I have a major crush on Switzerland and the Hardergrat Trail is truly Swiss alpine trail perfection. Arc’teryx athlete Stian Hagen and I have had our eyes on this trail for a while. He wanted to run it. I wanted to shoot it. The run is as beautiful as it is dangerous and is not to be underestimated. A total of 18 of the 25 kilometres are spent on a knife edge ridge.
The trail is narrow and exposed, often dropping 1500m on either side. Even for expert contenders there is no guarantee, a point made clear by the crosses lining the ridge as a tribute to fallen folks. The trail starts in the valley near Interlaken and begins with a steep ascent through a forested trail leading up to the alpine.
Beyond the trail’s slender edge, Interlaken and it’s blue lake perfection lies to one side and rolling green farmland to the other with the mighty giants of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau just off in the distance.
How to get there
The town of Interlaken is small but stunning. Nestled into a narrow valley in central Switzerland. The spectacular waters of both the Thun and Brienz lakes, as well as the Aare River flank the resort town. Encased by forests, farmland, mountains and glaciers, it is a well-known hiking and skiing destination. See it on a map here.
Prepare for a long and tough descent if you choose to run the trail the whole way to the valley. We opted to finish with a beer on the deck of a hut and rode the Brienzer Rothorn’s cog train down to the valley followed by a ferry back to Interlaken.
Including both the train and the ferry in your loop is what makes the whole experience unique, even if the ridge run is what initially draws people to Hardergrat.