Stechelberg Loop Lauterbrunnen Valley

The optional turnaround point comes where the trail meets alpine terrain

Heading for the Obersteinberg after the Tanzbödeli

Detouring above the Oberhoresee gets you quickly into alpine terrain, and well worth an extra hour.

Perfect singletrack, green grass, alpine peaks – the Alps.

Heading for the Schmadri Hut

At the Schmadri Hut, views reach down to Lauterbrunnen Valley, well below to the right, and even up to the village of Mürren, just above the valley.

Arriving to the second detour, where the Schmadri Hut sits at the bottom of alpine walls.

Lauterbrunnen Valley: Stechelberg – Tanzbödeli – Obersteinberg – Oberhoresee – Schmadri Hut – Stechelberg  |  Hiking & Trail Running

A local classic with everything possible; food, trail options, extensions, and views all day long

Description : Your going to read this several times… But really, this is one of my very favorite runs.
Each June I watch for this route to become possible. When will the snow melt?
It is a loop with countless options and variations, and it’s a bit contrived so as to cram extra in – which you will appreciate to keep the day going.
This little piece of the Alps is a true treasure, it’s magic, and for whatever reason has been called, “A Happy Place”, by more than a few people, myself included.
Where it starts and finishes is the only thing consistent, Stechelberg. In the back of Lauterbrunnen Valley sits this quiet little village from which the tram to Gimmelwald and Mürren runs. It’s a great starting point for many hikes or runs, and this route, thanks to all the many options, is very popular for either.
I like to do the route in a counter clockwise direction, so I start running west up the Sefinental, along the river until I reach the trail up to the Tanzbödeli. Here the trail climbs steeply for 500 meters where you’ll reach a side trail for the Tanzbödeli. Tanzbödeli means “dance floor”, and this is about right if you go have a look. It’ll add 200 meters to your day but is well worth it to see the views, and a perfect place to have a break.
After this, rejoin your trail below and continue south on perfect singletrack with toe stubbing views, for the Obersteinberg. This is a classic, old backcountry mountain hotel where you can re-fuel with all sorts of Swiss classic menu items.


Your view arriving to the Obersteinberg from the Tanzbödeli, the Berner Breithorn is the peak behind.

Don’t eat too much, you have a good bit of terrain yet to cover. After the Obersteinberg, you’ll enjoy some of the best sections of trail anywhere towards the back of the valley where you’ll cross the river and have a decision to make.
Here the trail splits and you can either head down and an early out to Stechelberg, or continue on. If you continue on, you’ll find yourself at Oberhoresee, a small, nearly filled in lake. At this point the trail starts to turn back north, but as an option, you can continue further into the back of the valley where you’ll be surrounded in glaciers and high alpine walls. It is well worth the detour to go have a look, and simply turn around when you want.
From Oberhoresee, you’ll cruise perfect trails head through green meadows and high alpine tundra towards the Schmadri Hut, which again, is a short detour from the main trail. The hut itself is very small, and not wardened, but the meadow it sits in is quite nice. Often there is a large herd of Ibex in the grass surrounding the hut.
After Schmadri, the trail traverses high along the north facing slopes with numerous options back down to the valley. I suggest staying high for as long as possible, then dropping back into Stechelberg.

Again, this is a route with many, many options. Trails lace these hillsides, find a route that looks right for you, and enjoy this piece of the Alps.

For more information, visit our Elevation Lauterbrunnen to Obersteinberg Run.

Start : Stechelberg  /   Finish : Stechelberg

Distance : ~22km

Vertical : ~1800 meters

Effort : Medium

Dan’s Tip : This route has numerous options to make it longer or shorter, and a great stop for food and water at the Obersteinberg. No need to carry too much. Also, there is a lot of water along the way.


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Comments 14

  1. Truly one of my favourite runs in the Swiss Alps– partly because of the many variations, partly because of the homemade caramels that come alongside a cup of coffee at Obersteinberg, partly because of the yaks at Berghaus Tschingelhorn, and partly because of the stunning blueness of the Oberhornsee. Depending on your time and strength, you can make a quick, relatively easy jaunt up the valley, river left of Trachsellauenen or climb steeply up from the sefinental valley to Tanzbodeli. If Tanzbodeli doesn’t make you break out into the ‘Sound of Music,’ I don’t know what would. A dip in the Oberhornsee can be quite…”refreshing” mid-run.
    You’ll also find numerous waterfalls are along the various routes, and the forest on the hill above Trachsellauenen feels a bit like the pacific NW.

  2. Hi, I’m coming to the area next week and want to do a great trail run. This loop looks perfect as I’m camping not far from the start. I regularly run in the mountains and use a map and compass. Would you advise a similar approach for this trail or is it a case of simply following the sign posts? Thanks! Guy

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      This is a well signed trail, you just need to know where you are going so the names make sense. But yes, it’s a classic loop and popular. It’ll make sense once you get up to the traverse elevation and see the loop ahead. Have fun.

  3. Great topical website – looking forward to your book release.

    Im in Switzerland for 2 weeks purely for trail running, the last week of May and first week of June 2018. As I know nothing about the snow conditions at that time of year – is this loop likely to be accessible? If not, can you point me to where I should focus my attention for accessible routes at that time of year (generally speaking)?

    Your doing the sport a good service. Well done.

    1. Post

      Hi Nic,
      Thanks for the kind words! We should have our new trail running site finished in a few weeks and am sure this will be a good resource for you.
      The Lauterbrunnen loop is going to be a tough one as it will hold the snow in places. You might be able to get up into the south facing stuff above Obersteinberg, but it all depends on how much snow we get this year. Feel free to check in closer towhen you know you’ll be around. And, stay tuned for our new site. No matter, you’ll find some goods! Dan

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  4. Thanks for this great info. It is very helpful! I will be in Interlaken May 23 and 24 and am hoping that some of these trails that you have highlighted will be open from the winter. I would love to do the Interlaken to Grindelwald or the Lauterbrunnen to Grindelwald. How are things looking at this point? Thanks – Michael.

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      Hi Michael, Late May is still going to be iffy but these lower runs will probably be okay. You’ll probably be okay with Lauterbrunnen to Grindelwald. Feel free to check in prior to arriving and I’ll update you again.

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          Hi Michael, Super sorry for the delay – I’ve been in Nepal… the snow is mostly gone on south facing stuff below 1800 meters, but there are still patches higher and on north facing. I ran some of this loop two days ago and the north facing side has too much snow.

  5. I will be arriving next week and would like to run the Interlaken to Grindelwald or the Lauterbrunnen to Grindelwald trails. How has the snow melt been coming? Do you think these trails will be runnable next week?


    1. Post

      Hi Michael, based on the time of year you should be good. I haven’t been there for the last month so can’t give you a live report.

  6. Read your description Saturday and ventured to Stechelberg Sunday morning – absolutely loved it. The area behind Oberhoresee is absolutely stunning and not to be missed. Definitely not the last time running this loop. Quick hint for others who travel by car – the parking lot next to the hotel in Stechelberg is a good option.

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