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Oeschinensee Panorama Loop, Hohtürli, and Wildi frau

Kandersteg, Switzerland



10 miles

Elevation Gain

3854 ft

Route Type



Added by Erica Anderson

Amazing flexible hike in the heart of the Bernese Oberland. Explore the stunningly glacial blue Oeschinensee on its own or watch an irresistible sunset at an altitude of 9,000 feet. Absolutely beautiful and worth every step along the way.

Brass Tax:

Length – Variable by choice

Elevation Gain – 3,584 ft

Time – 4+ hours – 2 days

Stay – 47-84$ / night

Difficulty – Difficult

Hohtürli in Swiss German means “High Little Door”. This pass sits at an elevation of 2,778 meters (9,114 feet) in the Bernese Oberland. Making it the highest pass along the alpine pass route. It marks the col between Wildi Frau and Dündenhorn. Both are side hikes you can chose to explore, they don’t add too much time to your trip and they are absolutely worth it.

This trail guide will outline the hike from Oeschinensee up to Hohtürli and onward to Wildi Frau. It’s recommended to take your time and observe this hike on a two-day tour. The sunset and sunrise views from blümlisalphütte are unlike any other. The trails are clearly marked. You should be very comfortable doing this hike alone or with family/friends.

In general, this is a super flexible hike so you can really make it your own as you see fit. The entire trip itself offers exceptional views along the way and you’ll be happy you did any part of it. Whatever your choice is, I recommend starting early. The trail gets quickly congested around lake Oeschinensee because it’s such an easily accessible tourist destination.

            ** There are a ridiculous number of things to do at this lake. There are multiple cafes, bathrooms, kayak/canoe opportunities. You could honestly stop here and post up for the day. But you’ll be completely surrounded by people which makes it a little less fun. **

Additional thing to noteIn total this trip cost me 145$ for the two days. This includes the train + round-trip gondola tickets + the overnight stay at blümlisalphütte with dinner and breakfast. For those that don’t have a half-fare card for their transit options, it will end up being a bit more costly. 

The Hike:

The hike begins in the town of Kandersteg. The town itself is very accessible by train from all the major cities. The gondola is not hard to find from the station, you’ll walk through town up by following the main road and sign. They will lead you right to it. Buying the round-trip ticket for the Kandersteg-Oeschinensee Gondola can be between 15$ - 30$ depending on what kind of discount card you have with SBB (the Swiss transit line.)  You can choose to hike the first 1600 meters or take the lift. I recommend the lift since the rest of your hike will be challenging enough.

Panorama Loop

0.0 mi / 0 km: You’ll begin by following the paved pathway from the gondola station straight. It curves here and there but in general it goes in one clear direction. As you get closer to Lake Oeschinensee, you’ll see a few trails veer off to the left. These are all paths that can take you around the lake. But stick to the main path on the right, heading east. If you’re only going to the lake, this is the stroller accessible path. It descends down to the lake through small tree clusters and meadows.

        ** There are several trails that are available to take around Oeschinensee. I chose to follow the lower track of the panorama loop heading towards Hohtürli and the upper loop on my return to avoid the crowds. **

  • Once you've reached the lake follow the trail along the shoreline to the left. This is the beginning of the lower loop.
  • You’ll notice an uphill gradation to a stream and waterfall crossing. Nothing too crazy but you may get a little damp if you step wrong ;)
  • Reach a meadow just above the lake leading you towards cliffs.
  • Pass under the cliffs leading you to the midway point of the panorama loop (Ober Bärgli.) The rocks below you are rather loose so there are some chains in place if you feel uncomfortable.  

To Hohtürli and Blümlisalphütte

**Following the white and red trail markers

2.3mi / 3.7km: You’ve reached Ober Bärgli mountain hut. A cute place to rest and admire the flock of sheep and goats. They’re skittish so admire from afar! There are better views of the lake below and less people if you just venture off the trail and up the hill a bit. You'll see some benches to sit on.

        ** If you’re only doing the panorama loop around Oeschinensee, follow the trail left at the hut and return on the upper part of the loop.

2.7mi / 4.3km: At the junction, keep left and follow the signs towards Hohtürli. Continue ascending over a metal bridge and around the boulder field.

3.5 mi / 5.6 km: Trail begins a series of heavy switchbacks and a knife edge ridge line. Don’t forget to look back on the views! Take your time here, it’s deceivingly tough. Forward you’ll see the Blümlisalp Glacier peeking out. The trail will continue to steeply incline

        **You may notice your labored breathing and steps getting heavier as you ascend. For those not used to this, it’s the altitude! Remember, you’re pushing closer to 9,000 feet

3.9 mi / 6.3 km: The scree slope becomes a meadow but continues steeply gaining in elevation. The pass is in sight, but you still have ways to go!

4.5 mi / 7.2 km: The last stretch and likely the hardest. Meadows give way to scree slopes again. Here you will gain over 1,000ft in less than 0.75 mi. There will be several small bridge crossings where the trail has fully eroded. There are some small parts without bridges, take caution. The trail is narrow and there will be traffic. Step aside and let other hikers through.

