A few years ago a pair of Swiss photographers I follow posted images on their website of a grassy, knife-edge ridge above their home in Interlaken. The ridge was called the Hardergrat and has been called by some… The Best Hike In The World. The hike itself is roughly 25km in length and for the majority of its length keeps you right on very tip of the ridge. For additional amazing photos check out Alpsinsight.com.
Now, I don’t know about the best in the world designation, but last year when we started planning a trip to Europe those pictures were enough to convince me to pitch Interlaken as one of stops to my wife and other family members. Interlaken is a pretty incredible area and it didn’t take much convincing to get five days in the area added to our Itinerary.
When we finally arrived in Interlaken the weather forecast wasn’t ideal with rain predicted almost every day. We had just 4 days to get our adventures in and the Hardergrat was the one thing on my list that I really didn’t want to give up.
In an ideal world I would have loved to do the trail described in that initial article posted by Dan and Janine Patatucci on their website. That would have meant starting in Interlaken well before dawn, climbing up to the Harder Kulm, then hiking/running the ridge for ~25km until reaching the Brienzer Rothorn where we would take a funicular down to Brienz, then catch a train back to Interlaken. However, did I mention that we were traveling with our 8 month old son, and the weather forecast was for $h!t.
Fortunately, we also happened to be traveling with my wife’s mother and father and they offered to take our son for a few hours. And like that… We found ourselves in a position where we had a 4 or so hour window to sneak in a romp on the Hardergrat.
At this point, the big question was… How do we do this? The only info I had was stuff I could dig up online, and it wasn’t much. Most of the posts pertaining to the Hardergrat were just reposts of that initial Patatucci trip report. Anyway, after purchasing a map and doing some poking around on Google Earth and Google Maps we came up with a plan.
The plan consisted of getting up early, convincing my mother-in-law to drive us to the bus stop in Habkern,Lombachalp-Roteschwand, hiking a spur trail to the summit of the Augstmatthorn, then following the Hardergrat back to the Harder Kulm where we would meet my wife’s parents and our son for lunch and a little mother/son time.
In the end, the rain held off, my wife and I had a great day hiking in the clouds, and we made it back to our son in time to feed him. This is definitely one of the more incredible day hikes we have ever done, and if you’re ever in the area you should definitely check it out!
A few things to help you plan your own adventure…
- If it’s wet, or there is a chance of it being wet… be very careful. Most people wouldn’t recommend hiking this trail in wet conditions because a little slip can very easily turn into a long slide down a steep face with high consequences.
- If you plan on hiking the full length of the Hardergrat plan to bring plenty of water and sunscreen. You are on a ridge, and there is no access to water for the length of the trail. Also, you are on a ridge… and exposed to the wind and sun with no place to hide. Plan accordingly so you have an amazing time.
- There are a ton of side trails off the Hardergrat. If you can’t commit a whole day consider doing a shortened version. Below I’ve included some shots of a topo map to help with planning alternate loops.