Hiking with kids: An easy winter walk to the Oeschinensee

A short walk to the stunning Oeschinensee Lake with beautiful views of the Blüemlisalp Mountains is a great escape when you need to recharge your batteries or when you have enough of grey foggy days. Moreover, walking on the frozen lake will allow you to see the surrounding beauty from a different perspective.

Getting there

By car you can get here in about an hour from Bern, from Zurich the drive takes just over two hours. Directly under the cable car station, there is a metered parking lot (capacity is extended as needed). Parking is 5 CHF/day.

Public transport: Take the train to Kandersteg, then it´s about 15min walk from the train station. Or you can take the bus from the train station (Line 242) that will take you to the stop “Talstation Oeschinen”.

The one-way fare for the cable car is 18 CHF (9 CHF with Halb-tax), the return ticket is 26 CHF (or 13 CHF respectively). For skiers and sledders in the local ski resort, there are various options of ski passes – pricelist here.

Hiking to the lake

We had to queue about half an hour to get the tickets to the cable car, which was probably the only downside of this trip. Meanwhile, our boys were spending this boring time throwing snow at each other (fortunately I kept our little away by giving her a bun). I was worrying that they hit someone in the queue with the snow (my apologies).

Despite the exhaustive beginning that my husband had spiced up by frantically searching his Halb-Fare card at the ticket office (which he naturally held in the other hand), we sat down in the gondola and enjoyed the ride to the mountain station.

We resisted the temptation to have something stronger (I mean a shot, obviously) in the Bergstübli restaurant and set out on our hike to the lake. The trail groomed by machine crosses not only with the slopes of the small ski resort but even with the T-lift. So be careful here.

The trail leads slightly uphill, so your littlest will appreciate if you pull them on the sled.

If you turn around (checking if your child is still sitting on the sled), you will see the peaks of the Engstligenalp on the opposite side of the Kandersteg Valley.

The trail # 1 (via Läger) tracks the route we hiked in the summer. After going out of the woods, it is downhill to the Sennhüte restaurant (closed in winter).

Here, the view of the lake opens in front of you. If it weren´t covered by snow, we would see the “black ice”, which is equally as breathtaking as the turquoise colour of the lake in the summer. The ice skating is possible on the lake, but this was not the case today. We didn´t even take the skates because we had checked the website beforehand.

Ice walk on the frozen lake

When we reached the lake, we knew we wanted to walk on it. Because who would resist the trail that is part of the UNESCO World Heritage? There are two trails of different lengths – we took the longer one (see the map of our walk below).

I was expecting our boys will be bored by a walk on the lake (you know, you just walk on the snow-covered ice and so what?), but surprisingly the otherwise was true. There were a lot of fishermen around the shores, so we just learned how to fish in the winter (I must admit, this activity is beyond my understanding – standing there in the cold… :O ).

On this loop trail, we had a couple of sled races to warm up because the lake was in the shade all the time, and it was really cold here.

The photos stop here because of a) my phone battery gave out and b) my husband´s phone died too (although we both left the house with fully charged phones, the smart machines are probably not built for such low temperatures).

After our walk on the lake, we came back to the restaurant, where the trail leads back to the mountain station of the cable car. But we had something else in mind.

Sledding down to the valley

Another of the local attractions is the sled run, which we decided to try. If you don´t have your own sled, you can rent it at Intersport shop at the bottom of the cable car (for 20CHF/day). So, let me tell you, it’s really for experienced sledders. Nothing for people like me with self-preservation instincts.

Right after the first quarter of the sled run, the route is divided into “blue” and “black”. But even the blue-easy is quite challenging (I still have sore legs from braking). From what I saw when the two routes joined together again, people really rush down fast on the black (apparently without braking).

If you decide to sled with the kids, I recommend a child + parent, I would certainly not let the small children sled alone. Also, I think that much better are the plastic bobs with a steering wheel and brake than the sled. Even though I had death in my eyes several times, we got down safely and then headed back to the car.

My tips:

  • For this winter hike, you do not need snowshoes, good winter footwear is enough.
  • Wear warm clothes, the lake is in the shade, and it’s an ice valley.
  • Even if you do not plan to sled down to the valley, take your sleds. You can use them as you go to the lake, and there are also short runs below the restaurant (towards the lake).
  • The whole trip took us less than three hours (of course including snack breaks, etc.), unless I count the queue for the cable car. An hour hiking to the lake, an hour walk on the lake and then down the sled.
  • The hike to the lake is doable with a stroller (except the sled run of course ;))
  • Here you can see the map of our hike:

Have you been at Oeschinensee in the winter? Do you know any other lake where you can go for a pleasant winter walk with children? Tell me in the comment section!

 

 

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