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MTB – Lauenensee and Trütlisberg Bike

    MTB Lauenensee and Trütlisberg

    Photo: The Lauenensee in the morning

    A fantastic and varied ride. First fairly easy going up the valley to the beautiful Lauenensee, then a demanding but rewarding climb up to the Trütlisbergpass with extensive views, finally an effortless cruise back down through Turbachtal.

    The Lauenensee can also be easily visited by car, bus, foot, or E-bike without having to put so much (or indeed any) effort in.

    Key Information

    Route: Gstaad – Lauenen – Launensee – Lauenen – Trütlisbergpass – Turbach – Gstaad. Basically the Lauenensee loop combined with the Trütlisberg Bike route.

    Length: 35km, +/- 1225m..

    Date: 2024-June-17.

    For more cycling/MTB routes in Switzerland see my list of rides.

    Practical Information

    Season: Late spring until early Autumn. The highest point is just shy of 2000m so the snow will remain for a while in spring. When I visited there was only one small bit of snow left on the pass which didn’t cause any problems.

    Arrival/Departure: Train to/from Gstaad. Gstaad has plenty of options for renting bikes and the MOB trains all allow bike transport (though it will be probably be in demand on weekends)

    Supplies: Gstaad has everything you could need. Lauenen has restaurants, a little shop, and a fountain for water. Lauenensee has a restaurant. There isn’t anything on the climb up but Turbach has a little shop and restaurant (though at that point you are only 5 minutes effortless downhill away from Gstaad anyway). There are of course multiple options along the route to buy some cheese/meat directly from farms.

    Alternate routes/shortcuts:

    • Simply doing the Lauenensee loop and skipping the Trütlisberg part would be much easier and still a fantastic ride (24km, +/- 480m).
    • If you run out of energy or the weather turns then it is always possible to just stop and quickly roll back down to civilisation.
    • Or for those not into biking the Lauenensee is a very easy visit. There is a car park and a bus runs directly from Gstaad to the lake on a roughly hourly schedule, or a more scenic walk would be taking the cable car from Gstaad up to Wispile then following the Route 307 Höhi-Wispile-Lauenensee-Weg along the ridge and down to the lake (9km, + 220m, – 750m) or all the way to Lauenen (14km, +300m, -950m).

    Exposure/Hazards: This is mostly very safe on wide and smooth asphalt/gravel roads with no or very little traffic. The obvious exception is the single trail section which does have some sections with narrow steps and loose rocks, but that can easily be skipped by just pushing for 5 minutes.

    Other points:

    • I did this on a Tuesday morning and it was very quiet. I saw 2 hikers disappear into the restaurant as I arrived at the Lauenensee, but otherwise I had the lake to myself. Then I only saw 2 pairs of hikers on the climb/descent over the Trütlisberg.

    Notes along the route

    I have written this starting from Gstaad, but actually came from where I was staying in nearby Saanen. There wasn’t much difference except a few flat km along the river.

    Right away as soon as it leaves the historic/boutique core of Gstaad the MTB route chooses a steep side road to follow. The reward for this is some nice views and a very quiet farm road through meadows for the first few km. Taking the valley road to Lauenen would be an easier start if you don’t mind the traffic.

    After 3km the route joins the road up the valley with a hint of a few peaks above the trees, and then after a few minutes the view really opens up. The view up the valley is simply stunning (which is good because you will have plenty of time to enjoy that later).

    The MTB turns off the main road and follows a quiet side road. This is a lovely section that lets you enjoy the views with little effort or worry. The price for this is a short but very steep climb into Lauenen when you reach the village. This does at least take you along a pretty little lane past the church which most people are unlikely to see when passing by in a car or bus.

    MTB Lauenensee and Trütlisberg
    Riding up the valley towards Lauenen village.

    Leaving the village there are the options of taking the road or a little side road to the lake. I choose to stay on the road and loop back via the little side road, mainly because this way isn’t as steep (there was plenty more of that to come) but I think it also offered much more impressive views up the valley and the lake built up from pretty at first to the most impressive view at the end.

    The road narrows after Lauenen, so from Lauenen to Lauenensee you need to be more aware of traffic and make room or wait at times.

    I arrived at the lake at 9am and had the whole place to myself. I followed the gravel road along the eastern side of the lake, stopping to have a snack and enjoy the view from a bench.

    MTB Lauenensee and Trütlisberg
    The very scenic final approach to Lauenensee.

    The gravel road led on with a little bit of climb through some beautiful farms, then a dove down and back into Lauenen where I topped up my water bottle and returned to the red signs for the Trütlisberg route.

    The climb up to Trütlisberg is horrific. The road out of Lauenen starts at 10-12% just to really make a point, mellows out a bit almost becoming flat for a minute then climbing at a relaxed 7%, then the final section is impossible unless you are a world class rider or are on a powerful E-bike. It does at least have some stunning views which only get better as you (very slowly) climb higher and higher.

    The first 3.7 km are on paved road and are fairly reasonable. Then once the path changes from asphalt to gravel it climbs 450m in 2.8km, meaning an average gradient of 16% and my bike computer frequently claimed that it was 20-25%. I fought my way up at the start for a few minutes, but quickly decided that it would be quicker and easy to surrender and push.

    The Trütlisbergpass (1987m) itself doesn’t offer much of a panorama. You get the same impressive view over the Launen valley that you got all the way up, and a little glimpse of the Turbachtal, but that is about it. Presumably carrying up by foot to the Louwenehore (2477m) or along the ridge would open up some more views.

    MTB Lauenensee and Trütlisberg
    A well earned view from the Trütlisbergpass.

    I had been a bit worried about snow on the other side of the pass given that I was approaching the height of some south facing snow fields. It turned out that there was just one little snow field on the pass which didn’t present any problems (other than being too soft to ride over).

    The initial descent down into the Turbachtal is on single trail. First just steep grassy meadow, then it crosses a swampy area on a path made out of metal grates (which were a bit narrow but not slippery), then a rocky foothpath. Some sections dropping down stone steps or on very loose and steep rock were a bit too hairy/technical for me that day, but that part is only 600m long so after 5-10 minutes it turned into smooth flowing dirt then a smooth gravel trail.

    The valley changed from steep and wild to more cliche meadows and forest. It was nothing spectacular or memorable (especially compared to the valley around Launen) but was still lovely and fun to ride down.

    MTB Lauenensee and Trütlisberg
    The remaining snow on the Trütlisbergpass.
    MTB Lauenensee and Trütlisberg
    The easy flowy 2nd half of the short single trail section.

    Once back on paved road the approach to Turbach was a wonderful gradient that was steep enough that I didn’t need to put any effort in, but shallow enough that I didn’t accelerate much. So I simply cruised slowly through the farms and meadows enjoying the views.

    In Turbach the MTB route dives down a steep but smooth bit of footpath, then follows a very quiet road alongside a stream all the way back into Gstaad.

    MTB Lauenensee and Trütlisberg
    Cruising through Turbach on the final approach to Gstaad.

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