I have once already covered a hiking trail between Männlichen and Kleine Scheidegg – the very scenic and well-known Panorama Trail. However, this time, I have something more special in store – a trail that is a bit more challenging and technical with plenty of scenery to enjoy, but, very possibly, you won’t see another soul in sight for most of the way. If this sounds like your cup of tea, this hike will be for you!
This post-pandemic summer has been incredibly busy in the mountains with travel-starved swarms of tourists returning in full swing. To me, that is a nightmare as I am not dealing well with masses of people out in nature. For this reason, I am very keen on finding new trails and new routes away from these crowds.
I understand the irony of this blog post – informing others about a quiet trail… As much as I would like to think so, this blog will not bring flocks of hikers to such trails, therefore I feel comfortable sharing this and other finds.
Plus, there are multiple reasons why most people tend to choose the popular trails and why they are as popular. More often than not, they are looking for easy trails (no judgment there!). But if you’re up for something a bit more challenging, you can wander off the beaten path and still enjoy the same scenery.
How to Get There
This trail, just like its popular counterpart, is one of the most easily accessible trails in the Jungfrau Region, but be prepared to spend a bit of money on trains and gondolas. There are two main access ways – via Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald. Both will offer parking options if you’re arriving by car but are also reachable by train.
If you’re arriving through Lauterbrunnen, you’ll first need to catch a train up to the little mountain village of Wengen. After a short walk through the town, you’ll reach the Wengen – Männlichen cable car station. During the summer season, the gondola runs every 20 minutes. It’ll only take you a few minutes to reach the top, so be sure to enjoy the breathtaking views over the Lauterbrunnen valley.
For those looking for an extra special gondola ride, the Wengen – Männlichen cable cars have an airy rooftop balcony during the summer months. For only CHF 5 extra, you’ll get to enjoy a truly royal ride and a refreshing breeze! Here you can find out more about the prices and the royal ride.
If you’re travelling via Grindelwald, you’ll need to find your way to Grindelwald Terminal (accessible by car, train, or local buses). From here, you can catch the continuously running gondola up to Männlichen. The gondola ride will take you about 20 minutes, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the views down to Grindelwald and the stunning peaks to your left. Click here for more information on prices and running times.
Looking to avoid the crowds? I’d recommend catching an early gondola, be it in Wengen or Grindelwald. During the hot summer months, this will also help you limit your exposure to the scorching hot sun later on.
Männlichen Royal Walk
When talking about the Männlichen – Kleine Scheidegg trail, I will be remiss not to mention the Männlichen Royal Walk, a walk not to skip if you’re here. It’s a short but a bit steep at times walk to the actual Männlichen summit (2345 m). This detour will be well worth your time and effort as it offers even more impressive views of the surrounding valleys and mountains.
As you head towards the peak, you’ll see the Grindelwald valley to your right and Lauterbrunnen’s steep rock faces to your left. When you reach the summit, Schynige Platte, Interlaken, Lake Thun, and Niederhorn will all come into view. Look back and you’ll see the snow-capped peaks of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. If you’re familiar with the region’s peaks, you’ll be able to locate Breithorn and Schilthorn as well.
The Männlichen Royal Walk is a well-maintained trail and is classified as an easy trail, however, it gets steep at times. Take care at the summit, especially when it’s crowded, as there are some exposed steep drops. This detour is only about 1.4km long (+111/-111 hm) and will take you about an hour to complete.
Männlichen – Kleine Scheidegg Trail
From both gondola stations up on Männlichen, the trail to Kleine Scheidegg is very well marked and easy to navigate.
As you set off, you’re very likely to see herds of cows grazing on the alpine pastures. This scene is radically different in winter when the cows are replaced by droves of skiers setting out on the many surrounding slopes. My favourite game in each season is to try and recognise the features of the other as it looks so different, yet still familiar.
The hiking trail on the saddle between the Männlichen and Tschuggen starts off as a wide gravel path, but not for much longer as you will soon leave this trail. Once you’re past Männlichen Plateau and before reaching the eastern slope of Klein Tschuggen, the trail will split in two – turn left down the slope and continue south.
Don’t be confused by the yellow trail signs. This trail is signposted Alpiglen (with an actual typo making it Alpbiglen!), but it will also lead you to Kleine Scheidegg and other destinations further on. The trail to Alpiglen is also known as the Romantic Trail, also marked as trail number 35.
