The Upper Simmental extends down from Lenk in the Bernese Oberland by way of Zweisimmen to Weissenbach, going almost due north; the Lower Simmental then turns east, bounded on the northwest by the steep limestone crags of the Fribourg Alps. At Spiez the valley opens out and the River Simme flows into Lake Thun. With its handsome timber houses, its typically "Oberland" church towers, its herds of cattle (the famous Simmentaler breed) and its Alpine meadows dotted with huts, the Simmental is a very characteristic stretch of Bernese farming country.
Wimmis (631 m/2,070ft), below the north side of the Niesen, has attractive old wooden houses and a 10th C. church.Beyond Wimmis the road passes the end of a section of highway and crosses the Simme to join a road coming in from Thun on the right. It then continues alongside an artificial lake, the Simmensee, and through the Port, a narrow passage between the high rock walls of the Burgfluh (990 m/3,248ft) and the Simmenfluh (1,456 m/4,777ft).
Above Wimmis on the Burgfluh stands the imposing Weissenburg Castle (14th C.), which now houses the Nieder-Simmental communal offices (on the ground floor a room furnished in Simmental style).
In the Lower Simmental, the road ascends on a moderate gradient, with a view of the Jungfrau area to the left, to Latterbach (703 m/2,307ft), in the commune of Erlenbach. From here an attractive detour can be made on a narrow road to the left which runs through Oey and then 14km/9mi southwest up the Diemtigtal to the Grimmi-Alp (1,222 m/4,009ft), with far-ranging views, from which the Seehorn (2,283 m/7,491ft; three hours) and the Männifluh (2,654 m/8,708ft; 4.5 hours) can be climbed (fine views from both peaks).
Erlenbach (707 m/2,320ft; pop. 1,580) is a typical Simmental village, with 18th C. timber houses. Situated on high ground is its old church (11th-13th C.), with an octagonal steeple (fine wall-paintings, mainly 15th C., with some late 13th C. work at the southeast corner of the nave). Important cattle markets. A cableway 4,040 m/13,255ft long runs north, via an intermediate station at Chrindi (1,640 m/5,381ft; restaurant), to the Stockhorn (2,190 m/7,185ft; upper station 2,160 m/7087ft: restaurant; mountain hut, magnificent view) in 15 minutes (on foot 4.5 hours).
5km/3mi beyond Erlenbach lies the village of Därstätten, with fine 18th C. timber houses on the south bank of the Simme (in particular Haus Knutti, 1756).
2.5km/2mi northwest of Därstätten in Nidfluh (920 m/3,019ft) is the oldest farmhouse in the Simmental (1642).
Weissenburg (776 m/2,546ft). 1.5km/1mi northwest is Weissenburgbad (844 m/2,769ft), a former spa (sulfurous spring, 31 deg C/88 deg F) which no longer operates. From Weissenburg the main road continues steadily uphill through a wooded valley, with villages situated on a terrace higher up on the right.
Boltigen (850 m/2,790ft; pop. 1,420) is in a wider part of the Simmental valley, with the precipitous limestone peak of the Mittagfluh (1,890 m/6,201ft) rearing above it. Beyond this, at Reidenbach (840 m/2,756ft), a road goes off on the right over the Jaun pass to Bulle and Lausanne.
Weissenbach (castle ruins)
From Reidenbach the main road goes up through the green Alpine meadows of the Simmental to Weissenbach (846 m/2,776ft), and 2km/1mi beyond this through a narrow passage which separates the Lower from the Upper Simmental. Beyond the crag of Laubeggstalden (ruined castle; waterfall on the Simme) the valley opens out again. The road passes the ruined castle of Mannenberg (1,016 m/3,333ft), on the left.
From Weissenbach the road comes in to Zweisimmen (954 m/3,130ft; pop. 3,000), the chief place in the Upper Simmental, situated in a wide expanse of meadows at the junction of the Grosse and Kleine Simme. The little town attracts many summer visitors, but is particularly favored by winter sports enthusiasts (30km/19mi of cross-country skiing; toboggan run; indoor tennis courts). It has a fine church with a typical Simmental tower (15th C.; 15th-16th C. stained glass). Cableway (5.1km/3mi, 30minutes) up the Rinderberg. To the west is the Hundsrügg (2,049 m/6,723ft; four hours), with extensive views.
Upper Simmental (Saanen, Betelried, Matten)
From Zweisimmen the main road leads to Saanen, while the road to Lenk through the Upper Simmental branches off on the left, running alongside the Grosse Simme to Betelried (960 m/3,150ft), with the 18th C. Schloss Blankenburg (local government offices). It then continues to St Stephan (993 m/3,259ft; 15th C. church), with the Wildstrubel (3,253 m/10,673ft) in the background, and to Matten (1,026 m/3,366ft), at the mouth of the Fermelbach valley. 5km/3mi farther on (views of Wildstrubel) is Lenk.
Lenk (1,068 m/3,504ft; pop. 2,280) is in a beautiful setting of woodland and meadows at the head of the Upper Simmental, with the grandiose bulk of the Wildstrubel closing the valley to the south. Lenk is a health and winter sports resort (ice-rink, curling, cross-country skiing) and also a spa (sulfurous springs). The spa establishment lies to the southwest of the village.Cableway (3,698 m/12,133ft, 26 minutes) via intermediate stations at Stoss and Betelberg (1,650 m/5,414ft; restaurant) to the Leiterli station on the Mülkerblatten (2,000 m/6,562ft), with beautiful views and good skiing. From the Wallbach a chairlift (3,241 m/10,634ft, 28 minutes) also provides access to the Mülkerblatten via an intermediate station at Wallegg (1,580 m/ 5,184ft).
Iffigen Falls (Wildhorn, Wildstrubel)
A narrow road (8km/5mi; alternate one-way traffic) runs south from Lenk up the Pöschenried valley, past the Iffigen Falls (130 m/427ft high) to the Iffigenalp (1,618 m/5,309ft). From here there are rewarding climbs (not difficult for experienced climbers, with guide) by way of the Wildhorn hut (2,315 m/7,596ft) up the Wildhorn (3,248 m/10,657ft; six hours) and by way of the Wildstrubel hut (2,793 m/9,164ft) up the Wildstrubel (west peak 3,251 m/10,667ft, east peak 3,253 m/10,673ft; seven hours), from both of which there are magnificent views of the Valais Alps and the Mont Blanc group.
Simme Falls (Siebenbrunnen)
A new road (N 6) is planned to run through a tunnel 4km /2mi long into the Valais. Another road leads southeast from Lenk up the Simme valley, past a cableway to Metsch (1,480 m/4,856ft), to Höhenhaus (5km/3mi; 1,103 m/3,619ft), at the head of the valley. From here a footpath (one hour) ascends past the Simme Falls to the huts on the Räzliberg (1,404 m/4,607ft; restaurant), near which the Siebenbrunnen (1,446 m/4,744ft), the main source of the Simme, gushes out of seven clefts in the rock walls of the Fluhhorn (2,139 m/7,018ft).