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Jungfrau Region Trail Running Paradise

Trail running on a green, grassy singletrack trail above Interlaken, Switzerland

I live here and may be a bit biased, but I am going to come out and simply state that Switzerland’s Jungfrau Region is without a doubt one of the best all around trail running destinations I have ever experienced.

For 20+ years, trail running has been a huge part of my life. What started as something to do in the mountains for training, became just what I do. For me, it’s all about the feeling of the body being tuned to move fluidly through the landscape. Preferably, a beautiful, inspiring landscape. As professional mountain sport photographers, I see our images reflecting the very thing I love about trail running, graceful movement through a big environment.

In all my years of trail running, and being a photographer, I have been fortunate enough to run in mountains all around the world; California’s Sierra Nevada, Patagonia, Iceland, the Himalaya, the Rockies, the Andes, and of course all throughout the Alps. We were doing multi-day running tours in both the Alps and Dolomites as early as 2001, back when running was something you did in the park. I vividly remember the curious, suspicious even, glances that my water hose received.

Today of course, things are very different. Trail running is immensely popular. Thanks to the success of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, Chamonix, arguably the trail running capitol, is full of colorful kits, hydration packs, carbon poles and compression zipping about. You’ll be convinced an ultra race is about to start, but no, it’s just the start of another day.

In the US and Europe, ultra races fill up about as quickly as they are opened for registration, there are more people wanting to do these events than there is event space. In the Alps, a day on trails just about guarantees you’ll see people running them, people of all ages, shapes and sizes seeking a big day out to cover a lot of ground. Trail running feels good and is far more enjoyable than running on asphalt, people have gotten it. Thanks to great gear, being somewhat in style, and more sexy than hiking… the numbers are soaring, and the numbers include all ages.

Throughout the last four years I have been running and exploring our home mountains around Interlaken, Switzerland. Known as the Jungfrau Region, the area is one of the most famous in the Alps, if not the world, for hiking and climbing. Thanks to its already established fame, it comes as no surprise that trail runners are now discovering the potential. Events also help, both the Jungfrau Mountain Marathon and Eiger Ultra Trail bring a lot of attention to the area as a running destination.

What makes the Jungfrau Region so good for hikers and climbers, also makes it ideal for trail running; huge views of some of the Alps most iconic mountains, the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, dramatic glaciers, idyllic villages (in fact, quintessential Switzerland), accessible terrain for all abilities, a hut system, unique features (check out the Hardergrat), an unparalleled train, tram and gondola system, and of course perfect trails flowing through it all. Perhaps most appealing of all, it’s just as easy to find empty trails as it is a good coffee and tort. For the visiting trail runner, life in Interlaken, Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen (the Jungfrau Region) is very, very good.

Finally, the “something for everyone factor” is a big one. Great hiking trails don’t always make for great running trails. Conversely, great running trails might not be the best hiking trails. Hikers seek views, runners seek flow and a “feel”, views are a bonus. The Jungfrau Region has something for everyone, and in great abundance.

If you’re Googling where to run in the Alps, and landed here – you just hit pay dirt.

Jungfrau Region Trail Running Hit List

Lauterbrunnen to Grindelwald

Interlaken – Grindelwald High Route

Lauterbrunnen – Obersteinberg Loop

The Hardergrat

Lauterbrunnen – Kandersteg

These are just a few of the very best. For more information about the Jungfrau Region, or the Alps in general, feel free to leave a comment, we’re happy to help.

Trail running a long trail of perfect singletrack, Lauterbrunnen, SwitzerlandFrom Lauterbrunnen Valley, numerous trails head into the high country. On the west end of the valley is Stechelberg, from which the Obersteinberg trails leaves with some of the best singletrack running in the region.

A woman trail running above Grindelwald, Switzerland with views of the JungfrauJust about wherever you find yourself running in the Jungfrau Region, you are going to be a small person in a very large, and dramatic, landscape.

Trail running in the Swiss Alps above Grindelwald, SwitzerlandOne of the great pleasures of running in Europe is the hut system. It is very popular to combine a run into the alpine world with a stop at a mountain hut. In addition to being able to overnight, the huts provide great food and drinks, allowing you to travel light and go far. This is above Grindelwald, headed for the Chrinnenhorn, a small summit just above the Gleckstein Hut.

Trail running on a high singletrack trail in rocky terrain with snow still up high, above Interlaken, SwitzerlandThere is no denying that the Alps are a busy mountain range, but most everyone does the classics. Studying maps reveals some gems, maybe a bit long and hard to access for hiking, less so for running. Trail running opens up minds and options.

The famous Hardergrat… one ridge, one trail, right on the crest for 25km.

Trail running on the Hardergrat on a sunny, summer day. The green, grassy ridge connects Interlaken with Brienz, Switzerland with the trail staying right on the crest of the ridge for almost the entire 25km of length.The Hardergrat at a peak wild flower moment.

Ibex walk in profile up a moraine with the Jungfrau in the background, SwitzerlandCritters you’ll likely see in the Alps. Ibex beneath the west face of the Jungfrau.

A woman trail running around Kleine Scheidegg in fall colors, Switzerland. The Jungfrau Group is in the background, the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.Late fall usually means stable weather, beautiful tones, and few people. Best of all, popular summer trails become silent paths around Kleine Scheidegg.

Two women running mountain trails from Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg, in the Berner Oberland region of SwitzerlandA classic summer day in the Alps on a classic trail. This trail is part of the Jungfrau Marathon heading to Kleine Scheidegg from Lauterbrunnen Valley with the north face of the Mönch towering above.

Trail running on a high singletrack trail in rocky terrain with snow still up high, at sunset, above Interlaken, SwitzerlandI can’t stress it enough… if you visit, don’t just stick to the classic tick list, explore. There is so much mountain terrain where few bother to go, the same terrain where some of the best running is to be found. Swiss maps hold all the secrets.

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Comments 8

  1. Running in this area looks amazing – thanks for the info and inspiration. I am hoping to make a trip this year – can you advise on when is the earliest in the year that it’s possible to run in this area? I am guessing winter isn’t possible – are April / May feasible? Thanks tons!

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      Author

      Thanks for the good words! Most trails you see here don’t open until early June, May at the earliest. But it depends on the winter and how warm spring is. The Alps typically hold snow late making trail running high tough.

  2. Hi!

    I love your site, really inspirational stuff. I’ve been to the Jungfrau region once in the past, and after seeing some of your suggestions I feel like I wasted half of my time there!

    Thus, I just booked a trip for three nights in late September, and am wondering if you can give me some good suggestions of routes and huts? My friend and I are looking to do three overnights. Any advice you can offer will be absolutely amazing! Cannot wait to get back out there.

    Best regards,

    Chris

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      Author

      Hi Chris, The options are huge, I suggest going through our site and seeing what you find. Some good ones are Lauterbrunnen to Kandersteg, Dossen Hut, Obersteinberg. But, not knowing you it is hard to say what is the right fit, you’ll have to d some studying.

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      Author
  3. Hi, I will be spending 3 weeks in Laurebrunnen end of July/august, and would like to spend some time exploring on the trails, are the any run groups in the area or organised runs I can jump in on, would be nice to explore the area with like minded people who know the way! Thank you Hannah

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      Author

      Hi Hannah,
      3 weeks in Lauterbrunnen is going to be a good time! I don’t know of any clubs here, but there are some Swiss Strava clubs. The Berner Oberland Trail Running group may be one for you. Stay tuned on our social media as we’ll be launching our new trail running site in the coming weeks. More running tours!

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