HOW TO SEE THE SUSPENSION TRIFT BRIDGE IN SWITZERLAND
It is no secret that Switzerland is heaven for any outdoor enthusiast. Lakes, mountains, waterfalls, and outdoor sports make Switzerland a pretty perfect place. Of course, we should not forget suspension bridges in Switzerland! And one of those fantastic suspension bridges is Trift Bridge in Central Switzerland.Before I get into detail on how to get to the Trift Bridge, let me tell you something quickly: That bridge was scary! I have crossed a couple of suspension bridges in the Alps, but that one scared the heck out of me. Was the hike still worth it? Yes, the Trift Hike is an incredible day trip adventure, and I surely recommend visiting, but I would lie if I said that it was an easy hike.
In this post, I will share with you basic information on the Trift Bridge:
- What global warming has to do with the bridge
- its location
- how to get there
- hike duration
- things to do around Trift Bridge
- and many more tips
HOW DOES GLOBAL WARMING AFFECT THE TRIFT GLACIER?
Though we live in a world where people still deny global warming, the results can be seen in many places. Also, global warming is the reason why this bridge was created. Glaciers melt, and some, such as the Trift Glacier, melt even more quickly. This results in many changes.
The bridge is poised above the Trift Glacier region. A few years ago, the Trift Hut was reachable on foot via the glacier tongue. Since this is not possible anymore, the bridge was built. In 2004, the first suspension bridge opened, but it was replaced in 2009 with a safer bridge, the Trift Bridge – and it quickly became one of the main tourist attractions in the area. The Trift Bridge is known as one of the most spectacular pedestrian suspension bridges in the Alps.
I had never believed I would be scared of bridges. But after visiting, I can tell you that it is a terrifying 170-meter-long bridge standing 1720 meters above sea level.
Of course, building bridges and cable cars, and attracting more visitors is tricky on the one hand as it could further cause global warming.
HOW TO GET TO TRIFT BRIDGE
The Trift Bridge is located near Gadman in the Grimselwelt area in the canton of Bernese Oberland. While Gadman and the Grimselwald area are not the most famous, there are some amazing attractions. These include Gelmersee (one of my favorite hidden gems in the country) or Grimsel Hospiz. And of course, there is the Trift Bridge.
It is not in the region of Interlaken even though I have listed it in my “best things to do in Interlaken” because Interlaken is probably the most famous place around.
The starting point for the Trift Bridge is the Nessental Station.
- Public transportation: Take a yellow bus (Postauto) to Nessenthal Station. It stops in front of the cable car station. It takes about one hour to get here from Interlaken. You have to change trains/buses and get the bus from Innertkirchen Grimseltor to Nessental Station.
- Car: It takes about 40 minutes from Interlaken and about 1,5 hours from Zurich. From Lucerne, it takes about 60 minutes. There is free parking close to the Nessental station. To make sure to get a good parking spot, try to be here before midday, this is especially important on sunny days or Sun- and holidays.
TRIFT BRIDGE – DIFFERENT HIKING OPTIONS
There are several options to see Trift Bridge.
Hike 1 (easiest option):
- Take the cable car to get to the mountain station.
- Start your trek to the Trift Bridge from there.
- Head back to the cable car station and take the cable car back to the valley station.
Duration: 3-4 hours in total (without breaks). I needed about 5 hours with breaks for this part of the hike.
Hike 2 (more difficult option):
- Hike up all the way to the Trift Bridge.
- Do not take the cable car, but instead, hike up all the way to the bridge and then hike down to the valley station.
Duration: 5-7 hours (without breaks). I took the cable car for the way up, but I hiked down. It took me about 7 hours for this hike in total (including breaks). If I had skipped the cable car altogether, I would have probably needed 9 hours or so.
Hike 3 (strenuous hike):
- Start your hike from either the valley station or the mountain station.
- Continue your trek from the Trift Bridge and hike to Windegghütte (a hut) via an alpine path. Add another 60 minutes for this hike (only experienced hikers should do this hike). There is also a more leisurely, “family-friendly” hike to the hut from the bridge.
- Then hike back to the mountain station or all the way to the valley station.
Hike 4 (Alpine hike):
- Get to the Trift Bridge (either by hiking all the way or using the cable car for some parts).
- Very experienced hikers can continue the hike from Trift Bridge to the SAC-Trifthütte – a mountain hut that you can reach after an additional 3-hour hike (one way). However, this is only for alpine hikers (and ideally, you stay overnight in the hut because it will be a long day of hiking). So, the blue-white SAC-Trifthütte sign is only for hiking experts.
These are the main hiking options to see the Trift Bridge.
I wanted to do the hike since I saw the bridge for the very first time. Since I mostly visit Switzerland with my little dog, I avoided the “difficult” hike. However, on my latest trip, I was without my dog, so I finally did it. I did hike number 3, and I hated it. Well, kind of. I mean, I enjoy hiking, but I also hate hiking. And I am not a good hiker. However, that does not stop me from hiking. But keep that in mind when I tell you about my experiences. I might be a bit dramatic at times.
TRIFT CABLE CAR INFORMATION
The cable car can fit 8 people at a time, and they usually run every 12 minutes. The ride takes about 10 minutes.
It is closed in the winter months and only runs from 3 June – 22 October 2023
- 8 am to 4 pm (June, September, and October) and
- 8 am to 5 pm (July and August)
A one-way ticket is about $14 (13 CHF, about 13€) and a return ticket is 26 CHF (so no discount for a return ticket), and you must book in advance.
