My name is Cory and welcome to my article on the Hardergrat Trail. I grew up in Fayetteville, NC. I moved out of state for college and recently moved to the Raleigh-Durham area for my husband’s job. It’s great to be back in my home state! I have loved travel for as long as I can remember. Exploring new places and cultures is one of my favorite things to do. I want to see as much of the world as I can, so I try to take trips whenever possible.
This year we took a trip to Switzerland for five days. We stayed in the cute town of Brienz and ventured out from there to see other locations each day. We explored the beautiful Lauterbrunnen Valley, Aareschlucht Gorge, the village of Iseltwald and took on the Hardergrat Trail in Interlaken. Highlights of our trip included exploring the charming Swiss villages and taking some quick refreshing dips in the frigid alpine lakes of this magnificent country.
Hiking the Epic Hardergrat Trail
I follow Swiss accounts on social media and before our trip I saw pictures of the Hardergrat Trail hike posted by these accounts. It looked unbelievably beautiful and I knew that I had to do it. After doing the hike, I can safely say that it was the most beautiful hike I have ever done but also the most challenging. We aimed to complete the entire trail which was around 14.5 miles. We lasted eight hours before getting absolutely exhausted.
At this point, we realized that we still had four hours to go. So we decided it was best to head down the detour instead of continuing on. I had read in many articles and blogs that this would be a difficult hike, but it ended up being a lot harder than I could have ever imagined. The Hardergrat Trail follows a ridge and is very narrow. Many sections have steep drop offs on both sides. You have to be super careful not to trip and stumble.
There were parts where you had to scramble and climb up rocks which felt dangerous. The trail is characterized by steep inclines and declines. Once you finished climbing to the top of an extremely precarious mountain, it seemed like you immediately had to go right back down. We weren’t used to that level of altitude, so going up and down over and over just wiped us out. However, we were still proud of our effort and loved the experience!
The biggest feature of this hike are the views. They are awesome! We had uninterrupted views of Lake Brienz (one of Switzerland’s many icy blue lakes) the whole way which was stunning. We could also see the Jungfrau region’s highest peaks from the trail: the Eigier, Monch and Jungfrau. The mountains and hills surrounding Hardergrat were so green and pretty. We did the trail in mid-late July and definitely recommend this time of year.
All in all, it was the most spectacular hike I have ever been on! But it was a challenge, so was it worth it? Yes and no. I think if we had done this hike on our last day in Switzerland it would have been worth it. Unfortunately we did it on our first day and therefore were just exhausted for the rest of our trip. This meant we couldn’t really get into the spirit of exploring during our final days. Though, it was still epic and something we will never forget.
Tips for this Beast of a Swiss Trail
We stayed in Brienz and took the Brienzer Rothorn train up to the top of the mountain and began the Hardergrat Trail from there. You can also start in Interlaken and do the hike the opposite way. Interlaken and any surrounding towns would be a great place to be based in. We stayed in the loveliest bed & breakfast called B & B Spycher-Brienz Schonegg. This was a fantastic stay and we really enjoyed our time there. Highly recommended!
One of the biggest tips I would give for others looking to do the hike is to be sure you are in shape. Make sure you have been working out or going on similar hikes consistently. Do some long hikes before taking on this beast of a trail to build up your endurance, and bring plenty of water. Together, my husband and I drank seven liters of water in eight hours. Keep in mind this hike will be long and challenging but so stunning and unforgettable.
If you go during the right time of year you will be surrounded by thousands of wildflowers. I am such a flower lover and was in wildflower heaven! It was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. Typically, in the Swiss mountains, flowers don’t bloom until mid-June but it can start later in early July. Plan your hike around these dates as the flowers make the experience that much more special. You will be able to capture wonderful photos.