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The Hardergrat

Hardergrat ridge Interlaken

The trail literally stays on the ridge and often stretches out in front of you in the most intimidating ways.

An early start is necessary from Interlaken for many reasons; You'll never forget watching the sunrise on the Jungfrau group, cooler temps for the monster climb (less water needed), and to insure enough time to make the last train to Brienz.

An early start is necessary from Interlaken for many reasons; You’ll never forget watching the sunrise on the Jungfrau group, cooler temps for the monster climb (less water needed), and to insure enough time to make the last train to Brienz.

As soon as you pass tree line, you are on the ridge proper and will stay on it for almost the entire route.

As soon as you pass tree line, you are on the ridge proper and will stay on it for almost the entire route.

An early start is necessary from Interlaken for many reasons; You'll never forget watching the sunrise on the Jungfrau group, cooler temps for the monster climb (less water needed), and to insure enough time to make the last train to Brienz.

A sea of clouds washing over the crest is beautiful, but pay attention to how wet the grass is getting!

As soon as you pass tree line, you are on the ridge proper and will stay on it for almost the entire route.

The crux of the ridge comes at an incredibly narrow piece of ridge with massive drops on both sides. This is where you must be confident in your movement.

An early start is necessary from Interlaken for many reasons; You'll never forget watching the sunrise on the Jungfrau group, cooler temps for the monster climb (less water needed), and to insure enough time to make the last train to Brienz.

A very special summer day on the ridge where only the highest points were above the cloud line.

As soon as you pass tree line, you are on the ridge proper and will stay on it for almost the entire route.

For the alpinists/trail runners, you’ll find the ridge to be a remarkable feature to move on – as steep and crazy as it is, much of it is runnable…


The Hardergrat  |  Hiking & Trail Running

One of the most unique ridge trails in the Alps

Description : The Hardergrat has become a classic, and for good reason. There are few geographic features this defined, and this perfect, with a trail so long. All with stunning views of the Jungfrau Region’s highest peaks; the Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau, Schreckhorn and Finsteraarhorn. It’s not just a trail, it’s a journey where you will have mental ups and downs when you see all that stretches out ahead of you. It looks impossible, but it’s not, it’s just very, very long. And because of its position high above the Brienzersee (lake), the next day you get to look at what you’ve done and marvel at your own experience. In this way, it’s more like having climbed a route, or a big mountain. It’s something that stays with you.

Of its 25km, about 18km are spent on a sharply defined ridge, with significant, even airy, drops on both sides, in some places, 1500 meters of drop… In places, the grassy ridge is more like alpine climbing. It’s not for those afraid of exposure, and should absolutely never be attempted when wet. The route is not an official trail, but a trail does stay on the ridge the entire length, with cables in place at the more exposed sections. However, the steepest section is unprotected, and it is a down climb. Trekking poles are highly recommended.

An early start is required from Interlaken so as to make the Brienzer Rothorn’s last train down to Brienz. The trail is slow going and parties take up to 10 hours to finish it. Do not underestimate this route!

Check in with the Brienz Rothorn Bahn to see what time the last train departs, or, be prepared to descend 1700 meters after what has already been a big day.

For more photos and additional info, visit our Hardergrat Hiking Page or Hardergrat

Start : Interlaken /   Finish : Brienzer Rothorn Station, train down to Brienz

Distance : ~27km

Vertical : ~3000 meters

Effort : Very Difficult & Exposed

Dan’s Tip : Take enough water, there isn’t any on the ridge from the Harderkulm station all the way to the Brienzer Rothorn. Also, study the SwissTopo map, there are bail out options that will get you down on either side. And remember, ice cream awaits at the finish.



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The Hardergrat from the Augstamatthorn

Krissy Moehl on the Hardergrat at sunrise. April 2016 Trail Runner DIRT.

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Comments 63

  1. My wife had reached out to Dan for some trail suggestions before our trip to Switzerland. We had a few ideas of where we wanted to run and bike and hike. Dan strongly suggested the Hardergrat. We took his word for it and were treated to one of the best runs we have ever experienced. The trail was challenging, but the views are your reward for hard work. I would recommend taking plenty of water and food and your best camera. Be sure that your quads are up for a full day as well. The Hardergrat will forever stand out in my mind as the quintessential Swiss mountain run. I hope to be back to run even further in the future.

      1. Post
        Author

        Hi Alex,
        End of May is likely too early – the north side of the ridge holds snow but it depends on the winter. I haven’t been home in over a month so am not a good resource right now.

