The Grand Bernese Oberland Traverse

Guided By

Heather Ohly

Tour dates August 10 - 21, 2023

Summary

An epic point-to-point trail run across the Swiss Bernese Mountain range. You'll run and fast-hike through dramatic high country and lush, green valleys, alongside waterfalls, glaciers and iconic mountain peaks.

Date

August 10 - 21, 2023

Length

12 days, 11 nights

Tour Category

Village based with one night in a comfortable mountain hut.

Tour Challenge

Learn more

Fees

$4,995/person
$600 single supplement

Whats included

10 nights at three-star hotels, one night at a mountain inn with private rooms, all breakfasts, trail snacks, 10 dinners, guided runs daily, all transfers to and from trailheads, and luggage transfers between stops, except for our night at the mountain hut. Supporting materials, including Run the Alps' Guide to Trail Running in the Alps, are also included.

Description

If you’re looking for an epic cross-country trail running trip through the Alps that features dramatic high country, well, you landed on the right page!

This traverse of Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland starts in the east at a high mountain farming area called Schwarzwaldalp, passes under the famed Eiger North Face, and crosses high cols and mountain pastures to reach the mountain resort of Gstaad, not far from Lake Geneva. This tour features day after day of stunning and varied mountain terrain. While the tour broadly follows the Swiss Via Alpina trek, a high hiking route that crosses through much of Switzerland, we choose to explore beautiful and quiet variations along the way. 

Trail runner on the Wasserngrat above Gstaad, Switzerland

On the Wasserngrat ridgeline above Gstaad, Switzerland (Patitucci Photo).

We’ll run about 15 – 20 km each day, taking plenty of time on the uphills, pausing frequently to take photographs, enjoying the scenery, and sampling great food and drink en route. We’ll trail run over the historic Grosse Scheidegg, Sefinafurgga and Hohtürli passes, and cruise along high alp pastures with sweeping views of the Eiger and mountain lakes. We spend two nights in the famous mountain village of Grindelwald, giving you a chance to either explore the trails, or take a leisurely day to wander around town.

After a generous breakfast at our hotel each morning – delicious fresh baked bread, local cheeses, cereal, fruit, coffee and juice are typical – we’ll be out on the trail, either moving on to our next stop on the traverse, or taking in a local run. Most days there are options for an easier route that takes advantage of mountain trams and railways. Each morning, we’ll offer a variety of trail snacks from which you can choose, plus we’ll stop at mountain huts or alp farms, where we can enjoy local cheeses, röstis, or a fruit torte.

Two runners on a trail opposite the Eiger

Running towards Grindelwald, Switzerland. (Photo: Yuji Yanaru)

You will have your luggage every night, with the exception of our fastpacking overnight at rustic Obersteinberg hut, one of Switzerland’s famous “candlelight” hotels. In the evenings we’ll enjoy dinner together at our hotels and inns. Dinners are often multi-course, featuring local Swiss specialties, and will be hearty, filling, and delicious. We will leave one night in Grindelwald free, so you can have a chance to explore the town and choose your own evening meal.



Day-by-day
Day 1

Arrive in Switzerland, and transfer by train and then Swiss Post bus to Schwarzwaldalp Inn. We’ll have the option of a short trail run after arriving. Later, we’ll meet for a drink and trip briefing, and enjoy our first dinner together. Waterfalls and imposing mountains tower over us in this relaxing corner of the Alps. We’ll stay in a friendly, rustic inn with private rooms and shared bathrooms.

  • Schwarzwaldalp Inn
  • Dinner
Day 2

After a hearty breakfast, we’ll complete the run over the Grosse Scheidegg pass and enjoy our first views of the Eiger and of the Grindelwald valley. With 10,000 vertical feet separating it from the Eiger summit, Grindelwald sits at the base of one of the most impressive vertical mountain walls in the world. After reaching the pass, we’ll traverse the upper reaches of the valley to the postcard-perfect Bachsee Lake before winding down on quiet trails to the glacier village of Grindelwald and our lovely three-star hotel in town.

Trail runners taking in the views at Bachsee lake in front of the Eiger

Taking in the views at Bachsee lake (Photo: Yuji Yanaru)

  • Hotel Gletschergarten
  • Breakfast, trail snacks, dinner
  • 17.7km (11mi), 820m (2700ft) ascent, 700m (2300ft) descent
Day 3

Today, we’ll kick things off with a trail run high above Grindelwald. We’ll contour along the scenic ridge of Schynige Platte opposite the Eiger, where huge mountain views to the south are balanced by stunning views down to the Thun and Brienz lakes just north of us. We’ll then return to Grindelwald for a second night. Dinner will be on our own tonight, giving each of us a chance to roam the town and explore.

Guests will have the option of making today a full rest day, if you’d like to ease into the trip.

  • Hotel Gletschergarten
  • Breakfast, trail snacks
  • 10-19km (6-12mi), 915m (3000ft) ascent
Day 4

From Grindelwald, we’ll run up to the Kleine Scheidegg pass, directly under the Eiger. The Eiger’s massive North Face dominates a landscape that includes many stunning peaks and glaciers. We’ll take lesser-known trails through meadows and quiet alp farms as we run to the quaint car-free mountain village of Wengen.

Trail running down into forest to reach Grindelwald in the valley

Dropping down into forest to reach Grindelwald in the valley below (Photo Yuji Yanaru).