The gravel path will narrow out right away and a short while later, you’ll pass under the Läger chairlift – one of the indications of the ski resort that takes life here in winter.
This trail is well marked – throughout the hike, you will see short white-red-white poles along the side of the path and rocks with white-red-white markings. Very few yellow signposts, however, you won’t be needing them as it’s very straightforward to navigate it and there aren’t many intersections with other trails.
The gravel path will turn into more of a mountain trail soon with more and more rocks covering it, but it still isn’t a technical trail. Unlike the Panorama Trail which is mostly flat with a gentle descent, you’ll notice that this trail is descending for a big part of the way, and, as you might have guessed, you will have to make up for a part of this altitude loss at the end of the hike.
Once you’ve covered about a kilometre into the hike, you’ll reach a tiny little mountain lake off the trail on your right, while the path itself keeps descending through lush green meadows. For alpine flower lovers, there will be plenty of flora to see – windflowers, globe flowers, gentians in their electric blue, alpine roses and cotton grass to name a few. Maybe this is why they’ve named it the Romantic Trail?
Up until now, the path has been in excellent shape – a widish gravel path with some wooden steps and rocks. The trail gets steeper as you descend down to the top of the Tschuggen draglift (one of the rare buildings around here) and pass the Sattelegg ridge with Wetterhorn in the background to your left.
As you round the corner to the right, a little gate with a hiking trail signpost comes into view. But more impressively, the third of the iconic Jungfrau Region peak trio – Jungfrau itself – emerges as well. Continue through the gate, down the path and across a stream and you have reached the Alp Gummi. For a short while, the path turns into a slightly overgrown gravel road.
Soon after crossing another stream, the hiking path will trail off to the right of the gravel road – just pay attention to the white-red-white markings and poles to find your way. The path traverses a steep slope with multiple streams (that might be dry depending on the season) and continues under another chairlift that carries the name of the alp, Gummi.
Shortly after, you’ll notice more vegetation and the trail becoming rockier as you go along. There are some boulders on the sides of the path, but the trail itself is still in great shape and doesn’t offer much challenge.
After quite a bit of traverse into the sun, you’ll reach a wooded area that will provide short spells of shade and countless blueberry bushes. If you come here in late summer/early autumn, you’ll be right on time for some tasty forest berries. This is one of my favourite parts of this hike as the forest path with the Mönch and Jungfrau in the background offers some incredible views.
Once you’re out of the forest, you will come to a trail junction with the yellow hiking trail signpost. Take the gravel road to your right through Alp Bustiglen and towards Kleine Scheidegg which will soon come into view. Soon after this intersection was when I saw the first few people after leaving Männlichen – the main reason why I loved this trail so much!
Be mindful as you’re passing through the farm – do not wander off the trail and respect the cows grazing in the nearby pastures. For the rest of the hike you will stay on a wide gravel path, road even, and shortly after leaving the last buildings of Alp Bustiglen behind you, it will take on quite a steep ascent towards Kleine Scheidegg.
Shortly before reaching Kleine Scheidegg, you will see a water fountain on your left. You can use this to refill your bottles or wait until you reach Kleine Scheidegg station which also has a water point (right by the toilets).
Other Variations of the Hike
- Männlichen – Männlichen summit (Royal Walk) – Männlichen – Kleine Scheidegg
- Männlichen – Alpiglen (Romantic Trail)
- Männlichen – Alpiglen (via Eiger Trail)
- Männlichen – Kleine Scheidegg – Wengernalp
- Männlichen – Kleine Scheidegg – Biglenalp – Wengernalp
Preparing For This Hike
This is not a particularly long or difficult hike, therefore treat it as a regular hike. Pack plenty of water (there aren’t any refilling options until you approach Kleine Scheidegg at the end of the hike) 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.
Information & Statistics
Hiking Trail: Männlichen (2222 m) – Kleine Scheidegg (2061 m) (for the above described route, see here on FATMAP)
Distance: 5.5 km total
Duration: 1-2 hrs
Elevation: + 187 hm / – 352 hm
Difficulty grade: Easy to moderate
When to go: This hike is only doable in summer when the trail is open, generally between the end of May or mid-June (depending on snow conditions) and mid-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!