The Brienzer Rothorn Hike – Switzerland

There are several different ways you can hike up to the Brienzer Rothorn, but whichever trail you choose, you are in for spectacular views and perhaps Ibex sightings!

The Brienzer Rothorn hike was close to the top of my “To Do Hikes” list when I moved to Switzerland. This is for two main reasons: first, the spectacular views over the lake and second, its accessibility. At 2,350 meters above sea level, it is not exactly a stroll to get up there, but compared to other trails deep in the Alps, this one is usually accessible earlier in the season. This makes it a great choice if you are itching for a hike after a long winter.

View from the top of the Brienzer Rothorn over the lake on a bright sunny day

Bright sunny days offer great views of the lake and the surrounding alpine landscape

I hiked up there twice from different sides, but there are several other trails you can take from other starting points. Additionally, you can take cable cars or a cogwheel train to some intermediate stations and hike the remaining parts. Or you could, for instance, take the train/cable car up and hike your way down.

This post will show you the two trails I hiked and provide the resources to plan your hike. Whichever way you choose, I highly recommend doing the ridge walk I’ll describe later. Not if you are afraid of heights, though!

How to get to the Brienzer Rothorn & Outline of the Hike

Before getting into the details, my main focus here will be describing the hike from Brienz to the top of the Brienzer Rothorn. This is the “Option 1” hike below.

I will also provide the details on the Hike from the other side, the Sörenberg cable car station, but if you only have one day, I recommend starting in Brienz, as the views are better from that side.

  • Getting there: you can easily reach Brienz by car or by train. The town of Brienz is relatively small, but there are several small parking lots where you can leave the car and walk to the trailhead. I parked my car here, the closest parking space to the trailhead I had found.
  • Start of The Hike: From Brienz, you will see several different trail signs and initially, you will either have to follow the ones for Planalp or the Muelibach waterfall.
  • Photography & Scenery value: Scenic views, Wildlife, and a spectacular lake surrounded by an alpine landscape.
  • Difficulty: Hard, easy if taking the train up. Medium from the Sörenberg cable car station, but still physically demanding.
  • Tip: Late spring seems to be when the Ibex are most active.
Ibex on the Brienzer Rothorn Trail

The real owners of the mountain.

The Brienzer Rothorn Trail

Option 1 – From Brienz

This is a trail I plotted myself and is not one of the official direct hiking trails but a combination of different ones. I chose this route because I wanted to see as much as possible of the landscape, view the spectacular Muelibach waterfall and do the ridge hike to the west of the Brienzer Rothorn. It is mostly a combination of trails 3,4,5 on the Hiking trails map.

It is a strenuous hike at 22+ Km and 1700+ Mt elevation gain, and it’s doable only if you are a very fit hiker.

If you still want to do this but consider the hike too long, I would advise either taking the Cogwheel train to the Planalp station and starting the hike from there, or you could take the train to the top and hike your way down.

Cogwheel train going up a green mountain

The Cogwheel train on its way up.

The first part of this trail is mainly on a narrow paved road which turns into gravel at times until you reach the Planalp station. From the Planalp station, keep following the dirt road up. This will lead you to the ridge hike and then to the top of the Brienzer Rothorn.

Part of the Ridge trail on the Brienzer Rothorn hike

Part of the Ridge trail on the Brienzer Rothorn hike. This section is rather steep and on loose rock.

The ridge hike can also be done on your way down if you take the cogwheel train on the way up. The path is narrow, steep in places but never too exposed. This makes it a pretty fun hike from the mountain station.

Distance Ascent Duration
22,7 Km 1.730 Mt 7/8 Hrs

Option 2 – From Sörenberg

This second option starts at the Sörenberg cable car station. From there, you will see trail signs pointing toward a narrow paved road and a small farm. Keep going until the road turns into a gravel road. The hike will continue on this road for most of the trail.

Once you reach the Cable Car mountain station, you will have to turn into a moderately steep path that reaches the top of the Brienzer Rothorn.

Distance Ascent Duration
14,1 Km 1.060 Mt 4.30/5 Hrs

Photos and Photography Tips for the Brienzer Rothorn Hike

When I planned my second hike to the Brienzer Rothorn, I plotted the route that I thought would give me the most in terms of photos, and it sure delivered! Fantastic landscapes, Wildlife, and Ridge trails. Not to mention the cool cogwheel train.

The first stop on the way up is the Muelibach Waterfall – a spectacular 147 mt. tall waterfall.

Muelibach Waterfall near Brienz. Waterfall from a tall rock face.

The spectacular Muelibach waterfall

On the way up, before reaching the Planalp station, there also is a great vantage point over the lake and the landscape below:

The Brienzer Rothorn hike view over the lake with clouds in the background and a mountain hut in the foreground

Early morning light on the lake.

After the Planalp station, there are some great views of the Brienzer Rothorn and its green pastures.

The cogwheel train going up the Brienzer Rothorn

The cogwheel train going up the Brienzer Rothorn.

Green pasture landscape of the Brienzer Rothorn

Next, is the ridge hike. Although never too exposed, this part does require one to be careful, but the views are epic.

The ridge trail on the Brienzer Rothorn

Part of the Ridge trail.

View from the Ridge of the Brienzer Rothorn

The Brienzer Rothorn Hike view of the ridge from the trail with could and mountain Peaks

When you reach the top, the panoramic view will speak for itself.

Panoramic view from the top of the Brienzer Rothorn.

Panoramic view from the top of the Brienzer Rothorn

In terms of lenses, bring everything you have. Ultra-wide will be useful on the ridge hike, as well as longer lenses. If you are into wildlife, you will most likely want to bring something longer than 200 mm too.

Ibex on the Brienzer Rothorn Hike

It was like an Ibex festival when I hiked up there in late spring. I had an unexpected encounter on the ridge trail, with ibex coming up from the opposite side, and they were just 2/3 metres away.

I also saw a fight between two Ibexes, loudly smashing their horns against each other. Saw a herd chilling on the crease and some other isolated Ibex roaming around.

Late spring seems to be one of the best periods to sport them up there.

Ibex on the Brienzer Rothorn Trail

A fight between Ibex – Standoff

Ibex on the Brienzer Rothorn Trail


Ibex on the Brienzer Rothorn Trail


Ibex on the Brienzer Rothorn Trail

More peaceful Ibex chilling on the crest.

Ibex on the Brienzer Rothorn Trail

Horns Parade

Ibex on the Brienzer Rothorn Trail

Wandering Ibex

Video of the Brienzer Rothorn Hike

Here is a video of this hike. More like a series of impressions along the trail, but hopefully, it can give you a good idea of what to expect:

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Map of the Brienzer Rothorn Hike

Option 1 – From Brienz

This is the long and demanding hike I kept mentioning earlier. It offers the best photographic value if you are fit enough for it.

Option 2 – From Sörenberg

This is the hike from the other side and the first one I did.

Where to Stay

It is possible to spend the night on top, as there is a Hotel there. Alternatively, Brienz offers several different accommodation types. Alternatively, you can consider Interlaken as a base to explore the nearby area further.

Additional Resources

Have questions, comments or feedback? Let me know in the comment section below.