The Gelmersee Hike – Switzerland

The Hike To Gelmersee is a very popular one, and for very good reasons. Located close to the Grimselpass, this area gets a lot of traffic and many stop by the Gelmersee to visit this beautiful lake (a reservoir) and its deep blue waters.

Alpine lake with deep blue waters surrounded by mountains

The Gelmersee and its deep blue waters.

The rocky shore of the lake and its blue waters

The Gelmersee and its deep blue waters.

There is also a hut above the lake and a couple of nice waterfalls on the way up. If also you want to go there, as I did, the hike is fun, but the lake is mainly hidden from the view as you climb the mountain. Nevertheless, the landscape it’s worth the hike up there :)

How to get to Gelmersee & Overview of the Hike

  • Getting there: There is a parking lot right next to the trailhead and another one just a short distance away. There is also a bus right in front of the trailhead, bus 161, which drives through the Grimselpass and connects the train stations of Meiringen and Oberwald. This means it’s possible to take the train to either of the stations, depending on where you are, and take the bus to the trailhead from there. Alternatively, you can take the funicular up to the lake and start the hike there.
  • Start of The Hike: you will see the trailhead from the first parking lot on the other side of the road. There are also the white-red-white trail marks pointing to the Gelmersee. You should follow these.
  • Photography & Scenery value: Alpine lake with deep-blue waters, surrounded by steep mountains with some waterfalls along the trail up to the hut.
  • Difficulty: The Hike from the parking lot to the hut is hard but doable for anyone reasonably fit. If you take the funicular and hike around the lake, it’s an easy hike. Caution is required in a couple of passages to avoid falling in the lake.
  • Tip: This is a very popular location; also because the Gelmerbahn, an attraction on its own, makes it easily accessible. Try to go during the week, if possible, or early in the morning/later in the afternoon to enjoy it when it is less crowded.

The Gelmersee Trail

Distance Elevation Gain Hike Time
12.5 Km 840 Mt 5:30/6:00 Hrs

The trail is well marked and easy to follow. Most of it is very well maintained and paved with stones:

Trail paved in stone on the Gelmersee hike in the Swiss alps

A rather inviting trail, isn’t it?

Stone staircases on the side of a mountain

The first part is rather flattish, while the second part leading up to the lake is a little steeper, although not very steep per se.

Once you reach the lake, you can hike around it both ways, so you can choose your path as you see fit. The hike around Gelmersee is primarily flat. There are a few passages with exposed sections over the lake, so if you fall there, you’d fall in the lake. There are, however, supports you can hold to prevent any possible falls.

One of the sections of the trail with a narrow passage over the lake.

One of the sections of the trail with a narrow passage over the lake.

In all, it would take about one and a half or two hours to hike around the lake at a leisurely pace.

Once you reach the other side of the lake, you will see the trail signs to continue hiking around the lake or up to the Hut. This is more or less halfway through the walk around the lake.

trail signs on a trail in Switzerland

To reach the hut instead, it will take an additional hour/hour and a half.

The hike to the hut is over very rocky terrain. The trail is well maintained here too, but it’s easy to miss a turn in places. It’s also relatively steep compared to other parts of the trail.

The Gelmersee Hut

The Gelmersee Hut

View from the Terrace of the Gelmersee hut

View from the Terrace of the Gelmersee hut

Once you reach the hut, you can enjoy a warm drink, some food or just the views before heading back down. Needless to say, take the trail on the other side of the lake on the way down :)!

Part of the trail on the Gelmersee hike

Photos and Photography tips for the Gelmersee Hike

There are several scenic spots along the shores of the lake. One of the best is right where the trail reaches the shores of the lake. This is especially good in the early morning when the sun climbs above the mountains and starts to warm up the valley.

There is a little beach that offers several different compositional options, with the rocks in the foreground and the reflection of the mountains in the waters of the lake.

The Gelmersee and the surrounding mountains

The peaceful Gelmersee in the Early morning.

Mountains reflected in the Gelmersee

The still waters of the Gelmersee

There are a few scenic spots on the other side of the lake as well, where the dam is not in sight or not visible.

The Gelmersee and its deep blue waters.

The Gelmersee and its deep blue waters.

The4 nGelmersee hike and the lake viewed from the trail

View from the part of the trail leading to the hut.

The Gelmersee surrounded by an alpine landscape

There are a few spectacular waterfalls on the way up to the Gelmerhütte. It’s hard to find a good composition or even a good spot to place the camera here. Works better with drones. However, I think these waterfalls would work best when it’s overcast or when the weather is “moody”. Here’s an example of the photos I took with the drone.

Waterfall on the Gelmersee hike

One of the waterfalls on the way up to the Hut.

I would see this working well on an overcast day with some clouds and perhaps a bit of mist around.

If you bring a drone, fly with particular caution and fly low. DJI marked it as an enhanced warning zone, and I saw a few paragliders flying above the Hut.

Video of the Hike

Here is a short video of this hike, with a final drone clip:

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Map of the Gelmersee Hike

If you need a GPS track, you can download the .GPX file from the Komoot activity.

Where to Stay

  • It’s possible to spend the night at the Gelmerhütte, but most likely, accommodation would have to be booked in advance. Additionally, there is a resort you could spend the night at right next to the Gelmerbahn.
  • There also are several resting areas where it is possible to spend the night in a camper or van along the Grimselpass. Wildcamping may be possible in some areas, provided you follow the general Swiss guidelines, which can also be found on my main Switzerland page.

Additional resources