Eiger Trail Hiking – Under the shadow of the Giant Ogre

6 February, 2021 | Reccy Guide

Hiking the Eiger Trail offers travelers an exciting opportunity to view the summit’s south face, without navigating treacherous mountain terrain. Open from June through October, the trail itself is categorized as easy and connects Eigergletscher Station to the southwestern village of Alpiglen. 

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The Eiger, or Ogre, is one of three peaks that soar above the Lauterbrunnen Valley. The other two—Mönch (Monk) and Jungfrau (Maiden)—are located to the northwest of Eiger. Jungfrau stands the tallest at over 4,100 meters. Eiger is slightly shorter, but massively impressive, at just under 4,000 meters. These three peaks have been drawing adventurers and climbers for well over a century. The first successful ascent on Eiger’s legendary north face occurred in 1938. This mountain has since earned the nickname Mordwand, meaning murderous wall, due to the large number of fatalities that have occurred through the decades as rock climbers attempt to summit its peak.

Thankfully, hikers of the Eiger Trail can enjoy all the beauty offered by the Swiss Alps, with minimal risk to themselves. The trail is easily accessed and traversed, but it still carries travelers right to the base of the Eiger. If you’re hoping to crane your neck back and make out the topmost point of the summit, make sure to head out on a clear day. 

Train to Eigergletscher StationTrain to Eigergletscher Station

When you’re ready to set out from Interlaken, which is located just south of Eiger, head towards the Interlaken Ost train station. There are two routes of equivalent time to reach the starting point: the first diverts through Lauterbrunnen, the second through Grindelwald Grund. Either path will lead you to the same destination: Eigergletscher Station, the preferred starting point of the Eiger hiking trail. Because the path runs point to point, most hikers prefer to tackle the descent to save time and energy. If you’d rather challenge yourself with an upward hike, a train also runs to Alpiglen Station, the alternate point. 

If you do begin at Eigergletcher, you’ll find numerous signs directing you toward the start of the trail. The path is mostly a winding dirt route whose course is easily discernible through the hills in front of you. Set out and you’ll soon encounter a spectacular view of Lauterbrunnen Valley and distant Mürren. The three peaks will tower behind you, but don’t fret—even better views await. 

As you descend on the 7.25-kilometer-length trail, the path wraps around until you are hiking along the base of the enormous Eiger. A clear day will offer astonishing views of Eiger’s icy south face; you may even witness falling snow banks or melting glaciers during the heat of the day. To your left, the town of Grindelwald sprawls through the rolling meadows and green hillsides that comprise the valley floor. 

View during the hikeView during the hike

Toward the end of your hike, you’ll encounter a stunningly clear waterfall, followed by a series of switchbacks that lead to your ending point. The switchbacks can be rather steep in some areas, so it’s wise to use caution (and perhaps a set of hiking poles) to travel down the rocky path. 

Upon arriving in the tiny village of Alpiglen, you are free to rest and refresh yourself, or head on to your next adventure. If you are searching for a truly one-of-a-kind experience, consider taking the train even higher than Eigergletcher. The Jungfraujoch Station lies only minutes further. Known as the “Top of Europe,” Jungfraujoch rests at a higher altitude than any other train station in the continent. Stand upon the platform and you’ll be at an unbelievable 3,450 meters; Jungfrau proper will stretch into the sky above you by another 700 meters. 

If you finish your journey around Eiger’s base and crave more adventure, plenty of low-risk opportunities for exploration are at your fingertips. Interlaken and the surrounding Jungfrau region is rich with activities to suit travelers of all interests and abilities. Consider hiking along the Via Ferrata that begins in Mürren, the first town viewable on the Eiger hike. More experienced hikers might enjoy a quick sprint along the 24-kilometer route that straddles a ridge surrounding Lake Brienz. Or for something even simpler, considering booking an airborne paragliding tour from Beatenberg; sit back, relax, and view the valleys around Interlaken from above. No matter where you travel around Interlaken, the Eiger will rise to greet you.

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