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Hiking trail

Kandersteg to Leukerbad (via Gemmipass)

Hiking trail · Leukerbad
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Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Reflections in the stream before crossing the bridge at 1.6 km
    / Reflections in the stream before crossing the bridge at 1.6 km
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • Ascending towards Hotel Schwarenbach
    / Ascending towards Hotel Schwarenbach
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • Hotel Schwarenbach
    / Hotel Schwarenbach
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • The bench and signpost at Daubensee where the path splits - 6km
    / The bench and signpost at Daubensee where the path splits - 6km
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • Views over the Daubensee from the path on the right-hand side of the lake
    / Views over the Daubensee from the path on the right-hand side of the lake
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • The small cable car station (from the lakeside to the larger Gemmipass station) - 8.7km
    / The small cable car station (from the lakeside to the larger Gemmipass station) - 8.7km
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • / The Grosses Platternhorn peak from Gemmipass
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • / The path from Gemmipass down to Leukerbad
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • / The zig-zag track leading into Leukerbad
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • / Leukerbad Kirche
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
1500 1800 2100 2400 2700 m km 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Walk from the top of the Sunnbuel cable car station through varied high alpine valley scenery and pass the Daubensee before reaching the Gemmipass station – from here take the cable car to Leukerbad. 

moderate
14.6 km
5:45 h
545 m
1080 m

Leave Kandersetg behind and hop on the Sunnbuel cable car.  From the station follow a track on the forested slopes below the sharp Uschenegrat ridge on your right, then ascend to pass the Berghotel Schwarenbach and gain your first glimpse of the Daubensee. You can walk to the Gemmipass station on either side of the lake; the left side is a broad track, and the right side takes a more meandering route on a narrow path skirting the lake.  Both of the routes rejoin just below the Gemmipass cable car station. 

Before descending to Leukerbad via the cable car you can make a stop at the restaurant overlooking Leukerbadand and enjoy refreshments .  Alternatively, if you feel sure-footed and have a head for heights (and conditions are dry!) follow the steep path carved into the cliffs below down to Leukerbad town.  Taking the cable car into Leukerbad shortens the route by ~4.5km and is recommended after rain and if you're not good with heights as the drop is precipitous.   

Author’s recommendation

If you prefer a bit of peace and quiet instead of lunching at the Gemmipass restaurant we recommend finding a good picnic spot by the Daubensee.  

outdooractive.com User
Author
Catherine Allan 
Updated: November 22, 2018

Difficulty
moderate
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
2320 m
Lowest point
1383 m
Best time of year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Safety information

Take care on any sections of the route that you might share with bikes, between the Sunnbuel cable car station and the Gemmipass restaurant. 

After wet weather we DO NOT recommend walking the narrower path on the right-hand side of the Daubensee or walking down the cliff path from Gemmipass to Leukerbad as the rocky areas on these routes could be slippery and tricky to pass.  If this is the case please use the track (as seen on the map) on the left-hand side of the Daubensee to reach the Gemmipass and catch the cable car down also.

Equipment

The route is well-walked but please make sure that you’re suitably equipped (see your information pack for a complete recommended kit list).  Waterproofs, warm layers, gloves, hat, sunhat and sunscreen are all recommended in a ~25 litre or less backpack.  Make sure to bring plenty of water (around 2 litres per person) and food for the day. 

If you prefer to wear sturdy walking shoes rather than walking boots feel free to wear those (as the terrain can be rocky you’ll find that gym trainers won’t have enough support).  Walking poles are a useful aid for helping to take pressure off your knees. 

Tips, hints and links

Points of Interest

Daubensee 

The mountain lake of Daubensee is situated in the valley between Sunnbuel and Gemmipass, just below the Gemmipass.  At the end of July (the last Sunday of the month) a yearly festival takes place where shepherds from Valais and the Bernese Oberland gather on the lake shores with approx. 800 sheep to celebrate cooperation between their districts. 

https://www.valais.ch/en/activities/natural-sites/mountain-lakes/daubensee

Gemmipass

The Gemmipass is a high mountain pass (approx. 2270m) connecting the canton of Valais, to the canton of Bern, where Leukerbad is situated.  The area is popular for winter walking and cross-country skiing so the restaurant here, with great views out onto the Grosses Platterhorn mountain and the valley of Leukerbad, provides refreshment for active people almost year-round. 

  

Kandersteg Sunnbuel cable car timetable: http://www.kandersteg.ch/en/s/timetable-sunnbuel

Gemmipass-Leukerbad cable car timetable: https://www.gemmi.ch/summer/cable-car/the-cable-car-gemmi/?L=2

 

Food & Drink

You can pick-up provisions and a picnic lunch for the day in Kandersteg from the Volg or Co-Op convenience stores.  Alternatively, you will be able to buy refreshments and food from the Berghotel Schwarenbach around half way between Sunnbuel and Gemmipass, it’s situated in a quiet spot with a delightful sun terrace.  The Gemmipass itself has a larger self-service alpine style restaurant with views down onto the Leukerbad valley.  Make sure to bring at least 2 litres of water per person. 

Start

Sunnbuel cable car station (1933 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
46.457923, 7.650260
UTM
32T 396352 5145813

Destination

Leukerbad Centre

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00 km – After catching the cable car from the Kander Valley up to Sunnbuel leave the cable car station and at the signpost ahead (Sunnbuel – 1938m) continue STRAIGHT ON to follow the arrow for Gemmipass. (2h 30min) on a wide track.

