First to Bachalpsee Lake to Waldpitz to Bort Hike in the Swiss Alps

First to Bachalpsee Lake to Waldpitz to Bort Hike in the Swiss Alps

First is an amazing place to visit from Grindelwald for hiking and adventure activities. This blog tells you everything you need to know about hiking from First to Bachalpsee Lake then to Bort as well as the best things to do at First.

After spending a week in the Jungfrau region of the Swiss Alps, it became clear that First is one of my favorite places in the Jungfrau region for its views, activities and hiking routes. The famous and beautiful Bachalpsee Lake is located about an hour walk from First cable car station and is a must-see for anyone visiting the area. But did you know that Bachalpsee Lake hike is not the only hiking route worth exploring at First? I want to show you not only the hike from First to Bachalpsee but also from Bachalpsee down to Bort Cable Car and how amazing this trail is.

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Where is First?

First is a minor summit in Bernese Oberland above the town of Grindelwald at 2168m above sea level. It is famous for the various adventure activities, hiking routes and winter ski slopes. Many tour buses also stop at First to visit the famous (and free) First Cliff walk so as you can see it is a popular destination for both families, elderly, and those who are active.

In order to do all the adventure activities or hike to Bachalpsee Lake, you will first need to reach First from Grindelwald (and from other towns in the Jungfrau region).

Train ride from Kleine Scheidegg to Grindelwald
First Grindelwald Activity and Hiking Map

How to Get to First Cable Car Station

To get to First cable car station you must go through Grindelwald. Gondola is the only way to get to First; there is no bus that go to First from any of the towns. If you are afraid of height or riding cable cars, you will need to somehow hike up to First!

See below for the directions to First Cable Car Station from different towns in Jungfrau.

How to Get to First From Grindelwald

It is very straight forward to get to First Cable Car Station from Grindelwald. In the center of Grindelwald, you will see the Grindelwald Cable Car Station (it is different from the Grindelwald train station, which is about a 10 minute walk). The Station name is Grindelwald (Firstbahn).

The First Cable Car operating time changes throughout the year. There is no cable car to First before 8am at the earliest and the last cable car down is at 6pm at night depending on the month. See the official website for the First Gondola cableway operating times.

If you have the Jungfrau Travel Pass, you do not need to buy a separate ticket to ride the cable car from Grindelwald to First. You simply take out your pass and scan it at the machine for your unlimited rides. If you do not have a Jungfrau Travel Pass, you will need to purchase the tickets before you get on (I think you get 50% off if you have the Swiss Travel Pass). Note that the Jungfrau Pass is not available in the winter.

First Station Gondola
First Cable Car View

The gondola ride between Grindelwald to First is 25 minutes. There are a few other stops along the way so do not get off randomly! First Cable car station is the last stop along the route.

The reason you would get off at other stops is because the other cable car stations have different adventure activities that may interest you (discussed later in this post). So if you know you will be going up and down the cable car a lot for the different activities it’s better to have the Jungfrau pass.

How to Get to First From Lauterbrunnen

The easiest way to get to First from Lauterbruennen is shown below:

1) Take the train from Lauterbrunnen to Zweilutschinen (9 minutes)
2) Transfer to Grindelwald (21 minutes)
3) After you get off the train at Grindelwald, walk 10 minutes to the Grindelwald cable car station to take the cable car up to First.

The entire trip should take you about an hour and 20 minutes.

Lauterbrunnen to First Train Schedule

How to Get to First From Wengen

There are two ways to get to First (or rather Grindelwald) from Wengen.

