Your Ultimate Guide for Hiking from Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg
The day prior to my hike in Wengen I took the train to Jungfraujoch and noticed several hikers on a trail close by. Considering the train ride was packed with people and not at all what I envision for my Swiss experience I decided to cancel my plans to leave Wengen and spend an extra day hiking.
The hike from Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg was roughly 3 hours one way and it was so enjoyable that I decided to hike all the way back on a different path. In this article I’ll share the experience, along with tips and details for planning the hike.
An Overview of the Hike
Time For the Hike
2.45 hours ascent (4.5 hours with descent)
Ease of Trail
Mid-Range - The trails are cleared and well established. The ascent is rather steep so a good level of physical fitness is required.
At Wengernalp (3/4 of the way) and Kleine Scheidigg (final destination)
Mid-May to mid-October (I hiked on May 30, 2019). The snow was still heavy on the mountain peaks making for better scenery in my opinion.
Altitude and Ascent
Starting Altitude (Wengen) : 1,274 m (4,180 ft)
Final Altitude (Kleine Scheidegg): 2,061 m (6,762 ft)
Ascent: 787 m (2,582 ft)
Map of the Hiking Trail from Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg
Expand the legend for detailed route.
The Hiking Experience
The first 30 minutes of the hike takes you out of the village of Wengen. It’s a simple well-maintained road that turns into a path. It ascends above the village and heads into the forest.
To start the trail, head from the Wengen train station and turn right after the hotel “Appartement Eden”. There will be signs for the hiking trails. Follow direction Kleine Scheidegg which takes you under the railway. If in doubt, know that the path generally follows the railway. The beginning of the hike will take you through open green pastures to the Allmend train station (1,479 m / 4,852 ft).
Pro Tip: Pack for a picnic before the hike
Kleine Scheidegg has a beautiful view of the Jungfrau mountains, and even more lovely locations along the trail. Save money and pack a picnic. The Coop Supermarkt Wengen is a local grocery store right next to the train station.
I grabbed a sandwich, some chips and some Haribo gummy bears. Note that the altitude change will inflate your bag of chips and it’s likely to burst in your backpack so you may want to open it before the hike.
Coop Supermarkt Wengen hours of operation: 8am-6.30pm everyday
Into the Woods
The beginning of this hike is arguably the hardest. Even though the entire hike is almost all uphill, the beginning felt steeper. Just after Allmend you enter the forest part of the trail. You start to feel like you’ve left the village behind.
The sun will peek through the trees, lighting up some of the ferns. I slowed down and took my time through this leg of the hike.
Pro Tip: Swiss-German Greeting
Say “grüezi" (pronounced: gryetsi) when you pass locals. It’s a friendly “hello” in Swiss-German.
Entering Alpine territory
Once you emerge from the forest, the landscape changes. In the Spring, the grass had not yet turned green and there are still snowy patches. For the next little while you follow a gravel path that runs almost parallel to the train tracks. If a train passes, give your fellow travellers a wave.
Don’t forget to look back every once in a while to take in the tiny village of Wengen in the far-off distance. I loved seeing the gradient of colour from the bright green which we had left, to the brown grass emerging from a long winter.
You’ll eventually reach an open lookout with two benches. This is about halfway through the hike. It’s a great spot to sit and enjoy the view while refueling with a quick snack.
3/4 of the way through the hike you will reach Wengernalp (1,874 m / 6,148 ft). This is the last stop before the end and it’s a great place to use the bathrooms and fill up your water bottle.
Pro Tip: Avoid the Crowds
Between Wengernalp and Kleine Scheidegg is a great place to stop for your picnic. Once you arrive at Kleine Scheidegg it will be packed with people heading to Jungfraujoch. This is especially the case in the late morning. Avoid the crowds by not hiking right to the station but rather enjoying lunch just off the trail before it.
Picnic in front of Jungfrau
The last leg of the hike is when you start to focus on the immense mountains in front of you. You’ll eventually begin to see all three mountains “Eiger” on the left, “Mönch” in the middle followed by “Jungfraujoch” (look for the tiny Top of Europe building) and “Jungfrau”.
Once you see Kleine Scheidegg, pick a spot anywhere along the path for your lunch. You can be mesmorized by the impressive peaks and maybe catch a helicopter fly by.
Related Blog Post: Visiting Jungfraujoch
My experience visiting Jungfraujoch wasn’t ideal. I’ll share the things I loved but also the reality of it and some tips to help you get more enjoyment out of your visit.
