The Sidelengletscher and Albert Heim Hütte Hike – Switzerland
The Sidelengletscher is a reasonably accessible glacier close to Furkastrasse, and Albert Heim Hütte is a hut with a restaurant only a short hike away. Make sure to include both on your hike: the glacier is spectacular, and the food at the Albert Heim hut is excellent.
If there is a hike that offers excellent value for the effort it requires, the Sidelengletscher and Albert Heim Hütte Hike is one of the best in that regard. Accessing the trailhead is also very easy as it is directly on the Furkastrasse.
The Sidelengletscher, in the background.
This is a very scenic location. It feels very pristine, probably also because the fast-melting glacier is uncovering new ground each year. If you are looking for a hike high up in the Alps, this should be on your shortlist. The hike can be completed in half a day, and apart from the glacier, you will come across several waterfalls and impressive mountain peaks.
I have been here for the first time in the Summer of 2022, and I will surely revisit this location next year.
One of the waterfalls in the first part of the trail and the impressive mountain peaks in the background.
Outline of the Sidelengletscher and Albert Heim Hütte Hike
- Getting there: From Central Switzerland, you would first have to get to Andermatt and then drive toward the Furkapass. It’s also possible to get there from the Grimselpass if you want to combine this hike with another scenic drive. You can take the train to Andermatt by public transport and then bus 681 from there. Finally, you can hop off at Tiefenbach and start the hike from there.
- Start of The Hike: you can park the car in some of the parking areas along Furkastrasse, close to Hotel Tiefenbach, as I did. However, had I known better, I would have parked the car at the Parkplatz Tätsch.
- Photography & Scenery value: Raw mountain landscape, Waterfalls, Glaciers and rocky peaks. This location is a real beauty of nature, with several points of interest along the way.
- Difficulty: Medium. Although part of the hike is on a white-blue-white trail with lots of loose rocks, it presents no particular challenges. Just be careful of the loose rocks, and do not hike over the glacier!
- Tip: I’d recommend visiting the glacier not too early in the season or as soon as the Furkapass opens. Several loose rocks on the trail will most likely be covered in snow and difficult to spot. There is also a glacial river, and I suspect it may be covered by sketchy snow bridges early in the season. So mid to late June is the earliest I would attempt this hike.
On the Trail
If you parked on Furkastrasse, you will have no difficulties finding the trailhead as it is very visible on the side of the road. On the other hand, if you parked at the Parkplatz Tätsch, you could backtrack a bit to reach the trailhead, or you could hike the trail counterclockwise.
Small parking area on Furkastrasse next to the trailhead.
The first part of the trail is well-marked and straightforward to follow. There are no steep sections along the trail, but after the first waterfall, the terrain will start to turn rocky, so I’d recommend minding your step.
The glacier will soon appear on your left as you keep going up. Keep following the trail until you reach the blue signpost pointing towards the Sidelhutte and the Furkapass.
The first part of the trail does not have any exposed or climbing sections, but you will have to stop by the side of the glacial lake and then track back from there to go to the Alber Heim Hut. Once you reach the Hut, you could enjoy a drink, a meal, or both :).
The Hütterösti, a well-deserved beer and a very scenic view.
You can continue the hike from the Hut on the other side of the mountain. From here, the trail will ead you back to Parkplatz Tätsch and Furkastrasse.
Photos and Photography tips for the Sidelengletscher and Alber Heim Hütte Hike
You will most likely want to stop to photograph the first few waterfalls on the trail a few minutes into the hike. I did, as there are a few nice waterfalls along the trail.
The First waterfall you will come across on the trail.
The small creek also offers attractive compositional opportunities. As it bends through the landscape, it can be used as a leading line for the landscape in the background. This gives images a nice dept as it would be otherwise hard to show the scale of the mountains, which are much bigger than they look in the photos.
Same river, upstream to the first few waterfalls
The glacial lake will also become visible as you get closer to the glacier. The lake will also offer several great compositional opportunities. However, do not get too close to the glacier, and do not step on it under any circumstances. As you can see from the photos, some areas are close to collapse.
This is an excellent location for drone photography, but carefulness is required as it is an Enhanced warning zone.
On the way back, you can also admire the very photogenic Hut and different views over the glacier and the surrounding landscape.
The Albert Heim Hutte, view from the trail on the way back.
View of the glacier from below the Albert Heim Hutte.
In terms of lenses, anything between 14mm to 200 will come in handy on this hike. Wide-angle for the waterfalls and photos closer to the lake, but a long reach will be useful to shoot some of the details of the landscape or to isolate some details. If you can only bring one lens, I would recommend something in the ballpark of a 24-70mm zoom.
Sidelengletscher Drone Video
Here is also a short Dorne video I took of this beautiful Glacier
Map of the Sidelengletscher and Albert Heim Hütte Hike
About this map…I forgot to stop my tracker when I returned to the car. As a result, the Komoot activity is way longer than the hike actually is. Just keep point A as a reference since point B is where I noticed the tracker was still active :). If you click on the activity, you can download the GPX file from the Komoot activity.
Where to Stay
The Albert Heim Hut would be the obvious choice here. Staying at the Tiefenbach Hotel is another option. Otherwise, Realp or Andermatt are all possible choices if you want to spend a night or two in the area.