      2. Hi Kim!

        This is Alex’s wife. Alex and I ran this trail in late July. We’re from the States so we’re not sure of the trail conditions and how early the Hardergrat typically clears off. I’m sure Dan or other locals from Interlaken could advise you if you’re wanting to go earlier.

      3. Post
        Author

        Kim, feel free to check in for a conditions report if you do end up coming early in the season. It looks depends on temperature and snow quantities.

  2. Go somewhere that will capture your heart. The Jungfrau region of Switzerland has done just that for me. After our first trip to Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, and Murren in 2011, my husband and I were determined to return on our next European adventure. This time around we had our hearts set to maximize our time on the miles of mountainous trails that the Jungfrau region provides. The Hardergrat trail is a trail runner’s paradise. We took the advice of Interlaken’s native adventurer, Dan Patitucci, and put our legs to work hiking/running along the Hardergrat ridge that overlooks Interlaken and Lake Brienz. It was a trail run we will never forget. The misty morning air broke as we climbed the ridge away from Harder Klum, and the views in every direction were nothing short of incredible- green pastures, snow-capped Swiss Alps, and crystal blue Lake Brienz. Add this trail to your “Must Do” list of adventures. Your heart will forever thank you.

  3. Wow, very inspiring pictures and words. The Hardergrat has been on my list since I first saw Dan’s photos of it on the blog. I hope this sommer I’ll finally make it to Interlaken 🙂

  4. Hi Dan,

    I’m reading conflicting distances. If hiking from the base of Harder Klum (therefore not taking the train) and hiking up to Harder Klum and hiking all the way to the train station at Brienzer Rothorn is it 16 miles or 27 miles?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Giselle,
      From Interlaken, the whole ridge to the train station is about 27 kilometers.

  5. Hi, anyone knows a running group that goes to Hardergrat so I can join them? my pace in flat areas is 9- 9:30 minutes mile but I imagined that I will run that trail at 10:30 to 11 since I don’t have experience running on rocky trails. my email is doraflores1@hotmail.com. I am arriving to Geneva on June 18th 2016.
    I am willing to pay to a running tour if I need to : )

  6. Which way is “better”? Harderkulm to Brienzer Rothorn or the other way around?

    1. Post
      Author

      In my opinion, Harderkulm to the Rothorn. Seeing the ridge in this direction is more beautiful, and the train ride down at the end is a good way to end the day. It only gets better going east, it only gets more forested going west.

  7. Does the train ride down at the end really cost 88 Swiss (CHF)? I find that hard to believe for a 1 hour 1 way ticket train from Rothorn to Brienz BRB. Are there any cheaper ways to take a train down the mountain or must I spend a lot of money for this hike?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Jack,
      Welcome to Switzerland and Swiss prices! Yes, it costs a fortune, and agreed, it is absurd. But, that is the way it is here. You can check the Brienzer Rothorn site for ticket prices and times. Alternatively, you can walk down.
      Dan

  8. Can you take the Harderbahn funicular to the top hike to Rothorn and take the train down? When is the earliest Harderbahn funicular? Or did do you have to walk up?

  9. Looking at hiking this in late September, are there any spots where a small one man tent would be able to be safely put? I would love to do this over two days and be able to capture the sunset, sunrise, and stars if possible.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Jacob, Yes, for sure there are camp spots throughout the route – just no water anywhere on the ridge.

    2. My wife and I did most of this hike on September 2. We hiked from Interlaken to Blasenhubel and down to Oberreid. I am curious where you would have space to camp. We did hear a couple had camped on Augstmatthorn and there is a bit of room on the approach to Suggiture but that’s about it.

  10. Unreal beauty! Thank thank you for the tip, we did it on my bday and it was the best celebration ever! Breathtaking views, redefining what “epic” really means. Hardergrat is a real beast, beast that can’t be tamed, you just have to be as wild to go with it. Thank you for sharing this gem *

    1. Post
      Author

      This is so great to see. Thank you so much for the follow up. We are looking for other classics. Stay tuned.

  11. Thanks to seeing Dan’s amazing photos, we decided to do the ridge run (3 experienced racers). He’s not joking about giving yourself enough time and bringing plenty of water- on a 30 degree day, we were lucky to find a patch of lingering snow. It’s an awesome trail, and certainly one you don’t want to underestimate. Truely beautiful following the long spine with a view down to the blue water, and of course across to the higher summits too. Passing through the busy stations on either end remind that you are just above Interlaken, but the hours in between let you run wild and alone. Can’t wait to run it again! Thanks for the inspiration!

  12. Hi Dan,

    Great post. For weather condition, does the trail match interlaken’s weather in terms of rains? If not, which town do you think is closest?

