We recently sent one of our Area Specialists on our Top of the Alps journey to experience the high trails of Switzerland for herself. Take a look at some of her awesome photos!
cogwheel in via alpina SwitzerlandAll outdoor enthusiasts must make it a priority to visit Switzerland at least once. This gorgeous, green, mountainous country is a hiker’s delight! I was fortunate enough to join Wilderness Travel’s Top of the Alps trip in August 2018. Our journey started in the Swiss city of Lucerne and followed one of the routes of the Via Alpina, a long distance trekking network that spans the alpine region of central Europe. The trail took us through the celebrated Jungfrau region of the Bernese Oberland, as we spent our days in the shadow of some of Switzerland’s most famous peaks. We utilized all forms of “mechanical conveyances” (cable cars, cogwheel railways, and trains) to hike the very best trails this region has to offer.

Our first hike on the trip took us up Mt Pilatus, the craggy-peaked mountain towering over Lucerne. After enjoying lunch at the top, we took the steepest cogwheel railway in the world back down to the lake. The gradient of this railway reaches 48 percent!

hiker on a ridge in via alpina Switzerland

Just a few minutes down the trail from this spot we stopped for a rest. Trip Leader Tanya Perret invited us to sit silently and fully appreciate our surroundings. A gentle breeze blowing through the late summer wildflowers, the surrounding peaks, and a chirping marmot made this an unforgettable moment!

cairns and glacier in via alpina Switzerland

Our “rest day” hike brought us up to a massive glacial network sprawling beneath towering peaks. We ate Rösti (a traditional Swiss dish of potatoes) at an alpine hut. It was such a pleasure to experience European alpine hut culture. The extensive network of huts provide refuge and warm meals to hikers and climbers all over the Alps.

hotel and mountain in via alpina Switzerland

Hotel Bellevue des Alpes was our home for a night under the awe-inspiring north face of the Eiger. This hotel dates back to 1840, and was the launch point for many climbers attempting to reach the peak. I thoroughly enjoyed relaxing next to a roaring fire after a hard day on the trail.

mountain range in via alpina Switzerland

Some vantage points really struck home just how many peaks there are in a relatively small area. So many beautiful mountains all packed in next to each other! The mountains climb straight out of massive glacier-carved valleys, producing sheer rock walls up to 10,000 feet.

flowers and hotel in via alpina Switzerland

We spent two wonderful nights in the gorgeous town of Mürren overlooking the Lauterbrunnen Valley. This town seemed like something right out of a fairytale!

cattle in via alpina Switzerland

The quintessential Swiss photo! One of their famous cows overlooking the peaks of the Eiger, the Monch, and the Jungfrau (from left to right). You can almost hear the chiming of the cowbells.

hikers on trail in via alpina Switzerland

It was always a pleasure to hear one of our fabulous leaders, Mike Browder, discuss the surrounding area while on the trail. It’s amazing how much you can learn on an eight-hour hike!

group of hikers in via alpina Switzerland

The hiking was splendid, the views were spectacular, but what really made the trip for me was this amazing group of people! Cheers to an amazing time on the Via Alpina!

—Text and photos by WT area specialist Dana Walsh, Top of the Alps.

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