The Eiger (3,970m/3,025ft), Bernese Alps, Switzerland
Via Alpina’s Green Trail Offers the Best Hike in the World!
We’ve tested our endurance on the Red Trail, explored historical landmarks on the Purple Trail and marvelled at geological wonders on the Yellow Trail. Now it’s time to trek through Liechtenstein and Switzerland on Via Alpina’s shortest of the five international trails.
Despite its relatively abbreviated distance, the Green Trail still consists of 14 stages totalling roughly 286 km (178 miles) or almost 110 hours of walking. In 2010, Backpacker Magazine bestowed a section of the trail with the most praiseworthy of titles. It named its 100 mile-segment between Kandersteg and Altdorf the World’s Best Hike! “The chocolate, historic villages, on-time trains and luxury hut system are pure gravy,” described Backpacker’s Steve Howe the trek. Howe further recommended hikers visit the trail in October for the ultimate sense of serene solitude.
The Green Trail’s fourteen stages range from 12 to 28 km in length and moderate to medium levels of difficulty. An avid hiker may complete the entire trek in fifteen days; those who prefer a more leisurely approach can take their time and take advantage of the numerous intermediate accommodations along the way.
The first stage of the Green Trail begins in Liechtenstein where walkers will be pleasantly surprised when they pass through the Rhine Valley. According to National Geographic, this particular landscape boasts approximately 1,600 species of flora.
While in Liechtenstein you can visit the cheese dairy in Sücka, see the Vaduz castle where the prince of the principality resides and experience a unique culture of arts and charm in the country’s cosy towns.
A true highlight of the Green Trail is seeing the Eiger mountain in the Bernese Alps region of Switzerland. Its iconic peak is 3,970 m (13,025 feet) tall; its limestone body projects from a granite base, flanked with glaciers to create a beautiful contrast of colours. From Grieslap to Kandersteg, you will have the chance to hike up to the highest portion of the Swiss Alps, the Hohtürli pass. The climb is well worth the effort as just below is Öschinensee lake, a glacial body with some of the bluest waters you’ll ever encounter.
You can celebrate your completion of the Green Trail as you end up in Lenk, a resort area amidst the Simmen Valley with beautiful views of Wildstrubel massif looming as a backdrop.
Although this fourth of the international trails is the shortest, it undoubtedly offers gems for novice and veteran walkers alike. Experience for yourself why Backpacker’s Magazine named it the best hike in the world!