    I’m actually planning on going (alone) tomorrow and wanting to make sure it’s a good time.

    I have done the O loop in Torres del Paine before and have run a few marathons. So I’m hoping I’ll be okay in terms of endurance.

    Hope I hear from you 🙂

    1. Post
      Author

      I hope you get this in time! You are here in Interlaken now? Tomorrow’s weather should be perfect! Dry and cool, cold actually! Careful up there! It’s in perfect conditions. I’d love to know how it goes, please let me know. And yes, Interlaken’s forecast is best. Enjoy!!

    2. The descent on the west side of Wytlouwithoren is particularly dangerous. Steep and lots of loose rock.

  13. My god you are the best! Alright I shall go then 🙂

    I’ll leave at 5am from downtown. Hopefully that’s early enough.

    I’m assuming there is no option of getting a bus/train before one arrives at the trailhead.

    1. Post
      Author

      I just checked and the Brienzer Rothorn train is still running to get you down. But you’ll have to walk through Interlaken that early.

    2. Its 2.5 hours up from the Harder Kulm funicular to the top. Faster if you are running it I suppose. Watch for spider webs in the dark.

      1. Guys I went there alone at 4am and it was pitch black… even with my headlamp, I could not really see the trail well. Honestly I chickened out and came back to sleep 😛

        I am going to go do part of it in the morning though. I guess the lesson learned is going alone at 3-4am is a bit of a bad idea.
        Thanks a lot Dan and Pete.

        1. I know what you mean. The trail is a little confusing at first. From the trail head there is one switchback and then you have a choice. We went to the right and followed the road up as far as it would go. I also recommend the Swiss Map app on your phone and a data plan. You can get a signal for most of the route on the trail. Even at the top.

          1. Post
            Author

            Today’s clouds are a bit of a problem as well. They are probably right on the ridge and you would have been in and out of them. Annoying. Tomorrow!?!?

  14. Hi!
    Im planning to do this in a couple of weeks, propably not alone (trying to get friends along, not very successful atm;) unless it is raining do you still think it is poosible weather/climatewise? Also, I have done a bit of hiking/running/orienteering and trail running but am not really a hard core experienced alpine trail runner, is this still possible? Thanks, Viktoria

    1. Post
      Author

      It’s getting too late in the year to do the Hardergrat. Short days, slippery grass, and especially snow shit it down. I’d say it is not a good idea. You might still be able to up the Augstmatthorn from the Lombachalp on the north side. Otherwise, it’ll be there for next summer.

  15. I was looking to go up the Augustmatterhorn and hike back to Harderkulm on Saturday (Oct. 20), or possibly up Harderkulm and bail out to Lombach. I think the days are getting too short to do the whole thing. It’s supposed to be sunny, think the conditions will be good enough for a sunrise start?

    1. Post
      Author

      The weather should be good for the weekend. But I don’t know how fast you move so it’s hard to say. I think a Interlaken to Augstmatthorn then down to Lombachalp should be fine. I don’t know what time the last bus is down though. It’ll be great up there, enjoy!

  16. I’m hoping for advice…

    My wife and I will be doing this hike next summer. We are in decent shape, but this is still a hard day. I’m thinking of starting on the east end and working my way west. The reason is that if we wanted to bail before finishing, we would already have done the sharper ridges and more exciting parts. Do any of you have advice on this? Is it a bad idea to take the early train and start on the east end? How far is it from train station to train station? Where would be some decent bail points be located if the entire distance becomes too long? Am I wrong that it’s more exciting on the eastern half of the hike?

    1. Post
      Author

      I think most people do the ridge east to west these days, and many even stay the night at the Brienzer Rothorn station, it’s a hotel – good idea… yes, the section from the east end to the Suggiture is the best part. Try to at least make it to the Augstmatthorn, then you can bail off north or south, although south is a long way down, but easy. There are many bail offs after the Tannhorn, so you’ll have options going west. Study the map!
      Have fun,
      Dan

    2. The stations in Brienz are across the street from each other according to Google Streetview.
      My wife and I did this hike in September from the west. If you start here you are in the tree for quite a while and we ran out of time to make it all the way even though we started at 4:30. We will do it again but we would either start at the east end or take the trail up from Niederreid. The trail comes up just to the west of Suggiture where the trees end. Suggiture is the peak to the west of Augstmatthorn. We had to bail at Blasenhubel and walk down to Oberreid. We are in good shape. Hope this helps

      https://map.geo.admin.ch/?topic=swisstopo&lang=en&bgLayer=ch.swisstopo.pixelkarte-farbe&X=175752.00&Y=636890.00&zoom=7

