We were looking for a spot to go hiking and stumbled across a description of a three waterfall hike near Brienzersee. We fiddled about with the original description and mapped it out carefully on our mapping app. The result: our own ‘trail of the three waterfalls’ above Brienzersee.
We started our hike at Wäldli bus stop. The first order of the day was to make a cup of coffee next to the lake. Then we set off on our plotted trail. The GPS guiding us. We soon discovered that this was a mistake. The trail we had plotted took us via a construction site. We tried to breach this, but it became too complicated, and we eventually decided to beat a retreat. Back to the main road below. Down a steep embankment, where more than one bramble had arguments with my bare legs…
A few hundred metres further we came across a dry riverbed. On the map it looked like it would link up with the path we wanted to be on. So, we decided to follow it; scrambling over several weirs on our way up. The alternative would have been to walk a detour via Erschwandenbach, or miss out on the first waterfall. Once we were back on the main track, Barbara decided that it was time to change into shorts.
A while later, we started hearing the sound of the Erschwandenbachfälle, an impressive, if not huge waterfall. We made our way to the bottom of the fall. Enjoyed the cool and fresh atmosphere created by the waterfall. Took a few pictures, and then continued on our way.
The next stop was at the slightly taller Mülibachfälle, about four kilometres further. The trail went behind the falls, and the roar of the water was both impressive and loud enough to drown out conversation. Looking at the stream I wondered how many thousands of litres are pumped through the shute above. Then it was onwards to the next waterfall.
A few kilometres further we collected some water from a stream and started looking for a place to make our sandwiches and have a cup of coffee. We found a spot overlooking the vivid blue lake and stopped. While the cooker was boiling the water, I set about making the avocado sandwiches. After our unhurried lunch we set off for the next waterfall.
And wow! What a waterfall this was! The Giessbachfälle come down in a series of 14 cascades. Falling more than 500 metres, and each waterfall is almost more impressive than the previous one! Our original route would have taken us past the third or fourth fall. When we reached this fall, and noticed there were more falls above, we decided to go and explore.
Four hundred vertical metres later, we had seen almost all the falls, and were standing at Schweibenalp overlooking the Faulhorn valley, on top of the peak that forms one side of the gorge. We bought one of Schweibenalp’s naturally made syrups and added it to my water bottle; which was emptied fairly quickly between the two of us. Then it was onwards to the Bramisegg restaurant and bus stop. Where we had hoped to relax with a cold drink while we were waiting for the third and final bus of the day. The restaurant was ‘still closed’ so we decided that instead of waiting, we’ll start walking downhill and catch the bus on the way down. We ended up walking all the way down. Caught the bus at the bottom bus stop (Im Brunnen) for the short ride to Brienz railway station.
This is one truly impressive hike. Everything, from the turquoise-blue colour of the lake, to the spectacular waterfalls, especially the Giessbach waterfalls, and the treat of vibrant green spring leaves and the first wildflowers, was perfect!
Tips for three waterfalls trail
The trail is known as the ‘Weg der drei Wasserfälle’ (Trail of the Three Waterfalls), and starts in Bönigen. We thought we’d skip walking through Bönigen and stayed on the bus to Wäldli, and plotted our trail from here. As I mentioned earlier, construction works to shore up the road blocked the path, so we had to find a different route.
The two options for starting therefore, is to get off at the Bönigen See bus stop, and start walking from here. The advantage would be that you could grab a coffee before you start your walk. The second option is to stay on the bus to Hauetenbach bus stop and follow our map (GPX available to download) to visit the three waterfalls.
At the Giessbachfälle you have the option to continue on the trail to Brienz. Or follow our map to the top of the peak, and visit multiple falls along the way. I would recommend this latter, but… it does add about 400 vertical metres to your day’s hike. Making for a total of 766 vertical recorded metres height-gain (our map says it’s 1034m). And 738 vertical recorded metres height-loss, over a distance of 17km. Of course, you could save your knees and wait for the bus at Bramisegg. But heck, it was a beautiful day, and the feet were ready to make the descent… and it beat sitting next to the road, counting cars going past, while waiting for the 17.30 bus.
Max elevation: 1062 m
Min elevation: 565 m
Total climbing: 1034 m
Total descent: -1036 m
There’s more information at the ‘My Switzerland’ website about the ‘Weg der drei Wasserfälle‘ (Trail of the Three Waterfalls). The Brienzer lake (Brienzersee) has its own website. And you can find out more about the Giessbach waterfalls here.