The Allmendhubel funicular & the North face trail – Swiss Sojourn, Part 8

This post is the continuation of a long drawn out series documenting our travels in a small corner of the beautiful country of Switzerland. We were now in Murren in the Berner Oberlander region where we had done a pleasant walk to Gimmelwald ( The pleasant Alpine town of Murren & an afternoon walk to Gimmelwald – Swiss Sojourn, Part 6 ) and got our 007 fix by visiting the top of Schilthorn by cable car (A morning at Schilthorn and Birg , getting into the 007 mood! – Swiss Sojourn, Part 7). It was the European summer and we still had a good amount of daylight hours left inspite of spending a good amount of time in the morning at Schilthorn. We decided to make the most of it and go up the Allmendhubel funicular and do as much of the North face trail as the light would permit.

We set out for the Allmendhubel funicular station after resting our legs for some time in our hotel room. The sun was shining brightly in the afternoon sky and the birds were making the most of it. We came across a redstart that was enjoying a great mud bath in one of the numerous gardens and a song thrush going around searching for worms in the meadows. Even the cats seemed to be searching for a spot in the sunlight and we caught one about to make it’s way onto the roof of a house.


A redstart plays in the mud on a summer afternoon


A song Thrush poses in the meadows


A cat on its way up to a sunny roof

We reached the base station of the Allmendhubel funicular and bought our discounted tickets courtesy of the Swiss travel pass. We expected it to be much crowded but there were only a handful of people waiting to board the funicular and we grabbed seats at the end of the funicular to get some photos of Murren as the funicular made its way up the hill.


The track of the Allmendhubel funicular disappears up into the trees


Murren down below as the funicular makes it’s way up the hill

We reached the top of Allmendhubel which has great views over the Eiger and a play area where families were enjoying the beautiful sunny day. We took some photos with the “Allmendhubel” sign with a cloud covered tip of the Eiger making for a spectacular backdrop.


We didn’t linger around at the playground and started towards the trail that was marked as Sonnenberg. Thanks to Rick Steves and his helpful guide we knew that this was the trail we were supposed to take. It first passed through a dense coniferous forest before opening out into a spectacularly green meadow lined vast open space.


The dense forest in the initial part of the North Face trail

The path then went slightly downhill and we could see the marked Sonnenberg restaurant in the distance. The path was well marked and as easy as it gets and we sauntered our way down stopping ever so often to take photos.


The meadow lined valley opens out after a walk through the forest

We reached the Sonnenberg restaurant which has great views over the North Face of the Eiger that the walk is named for. We were not hungry at this point and time was of the essence , so we just clicked photos with the imposing Eiger and moved on.



Getting our photos clicked with the Eiger, the Sonnenberg restaurant on the left

At this point there is a option to go to the next “Alp” – Farm, Suppenalp or go back the way we came to Allmendhubel. We continued on as I had read that the mountain slopes above Suppenalp were great habitat for the Marmot. I have tried to find these fat and podgy Alpine mammals every time I have visited the Alps and I didn’t want to let this opportunity go.


The sign shows we are headed the right way to Suppenalp

I was taking photos of the better half with my ultra wide landscape lens on when she spotted something in the meadow behind me. It was a marmot! I quickly put on the 300mm that I always carry on hikes specially for these instances and hoped that I would get some photos of the marmot at least.


The better half poses on the way to Suppenalp


The better half takes photos of me while I try and get photos of the marmot

The Marmot was a wary one and refused to come closer unlike the ones I had encountered on the Grossglockner high alpine road in Austria. So I had to be content with photos of the Marmot chewing away at the plentiful grass on offer.


The Marmot has it’s fill on the slopes near Suppenalp



The closest I ever got to the Marmot that day

I tried to get closer slowly crouching my way through the meadow but the marmot wizened up to my presence and decided it had enough of me and ran away through the grass up the hill. Only when it reached a big boulder on the hill side did I notice that there was another Marmot basking in the sun on the rock. My friend from the meadow joined him in the basking and I decided to leave them in peace after taking a few photos of the couple on their rocky perch.



The Marmots rest on their boulder

The Suppenalp is built under the cover of a rocky outcrop so as to protect it from the direct force of any avalanche that may occur in the winters. We passed the farm and now we had the option to continue on the trail further upward to the next “Alp” or take a path down to Murren.


The Suppenalp in the background on the North face trail

It was already evening and we didn’t want to be stranded in the forest in case the light faded , so we decided to play it safe and take the path down to Murren. We stopped at the farm where we took even more photos before starting our walk down to Murren.


Posing at the Suppenalp with the North Face as a backdrop

The pack then winded down relatively steeply first through meadows and then back into the dense forest.



Starting our descent back to Murren

As is my habit I found myself some birds on the way down and got some photos of black redstarts and chaffinches as we passed through the meadows into the forest. I even spotted a kestrel on a perch on top of a tree but it flew away before I could get any decent shots.


Still looking for birds inspite of the awesome landscape around!


A male black redstart all fluffy in the summer sun


A chaffinch calls out from a tree


A female black redstart forages in the grass


A distant record shot of a Kestrel on top of a tree

These treks always have a surprise in store for you and we knew what was coming up by the sound of gushing water. It was a waterfall gushing down the slopes with not a tourist in sight. To come to think of it we had encountered just 3 people in the entirety of our walk after we had left the park at Allmendhubel! The pleasures of going off the usual tourist track!


The joy of encountering a small waterfall on a hike in the mountains


Happy us at the small waterfall on the way back down to Murren

The path then descended rapidly down the hill through the forest till we suddenly came out onto the open road and we were in Murren. We had spent over 3 hours meandering around a part of the North face trail – Not bad for amateurs!


The forest ends and we are back in Murren

In retrospect we had made it back to Murren well in time and could have continued on the North Face trail but we had played it safe as we always do – So no regrets!. We walked back through Murren and to our Hotel Alpenblick.

We had decided to have dinner at the hotel itself as I had heard good things about the food in the attached restaurant. It was almost dinner time and we were hungry after all the walking. So we walked straight into the restaurant where we got ourselves a good table. We ordered the Spätzle with vegetables for the better half and the host recommended fried chicken (with some local beer ) for myself. It turned out to be a great recommendation as the chicken was the best I have eaten in a long time.


At our table at the restaurant in the Hotel Alpenblick


Spätzle and delicious fried chicken


Enjoying a filling dinner after a trek is always more satisfying!

We ended the day with some of the home made ice cream on the strong recommendation of the hosts. Once again it was a great one as we enjoyed the dessert inspite of being full to the brim after dinner.


The home made ice cream turns out to be a delight!

It had been another beautiful day in the Alps of Switzerland, we had accomplished more than we had hoped for that day.  We still had one more full day left in the Berner Oberlander region & Murren. We decided to do the Royal Panorama trail on the other side of the valley as it was the trek that every guidebook or video recommended as the trek to do in this region. The weather Gods had smiled on us so far and we hoped that their kindness would stay with us for the remainder of our time in the region.

Whether  the weather would hold up & the highly rated Royal Panorama trail would live up to the high expectations that reading about it had set is story for another post, some other time, some other day. (Hopefully soon!)

Till then,



  1. Perfect spot for a picnic. It is such a beautiful place. The marmots are really too cute. You have a perfect spotter, who also takes good pictures of you


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