    3. The train stations in Brienz are across the street from each other. Check Google Streetview.

      My wife and I did this hike in September. Even though we started very early we didn’t finish it. We would recommend taking the trail up from Niederreid which comes up just to the west of Suggiture. That way you miss the trees and get maximum Hardergrat hiking. The east end is also a very good option. Either way, as Dan always suggests. You should start early.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Lucas, Here’s a link to my Strava page with the last time I did it this year. But we made it longer, and accessed the ridge in a different place. Where we entered the ridge line is where it starts getting good, and this line of ascent is very cool and direct – locals tip! After our access point we did the whole thing and then kept going to finish off the whole ridge. Strava has a bunch of versions of the whole thing. https://www.strava.com/activities/708663100

  17. One last question. We are going to start on the east end and move west since the steep drop offs are on that side. I have no doubt that we will probably bail downhill on the south side since that’s the side the train starts, hence my car will be on that side. Any suggestions on ways to get back to my car?

    1. Post
      Author

      If you drop into the towns along the lake you can catch a train back to Brienz, or stick your thumb out, hitching here is usually successful pretty quickly. Just don’t smell too bad, the Swiss keep things clean 😉 But the train line is on that side of the lake so it makes it easy. If you have time, and the timing works out, you can even catch the boat ferry to Brienz, which lets off at the train station and is super fun, plus it allows a view of the whole Hardergrat from the lake, very cool after you’ve been up there.

  18. Hi! Thanks for this great post! My husband and I are going to be in Interlakken for a few days in mid May. Do you think it will be possible to do this trail then? It sounds like it might still have snow and be impassable at that point?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Nikki, May is a tough one, it’s a maybe. Depends on how much snow we got in the winter and how much has melted off. Remember you can look up from the south and it can be totally snow free and green. But the north side, in May, can be completely different. It only takes one section of scary snow to stop you. Check in with me again when you are closer to the dates, if I’m around I’ll let you know what the conditions are. Overall though… have alternate plans! Use our Trips pages to help – there’s plenty to do but in May you will need to consider the snow and that huts won’t be open. No matter what – you’ll have fun.

  19. Hi,

    I am planning on camping along the trail, do you have a map or waypoints of potential sites which would be large enough to pitch a tent?

    thanks,

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Josh,
      I don’t have anything like this, but you’ll find spots. Remember, there is no water up there and carrying a heavy pack will not be fun on the ridge.

    2. I spent the night up at the top of Suggiture which has room for a one man tent but made for a long second day. You could probably fit a two man on the top of Augstmatthorn. Like mentioned there is no water so bring the extra weight slowed me down quite a bit.

    3. The area east of Blasenhubel should have space on the north side of the trail (south side being a drop off).

  20. Hi all

    My girlfriend is considering to do this trail run in the coming summer. I am currently not sure if this might be an option for as well, since i am actually afraid of hights.

    Can someone advise if this route is actually recommendable for people who are afraid of hights? Are there any extreme exposures? Are you passing any scarp resp. cliffs on this route? How dangerous is this route in general? Any chance to fall down?

    For some feedback i would be very thankfull and i guess it would help me to decide to join her or not. I guess this decision would need to be done soon, since the route obviously requires a very good preperation and fitness 🙂

    Thanks

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Patrick, I’d say if you are uncomfortable with heights, do not continue east past the Augstmatthorn. It is very exposed, and yes, it has killed people when they slipped off the ridge. I have seen friends who are comfortable rock climbing get stressed. But, that first bit from Interlaken to Augstmatthorn and then down to Lombachalp is a great day on it’s own. // Dan

      1. I agree with the Admin on this. The descent from Wytlouroihoren is steep and there is lots of shale. I took my time and still slipped here. I’m not saying don’t go this way. Just saying that care should be taken here.

  21. Hi Dan,

    What distance would you be looking at for the Interlaken to Lombachalp – would it work going the opposite way and try end up at restaurant top of interlaken for lunch before getting the train down?

    1. Post
      Author

      You can for sure do it that way but need to check bus times so you know what time you’ll be starting, and what time the last train goes down – which I think will be later than normal for 2017 as they have a new restaurant for dinner at the Harderkulm and the train will service it. You can also spend the night on the Lombachalp side. There is a cool new place called the Maizyt – https://www.hofmaiezyt.ch

  22. hi there,

    How far is the Interlaken to augstmatthorn hike? how long do you think it will roughly take. we are thinking of doing it in early may.

    thanks,
    Maria

    1. Post
      Author

      Early May is iffy for the Augstmatthorn, it really depends on how much snow we’ve had and how warm a spring it is. It will be possible, but potentially a lot of postholing in snow. It’s about 13km, 1700 meters gain, and slow going at times on a very rooty trail.

