Lauterbrunnen Valley Attractions
The Lauterbrunnen valley to the south of Interlaken extends from Zweilütschinen to the foot of the Breithorn, in the Jungfrau massif. The Trogtal, a typical high Alpine valley through which the Weisse Lütschine flows down to join the Schwarze Lütschine at Zweilütschinen, is enclosed between sheer rock walls over which plunge a number of magnificent waterfalls. From Zweilütschinen the road climbs up the valley with a moderate gradient between limestone walls from 300 to 500 m/984 to 1,641ft high. On the right are the Sausbach Falls, and just beyond this, on the left, the Hunnenfluh (1,334 m/4,377ft), rearing up like a semicircular tower.
Lauterbrunnen (village), Switzerland
Lauterbrunnen (800 m/2,625ft; pop. 1,000) is a popular summer resort and the starting-point of the funicular to the Jungfraujoch. Above the village are the Staubbach falls, which plunge down from an overhanging crag in a sheer drop of 300 m/984ft. It was here, over 200 years ago, that the privy councilor Johann Wolfgang von Goethe found the inspiration for "Gesang der Geister über den Wassern" ("Song of the Spirits over the Water"), which was later set to music by Schubert. The Lauterbrunnen valley is renowned as a walkers' paradise offering beautiful climbs, while helicopter flights to the glaciers provide a bird's eye view of the mountains. There are also long-distance ski-runs (17.5km/11mi), tennis courts and two swimming pools. A collection of agricultural tools and equipment is on display in the museum.
A rewarding excursion from Lauterbrunnen can be made on a mountain road which runs 3.5km/2mi north to the village of Isenfluh (1,084 m/3,557ft), situated on a steep natural terrace affording a superb view of the mountain giants from the Grosshorn to the Eiger. The road to Stechelberg branches off on the left at the Staubbach Hotel in Lauterbrunnen, bends to the left and runs down to cross the Lütschine; it then continues up the valley of the Breithorn, passing two camping sites and the Staubbach falls. From here it is 4km/ 2mi to the Trümmelbach Falls.
The Trümmelbach Falls plunge down in five mighty cascades through the gorge carved out by the Trümmelbach (open: mid April-end of October; entrance fee; electric elevator, stepped paths, floodlighting). There are breath-taking views of the falls, 10 of which are accessible, thundering down through the mountain at 20,000liters per second. They are fed by the giant ice walls of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Almost hidden inside the Schwarze Mönch they are the only waterfalls in Europe inside a mountain which are accessible.
From the Staubbach Hotel the road leads up the Lauterbrunnen valley. In 2km/1mi a side road goes off on the right to the lower station (867 m/2,845ft; parking) of the Schilthornbahn, a cableway 6,967 m/22,859ft long which ascends in 34 minutes, via the intermediate stations of Gimmelwand (1,367 m/4,485ft), Mürren (1,638 m/5,374ft) and Birg (2,677 m/8,783ft; restaurant with observation terrace), to the Schilthorn / Piz Gloria (2,970 m/9,745ft; revolving restaurant, sun terrace; summer skiing), from which there are magnificent views (telescope).there are also ski trails (moderate and difficult) to Mürren. The longest descent (12km/7mi) runs to Lauterbrunnen (height difference 2,170 m/7,122ft).The road ends, 1km/ 0.6mi beyond the turn-off for the cableway station, at the little village of Stechelberg (922 m/3,025ft).
From Stechelberg it is a 45-60 minutes' walk to the group of huts at Trachsellauenen (1,263 m/ 4,144ft), and from there another 1.25 hours' walk to the Schmadribach falls or a 1.5-hour walk to the Alp Obersteinberg (1,770 m/5,807ft), which affords a superb panorama of the mountains and glaciers around the upper part of the Lauterbrunnen valley.