0.30 km – With the Altels Hutte chalet on your left continue STRAIGHT ON to follow the Wanderweg signpost. 

0.40 km – At the track junction BEAR LEFT to descend slightly following the signpost for Gemmipass.  Follow the track for ~1.2km. 

1.60 km – At the signpost continue STRAIGHT ON following the arrow for Gemmipass (2h) then cross the low bridge over the stream and continue along the valley. 

2.10 km – With the signpost on your left continue STRAIGHT ON for Gemmipass.

2.80 km – While ascending pass a signpost on your left and continue STRAIGHT ON to follow it for Gemmipass. 

4.10 km – You are now passing the Berghotel Schwarenbach on your right-hand side, continue STRAIGHT ON to follow the track as it continues ascending. 

4.30 km – With a signpost on your right continue STRAIGHT ON the track following the arrow for Gemmipass. 

6.00 km – You are now at the bench facing the Daubensee ahead.  You can choose to follow the track on the left side of the lake or follow the narrower, at times rocky, path on the right-and side of the lake.  The route notes follow the path on the right of the lake but if you follow the track you’ll rejoin the GPS track at 9.6km. 

Facing the Daunbensee TURN RIGHT off the track to take the lakeside path following the signpost for Gemmipass up on the right.  The path stays close to the lake but take care not to walk too close to the edge. 

6.50 km – BEAR RIGHT on the path away from the lake briefly and walk over the limestone outcrop – the way is marked with red and white painted markers.  Rejoin the lakeside and continue to follow the path around the lake edge.

6.90 km – With a small rocky beach on your left, there’s a vague path going up on the right, ignore this and BEAR LEFT to continue following the path with the lake on your left.

7.10 km – Take care here, the path is narrow and rocky underfoot, do make use of the metal rope on the right-hand side of the path.  Continue STRAIGHT ON and take your time. 

7.30 km – At the signpost on the right-hand side of the path continue STRAIGHT ON for Gemmipass (this isn’t marked on the signpost). 

8.60 km – After following the grassy path don to the rive TURN LEFT to cross the metal bridge following the signpost for Gemmipass (30min).  Once across continue STRAIGHT ON following the painted red and white markers and Gemmi on the rocks. 

8.70 km – Facing the little cable car station BEAR LEFT around it and descend to join a track which heads for the lakeshore.    

Alternatively, you can take the small cable car (runs approx. every 15 mins) up to the Gemmipass station and restaurant. 

9.10 km – TURN RIGHT off the track onto a vague grassy path (unsigned) which becomes a little clearer soon and follow the red and white painted markers until you dissect the main track which followed the left-hand side of the lake. 

9.60 km – On meeting the track TURN RIGHT onto it and continue ascending to follow the signpost for Gemmipass. 

9.80 km – From those taking the cable car down to Leukerbad your finishes here – TURN LEFT for the restaurant and the cable car station and enjoy some refreshment before heading down to Leukerbad.

For those who are sure-footed and have a good head for heights who wish to extend the day by walking the additional 4.5 km down you can continue following these route notes below to BEAR RIGHT and follow the signpost for Leukerbad (1h 20mins). DO NOT attempt the route in wet weather or after heavy rain as the path could be eroded and the drop is precipitous.  

9.90 km – BEAR RIGHT with the large white building ahead of you and continue descending on the track. 

10.20 km – At the path junction with a signpost BEAR LEFT to follow the arrow for Leukerbad to begin the descent of the steep cliff path.  The path is partly cut into the cliff, is generally 1m or more in width and is protected by handrails.  The route is also popular with runners, so please give way when you hear/see them approaching by standing to the inside of the path. Take great care on the path and descend slowly.   

10.80 km – With information boards on your right BEAR LEFT to continue descending on the path (do not turn right for the Via Ferratta route). 

12.00 km – Continue STRAIGHT ON to follow the route as the cliff path becomes a track just above the treeline.  Follow it as it zig-zags it’s descent to the trees below. 

12.90 km – Continue STRAIGHT ON where the stream bed crosses the track.  In 200 m at the track junction continue STRAIGHT ON at the signpost (1539m) following the arrow for cycle route 2 in the forest. 

13.40 km – Continue STRAIGHT ON where another stream bed crosses the track.  In 100 m with a signpost on your left continue STRAIGHT ON to pass through the metal gate ahead. 

13.80 km – Continue STRAIGHT ON as a larger stream bed crosses the track. 

13.90 km – The track becomes a road, continue STRAIGHT ON to pass the Gemmibahn station on your left-hand side. In 100 m at the T-junction cross the road and continue STRAIGHT ON to follow the road ahead for 400m. 

14.40 km – After descending to the bridge continue STRAIGHT ON to cross it and walk along Dorfstrasse.  In 100m TURN LEFT onto the cobbled Kirchestrasse. 

14.60 km – Finish the route here outside the church with carved limestone pillars adorning the entryway.  There plenty of cafes and restaurants if you continue on for less than 100 m for some refreshment before heading to your hotel. 

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


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Difficulty
moderate
Distance
14.6 km
Duration
5:45 h
Ascent
545 m
Descent
1080 m

Statistics

: h
 km
 m
 m
Highest point
 m
Lowest point
 m
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