After 2 months in Switzerland, we took our first foray into the Swiss Alps with a hiking trip to Jaun Pass in the canton of Bern. It was high time to find some mountains that we’ve so far only seen from afar. Every day from our house in Fribourg, we see the stark outline of the pre-Alps tantalizing us in the distance. Unfortunately we’ve been so busy trying to find a place to live and take care of the myriad details of an international relocation, we feel like we’ve lost our entire summer. Normally we’d spend it hiking, camping, and kayaking.
Don’t feel too sorry for us. We are in Switzerland, after all.
We still haven’t bought a car, so we owe our wheels for the day to our incredibly generous neighbors, Carlos and Nicole.
The very first week we met them, they insisted we take an extra key to one of their cars. While we’ve been reluctant to accept such kindness (and responsibility – I do have a bit of a lead foot), we’ve used it to go grocery shopping and to take all three of our critters to the vet. Having the car available to us Saturday meant ultimate freedom with easy access to some of the most picturesque mountains in Europe. We packed a picnic lunch for the day, threw on our hiking boots, and made for the hills.
Hello, hiking boots!
Considering we had zero plans beyond “hiking in the Alps,” we just pointed the car toward the mountains. After about an hour of driving and climbing through fun hairpin curves, we stopped at a place called Jaun Pass that looked promising.
The area has a designated trailhead with ample parking.
Plus it has the cleanest public trailhead bathroom you’ll likely see in your life, and the exterior design is simply adorable. We’re more accustomed to pit toilets or just plain having to “pop a squat,” as Trav says, so this was a nice change.
We set off on the first trail we found, which turned out to be more of a road: first a narrow paved road, then a gravel road, then a grassy road, and finally a cow trail.
If you have any doubt about which way to go, signs on the trail won’t bolster your confidence.
Go right on the Wanderweg.
No, go LEFT on the Wanderweg.
Hiking Tip: Make sure you have a good map before setting out.
As the sun finally stared to sink, we headed back down the mountain.
This is always my favorite time of day, when the mountains are almost “other-worldly” in the early evening light. The mountains were truly glorious with evenings clouds settling in for the night on the highest peaks, as if to keep them warm like perfectly fitted hats.
Our last sight along the trail was a beautiful curly-haired cow, helping himself to an early evening snack.
He was the perfect ending to our day hiking at Jaun Pass, our first of many trips to the Swiss Alps.
Know Before You Go
Parking at the trailhead is free.
The trailhead gives you access to a network of trails that extends for miles in all directions. Once you’re there, you can easily choose your own route.
Open the interactive map below for more precise information.