The Eiger Trail above Grindelwald is as iconic as the Eiger North Face looming high above it. This path is a must-do for every mountaineering or hiking fanatic as it’s the classic route for access to the many climbing routes on the notorious sheer rock face. This trail runs mostly downhill, will offer incredible and awe-inspiring views, and is suitable for most hikers.
How to Get There
This trail is very well accessible, but you have to be prepared to spend a bit of money on trains and/or gondolas. The two main access points are either via Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen. Both offer ample parking options if you’re arriving by car, but are also easily reachable by train.
If you’re arriving via Grindelwald, you can choose between two options. If you’d prefer a slow scenic train ride (a bit more than half an hour long), hop on the Wengernalpbahn line from Grindelwald station up to Kleine Scheidegg (2061 m) where the hiking trail starts.
Alternatively, you can catch the new Eiger Express gondola from Grindelwald Terminal to Eiger Glacier (Eigergletscher, 2320 m) station. The gondola runs continuously throughout the day and will take you 15 minutes to reach the top. This guide covers the Eiger Trail from Kleine Scheidegg, however, you can also hike it from Eigergletscher station.
Coming from Lauterbrunnen, you’ll need to take the Wengernalpbahn train all the way up to Kleine Scheidegg. The ride will take you ~38 minutes and offer some of the most incredible views over the Lauterbrunnen valley and glaciers below Jungfrau.
Personally, my favourite approach is via the Panorama Trail from Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg which I have covered in detail in this blog post. These two hikes combined make for a great day out and about in the mountains, while the Eiger Trail alone is perfect for a substantial hike for those less experienced.
Most people will set out on the Eiger Trail from Eigergletscher station, but I usually hike in from Männlichen, therefore my route description is from Kleine Scheidegg.
Eiger Trail from Kleine Scheidegg to Alpiglen
From Kleine Scheidegg, the trail starts as a wide and well-maintained gravel path right past the Hotel Bellevue des Alpes and then goes up a hill along the railway tracks (train going up to Jungfraujoch). Make sure you follow the signs towards Fallboden and the Eigergletscher train station instead of ones to Alpiglen as it’ll be a different trail.
To your right, you’ll see the Wengernalp meadow (with the railway line bearing its name) leading into the Trümmelbach valley down into the Lauterbrunnen valley with Mürren perched on the far side of it. Look up, and right in front of you will be the north walls of the iconic giants Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau.
Soon you’ll reach the Fallboden artificial lake (2156 m) that serves as a mirror to the breathtaking scenery and as a water reservoir for snow-making on the resort ski slopes in the early winter. The building on the right-hand side of the lake used to be a transformer station for the Jungfrau Railway but now holds a memorial to the Eiger North Face climbing routes.
Once past the lake, follow the sign towards Eigergletscher along the railway tracks for a short while. Right as the railway goes into the tunnel, a smaller path will trail off to the left from the main trail. Here, marked with a corresponding signpost, is where the Eiger Trail starts.
The narrow windy path will take you across a steep grassy slope below the Eigergletscher station. In winter, this area is dotted by skiers and snowboarders. One indication of the skiing resort that takes life here in winter is the Eiger Nordwand chairlift pillars in the distance.
Please take care during this section, as at one point the slope has slid down making the trail a bit more difficult to walk, but it’s only a short bit that can be passed safely.
The path will soon get steep and traverse around a hillside under the chairlift with some exposed drops on your left. For those seeking more stability on this short section, there’s a fixed rope that you can hold on to. Once past it, the trail will continue along the slopes below the Eiger.
Soon you’ll cross one of the many wild streams of this trail. Depending on the recent rainfall amounts, the water levels could be relatively high, so there’s a chance of getting your feet wet.
The slope and the path will get rockier as you keep going, and soon the trail will cross under the Eiger Express cableway and merge with a path coming from the Eigergletscher station. After quite a steep ascent, you’ll reach the highest point of this hiking route – Wart.
Wart is a great spot for a mid-hike snack or lunch break, and you’ll see many hikers dotted on the hillside enjoying the views of the Grindelwald valley and the mighty Wetterhorn towering over Grosse Scheidegg in the distance. Look high up to your right and you’ll see the Eiger North Face in all its glory.
