The first day is an easy warm-up to this trek. You’ll hike over the Grosse Scheidegg and past the Reichenbach Falls, made famous by Sherlock Holmes. The route from the pass gently descends through the woods and pastures towards Grindewald, a popular tourist town.
22 km and 1400 m elevation gain, 1000 m elevation loss
On day two, you will hike below the Eiger North Face — one of the Alps’ most famous rock walls. The trek will take you from the tourist crowds into the tranquility of the quiet pastures below this beautiful mountain. At Kleine Scheidegg, you can board the Jungfraujoch train for a short detour to the “Top of Europe“. You can also continue the sunny descent down to Wengen, another famous resort in the region.
19 km and 1200 m elevation gain, 900 m elevation loss
An easy day takes you into the shade of the woods up to the sunny terrace on which Murren, a car-free town, lies. If you want, you can make this a rest day and just take the cable car instead of hiking.
9 km and 850 m elevation gain, 500 m elevation loss
Today you will tackle a pass that is the second-highest in the Via Alpina, a good warm-up for the next day’s highest pass. After climbing past Rotstockhütte, you can rest before continuing to the Sefinenfurgge Pass (2,612 m). The path down will be unusually dark and rocky for Switzerland, but soon the terrain will change to become lush and green. Past waterfalls and pastures, you’ll reach the village of Griesalp.
17 km and 1100 m elevation gain, 1300 m elevation loss
Prepare for this incredible stage. You’ll hike over Bundalp to the top of Hohtürli Pass (2,778 m), the highest pass on the whole Via Alpina trail. But just above the pass lies the Blüemlisalphütte. This mountain hut is a highlight of the day. You can also stay the night in this hut for an amazing culinary experience with extraordinary views and extend the journey for one day. If not, just enjoy the rest at this hut at the foot of the glacier before descending to Lake Oeschinen, where you can take the cable railway to Kandersteg.
16 km and 1400 m elevation gain, 1650 m elevation loss
Today’s hike will take you to Bunderchrinde Pass (2,385 m), a rocky window onto the other side of the mountains. It’s a strenuous trail, but worth it for the view. You’ll hike up the river and towards the end of the valley, ascend the meadows to the Lohner Hut, then continue your way up to the pass. From there, you’ll have a nice view of the path ahead, which will zig-zag down into Adelboden.
17 km and 1350 m elevation gain, 1200 m elevation loss
The last stage of the Bear Trek is relatively easy, whichever option you choose. You can follow the streams and hike up to higher pastures in the grassy slopes of the mountain on a direct route, or choose to climb up to the ridge for a better view of the surrounding region. Both routes cross the grassy Hahnenmoospass, giving you a chance for a rest. You can finish your trek descending to the Simme waterfalls for a detour or go directly to Lent.
20 km and 950 m elevation gain, 1200 m elevation loss
The Bear Trek is one of the most picturesque sections of the Via Alpina Switzerland. It is a perfect choice for those who want to get to know the Swiss Alps but don’t have time to hike the full trail.
The name doesn’t imply that you’ll meet any bears on the trail, so no worries. It comes from a time when the route was only possibly done by wild scavenging animals like bears and wolves.
It leads you through the heart of the Bernese Alps, the Swiss region that boasts some of the most famous peaks like Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. And you’ll hike right next to them!
The route will take you across mountain passes, valleys, and along ridges. You’ll explore the Swiss alpine culture and stay in mountain huts, lovely inns, and small hotels, all while tasting delicious food.
We book all of your accommodations, organize luggage transfers, and more, so you can focus on the journey. And a few weeks before setting off, we’ll send you the detailed itinerary booklet with the planned GPS route.
All that’s left to do is mark the calendar and count the days until your trek begins.
The summer season for hiking is usually from mid-June to mid-October. Its start depends on the amount of snow left on the high mountain passes from the winter. The Walker’s Haute Route and Via Alpina have some high passes, which are usually free of snow only in July. Hiking before that could be dangerous without proper skill and equipment. In October, there is usually the first bigger snowfall, and the huts close to prepare for the winter ski season.
Read more about the hiking season in the Swiss Alps here.
We’ve rated our tours on a difficulty scale from 1 to 5 — with 1 being the easiest and 5 the most difficult.
The difficulty level of a tour tells you how fit you need to be and how much hiking is involved. Most of our tours are appropriate for people who are regularly active and can hike for about five to seven hours per day.
Technical difficulty means how skilled you need to be to hike on the path. Level 1 means the trail is smooth and wide (like a gravel road), while 5 means the surface is uneven and exposed, and you have to use your hands to help yourself move forward. In practice, that means that the higher the level, the more surefooted and skilled in scrambling you need to be.
It is best to book your tour early because most accommodations along the trail fill up quickly. That way, you can ensure that you have a place to stay.
Even though the routes are usually quite close to at least a farm or a small village, they also feature lots of wild and remote sections where you cannot just stop. In case of injury, it’s best to call the local emergency services.
On the other hand, if you just feel that you cannot hike anymore, you can always stop in any of the towns and villages along the way and use public transport to get to a bigger Swiss city.
Showers in Swiss mountain huts are rare and are only offered for an extra charge. That’s why it’s wise to bring wet wipes with you for the days that you are staying in one of them.
No, because the huts provide their own blankets and pillows. Still, you should bring a sleeping liner instead.
Cell connection is very changeable in the mountains. A good rule of thumb is that if you can see a town, you’ll have a reception. Mountain huts are the same — the signal usually doesn’t reach the insides, so try catching it outside. Wifi is available only in some huts, while most don’t have it.
If you dress accordingly, most stages can be done in light rain. However, do not hike if a storm is forecasted. In that case, you can take public transport to the next point when possible to make up for the lost time.
Vegetarian meals are usually available in most accommodations. Vegan options are harder to be found in huts, but we’re happy to let you know about them in advance so you can plan accordingly.
Via Alpina is less difficult than the Walker’s Haute Route but more difficult than the Tour du Mont Blanc. It is mostly a hike, with only a few steep, rocky, and exposed sections where you need to use your hands to keep balance.
Still, it features long days with lots of elevation gain and loss, mostly over uneven terrain, which is why only experienced hikers who can hike 4-7 hours a day should attempt it.
Learn more about the Via Alpina difficulty >
The starting point of the Bear Trek is Meiringen, which can be reached by train most easily from Zurich with a change at Luzern. The total ride takes about 2h30min.
Bern is the closest airport to your endpoint in Lenk and can be reached at about 1h30 by train. If you want, you can also go to Zurich or Geneva, but it will take about an hour longer.
You can, but they need to be used of long hiking days and surefooted. We therefore recommend that they’re at least 8 years old.
Most of the stages can be shortened via cable cars or other modes of public transportation, saving your knees on the downhills or catching up on lost time because of bad weather.
Via Alpina stages are much more accessible than Haute Route\’s, which is why we can organize luggage transfer for you for an extra charge. This will make your backpacks lighter and easier to carry over the many mountain passes of the route.
Switzerland uses Swiss francs (CHF), so it’s best to have them on you to pay for services in some remote mountain huts.