The fastest way from Wengen to First is to go through Lauterbrunnen:

1) Take the train from Wengen to Lauterbrunen (17 minutes)
2) Take the train from Lauterbruennen to Zweilutschinn (9 minutes)
3) Transfer to the train to Grindelwald (21 minutes)
4) Get off the train at Grindelwald, walk 10 minutes to Grindelwald cable car station and take the gondola up to First

The entire trip should take you about 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Wegen to First Fastest Train Schedule

The most scenic way is to go through Kleine Scheidegg which is a lot more expensive and takes a bit longer but the view is worth it:

1) Take the train from Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg (25 minutes)
2) Transfer at Kleine Scheidegg to Grindelwald (39 minutes)
3) Get off at Grindelwald and walk to the cable car station to take the cable car up to First

The entire trip should take you about 1 hour and 51 minutes.

Wengen to First Scenic Train Ride
Scenic train ride from Kleine Scheidegg to Grindelwald view
Train ride from Kleine Scheidegg to Grindelwald

How to Get to First From Murren

It takes about 2 hours to get to First From Murren:

1) Take the Train from Murren to Gimmelwald (4 minutes)
2) Transfer to Stechelberg (5 minutes)
3) Transfer to Lauterbrunnen (13 minutes)
4) Take the Train from Lauterbrunnen to Zweilutschinen
5) Transfer from Zweilutschinen to Grindelwald
6) Walk to the Grindelwald Cable Car Station and Take the Cable Car

Hiking From First to Bachalpsee Lake

Length: ~3km one way
Time: 50 minutes one way
Ascent/ Descent: 188m
Difficulty: Easy
Family & Old People Friendly: Yes

Signs to Bachalpsee Lake from First cable Car Station

When you first get off the First Cable Car, you will see the free First Cliff Walk (and an amazing view of Monch and Eiger). Chances are the Cliff Walk is overcrowded with tourists if you are visiting in the morning (~10am-11am) like we did.

First Cliff Walk
Cliff Walk on the left side

As you start to walk away from the Cliff Walk you will see a wide dirt / gravel trail leading away from the Cable Car Station. There is significant less people walking on the trail compare to the Cliff Walk.

Balchapsee Lake Trail

The first 20 minutes of the walk to Balchalpsee Lake is actually a bit uphill. When I was there there were some young Asian couple that were huffing and puffing (it was pretty clear they don’t hike based on the way they were dressed). However as you walk on the trail you will see really nice view on the left hand side. You can even see the tiny First Cliff Walk (look at how many people there are!)

View during the hike from First to Bachalpsee Lake
Trail to Bachalpsee

After the first 15 minutes of uphill the trail to Bachalpsee Lake pretty much flattens out until you hit the lake.

Flat trail to Bachalpsee Lake
Hiking to Bachalpsee
You can go either way when you see this fork. It goes to the same place
Reaching Balchapsee

What’s interesting about Bachalpsee Lake is that it’s actually not one lake but two separate lakes divided by a dam. Most people and photos focus on the left hand side lake due to it’s perfect view of the mountain peaks.

Balchapsee Lake Switzerland

We reached the lake around noon on a perfectly warm September day and there were quite a number of people there already but not as many as I thought there would be.

We walked relatively close to the lake shore in order to get some photos and avoid the crowd. From Balchalpsee you can have a direct view of the Schreckhorn and the Finstaarhorn, the highest mountain in the Bernese Alps. There were people getting into the lake and I even saw one or two tents by the lake. However please note that if you are camping there overnight, you should try to get permission as I don’t think it’s public land where you can freely camp (I could be wrong about this).

We stayed at the lake for about 30 minutes and more people came during this time. One reason people tend to get to Bachalpsee Lake later in the morning (rather than sunrise time) is because the cable car from Grindelwald to First doesn’t start till 8am in the morning and unless you want to hike up for sunrise, most people can’t get here that early. I will talk a little more about the timing of getting to Bachalpsee Lake later in this post if you want the perfect reflection.

Bachalpsee Lake in Swiss Alps Switzerland

If you simply want to visit the Bachalpsee Lake and head back to first, you can just go back the same way you came (takes another 50 minutes).