4.9 mi / 7.8 km: YOU MADE IT!! You’re at Hohtürli Pass.  9,114 ft (2,778m) and you gained 3,584 feet in elevation along the way. To your right you’ll see blümlisalphütte.

5.1 mi / 8.2 km: Turn right and follow the switchbacks up for approx. 500m to blümlisalphütte. Enjoy a snack the traditional swiss fare is made with care. Water is not free, and the bathrooms tend to smell later in the day. But, it’s still good to have something when there’s been no cover for the past several km to pee! If you’re staying the night, you’ll get a complimentary tea called 'sirop.' It's sweet and perfect and everything you could ever want it to be. Check in and enjoy your stay. Make sure you catch the sunset; it’ll be hard to miss.

        **I would recommend tackling Wildi Frau (the large rock formation on your right) the next morning after a good rest. It’s not too much extra time and its views are absolutely worth it. Enjoy breakfast and keep moving. You’ll start with good eyes and a well filled tum.

To Wildi Frau

Wildi Frau translates to “Wild Woman” and she certainly is a wild one. Depending on how early of a start you get, you may be one of the first heading towards Wildi Frau. Not many people choose to tackle this so you’re not likely to run into a lot of folks in general. It only adds about an extra two hours up and back (maybe longer if you decide to stay at the top)

From the hut, continue to follow the trail up the scree slope, it’s not particularly distinct or marked specifically but you’ll see the best way to ascend as you go along – it all leads to the same place. On your left, you’ll see the water catch system the Hutte uses to collect their water for you. (You'll see why the water isn't free)

5.2 mi / 8.3 km: You’ll reach a flat spot of the boulder field still covered in small loose scree. If you follow to the edge, you’ll have an awesome view of Bluemlisalp Glacier. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a team attempting to climb!

You are now following white and blue trail cairns.

  • To ascend from the Bluemlisalp Glacier viewpoint, follow the white and blue markers heading straight towards the wall of rocks.
  • Once you meet your first wall, begin scrambling up the first pitch. You don’t need real climbing gear, but if you’re nervous this is usually where people first get discouraged. You absolutely can get up this!! (but you’ll need to use both your hands and feet.)

 ** I went in September and there were a few portions that had ice. I needed to climb around the main part of the trail. Just do so carefully and make sure the rocks your weight will be going on are sturdy and well lodged.

  • After you’ve made it over the wall, continue hiking up the gradual slope. The trail crosses large boulders and loose rocks but the gradation is very comfortable. You’ll be walking around the right side of Wildi Frau as she comes into shape and looking down on the left of the glacier.
  • You’ve now reached your second wall; this is the last bit before the final stretch up to the landing point just below Wildi Frau. I recommend an angled approach up the wall. There’s plenty of rock shelves for you to stand on, you just have to be confident. Once you make it over, you’ll clearly see the path to the landing.  
  • Welcome to Wildi Frau! You’re at an elevation of 10,741ft (3,274m) Directly in front of you in the wild and beautiful Wildi Frau. To the right of her, in the far-off distance, is Germany. On the left, France. Behind her is a wall of mountains.

The Descent

The descent is heavy on your knees and your toes. I got some gnarly blisters coming down from this hike. Make sure you take breaks and give your body a rest.

  • Once you’ve enjoyed the solitude of Wildi Frau and soaked in the views, turn around and come back the exact way you came. - Coming down those walls again may be a bit nerve-wrecking, but when in doubt get on your butt! You’ll be just fine if you take it slow.
  • As you reach blümlisalphütte and Hohtürli, make a left and follow your tracks back.

              ** Alternative route – Instead of turning around and returning the way you came, you may chose to extend this to a through hike and come down through Greisalp. It’s no walk in the park but still worth it.  This would require you to take a Postbus down to the train station from Greisalp and may increase the price of your trip by an additional 50$. But it’s all part of the experience.

  • On your return, take the trail leading towards the right at Ober Bärgli towards Heuberg. This will put you on the upper half of the panorama loop. You’ll pass some streams and small trail sections along the way, but you’ll have bird's eye views of Oeschinensee. The closer to the lake you get, the more people you’ll see on your trail.
  • The trail will descend through a light forest with a rocky dirt path. 
  • At the intersection with the main stroller path again, you can continue right to head directly back to the gondola, or you can turn back towards the lake.

            ** It was a hot return so I went a little rogue. Deciding on my way down I wanted to take a dip in the lake, I made a left here and meandered my way back to the lake. I took a spur path into the woods to get back down to the shore. It’s super hard to get lost in this area so just trust your instincts and go where you please. Oeschinensee is clearer and likely colder than any water you’ll ever swim in. Take a deep breath and jump in!

  • During peak seasons, you’ll be part of the mass exit from the lake before the gondola closes at 5:30 / 6:00. Do your best to get there before this happens.

Happy hiking! :)

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