Leiterhorn trail is a popular choice in winter for a scenic snowshoe tour from Wengen, however, it’s just as good and stunning in the summer. It’s a relatively short hike, but will make you break a sweat on some steep ascents. It’s become one of my favourites around Jungfrau Region as it offers some of the best views of Lauterbrunnen valley and is easy and budget-friendly to access, but most importantly – it offers a great escape as the trail is never busy.
The Village of Wengen And How to Get There
Wengen is a little alpine village in the Bernese Oberland sitting on a slope at 1,274 meters above sea level, right above the breathtaking Lauterbrunnen valley. It is best known by its world-class skiing resort, bringing swarms of tourists to the little town in winter. In summer, it’s way less populated, and for that reason a very enjoyable destination for those seeking a slice of solitude surrounded by snowy-white peaks and the sounds of cow bells.
Another charming detail of Wengen is that it’s a car-free town. You will still see some local service vehicles, however, your car will have to stay in Lauterbrunnen. No matter what your GPS it telling you, you will not be able to drive up to Wengen. I believe many tourists have tried, and locals down in Lauterbrunnen have put up several posters warning people that there is no road up to Wengen.
This means that you have two options – you can either take the train or hike up. Either of these choices will provide for stunning views of Lauterbrunnen valley in abundance. If you’re not up for the rather brutal hike up, I highly recommend the train ride. Not only is it one of the most scenic railway journeys, but it’s also very affordable – CHF 6.80 for a one-way ticket is a bargain in Switzerland.
Wengen – Leiterhorn – Wengen Loop Hike
If you follow the yellow signposts, it is very easy to find your way to Leiterhorn from the Wengen village center. However, if you’d like a bit more guidance, keep reading.
Once you arrive in Wengen, head down the main street to the left of the train station, facing north. Soon after the pharmacy (on your left) take a right turn past the pub and then take a left at the next intersection. There will be signposts on every corner making it impossible to get lost.
I love this part of Wengen, as it’s a bit tucked away from the bustle of the town center and gives you a great feel of what a Swiss mountain resort village is like with its timber chalets and overspilling flower beds and boxes. My favourite here is the attractive Art Nouveau house of Hotel Belvédère with its teal shutters. Don’t forget to take a look over your shoulder and you’ll see the stunning Jungfrau mountain.
Walk up this paved street (called Galliweidli) for about 500 m until you reach a clearing with a wooden shed, big farm hangar and a water hydrant (if I’m being accurate with my directions). The road splits in two, and both will take you to Leiterhorn, however, I’d recommend you head right for the most scenic route.
The paved road will soon turn into a gravel path as you gradually climb higher and higher above Wengen. To your left across the Lauterbrunnen valley you’ll be able to see the peaks of Lobhörner and Sulegg come into view, but the best views are yet to come.
As you keep going, you’ll reach a cattle gate (make sure you close the gate behind you!) and a wooded area, at the end of which the path will increase in steepness. As you glance back, you’ll start to see the Lauterbrunnen valley with its sheer cliff faces and white waterfalls. Could this get any better? 100%!
The further away from Wengen you’ll get, the steeper the path gets. Here you’ll also notice less and less houses making the scenic views even more spectacular. If you look closely behind you, you might spot the very tip of Mönch poking out next to Jungfrau.
Soon the gravel path will wind right across the field and lead you to another cattle gate. After the gate, the gravel path will continue right back towards Wengen, but you need to set onto the trail leading left. As signposted, this trail goes along the fence up to Leiterhorn. It might be hard to spot it as it’s covered in grass at first.
This stretch of the trail is one of my favourites as you can get the most spectacular views. Make sure you pause to take it all in – the very tips of Eiger and Mönch, Lauberhorn, Jungfrau, Wengen itself and Lauterbrunnen valley behind rolling grassy hills dotted with trees and wooden sheds. If your timing is right, this sight will be accompanied by the sound of cow bells.
The narrow path will lead you through trees to a trail intersection – take the one to your right going uphill (you will descend back to Wengen via the path on your left). The windy ascent through the forest will get quite steep, but it’s not a long stretch. Soon you’ll reach a clearing with picnic spots, benches and fire pits. To the left a short path will take you through blueberry bushes to Leiterhorn outlook point. You’ve reached the farthest point of your hike.
From Leiterhorn, you can see the Lütschine valley down below, Isenfluh and Sulwald to your left, Schynige Platte straight ahead and all the way to Interlaken and Niederhorn in the distance. This is a great place to have a break while you take in the views. Usually, there’s very few people around if any at all.
Once you’re ready, retrace your steps back down to the last trail intersection and head right to loop back to Wengen. The first part of the descent will be quite steep, but it’ll offer you the same stunning views of Lauterbrunnen valley. If you want, you can add a little detour to the Hunneflue lookout point that will offer similar views to that of Leiterhorn.
Shortly after Hunneflue, once you’ll reach the first houses, the trail will turn into a gravel path and become less steep. From here it’ll take you 30-40 minutes back into Wengen with more scenic views in sight.
If you’re up for more down-hiking, I would recommend making your way down to Wengwald where you can catch the train to Lauterbrunnen. Make sure you sit on the right hand side to catch the spectacular views of the valley right after the first tunnel.
Other Variations of the Hike
There are quite a few route options to reach Leiterhorn from Wengen and other starting points. Here I have listed some examples:
- Lauterbrunnen – Wengen – Leiterhorn
- Wengen – Leiterhorn – Männlichen
- Wengen – Leiterhorn – Spätenalp – Burglauenen
- Wengen – Leiterhorn – Lauterbrunnen
- Wengen – Leiterhorn – Wengwald
If you want to research the route options yourself and create the best one for your wishes and circumstances, I would advise using the FATMAP route creation function (free to use!) which will give you detailed information on the distance, ascent and descent and the time needed for your hike. Here you’ll also be able to discover already existing routes with valuable information and photos from other hikers.
Preparation for the Hike
This is not a particularly long or difficult hike, therefore treat it like a regular hike. Pack plenty of water (there aren’t any refilling options along this route) and some snacks, dress for the weather and wear sturdy and reliable shoes. This hike won’t also require perfect weather conditions, but make sure you’re staying safe at all times.
Information & Statistics
Hiking Trail: Wengen – Leiterhorn – Hunneflue – Wengen (for the above described route, see here on FATMAP)
Distance: 4.8 km total (for the above described route)
Duration: 1 – 2 hrs (for this specific route variation)
Elevation: + 268 hm / – 268 hm
Grade: Easy to medium
When to go: This hike is doable year round. In summer you can use the hiking trails, while in winter you can enjoy the snowshoe trail.