Many people continue hiking uphill towards Faulhorn at 2681m. We didn’t go up there but supposedly from Faulhorn you can have a panoramic view of the area and can see as far as Interlaken! On the cable car up to First, a Swiss Alp veteran told us the hike from Bachalpsee to Faulhorn is a lot steeper and longer. From Faulhorn you can either hike back to First or continue down to Bussalp and take a bus back to Grindelwald.

If you are into photography then you may want to continue the trail to Faulhorn (even if you don’t reach it) in order to see both parts of Bachalpsee Lake from above. I’ve seen some photos on Instagram and it looks amazing!

Best Time to Visit the Bachalpsee Lake

Bachalpsee Lake is technically open all year round but during the winter and early spring time it will be frozen and covered with snow, making the experience less unique.

Personally I think the best time to visit Bachalpsee Lake is from mid June to mid October when the lake is not frozen. During the late spring time there are actually wild flowers near the hiking trail to Bachalpsee Lake making it even more beautiful.

Some photographers are concerned about when to see the reflection at Bachalpsee Lake. I was concerned about this too and even more concerned since I wasn’t able to get there at sunrise due to cable car opening hours. But in the end it actually did not matter. There is reflection at Bachalpsee Lake all day long as long as there is no wind.

When I first arrived to Bachalpsee Lake around noon there was no reflection. Fortunately we waited for a while and for about 5 minutes there was absolutely no wind and the water became perfectly still. The reflection lasted a total of about 2 minutes before it disappeared again.

I would also recommend visiting the Bachalpsee Lake on a clear day as the experience is less pleasant if all the mountain tops are covered by clouds.

Hiking From Bachalpsee Lake to Waldpitz to Bort Station

Since we decided not to hike to Faulhorn due to the steepness and length and we didn’t want to just go back to First the same way we came, we decided to go down another trail to BORT Cable Car Station.

Length: 5km one way
Time: 1.5 hours – 2 hours one way
Descent: 757m
Difficulty: Easy/ Moderate
Family Friendly: Yes (no strollers)

Once you are ready to leave Bachalpsee Lake behind, start heading to the edge of the lake (the left side of the lake) on a narrow dirt path for the next portion of the hike to towards Bachläger and Waldspitz.

Bachalpsee Lake Hiking Sign
Hiking from Bachalpsee to Bort
Walking next to the Bachalpsee Lake

The first portion of the trail is just a narrow dirt path and immediately you lose all the people that were at the lake (there was seriously nobody on this trail). Another great thing about this trail is that now you are actually walking towards the mountain ranges so you have an amazing view almost the entire hike. Do note that bikers sometimes come down this path so if you hear anything just step out of the way.

Trail towards Bachläger and Waldspitz

As you keep walking the dirt path gradually becomes much wider but a lot more rocky/ uneven. It’s almost not really a path anymore but a field where you can pretty much walk anywhere and won’t get lost as long as you follow the general direction. The trail is mostly downhill so it’s quite easy. We saw a whole family of bikers going down this trail (although not sure how they were able to ride on such uneven ground).

Trail towards Bachläger and Waldspitz

Soon you will cross a small metal bridge with a small waterfall next to it and the path becomes much easier to walk on and a lot flatter (with occasional unevenness). We began approaching the small town of Waldspitz. Fun fact: while we were walking towards the town, there was a small truck shooting out poops (fertilizer) coming towards us. The smell was very unpleasant but good thing it turned before reaching us.

Waldspitz
Waldspitz
Waldspitz hike

Waldspitz is a very small town so you probably won’t actually be stopping there. You will continue to follow the trail and again you will be greeted by amazing mountain views.

Waldspitz hiking towards Bort

After leaving Waldspitz for about 15 minutes you will come across a nice restaurant with this pretty view. We decided not to eat there although many people did stop there. Even though we didn’t eat there they didn’t seem to mind people using their bathrooms.

Resturant near Waldspitz
View of mountain range

This restaurant is also the point where you can choose which path to go down to continue towards Bort Cable Car Station. There is a much wider and seemingly easier path to walk towards Bort if you continue past the restaurant. This path takes over an hour but if you want an easy way down you may want to try this. Another path is to cut through a dense forest with steep decline that takes only 40 minutes. Since we were quite hungry by that point we decided to take the short cut down the forest path.

