The Oeschinensee Hike – Switzerland
The Oeschinensee Hike is one of the most popular in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland, and for very good reasons. The turquoise waters of the lake and the steep mountains surrounding it make this one of the most scenic hikes in Switzerland.
The hike to Oeschinensee is one I thoroughly enjoyed despite the crowds. It is one of the most amazing Alpine lakes I have visited. Not only that, but the mountains around it are equally impressive, with steep cliffs and glaciers. Add a bit of wildlife and you have the perfect ingredients for an amazing photography hike in the Swiss Alps.
Oeschinensee viewed from the lower part of the trail.
There are several options to hike around the lake, from easy to very hard ones. This location is also very accessible, and when the weather is good, there will be plenty of people hiking in the surrounding mountains or just enjoying a barbecue by the lake. In summer it’s also possible to bathe in the lake so that may be a good and refreshing option after a long hike up the mountains around it.
How to get to Oeschinensee and Overview of the Hike
- Getting there: To get to Oeschinensee, you will first have to get to Kandersteg, which can be done either by train or car. So it is a relatively easy location to reach. However, if you are planning to get there around noon or later, you will most likely have to drive through a minor traffic jam when passing by the Blausee parking lot.
- Start of The Hike: from Kandersteg, head towards the cable car valley station. Continue to the Rendez-vous camping, where you will see the signs pointing toward Oeschinensee. Alternatively, you can take the cable car to Oeschinensee directly and start the hike there. Depending on the pace, this will shorten the hike by about 40/50 minutes each way.
- Photography & Scenery value: to me, one of the most beautiful alpine lakes in Switzerland. Not only that but the cliffs and mountains around it are just spectacular. This is a very scenic hike with several vantage points along the way. If you are a wildlife photographer, this appears to be a good location for Ibex.
- Difficulty: Hard, very exposed, with rockfall risk if hiking only a small part of the white-blue-white T6 trail around the lake. Without that part, there are no real exposed sections. Medium hike, if taking the gondola up.
- Tip: Several other hikes are available nearby. The Blausee can also be reached hiking from Kandersteg, so that’s a good option for a second hike if staying more than one day.
The Oeschinensee Trail
I started this hike directly from the Rendez-Vous camping early in the morning. This is the best time if you want to enjoy the hike without the crowds, as this is a very popular location among locals and tourists alike. However, the crowds will start arriving later, mainly with the first few cable car rides.
The first part of the hike is mostly on dirt/paved roads, with a few sections on a trail through the woods. Once you reach the Mountain Hotel by the lake, you need to turn left and start heading uphill, again on a dirt road. You will then reach another hut. From there, you will see the white-red-white signposts for the upper trail.
As you start heading uphill, you will have first to cross a rather rocky area. Then, after a brief stretch through the wood, you will reach the first vantage point with a full view of the lake. There are some benches there to sit and enjoy the scenery before continuing.
Next, you will pass by what probably is the most iconic view of the lake; the two lone trees on the top of a cliff. After that, the trail will lead to the other side of the lake, where you could continue to the Huts up that side of the mountain or start the descent down to the lake.
On the way down, the trail will lead to the shore of the lakes. It’s worth strolling around the area to get some lakeside views or relax there. Then, you can head back to Kandersteg from the shores using the same trail for the hike up.
Photos and Photography Tips for he Oeschinensee Hike
Early morning the lake is in the shade of the mountains and should be fully lit by noon. However, early in the morning is probably the best time to spot Wildlife. It’s not uncommon to see Ibex here. therefore in terms of lenses, I would recommend bringing anything from ultra-wide to the longest reach you have.
Ibex on the Oescheninsee Hike
A couple of Ibex on the rocky part of the trail
In terms of landscape photography, there are a couple of great vantage points on the upper part of the trail, with views over the entire lake.
View of Oeschinensee from the upper part of the trail. This is the first vantage point just before the one with the benches.
View of Oeschinensee from the upper part of the trail. This is the vantage point by the benches.
Iconic view of two lone trees with the lake in the background.
There also is a good vantage point on the other side of the lake on the Oeschinensee hike, opposite the mountain hotel. Since this is on a white-blue-white trail, be careful where you step as this area is exposed with vertical drops. Also, watch out for possible rockfall if you decide to go there.
This is the vantage point on the white-blue-white trail. Extreme carefulness is required here.
Girl taking a break on the hike and enjoying the views.
From the shores of the lake, on the way down, there is also a cave-like area that is great for panoramas. It’s worth visiting this sport although it may be crowded. So yes, I had to do a lot of clone-stamp, work here :) This is a panorama made with two rows of 8 images each, taken at 14mm.
View from the shore inside a cave-like structure
Map of the Oeschinensee Hike
A quick note about my Oeschinensee hike: I made a detour around the lake on the T6 white-blue-white trail. This trail is very exposed, and the danger of rockfall is real. If you decide to proceed to that location, be aware of the risks. Also, I’d recommend wearing a climbing helmet. If you need the GPS track, you can download the .GPX file from the Komoot activity.
Where to Stay
Wildcamping around the lake is prohibited, and park guards are actively looking for campers. If you want to camp, the best option is the Rendez-Vous camping, next to the Cable Car’s valley station. This is the best location to start the hike as it is basically at its trailhead. I stayed there for two nights. The place is great, although the spaces for tents feel a little crammed.
Mountain huts accommodation is also available on the trails above the lake. However, Normally you will need to book the hut in advance.
Several Hotels and accommodations are available in Kandersteg, and it’s also possible to stay by the lake as there is a Hotel there.
All the possible accommodations are also listed on the official Oeschinensee website here.