Isenfluh: Hidden Hiking Havens in the Bernese Alps

Peace and Quiet in the Jungfrau Region

The Jungfrau Region of the Bernese Alps can be busy and overly touristed during the peak of the summer hiking season—and justifiably so, since it offers some of the most splendid scenery and beautiful hiking trails on earth. But by taking a 14-minute bus ride from Lauterbrunnen, serious hikers can escape the bustling crowds of Lauterbrunnen Valley and find a piece of hiking heaven in Isenfluh. 

Isenfluh is a small unspoiled mountain village peacefully set above Lauterbrunnen in the Jungfrau Region of the Bernese Alps. It’s a great starting point for hikes in the area. From this high alp, the views of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau are enchanting.

700 Years in Hiding

The hamlet of Isenfluh is first mentioned in 1319 as Ysenfluo, and by 1401 people from the Lötschental started to settle this remote hillside. In 1973 Isenfluh became part of the municipality of Lauterbrunnen, which also includes the popular tourist resorts of Mürren and Wengen. But because it had no ski lifts and no rail service to attract tourists, Isenfluh remained tucked away and off the tourist trail. It became even more obscure when a landslide destroyed the main road connecting Isenfluh with the valley below. Finally, in 1992 access to Isenfluh was restored with the opening of a 1,200-meter (0.75 mile) spiral tunnel.

Staying in Isenfluh

Today Isenfluh has just one hotel, the 5-room Hotel Restaurant Waldrand, and a few scattered B&Bs. You’ll also be able to stock up for you hike at one of the small family kiosks selling local farm products such as cheese and sausage. To access some of the great hiking in the region, take the cable car from the center of Isenfluh to Sulwald. This cable car has been in operation since 1975 and it’s large enough for eight people or one cow. The gondola gains 1475 feet to arrive at the Sulwald Stübli mountain restaurant and viewpoint in Sulwald—a great spot just to have lunch and enjoy the views or use as a base for onward hiking.

Hikes From Isenfluh and Sulwald

Isenfluh to Grütschalp
. A good mix of forested hiking and stunning viewpoints leads up to Grütschalp where you can make to descent to Lauterbrunnen by tram or on to Mürren by train or on foot. 90 minutes

Sulwald to Lobhornhütte. With 1400 ft of elevation gain, it’s still a great choice for families with views and wildflowers to keep everyone engaged. Plan on lunch at  the Lobhornhutte during the summer season.  90 minutes.

Sulwald to Soustal. Leading from Sulwald through alpine forest to Chüebodmi then alpine meadows to the remote Sousltal with views to the Schilthorn. Descend to Grütschalp where you can take the tram down to Lauterbrunnen. Two hours.

Greg Witt

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