From this vantage point, it’s hard to make out where the summit is, but the scale of the rock wall always fills me with utter respect towards anyone who sets out to conquer it. If you’re curious about the North Face climbing routes, an informative panel displays some of the most important ones that you can trace on the wall in front of you. This is also where the Rotstock Via Ferrata trail starts. Something I am yet to do myself!
As you start the descent towards Alpiglen, a wast and seemingly endless scree-covered slope will come into view, and you can just about make out the narrow trail that will take you right through it. The next section of the trail is in shade during the day (late summer, when I did the hike, the sun will hit it early in the morning and late afternoon), making the terrain at the foot of the imposing Eiger feel even more barren, rough, and remote.
The rocky path will lead you down to yet another lush alpine pasture where you’re very likely to encounter cows grazing and lazying about. A couple of benches are set up here to enjoy the views while the trail keeps traversing across grassy slopes and rocky fields. As you keep descending, you’ll encounter more and more waterfalls and wild streams to cross and after a while, you’ll leave the shadow of the Eiger.
The scree fields will gradually give way to green yet rocky meadows and the footing below you will improve. You’ll soon reach another popular picnic spot – a grassy slope covered with boulders big and small, perfect to perch on for a little break.
Before the trail will curve to the left down towards Alpiglen train station, you’ll arrive at a magnificent waterfall. I love observing the surrounding rock formations that have been carved by the sheer force of ice and water creating the Sandbach canyon (also called Eigerwandschlucht). The waterfall disappears into this little gorge that you’ll be crossing later downstream.
Further on, the trail will take a left turn and swiftly descend from one switchback to the next. Take care on both the loose gravel and slick rocks as it’s easy to lose your footing here. When you reach a signposted trail junction, head left towards Alpiglen.
A short section of the trail will lead through a forested area where you’ll encounter even steeper wooden and rock steps with some handrails and ropes for that extra safety. Not long more and you’ll exit the forest and be just a short walk away from your destination at Alpiglen.
From the Alpiglen train station, you can take the train back up to Kleine Scheidegg (for connections to Lauterbrunnen) or down to Grindelwald (pictured below).
Other Variations of the Hike
- Eigergletscher – Alpiglen (the more popular Eiger Trail variation)
- Männlichen – Kleine Scheidegg (Panorama Trail) – Alpiglen
- Alpiglen – Eigergletscher / Kleine Scheidegg
- Grindelwald – Alpiglen – Eigergletscher / Kleine Scheidegg
- Eigergletscher / Kleine Scheidegg – Alpiglen – Gletscherschlucht – Grindelwald Dorf
- Kleine Scheidegg – Eigergletscher – Alpiglen
Preparing for This Hike
This is not a particularly long or difficult hike, therefore treat it as a regular hike. Pack plenty of water (as there aren’t any refilling options along this route, except for some streams that might dry out during hot weather spells) and some snacks, and dress for the weather. This hike won’t require perfect weather conditions, but make sure you’re staying safe at all times.
As the trail is quite rocky at times, I would recommend sturdy hiking shoes/boots with ankle support and a grippy sole. If you’re an experienced hiker, the trail is manageable with trail runners.
Whatever is your footwear choice, it’s worth considering waterproof shoes. Depending on the recent rainfall amounts, you might have to cross several mountain streams, while in early summer there still might be snow covering some parts of the trail.
The trail runs mostly downhill, so it might come in handy to take your hiking poles to assist you with the descent, especially the final section before Alpiglen.
Information & Statistics
Hiking Trail: Kleine Scheidegg (2061 m) – Alpiglen (1616 m); for the above-described route, see here on FATMAP
Distance: 7.4 km total
Duration: 2-3 hrs
Elevation: + 252 hm / – 698 hm
Difficulty grade: Easy to medium
When to go: This hike is only doable in summer when the trail is open. Generally between late June (depending on snow conditions) and October. Please check the status of the hiking trail here or at the local tourism information office before heading out.
If you have any questions at all about this hike, don’t hesitate to drop them in the comments below – I’ll be happy to help!