Descend towards Mettlenalp
Once you’ve finished lunch and are ready to head back you have several options:
Take the train back to Wengen
Hike back to Wengen on the same path
Hike back to Wengen on the Mettlenalp trail (what I did)
To get on the trail, head back towards Wengernalp (where there were the toilets) and take a winding path that leads you away from the train tracks. The walk back is pretty much a decent and goes through forests. If you come across a walking stick you may want to use it for stability, especially if you have bad knees.
Alternate Path: A Longer hike through Stalden
Whilst coming down the Mettlenalp path, you will come to a fork in the road. On the left is a longer route to get back to wengen. Apparently it’s quite scenic. It takes you through Stalden and gives views of the Lauterbrunnen valley. If you’ve tried this version I’d love to know your thoughts.
Arriving Back at Wengen
Along the Mettlenalp path you go through more forest areas. Depending on the time of year you may pass some small waterfalls and streams. This route will take you through Langentrejen and then back to Allmend. Because of timing this is what we did. The greenery gradually comes back to the landscape as you leave the snowy peaks behind.
Related Blog Post: Travel Guide to Wengen
If you’re visiting the area you may want to stay in Wengen. Here is my two-day itinerary and travel guide to Wengen.
Plan your Hike to Kleine Scheidegg
What to Wear on the Hike
A lot of this will depend on the weather when you hike. At the end of May is was a very comfortable 15 degrees. I was happy with some leggings and I layered with a t-shirt and light sweater.
Proper Hiking Boots
There will be wet and perhaps snowy patches so it’s important to have water-resistant footwear. Additionally lots of the paths are gravel and loose rock so you’ll want good traction and ankle support with your shoes.
Though I didn’t need them I will say I used a walking stick on the descent. So if you’re used to hiking with poles you will probably want them since there are steep parts.
It’s hard to predict when rain will come, it can be sudden and it can be heavy. So it’s always best to pack a rain jacket in case. If rain is in the forecast, consider bringing rain pants too.
Layer Your Clothing
There can be chilly moments in the shady forest or hot moments on the open path. If you layer then you’ll have the options to remove the heavier layers if you get too hot.
Sunglasses and Sun Protection
Higher altitudes means greater risk of sun burn so cover up and protect your eyes. Bring some sunglasses or a hat and if it’s not too hot, consider hiking with a light long-sleeved shirt.
What to pack for the hike
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Because this is a relatively easy day hike, you won’t need to be walking with a ton of things. Considering the length and incline you’ll want to keep your pack as light as possible. Don’t forget the following:
Snacks and Lunch
If you’re going to picnic don’t forget lunch. High-carb, low fat diets are best for higher altitudes. So bring some energy bars, low-fat sandwiches and maybe a sports drink.
Camera and Phone
In case you decide to take the train back down
Fill it at the beginning and again once you reach the toilets at Wengernalp. Swiss water is perfectly safe so you can drink it from the tap in the restroom. I use S’well water bottles because they keep my water fresh and fit nicely inside my bag.
Rock Slides and Avalanches
Since the path is open when the weather is nicer, the likelihood of an avalanche is low. Avalanches tend to happen during heavy snow fall. If in doubt, check for Swiss avalanche bulletins.
Rock slides are more common in the Spring/Summer. If you notice a pile of rocks on the trail, move quickly past it as it could have been from an earlier rock fall. Keep your eyes open above for any loose rock.
Alpine hikes are tricky because you may often feel cool and forget to drink water when in fact higher altitudes require more hydration. Unlike at Jungfraujoch, where I quickly felt the effects of altitude sickness, I didn’t have any issues on this hike. To avoid dehydration:
Drink lots of water (1 liter every two hours)
Eat carbs (these breakdown faster)
Consider an energy drink or electrolyte tablets
Wear sunscreen and reapply once you get half way through your hike. I swear by powdered mineral sunscreen because they’re easy to apply over makeup.
Hiking Photography TIPS
Consider a Polarizer for the Glare
Snow means highlights and glare. If it’s a sunny day, you may want to consider a polarizer filter to bring down the glare.
Look for Pockets of Light
When hiking through the forest, look for little pockets of light. This can lead to creative and artistic shots.
Simplify Epic Landscapes
The knee-jerk reaction to seeing a large mountain range is to shoot wide. But consider some cropped or vertical versions. Sometimes this simplicity creates a better composition.
Stay Hands-Free with a Hiking Clip
I mention the Peak Design clip in every hiking post because it’s my favourite little gadget and I wouldn’t hike without it. It clips onto my backpack strap and securely keeps my camera mounted. This way my hands are totally free for the hike and I don’t have the body of my camera constantly smacking against me.