Hike the Fründenschnur Trail above Lake Oeschinsee
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Added by Dulkara Martig
In a crowded UNESCO area, this route is a real gem that can be found if you venture off the well-trodden path. It provides an exposed but spectacular path around Oeschinsee, one of the most stunning alpine lakes in Switzerland.
This is a day hike accessed from the mountain town of Kandersteg. It's within walking distance from the train station. You can get to Kandersteg easily by train. From Interlaken it takes around 1 hour and you'll need to switch trains in Spiez.
Once you're in Kandersteg it's only a 15 minute walk to the trailhead and the gondola. Walking up takes around 1 hour. If you take the gondola you'll cut that in half and once at the top of the gondola it's an easy 20 minutes walk to Lake Oesechinsee. You can also bike up there on a small road but it's quite steep.
When you reach Lake Oeschinsee you'll come across a couple of restaurants where you can buy tasty food and drinks, or you can even stay overnight in the hotel.
You can leave the hype behind and head out on the trail towards Frundenhuette. I am writing this for an anti-clockwise trip around the lake, although you can go both ways. Initially this winds it's way along the lake shore before starting to ascend with a few switch-backs in the forest. You keep ascending until you're out of the trees. There are some beautiful canyon-like streams going into the lake and the views get more spectacular as you gain elevation and a better view point.
The turn-off from the main trail to Frunden Hut to the Frundenschnur trail is not marked. It comes after a huge boulder on the trail and will be on your left at 1900m. You will need to keep a look-out for this. I'd recommend buying a local topo map from the visitors centre as it is marked on there.
The trail begins winding its way towards a giant cliff face where there's a distinctive horizontal break in the rock and that's where the trail goes. It's an impressive sight! In the more exposed sections there are metal cables anchored into the rock to use as handlines. You should be able to see the horizontal 'break' in the rock in the photos I've attached to this.
The trail is really good but it is super exposed. Any fall on this trail would be fatal so I'd only recommended this for people who are comfortable travelling through uneven, steep and exposed terrain. If you start it and decide it isn't for you then it's really easy to return on the well-trodden trail back to the starting point.
I usually go anti-clockwise around the lake but you can go either way. There's a restaurant/mountain hut at 'Underbargli' (1800m) shortly after you finish the Frundenschnur route and continue on the main trail. From there the track is well-trodden all the way back to the main lakeside restaurants and the gondola.
Note: the distance I have included in this post is for the entire trip from the village and back to the village (not using the gondola)
Breakdown of stages
- Kandersteg - Oeschinsee: around 4km with around 300m elevation gain
- Oeschinsee - branch off from main trail: around 2km with approx 350m elevation gain
- Branch off from main trail - Underbargli: around 2.5km, mostly at the same elevation.
- Underbargli - back to Oeschinsee: around 2km with approx 200m elevation loss.
- Oeschinsee - Kandersteg: 4km
- Normal gear for a day hike
- Snacks or a lunch
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