  • Sunstar Hotel Wengen
  • Breakfast, trail snacks, dinner
  • 10-16km (6-10mi), 915m (3000ft) ascent, 610m (2000ft) descent
Day 5

Our day features a run through one of the Alps’ most dramatic valleys, to our overnight destination at the beautiful Obersteinberg mountain hut. Starting high in Wengen, we’ll choose our route down to the end of Lauterbrunnen valley, running some of the Jungfrau Marathon course, and taking in the 10 glacier-fed waterfalls that make up Trümmelbach Falls. We’ll stop for a break at Stechelberg, as we watch paragliders descend from the cliffs above. From there, we’ll run up to the working alp farm of Obersteinberg, one of our favorite spots in all the Alps, where we spend the night. There is no baggage delivery tonight, so we’ll carry a few extra items with us to make for a comfortable overnight.

  • Berggasthaus Obersteinberg
  • Breakfast, trail snacks, dinner
  • 15-17km (9-10miles), 1040m (3420ft) ascent, 540m (1770ft) descent
Day 6

Today, we’ll run from our mountain hut to the car-free town of Mürren, perched above the Lauterbrunnen valley. We’ll have the option of a run through woods and past waterfalls, or over the peak known as Tanzbedeli, or “The Ballroom.” It’s also possible to descend in a cable car that takes us up to our comfortable three-star hotel in Mürren.

Trail running above the Lauterbrunnen valley, Switzerland

Leaving Obersteinberg, running high above the Lauterbrunnen valley (Patitucci Photo).

  • Hotel Edelweiss
  • Breakfast, trail snacks, dinner
  • 9km (6miles), ascent 730m (2400ft), descent 850m (2800ft)
Day 7

Today we’ll run through traditional farming landscapes and pass several high-altitude farms, as well as plenty of sheep, goats and cows! We’ll take a break at the Swiss Alpine Club’s stone-built Rotstockhutte before climbing to the 2611m high Sefinafurgga Pass. Here, we leave the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau behind, and enter the wild Kiental valley where we spend the night in the quiet hamlet of Golderli. 



  • Berggasthaus Golderli
  • Breakfast, trail snacks, dinner
  • 15.6km (9.7 miles), 1132m (3720ft) ascent, 1323m (4340ft) descent
Day 8

We continue through working farmland with plenty of cows roaming the pastures on the way up one of our big climbs of the trip, to Hohtürli pass. It’s a long and steep effort, but when you reach the top, the close-up views of the glaciers are incredible, plus we will savor the high point of the tour by hanging out at Blüemlisalphütte, a classic mountain hut used by alpinists, enjoying a snack at just under 3000m. Our descent to Kandersteg will take us past an iconic Swiss treasure, the azure lake of Oeschinensee.



  • Hotel Bernerhof
  • Breakfast, trail snacks, dinner
  • 17km (10.6 miles), ascent 1500m (4920ft), descent 1769m (5800ft)
Day 9

Starting today and for the rest of the trip, we’ll be running on wilder, less frequented trails. Our route from Kandersteg to Adelboden starts with a gentle warmup alongside the Kander river, before a steep climb up through forest, culminating at the Bundergrat. It’s also possible to take the Allme gondola up from the valley floor and skip the first steep part of the climb – a good option if you want to take it easy!

A trail runner in colorful alpine pastures

Enjoying the colorful alpine pastures (Photo: Yuji Yanaru).

  • Hotel Bristol
  • Breakfast, trail snacks, dinner
  • 16.6km (10.3 miles), ascent 1500m (4920ft), descent 1326m (4350ft)
Day 10

Rolling meadows, smaller mountains and patches of forest are the order of the day as we head over the 1936m high Hahnenmoos pass to Lenk. This small town sits in the Simmental valley with the Wildstrubel mountain range above. Rather than following the Via Alpina route, we take a more interesting variation after Adelboden, following the ridgeline over Nassberg which gives incredible panoramic views.



  • Hotel Waldrand
  • Breakfast, trail snacks, dinner
  • 18.7km (11.6 miles), ascent 950m (3120ft), descent 1237m (4060ft)
Day 11

Our last day of running goes through an intricate agricultural landscape of rolling pastures, rocky crags and forest patches, as we leave the Simmental valley. The high point of the Wasserngrat ridgeline is an exciting finale to the tour – but a less exposed descent to Gstaad is also possible. In the evening, we’ll enjoy a celebratory dinner together.



  • Sporthotel Victoria
  • Breakfast, trail snacks, dinner
  • 20.4km (12.7miles), ascent 1441m (4730ft), descent 1455m (4770ft)
Day 12

Today we say good-bye to the Bernese Oberland and depart for our post-tour destinations. Run the Alps can assist with Geneva or Zurich accommodations if your departure times require a night in town.

  • Breakfast
Arrival

Plan to arrive no later then 11am the day your tour starts. Flights from the US usually depart the day before. The closest airport is Zurich, which is a little over three hours away by train. Geneva is four hours, forty-five minutes away. There are train stations in each airport, making for convenient transport to the region. Your tour package will include detailed information about traveling on the Swiss rail and bus system to the start of the tour in Schwarzwaldalp.

Departure

Plan to depart the day your tour ends. Gstaad is about 3 1/2 hours by train to either Zurich or Geneva airports. Please plan on one night at a hotel in your departure city if you have a morning flight. Run the Alps can assist with Geneva or Zurich accommodations if your departure requires an additional night.

Additional Information

More options for this tour:

Self-guided: Everything but the guide… custom tour design, trail runs, and all the details.

Private: Make it private! Your companions, your dates, your tour– we do the rest.

Contact us for details.

All Run the Alps guests receive a copy of our Guide to Trail Running in the Alps to assist in preparing for their trip.

Want a helping hand to get ready? Run the Alps offers pre-trip coaching at our cost as a benefit to our guests. To read about our Personalized Prep Program, start here. Spaces are limited and this program routinely sells out. Contact us if you’re interested!

Terms and Conditions: Read up on Run the Alps’ Terms and Conditions, Covid-19 policy, and travel insurance.

For unique trail running clothing, visit Run the Alps partners, Insane Inside.