Hiking sign towards Bort

If you don’t have an issue with hiking downhill then the forest path may be the best for you. It is a narrow and gravel switchback for the first 30 minutes. However I was a bit scared going downhill so it actually took me a while to go down (I think I hate going downhill a bit more than the average person though).

Trail through dense forest from Waldspitz to Bort
Hiking down to Bort Cable Car Station

After about 40 minutes you will finally reach Bort Cable Car Station, one of the stops on the cable car from Grindelwald to First.

Bort Hiking Path
Hiking towards Bort Cable Car station
Bort cable car station

There is a pretty good restaurant at the cable car station with the view of the alps if you want to grab something to eat.

If you are done for the day you can take the cable car down from Bort to Grindelwald, but there are actually a lot of fun activities at First (including BORT) that I’ll discuss in the section below.

Fun Things to Do at First

If time permits, there are actually a lot of fun things to do at First that you should not miss.

Trottibike (Bort)

Trottibike is a scooter activity where you can stand on the bike looking scooter and let gravity take you all the way down to Grindelwald. It is family friendly and you do not need to know how to bike.

Trottibike is the activity we chose to do to go back down to Grindelwald after our hikes from First to Bachalpsee to Bort. You cannot use your Jungfrau Pass for Trottibike so you will have to pay separately.

In order to do Trottibike you will need to get a helmet, sign the waiver and pay for a ticket. Unfortunately during a nice day in the peak season you may need to wait a while to get the helmets (we had to wait 15 minutes or so because helmets ran out). The activity itself is really fun (although I did see a few people tumble off the bike onto the ground).

Trottibike Scotter to Grindelwald

Mountain Cart (Schreckfeld)

Going back up one cable car station, at Schreckfeld, the adventure activity you can do is Mountain Cart. Essentially this is a cross over between a go kart and a sled that is fun and suitable for children over 135m in height. You will be riding downhill on the Mountain Cart from Schreckfeld Cable Car station to Bort. You will also need to buy a separate ticket and get a helmet (helmet included in the ticket) in order to participate.

First Glider (First)

Up at First, you can pretend to be a bird and do the First glider. We saw people doing it but the distance looks pretty short (From First to Schreckfeld) but it did look fun. The minimum age to do First Glider is 10 years old and you have to be at least 130cm in order to participate.

First Glider
Source: Jungfrau.ch

First Flyer (First)

Similar to First Glider, First Flyer goes from First to Schreckfeld cable car station. The difference is that you will be sitting upright on First Flyer at a top speed of 84km per hour. You cannot be too heavy (or too light) to do First Flyer, the weight limit is between 35kg to 125kg.

First Flyer
Source: Jungfrau.ch

Other activities at First include the First Bag Jump and First Cliff Walk.

You can literally spend the entire day at First for hiking and other family friendly activities. Like I said First is one of my favorite places to visit in the Swiss Alps in the summer. You just need to wake up early in order to fully take advantage of all the things offered at First. I personally would recommend that you stay in Grindelwald the night before to maximize your time there and to get to Bachalpsee Lake early in the morning before everyone else gets there.

Additional Readings To Plan Your Switzerland Trip

1 Week Switzerland Itinerary: https://serenaslenses.net/1-week-switzerland-itinerary-things-to-do-in-the-swiss-alps/

What to do at Oeschinensee for a day: https://serenaslenses.net/what-to-do-at-oeschinensee-for-a-day-lake-oeschinen-day-trip/

Jungfraujoch Day Trip: https://serenaslenses.net/day-trip-to-jungfraujoch-from-lauterbrunnen-grindelwald-is-it-worth-it/

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First Switzerland Hiking to Bachalpsee Lake
Swiss Alps Hiking to Bachalpsee Lake