The undemanding hike from the Brünig Pass to Brienzwiler leads into a tiny, enchanted paradise: the Brääch, a serene patch of meadow in the heart of the forest.
One can only hope that the pilgrims passing Brünig did not focus solely on their distant destination of Santiago de Compostela, but took the time to appreciate the beauties of their immediate surroundings. After all, the first section of the Way of St. James in the Bernese Oberland leads through a magical landscape – but one that does not necessarily reveal its charms to those passing through in a hurry.
From the Brünig Pass, follow the road over the pass to the Hotel Kulm. Here the Via Jacobi (signposted as national long-distance hiking route no. 4) branches downhill, a gravel path running above the road in the direction of Lake Brienz. As motorbikes whizz past below, the view is drawn across the floor of the Haslital valley to the dramatically jagged peaks of the Engelhörner range. Hikers pass several holiday homes above the hamlet of Brünigen before entering the woods.
A few hundred metres on, you suddenly find yourself in a quite different world. Here in the heart of the forest is a large hollow overgrown with lush, thick grass. Numerous dry stone walls and clearance cairns define the meadows, provide habitats for countless small creatures and present a charming spectacle. In place of traffic noise, you hear only the chirp of birdsong. On reaching the Brääch, a clearing in the heart of this fairytale garden, stop for a rest at a stone table complete with bench. A few dozen metres farther up, you will reach the Uochwald, the highest point of the trail. A pleasantly zig-zagging path leads down from the forest to Brienzwiler.
The Brääch is one of the loveliest cultivated landscapes in the eastern part of the Bernese Oberland. In 2005, the five-hectare clearing won the very first Cultivated Landscape Prize for the East Oberland region.
Every year, the «Kulturlandschaftspreis» (Cultivated Landscape Prize) is awarded to the most beautiful, and most valuable, areas of cultivated landscape in the East Oberland region. By supporting and promoting the area’s image through tourism, the award incentivises farmers to manage their land sustainably and help preserve our beautiful natural environment.
Looking for more hiking ideas in the Bernese Oberland?
Learn more about the hiking options around lakes Thun and Brienz.