For every soaring, snowy range in the Alps, there is a lush green valley at its feet. The Lauterbrunnen Valley is one of the most striking and beautiful valleys in Switzerland. It has enchanted tourists for centuries, including Goethe and J.R.R. Tolkien, who apparently based the idyllic Elven refuge of Rivendell on his teenage hiking trip to Lauterbrunnen.
Murren is perched on the side of the Lauterbrunnen valley on its eponymous mountain. The trails around the town take you through crocus-filled meadows, along crystal-clear streams and over forested ridges. The views of Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau from the flanks of Murren mountain are phenomenal. The hiking is not difficult, but wear appropriate gear and carry supplies and an accurate map. Before setting out, consult with your hotel (or another local) for hiking and trail advice. Maps of the area are available in the area, but hard to come by anywhere else, so just wait until you get there.
After you have explored the area around Murren, take the cableway down to Stechelberg and the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Lauterbrunnen, literally “loud water” is home to 72 waterfalls, all sending melted snow from the higher elevations crashing into the river below. Trummelbach Falls is a giant waterfall equipped with an elevator that takes you into the mountain. From there you can walk up, down, around and through where the water carved out the rock. Peer over the edge of the current path, and see the water thunder past you and down into the valley below. It’s a remarkable experience. It’s also cold and wet in there, even on a warm sunny day. So after you get out of the cave, warm up by continuing to walk along the valley floor.
The valley path wends it’s way alongside the Weisse Lütschine river. It’s a gentle hike (more of a stroll, really) that takes you past scroll-work farmhouses that look like overgrown cuckoo-clocks and lowing Swiss cows wearing clanging bells. The path continues all the way to the dramatic Staubbich Falls just outside the village of Lauterbrunnen. Staubbich Falls cascades in an unbroken stream for almost 1000 feet. The stirring sight once prompted Goethe to write:
Wind is the loving
Wooer of waters;
Wind blends together
Spirit of man,
Thou art like unto water!
Fortune of man,
Thou art like unto wind!
(excerpted from Spirit Song Over the Waters)
Who knows what it might prompt you to do?