Photo: View towards the Jungfrau region from Planplatten.
Hasliberg is a mountainside sitting above the town of Meiringen. It is fairly popular for summer and winter sport but almost only by the Swiss. International visitors pass underneath on the popular Interlaken-Lucerne train or on the way to the Susten/Grimsel passes, but very few linger around the area. Which is a shame as it offers some fantastic mountain activities with very impressive views of high mountains and glaciers. Their website lists plenty of ideas and useful info.
There area also has some local fame due to (and is itself very proud of) the current Schwingerking (Swiss Alpine wrestling) Matthias Glarner.
When: 14-15th July 2018.
Other activities in the area
Meiringen itself probably won’t amuse anyone for more than half an hour, but it does make a good base to see plenty of other places:
- There are plenty of other hikes on Hasliberg. The panoramic trail from Reuti to the station at the Brünig pass is a relatively easy and rewarding option taking about 3 hours.
- The Trift bridge.
- The impressive Gelmer funicular.
- Hike or ride over the Grosse Scheidegg.
- Brienz itself, plus the Rothorn train, boat ride on the lakes.
- The Susten and Gimsel passes.
- Axalp which is probably nice at any time, but once per year you can see the Swiss airforce do their stuff. However, given their safety record in recent years that might not be the best of ideas.
Day 1: Hiking on Halsiberg
Route: Planplatten – Hääggen – Mägisalp – Käserstatt – Bidmi – Reuti.
Length: 13km, +155m, -1330m.
We took the train to Meiringen from Interlaken (also direct from Luzern) passing by the blue Brienzersee and the waterfalls along the way (notably the oft posted Oltschibach falls which are slightly less picturesque than expected with the airbase right below them).
Meiringen is a curious little town. It is pleasant enough but not very exciting in itself. It has two claims to fame: the (supposed) birthplace of the Meringue, and the (non-final) deathplace of Sherlock Holmes. The Sherlock link is the most obvious with various placed named for Sherlock, a few statues, and a museum. Though these mostly serve as minor amusements on the 10 minute walk to the cable car station. That said it is worth stopping at the Cafe Frutal for your bakery needs.
We took the cable car up, up, and up to Planplatten (2245m). Where we had a drink and lunch with a view. The views from up there are fantastic as you look up the Susten pass, over to the massive Wetterhorn in the Jungfrau region, and down to Brienzersee, amongst other sights.
We went up without much of a plan and decided to decide when we got up there based on how it looked and the weather. In the end we descended from Planplatten to Reuti via Käserstatt and Bidmi. It was mostly pretty easy – the only steep bits were near the end. A few things to note:
- There is almost no shade or shelter along the upper parts of the route. Protect yourself from the sun.
- We had intended to take a more direct route from Käserstatt to Bimdi, but following the Reuto signs from Käserstatt looped us back to Mäglisalp which was slightly annoying.
- Decent trainers were fine, no need for any serious gear.
The Alp had looked a bit plain from the cable car, but up close the path was more varied and interesting than I expected. Lots of wild flowers out at the height. We also saw lots of marmots near the top – some seemed rather unbothered by people and simply went about their business only 10m from the footpath.
We stopped for a drink in the Alp gasthaus Hääggen serving ourselves with drinks that were sat to keep cool in a wooden fountain. Sitting enjoying the views and listening to cow bells, and marmot whistles was a highlight of the day.
From there we gently climbed up to Käserstatt (which has a cable car and restaurant if needed). We took the “wrong” path back to Mägisalp rather than straight down to Bidmi. Having never used one before we decided to take the Trotti down to Bidmi to save our legs. This was fun but not really worth the price (10CHF) for the length of the ride, or at least it feels that way having spent many hours on a mountain bike.
We stayed at Hostel Ce La Vie in Reuti (chosen by where there was a vacancy at the last minute). As a hostel is was nice enough. It was very family and big group focused so there were lots of over excited kids running. Which is not bad in itself – but with absurdly thin walls it got a bit annoying. So we are unlikely to head back there again.
Reuti is a small village sitting above Meiringen which has a cable car station and some very nice views. We had a good dinner at the Hotel Reuti which is just next to the cable car station. Otherwise there are two other restaurants and a village-shop which has rather limited hours (not surprising given the size of the place). I took a walk through the village in the evening; admired some very nice old houses, then followed the wanderweg signs through some woodland to the lookout at Mühlefluh which offered nice views over Meiringen and across to the Reichenbach falls.
Day 2: Through the Aare gorge and up to the Reichenbach falls
Route: Meiringen – Aare Gorge – Geissholz – Reichenbach falls.
Length: 7.6km, + 410m, -184m.
The day started very overcast so we headed down rather than up. We took the cable car down to the valley floor, had a good breakfast at the Frutal bakery cafe (apparently the best thing in Meiringen), then walked a short (20 minute) and pleasant path to the western gorge entrance.
The Aareschlucht (Aare Gorge) is very impressive and well worth the 10 CHF or so asking price. The depth and formations of the rocks are fantastic, and the milky blue Aare really adds to surreal nature. There is an entrance/exit at both ends and you can either go through one way or turn around and go back through it again. It was fairly quiet as we arrived around 9am. The path is mostly flat and well secured (though do expect it to be a bit cooler with water dripping down too).
From the eastern end we walked up through the little village of Geissholz and meadows to the Reichenbach falls. The first 10-15 minutes are by a slightly busy road, but after that it is very quiet. The views were pretty but it was very humid from rain the night before. So that we were rather sweaty even though there it is mostly a very gradual height gain.
The Reichenbach falls are the setting of the climatic final in the Sherlock Holmes book ‘The Final Problem’ (read it for free at Project Gutenberg). Like Meiringen they play hard on the Sherlock Holmes link as a promotional tool. The falls are impressive, but not as much as the book describes or as the reputation suggests. Modern engineering work on the base may be a part of that problem.
We arrived at the top via the Gasthaus Zwirgli and then worked our way down the multiple view points of the falls and valley to the Rechenbachfall-Bahn funicular down to the valley floor. If you are walking up like us then aim for Gasthaus Zwirgli which sits right on top of the falls, as otherwise you will need to loop up and around the falls to get across to the funicular. If you follow the signs for the Reichenbach falls you will end up lower down with a good view, but on the wrong side of the falls and have to climb up a steeper part to get around.
It was a bit busy but not rammed around the falls. The funicular seemed to be going up and down non-stop but there were not any big queues. There are of course lots of Sherlock themed plaques, memorials, and similar items around – and people do sometimes turn up in fancy dress in tribute (4th of May is a good bet for that).