Steingletscher: An effortless but breathtaking hike on the Stone Glacier

23 June, 2020 | Reccy Guide

Hiking through the Swiss Alps in an exciting adventure to undertake. Although there are plenty of trails that offer breathtaking views of Central Switzerland, many of them require more advanced skill levels. The Steingletscher Hike—German for Stone Glacier—is a unique option for glacier hiking Switzerland’s backcountry, due to its marriage between low effort and high reward. 

The Steingletscher itself is located about 25 kilometers east of Interlaken, a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Part of the Halistal region, the Steingletcher lies below Steinalp peak and can be accessed during the summer months from the Susten Pass. 

View from the top: Steingletscher (Stone Glacier)

The Susten Pass refers to an historic road completed in 1946, famous for its winding design, high altitude, and excellent views of the lush Halistal landscape. The pass itself is open from June through October. At the middle point of this scenic route lies the Sustenpass Alpine Center, a multi-building development that offers lodging and food to travelers and community members alike. 

If you’d like, you can choose to stay at the hotel or the mountain lodge located onsite. These rooms are available for rent, either with meals or a self-service kitchen. The lodge provides more rustic accommodations and has fewer rooms, while the hotel provides full amenities. Both buildings proudly boast their sustainable practices and community usage; free space is frequently used for events, community classes, and even day care. 

Steingletscher (Stone Glacier), 25km from Interlaken

When you’re ready to begin your glacier hiking day trip, set off on the marked trail behind Hotel Steingletscher. The walk itself is relatively short; the trail creates a loop that is 4.1 kilometers in length. Most people take an hour and a half to complete the full loop, although you can expect to take longer while you soak in the sun that shines upon the glacier. During your hike, you’ll encounter 15 different signs, which describe the history and topography of the area, as well as facts about the upcoming glacier itself. 

After climbing up 230 meters over the first 2-kilometer leg, you’ll arrive at the base of the Steingletscher. A green and golden meadow fills the valley, while the glacier itself stretches out in front of you and up into the alpine peaks, an impressive 5 kilometers in length. At the base of the glacier, a glassy, turquoise lake intermingles glacier melt with the snowmelt that cascades off of the nearby peaks in waterfalls. 

Steingletscher (Stone Glacier)

If you’re well-prepared, you can even try a bit of ice climbing. Make sure you have the proper safety gear first, including hiking boots and crampons (long spikes that attach to the soles of your shoes), and then pick your way across the base of the glacier. If you’re intending to go more than a handful of meters, consider booking a guided trip with an individual trained to navigate the icy terrain. 

Although you can hike the full 4 kilometers and brave the glacier itself, there are several more-accessible options for young children, the elderly, and those who are alter-abled. This incredibly well-maintained trail offers wheelchair and stroller access. Additionally, if either the length or incline of the trail are unsuitable, consider driving up almost to the glacier itself via one of the many access roads. They are clearly marked with signs, and there are plenty of safe pull-off spots along the way. Feel free to drive to the end of the hike and simply walk the last few meters to view the epic Steingletscher. 

When you’ve filled up on the beauty before you, you may enjoy a trip back to the restaurant maintained by Hotel Steingletscher for an afternoon meal. The terrace is open as long as weather permits; it’s situated perfectly near the base of the surrounding Bernese Alps, and the menu is crafted daily by their head chef. If you’re searching for more opportunities to hike within the region, you’re in luck. Nearby there is the Eiger trail, another hike that’s accessible and family friendly. The via ferrata that stretches between Mürren and Gimmewald is an excellent half-day adventure for thrill seekers who want to climb a little higher. If the idea of clambering around on a glacier excites you, there are plenty of 1, 2, and 3-day long hikes in the area. One such hike is the Aletsch glacier hike, a two-day excursion from Jungfraujoch railway station to Fietsch, including an overnight stay at the Konkordia Hut. Whatever your skill level, there’s a way for you to experience the beauty of the Alps firsthand.

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