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The Alps in Switzerland in the Bern Canton.
Lenk-im-Simmental (Lenk), a small town in the Swiss Alps, is a hiking and skiing destination. It sits below the Wildstrübel mountain, at the end of a valley running south from the Simmental Valley, near the well-known towns of Gstaad and Saanen. Lenk is a delightful town and a good base for a hiking holiday (population: 2300, elevation: 3,504 ft/1,068 m). There are trails in the valley, two gondolas up to the mountain tops, and several mountain buses. You are close to several other hiking areas for easy day trips (Saanen, Gstaad, Diemtigtal Nature Park, Stockhorn).

Where: Lenk-im-Simmental in canton Bern, in the Bernese Oberland, south of Spiez (near Interlaken).

Tourist Office: Lenk-in-Simmental Tourist Office
The tourist office has local maps showing the mountain rides and trails. Look for them online or request brochures be mailed to you. Check the Tourist Office website for information about hiking passes. These give discounts on the regular prices of the mountain rides. In Lenk you receive a pass for the two gondolas if you stay in a hotel and some vacation rentals. If you do not receive a pass, you can purchase one at the Tourist Office or purchase individual tickets at the gondola. All visitors staying in Lenk receive the Guest Card which gives you a free pass for the mountain buses.

When to go: Hiking in the Swiss Alps is best from June to September. Many mountain rides do not run at other times (except in winter for skiing). Wildflowers are at their best in July.

Transportation: You don't need a car in Lenk but if you have one, you can drive into the town and on some of the mountain roads. The train brings you from Spiez to Zweisimmen where you transfer to the train to Lenk. From Zweisimmen you can take the train to Saanen, Lenk and on to Montreux. .

Where to stay: Book your vacation rental on the Tourist Office website or with FerienLenk, a very good agency in town with a good selection of vacation rentals. We always rent from them. They also own Hotel Sternen, Hotel Krone and Hotel zum Gade in the town center.

Shopping: There is a good Coop supermarket in the town center as well as a few other small grocery shops and delis. There are two good bakeries and several restaurants.

Cow Parade: The Alpabfahrt in St. Stephan (a few miles from Lenk) celebrates bringing the cows down from the alpine meadows back to their farms outside the town. This usually happens on the second Saturday of September and is a day of festivities and parading cows. See photos below. See the Tourist Office website for the date but it is unusually not announced until a month or two before. These type of Cow Parades happen in many mountain towns in September.

About the Hiking

There are miles of good hiking trails in Lenk. Get hiking brochures and maps from the Tourist Office. They can advise you on the trails. Walking signs are plentiful in town and on the trails. Remember that a yellow pointer for the trail indicates an easy trail, while red and white indicates a more difficult trail.

There are two gondolas open in summer: Betelberg and Metsch (note that the Metsch gondola is not open all season, just for Swiss school holidays). There are buses to take you to mountain areas - Laubbargli, Buhlberg and Iffigenalp - and to the end of the valley at Simmenfalle. Trains go from Lenk to Zweisimmen, Saanen and Gstaad.

These are the main hiking areas in Lenk.

Betelberg Gondola: Lenk to Stoss (middle station) to Leiterli
The Betelberg gondola has 4-person gondolas that take about 30 minutes to reach the top at Leiterli. The gondola station is a 10 minute walk from the center of Lenk.

From Leiterli you can do an easy walk along an alpine flower trail or a two hour loop with good views into the Lenk and Gstaad area. As the crow flies, Lenk is close to Gstaad, but it is a 50 minute drive. You can also do a nice walk down to the middle station, Stoss.

Most of the longer trails from Leiterli go down to Lenk (900 m descent). My favorite is the 5 hour gentle downhill from Leiterli (1943m) - Trutlisbergpass (2038m) - Obere Lochberg (1913m) - Wallegg (1320m) to Lenk (1068m). The restaurant at Wallegg is a good place to stop for coffee and strudel. This trail is easiest on the knees because the descent is done over a longer time (hiking downhill can strain your knees - use walking poles to help). There are two other shorter trails down.

There is another way to walk from Leiterli to Lenk, heading south towards Iffigenalp. Leiterli (1943m) - Stubleni (2190m) - Tungelpass (2084m) - down the Summerwald valley to Poschenried (1210m) where you take the bus back to Lenk. The restaurant at the bus stop is a good place to wait. This trail takes about 5 hours and is steep at the end, but you save 200 meters of descent by taking the bus.

There are many other longer and more difficult trails from Leiterli. One trail goes along the mountain tops to Iffigenalp where you take a bus back to Lenk. Another goes down to Lauenen (outside of Gstaad) where you take a bus and a train back to Lenk.

