Lenk (Lenk-im-Simmental), a small town in the Bernese Oberland of the Swiss Alps, is a hiking and skiing destination. It sits 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 the hiking areas of Saanen and Gstaad.
Location: Switzerland - Bern - Lenk
Category: Walking Trails
Tags: Hiking Base
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. The tourist office has local maps showing the mountain rides and trails. Look for them online or request brochures be mailed to you.
When you stay at a hotel in Lenk, you get a free pass for the Betelberg gondola. If you are in a vacation rental you do not get this pass, but can purchase one from the Tourist Office. All visitors to Lenk, staying in a hotel or vacation rental, get the Guest Card which starting in 2017 gives you a free pass for the mountain buses (except the bus to Laubbargli).
At Leiterli, the top of the Betelberg gondola, AlpKlang (cow bells on a chairlift ride to create music) runs 3 times a day - 10:30, 12:00, 13:30.
You do not need a car in Lenk. You can arrive by train and use train, gondolas and mountain busses to get to and from the hikes.
There is a good Coop supermarket in the town center as well as a few other small grocery shops and delis. There are three good bakeries. There are several restaurants in town.
Website: Lenk-in-Simmental Tourist Office
Day trip contributed by Pauline Kenny
There are miles of good hiking trails in Lenk. Get hiking brochures and maps from the Tourist Office. They can also 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). 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.
Gondola Prices in 2017:
Betelberg Gondola: Lenk - Leiterli (top station) 26CHF one way, 33CHF return
Metsch Gondola: Lenk - Metsch (middle station) 14CHF one way, 20CHF return / Lenk - Metschstand (top station) 30CHF one way, 38CHF return
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 flys, Lenk is close to Gstaad.
At Leiterli AlpKlang (cow bells on a chairlift ride to create music) runs 3 times a day - 10:30, 12:00, 13:30.
Most of the longer trails 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, but they are steep.
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.
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 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 to 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. There are restaurants in Buhlberg and Laubbargli. Note that the bus from Laubbargli is not covered by the passes.
For rainy days or easier walks, walk 1 hour each way along the river to Simmenfalle. Or walk in the other direction to St Stephen. There is a small lake on the edge of Lenk that you can walk around.
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.