Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Wilderswil - Schynige Platte, Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

July 6, 2014

Miles: 4.5 + .5 miles walking around on top
Time:  5 hours + time looking around at Schynige Platte

Year to date miles:  212.2

How to get there from Wengen: Take train from Wengen to Lauterbrunnen. At Lauterbrunnen, switch trains and get off at Wilderswil.

How to get back to Wengen: Take train from Schynige Platte back down to Winderswil. This is a 50 minute ride. At Wilderswil, switch trains and take a train to Lauterbrunnen. Switch trains and take a train to Wengen.
Make sure to check the train schedule for the last train leaving Schynige Platte!

Rest rooms: At Schynige Platte. I seem to remember parts of the trail were so steep, there was no where to go (unless you go right on the trail)!

Hike directions: Hikes 57  and 58

Map: Wandern map found at most train stations.

Hike description:
Wilderswil to Breitlauenen: 4.7 km, 3 hours, 983 meters - difficult, lots of switchbacks, mostly in forest/shade. This section was very tiring. We had to stop often to catch our breath.

Breitlauenen to Schynige Platte: 2.5 km, 1.5 hours, 471 meters elevation gain - slightly easier, but still tiring. This section was mostly exposed to the sun. I forgot to wear sunscreen this first day & suffered from a very bad sunburn!

Almost all tourists take the cog train up to Schynige Platte. So, we saw very few people on this trail. It was a tough hike, but made us appreciate the views even more. The alpine garden is worth a visit. In addition there are funky chairs, cowbells, a couple picture frames, a restaurant, gift shop, and train station at the top. There is also a well known hike from Schynige Platte to First, which we would like to try on another trip. We met a couple in the alpine garden who live around 30 minutes from our house. On this trip, it felt like we saw many more Americans than on our previous trip.

Elevation gain was around 4,900 feet!

Getting out at the Winderswil train station, there will be many train employees trying to whisk you away onto the cog train to Schynige Platte. Instead, look for these signs at the train station, pointing out the direction to start your hike. These point you down a road with a covered bridge towards a church. The hike is estimated to take 4 1/2 hours (not including stops). We love that the hiking signs give estimates in hours, not miles. This is so useful! We used to be much slower than the hourly estimates (which we've heard have been based on times of Swiss grandparents). This time, I think we hiked as fast as those Swiss grandparents. Progress!

Walking on the wooden bridge towards the church.

Beautiful church with a cemetery behind it. We were confused at this point how to get on the trail - we saw the sign, but didn't quite know where to go.
We just headed uphill through the cemetery to the very back - and boy, is this steep already!
At that point we headed left, and passed through a gate, at which point we got on the trail.

We are always on the lookout for signs like this, to confirm we are going the right way.
We love these signs! They make hiking here so easy!

Bergwanderweg = mountain trail

Overlooking town of Winderswil

Pretty much every trail either has red on white blazes, or a yellow triangle.

Proper etiquette is to leave gates as you find them, as many hikes go through pastures.

The trail crosses the railroad tracks - the cog train up ahead.

The train ride is very steep, thus the cogs are needed.

A good spot to take a breather - when you reach a view of the lake - I'm not sure if this is Lake Thun or Brienz?
It is incredibly blue.

At this split we went right.
The alternate route to the left brings you buy the train station and a restaurant.
The both end up re-joining, so either way is fine.

Hikes often pass restaurants / huts in the mountains.

We made it!

The cog train going down the mountain, with the lake in the background

There are a number of things to see around the top. We headed up this hill.

One thing at the top is an alpine garden with hundreds of labeled plants

There are more trails that leave from Schynige Platte - I wanted to try these too, but we will save them for another trip.

These frames are kind of fun :)
They frame the fabulous view

Schynige Platte train station

There are often restaurants at train stations as well.
Glen enjoying a beer after a long hard hike, while we wait for the next train.

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