Metsch Gondola: Lenk to Metsch (middle station) to Metschstand
The Metsch gondola, located on the road to Simmenfalle outside of Lenk, only runs in the high season, usually in July and during a week of school holidays in September. There are high level hikes from Metschstand (2100m) at the top but the walks from the middle station are the best.

From the middle station walk to Simmenfalle. Metsch (1470m) - Lauenen (1530m) - Nessli (1645m) - Simmenfalle (1102m), 2hr30min - take the bus or walk back to the gondola station. If the gondola is not running take the bus to Buhlberg (1664m) and walk from there to Metsch (1hr) to do this walk or walk up to Metsch from town.

Simmenfalle
Simmenfalle is a large waterfall at the southern end of the valley. To get to Simmenfalle from Lenk walk along the river trail (1hr10min), drive or take a bus. There is a restaurant at Simmenfalle.

From Simmenfalle there are several hikes. Most start by climbing from Simmenfalle (1102m) to Rezliberg (1405m), a one hour walk up a mountain road (only used by local farmers) that goes along the river. At Rezliberg there is a farm selling cheese and a small restaurant in a beautiful setting on the edge of a large valley, surrounded by mountains.

I like to walk up to Rezliberg, then to the nearby Siebenbrunnen falls and then on the trail to Ifigenalp, but I turn around after walking an hour from Rezilberg (making this a 4 hour return hike), before the trail goes up the mountain. You can continue to Langermatte (1856m), descend to Iffigenalp (1584m) and take the bus back to Lenk, but the easier way to do this one-way hike is to start from Iffigenalp (3hr).

Iffigenalp
Iffigenalp is a hamlet with a restaurant and a few farm houses at the end of a steep mountain road from Lenk. You can drive or take the bus. The road is timed to allow one-way traffic. It takes 15 minutes to do the drive from the start of the timed area about 10 minutes outside of Lenk, and you must start between 30 mins and 45 mins past the hour on the timed portion.

There is parking at Iffigenalp. From there you can walk out in the valley on an easy trail for an hour. At the end of the valley there is a steep climb up to Iffigensee. Iffigenalp (1584m) - Groppi (1741m) - Iffigensee (2065m), 2hrs one way.

You can walk to Simmenfalle from here. Iffigenalp (1584m) - Langermatte (1856m) - Rezliberg (1405m) - Simmenfalle (1102m), 3hrs walk, take the bus back to Lenk or walk (1hr).

Buhlberg to Laubbargli
Buhlberg and Laubbargli are on the opposite side of the Lenk valley from the Betelberg gondola. This walk involves two buses. Start by taking the bus to Buhlberg. Walk across the mountain to Laubbargli and take the bus back to Lenk from there. Buhlberg (1664m) - Wurtnere (1837m) - Seewle (2079m) - Laubbargli (1848m), 2hr20min (or the reverse). There are restaurants in Buhlberg and Laubbargli.

Valley Walks
For rainy days or easier walks, there are several easy walks you can do from Lenk. Walk along the river to Simmenfalle (1hr). Or walk in the other direction to St Stephen. There is a small lake on the edge of Lenk that you can walk around.

Mountain Restaurants
Along with the many restaurants in Lenk, there are several restaurants outside of town, in the mountains.

- Betelberg gondola: Restaurant at the middle station, Stoss, and a cafeteria style restaurant at Leiterli, at the top. Restaurant at Wallegg, village outside of Lenk, on walk down from Leiterli.

- Simmenfalle: Restaurant in hotel at Simmenfalle, at the end of the road from Lenk, and restaurant at Rezliberg, on trail from Simmenfalle (1hr walk).

- Road to Iffigenalp: Restaurant at Poschenried before the timed road, restaurant at Iffigenalp at the end of the road.

- Restaurant at end of bus route at Buhlberg.

- Restaurant at end of bus route at Laubbargli.

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My Trips to Lenk
We have been traveling to Switzerland regularly, for hiking holidays, for many years. We have spent a week or two in many of the Bernese Oberland mountain towns and some in other areas. In 2014 we spent two weeks in Lenk and decided that the hiking there was perfect for us. We have returned for 2 - 3 weeks every summer since then. We usually go somewhere else in Switzerland on these trips, but Lenk is where we stay longest and do the same hikes each year.

Read my trip reports for more information (possibly TMI).
Lenk, Switzerland in 2020
Lenk, Switzerland in 2019
Switzerland - Lenk, August 2018
Switzerland - Lenk and Kandersteg, August 2017
To the Alps! Switzerland and Italy 2016
Switzerland - Grindelwald in the Alps, July 2015
Switzerland - Lenk in the Alps, September 2014

More Photos



 
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