enough that you will see a few international visitors, but out of the way enough that not many people make it there (until a drone video goes viral).

    Notes along the route

    Having planned to take the cable car I instead found myself walking up instead (again book ahead if you want a spot). The hike up that the cable car skips is beautiful and well worth doing (even if you didn’t intend to actually do it).

    Trift Bridge
    Near the start as a cable car full of people who booked ahead glides past.
    Trift Bridge
    Going up the valley, the cable car gets you past the treeline to the open meadow.

    Rather than taking the direct route I went up via the Windegghütte which takes you somewhat higher than you need to go, but is a very scenic spot for a coffee and bit of cake.

    Trift Bridge
    Trift Bridge
    Approaching the bridge from high above.

    Seeing the valley open up to the Triftsee and glacier in the background is impressive, but it is also sad to think that the glacier filled the whole valley only 20 years ago.

    Trift Bridge
    View over the lake and to the distant glacier.
    Trift Bridge
    Zoomed in view of the glacier.

    Dropped down to and across the bridge.

    Trift Bridge
    Trift Bridge

    I found myself with more time than I planned at the bridge having booked a time slot for the return and getting up quicker than I expected. So I spent quite a while just sat around and admiring the views before wandering back down (beware there is no shade around there).

    Trift Bridge
    Across the bridge.
    Trift Bridge
    From across the bridge looking down the valley.
    Trift Bridge
    Retreat of the Trift Glacier as shown by SwissTopo.

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