As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.
The Lauterbrunnen Valley, often referred to as the valley of 72 waterfalls, is a place so beautiful in person that it’s like a painting, or a creation from someone’s imagination. It doesn’t seem it could possibly be real. A friend told us that folks here say when God made the Earth, he made Switzerland last and dumped everything he had left into it – all the leftover mountains, lakes, and glaciers in a portrait of pure perfection.
As always when we’re camping, I was awake with the first light. Waking up in our tent in the valley to this perfection was rather surreal. The sun slowly slid from the grassy meadows atop the cliffs to the sheer granite faces with their thundering cascades, finally coming to rest on the valley floor after a lengthy descent. Downing some breakfast quickly, we packed my backpack, the smaller of our two packs, with some lunch, plenty of snacks, and our Klean Kanteen filled with water. Though our first attraction for the day would be Trümmelbach Falls, we’d be continuing on after that to hike the UNESCO World Heritage Trail just up the valley past the falls, and we knew we’d possibly be out until after dark.
Driving the couple of kilometers from our campsite at Camping Ruetti to Trümmelbach Falls, we were surprised to find a rather large, free parking area. After paying the 22 chf entry fee for the two of us for the falls, we headed up the trail, excited to see this unique site.
Trümmelbach Falls is a series of 10 waterfalls inside one of the cliff faces that makes up the valley. Not only is it unique in that it’s the largest underground waterfall in Europe, but it’s also the only subterranean glacial waterfall in the world that’s accessible to the general public because of industriously designed lifts, stairs, and walkways. So typical of the Swiss to take an incredible natural phenomenon and make it accessible to the world!
My favorite out of all 10 falls was definitely Corkscrew Falls, a narrow channel where the water has worn an incredibly twisted path through the rock, never slowing its urgent descent.
The falls drain the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau Glaciers with upwards of 20,000 liters of water per second raging through its rocky path. It’s just an incredible amount of water.
On average, these waters flush around 20,000 tons of natural debris down the falls every year. Knowing this increased my appreciation for the scope of work involved in carving out the tunnels and trails that give visitors such easy access to Nature’s power.
Our very last stop was the lowermost cataract pouring directly into the sunshine and the verdant Lauterbrunnen Valley. By then we’d been hiking inside the cliff for so long I’d grown cold from the spray from the falls and was actually grateful for the warmth of the sunshine. It really is true that “the grass is always greener.”
Already hungry, we dug out lunch from our car. Sitting in a corner of the nearly deserted gravel parking area in the shade, we threw Touille’s ball for her to retrieve, always one of her favorite past times. Unfortunately, I was distracted by the wildflowers and failed to take note of where I threw her ball in the tall grass. After dividing the field into quadrants and sniffing her way through all of it in an oddly methodical fashion, she still hadn’t found it by the time we were ready to leave. We called her in, laughing when we saw that she was dyed yellow like a dandelion with funky black and white spots.
Know Before You Go:
- Official site for Trümmelbach Falls (DE only)
- The price of an adult ticket is 11 chf; child 6-15 years, 4 chf. Group rates are available for more than 10 people.
- Contact info for Trümmelbach Falls – T: +41 33 855 3232
- Useful tourist info for the Trümmelbach Falls at MySwitzerland
- Dogs are not allowed on the trail past the ticket booth for the falls.
- If you plan to visit with babies or toddlers, I would recommend contacting the business or tourist office directly. The site has restrictions on strollers and young children: currently, children under the age of 3 years old are not allowed entry.
What’s up next on our agenda?
Hiking the UNESCO World Heritage trail to Obersteinberg in the Lauterbrunnen Valle for stunning views of the Swiss Alps…