  23. aaagh, reminiscing. My husband and I did this in Sept 2015, we took the steam train up from Brienz and started the hike around 10am (there is one train that gets there earlier on Sundays during the summer). We made it to Blasenhubel around 4:50pm, but it was getting pretty stormy over Augustmathorn, so we bailed out on the trail down to Oberried. We had decided to do the east to west route because there is overall more elevation drop instead of climb, thought it might be easier, and didn’t want to get stuck doing some of the really exposed stuff in the dark. I dream about going back again to conquer the whole beast…I’m not really a runner though, I think the surest way to finish it in one day is to take the steam train up, spend the night at the hotel and start early morning. If you have a Swiss travel pass, SBB day pass or half-fare card the train ride is only 16chf one way (at least when we went). Also, even if you don’t have gps I would recommend taking a bunch of screenshots of the map so you can see your possible bail out points. You’ll know where you’re at on the trail most of the time because of the signs.
    our video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdtFQ5XnUi8&t=185s
    some pictures https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10156582622695154&type=1&l=829423e4b5

  24. Hi, this post inspired me to attempt part of this last year – it was a stunning day in August!

    However I only went from Interlaken to just past the Augstmatthorn then turned back and came off the north side towards Habkern.

    Some colleagues and friends of mine would like to go in June and would love to do as much of the ridge as possible from West to East without perhaps doing the very most exposed parts – i.e. over the Tannhorn.

    Does this mean one needs to come off at Oberried or what is the ridge like between that bailout and the Ällgäu Lücke? Is it possible to come off at the Ällgäu Lücke on the south side instead and follow the trail to the Wasserfall Müllbach? Are any of the pictures above from this stretch?

    Should this be safe enough in June?

    Thank you very much for any help and once more for the beautiful post!

    1. Post
      Author

      The Tannhorn is the key to getting across, otherwise you’d have to drop off to the south before and then traverse east well below the crest of the ridge on the lower trail. If you went down to Brienz from there it would be okay, otherwise you have to go back up to the station. I’m traveling right now and can’t help more, but this Swiss map site is what I use.

      1. Hey,

        Thanks for the reply!

        I think if we came down at Ällgäu Lücke to the south we would be happy finishing in Brienz and wouldn’t want to get back on to the ridge. I was just wondering what the ridge was like between the Blasenhubel and the Ällgäu Lücke and if it was one of the narrowest parts or not?

        Many thanks for your help 🙂

        Stephen

        1. Stephen,

          Admin would know for sure as he runs the route often but you might also look at the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdtFQ5XnUi8&t=185s which Ariel mentioned in a February 10, 2017 post. The signpost at Allgau Lucke is at 4:45 of the video I watched this video many times and they actually start at the Brienz end and descend at Blasenhubel. You can see for yourself what the ridge looks like. When I hiked this we descended at Blasenhubel but I did look at the trail ahead and it looked like most of the trail from Suggiture to Blasenhubel. Hope this helps

  25. Hi, I’m going to be in Interlaken Thursday 20th April. I don’t have the time or fitness to walk this whole trail… but simply seeing the ridge and maybe walking along it for a short while seems like an opportunity I can’t miss. There’s lots of information online regarding the whole trial but nothing detailing a shorter circle. Also what re the chances the conditions will be suitable to go up there on the dates I’m there (I’ve heard summer is coming early in Switzerland this year?)

    I managed to find a map with routes marked out but wanted to know if there was a particular route that I should avoid, or a particularly nice stretch.

    http://www.juskuz.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/hardergratTopo-0077.jpg

    I was thinking of doing a circle route from ringgenberg and back down, or up Harderkulm and back down to Ringgenberg, or HarderKulm and back down the other side to Habkern.

    Thank you for your help in advance

    Please feel free to email me if you prefer on 007pdesai@gmail.com

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Pratyesh, You’re right, it has been warm and the snow is melting, but it’s still April so things can change quickly in either direction. Your best bet is to go up from Rinnggenberg via the Graaggetor Trail. This gains the ridge about 30 minutes from where the ridge gets interesting, just west of the Suggiture. But you will have to go down the same way, and likely will be in snow on the ridge itself. It’s 1200 meters up and quite steep. If you continue walking from the Harderkulm Station it is very long and uninteresting in the forest. You might also be able to access the ridge from Lombachalp, on the north side, but this will surely be snow and mud and still 90 minutes walking. April is a tough month! And, there really is no easy way. Have fun!

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