Switzerland's Via Alpina: The Best 10 Miles

Turn-by-turn beta for highlights on its best 10 miles.
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Turn-by-turn beta for highlights on its best 10 miles.

1. Griesalp (Start, mile 0) This hamlet has more cows than people—and the road in makes for the steepest bus trip in all of Europe. You’ll need a full seven hours of hiking to reach Mürren; grab a bunk at one of the four hotels (kiental
.ch) if you arrive in Griesalp in the afternoon.

2. Sidehike Head .2 mile east on the Wildwater Trail to reach Griess Gorge, a slot canyon locals call the Hexenkessel (“witch’s cauldron”).

3. To Sefinenfurgge (mile 1.4)

You’ll gain 3,950 feet on the four-mile climb to the second highest pass on the Via Alpina (it’s at 8,569 feet ). Follow rural roads to Ober Durrenberg, a farm at 5,300 feet, to access a trail to the pass. In summer, this stretch is a two-steps-up, one-step-back shale slope. In late fall, it’s a 35° snow climb.

4. Killer view (mile 4) How’s the vista from Sefinenfurgge? “As we negotiated knee- and hip-deep snow on the descent, we looked up and stopped dead in our tracks, drop-jawed, in awe of the Eiger,” said one editor after crossing here last fall. Below the pass, you’ll drop into pastureland hemmed in by high rock walls.

5. Photo op (mile 6) Keep an eye on the towering ridge to the northeast above the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Hanging glaciers calve and crash down the steep walls.

6. Snack time (mile 7) The descent mellows as you reach a grassy valley and the 52-bed Rotstock Hut. Order the tartiflette (a cheese and potato dish) and the house beer.

7. Fresh cheese (mile 8) From Rotstock, you’ll climb over Wassenegg Ridge, then contour to Schiltbach stream. Cross it, then look for a sign to Schiltalp, a collection of cheesemakers’ huts.

8. Mürren (End, mile 10) Mürren is a car-free village on a shelf 2,624 feet above the valley and a popular ski resort; in 1922, the slalom was invented here. There’s a rail station and hotels. Book a room at the Eiger Guesthouse, then take the ski lift to the 9,711-foot Schiltorn. From its summit, you can see the Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau, Matterhorn, and France’s Mt. Blanc—and get dinner at Piz Gloria, a revolving restaurant featured in the 1969 James Bond flick On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.