I waited with my booking until one day before the hike, and there was just one spot left. When you book your ticket, you can choose from several time slots but then you have to stick to it. You need to take the cable car at the exact time and be there at least 15 minutes earlier to pick up your ticket (if you have an online ticket, you need to exchange that).
So, I would book a few days (or better yet, one week in advance) if you decide to use the cable car.
You cannot exchange the ticket or get a refund. Online you can pay via credit card. If you do not have any tickets bought in advance, you can try your luck and show up at the cable car station but there is no guarantee there is a free spot.
My main problem was, that you need to plan ahead for your return ticket. What time do you want to leave? How long will the hike take? How long do you want to rest? I decided to hike down before I stressed out too much about my departure time.
- Kids under 6 years can ride the cable car for free (but need to have tickets),
- Kids 6+ years pay 50%
- Small dogs do not need a ticket. Dogs taller than 30cm pay 50%.
When I checked for this post, I could not see any discounts for Swiss Travel Pass or Half Fare Pass Holders.
FACILITIES AT TRIFT BRIDGE
- At the valley station is a small kiosk where you can buy snacks and drinks.
- There are two mountain huts where you can buy food and book accommodations, and there are a few more restaurants.
- There are not many trees. It is an open hike. So, go to the toilet before you start your hike, and take your sunscreen with you.
The Windegghütte is just a 30-minute hike from Trift Bridge and at 1887 meters above sea level. You can buy snacks and stay overnight, but book in advance if that is your plan.
Trifthütte is at 2520 meters above sea level – and is a simple hut where you can eat and sleep. If you want to stay overnight, definitely make a booking prior.
TIP: Bring cash. Cards are rarely accepted at mountain huts/restaurants.
BEST TIME TO VISIT TRIFT BRIDGE
The best time to visit is between June and September. I personally would not have enjoyed the hike on a rainy or foggy day. So, a nice warm day in July was perfect for my hike.
TIPS FOR YOUR TRIFT BRIDGE HIKE
- Wear proper hiking boots
- Bring hiking poles (if you have some)
- Take a water bottle to refill with you
- Do not forget sunscreen (there is hardly any shadow)
- Bring cash for the restaurants
- Dress in layers (it is quite chilly at the bridge even on sunny days)
- Plan in enough time and book your ticket a few days in advance
- I saw younger kids doing the hike – they were probably Swiss kids. Their hiking skills are not comparable to other kids (normally).
- Dogs could do the hikes, too (I saw a couple of dogs) but I was happy my little dog wasn’t with me
HIKING TO TRIFT BRIDGE – PICTURES AND INFO
After getting out of the cable car, the hike starts. Signs will tell you the way, and it is pretty straightforward. There is a steep, but still okay, uphill hike along a powerful river. The best thing about the hike is that it is not in the forest. You will always have great views of the mountains and scenery.
The hike itself is not that challenging or dangerous, but quite uphill, which took my breath away. Yes, there are some little streams to cross and some little rocks to climb here and there. The views are all worth it, though.
TIP: Bring your water bottle with you and refill it with water from the waterfalls. I asked the staff at the cable car station whether I will find fresh drinking water along the way, and I was told they are not sure if that water is drinkable. I think it is fine. Actually, it is better than fine. It was delicious. I do not see a reason to buy bottled water when you have glacier water. Though I cannot take any responsibility, I am just saying that I was fine after drinking it.
Crossing little streams, a lot of up-and-downhill hikes…and people constantly overtaking you! I was really exhausted, but after 1-2 hours (in my case, probably 2-3 hours), I saw IT. The stunning Trift Bridge! It will take a while to actually reach, but it is worth all the stupid hiking.
There might be quite some people at the bridge. This bridge is no hidden gem in Switzerland anymore. It is full of people – some too scared to actually cross it! Since it is not a circular hike, you do not have to cross the bridge. You can stand there and look at it. However, even though I was scared, I crossed it. And I survived it. Though I think I was close to not making it.Honestly, I did not look around much! Thinking about it, I am still surprised I was such a chicken! I had never felt like that on bridges before. But apparently, the longest suspension bridge in the Alps took its toll on me, too. I might be dramatizing – because most other people did pretty well.
The views from Trift Bridge were terrific, though… as far as I can tell since I only opened my eyes occasionally. You see the lake, the glacier, the mountains… And since Switzerland does not have real beaches, this is the place where Swiss people come for a tan! Yes, the area around the bridge was stuffed with people sunbathing and picnicking. If you come on a sunny day, you will have the same magical experience yourself!
For the best experience, cross the bridge and have your picnic on the other side. The views from there are better!
There are also pictures and information that tell you how the Alps, and the Trift Glacier, are affected by global warming. Only a few years ago, you could reach the Trifthütte on foot via the glacier tongue. Now, it has melted, and you need the bridge to get there.
Then it is up to you whether you do hike to the SAC-Trifthütte (which used to be accessible via the glacier tongue a few years back) or the Windegghütte. The Windegghütte is probably a good and “easy” hike that offers even better views. But make sure to
I started to hike down – naively thinking that hiking down is easier than hiking up. Well, I am still a hiking novice, apparently. The hike down is the same as the hike up – it is not a circular hike. So, again, beautiful waterfalls, the mountains… and hardly any shadow in the summer!
If you do not get down via cable car, you then have to decide how to get down. Do you want to take the “left“ or “right“ path to get down? There are different opinions on which path is the easier one. On the leaflet I got, it said, the right path was easier. The staff of the restaurant told me, that the left side is the better option as there is less uphill walk. According to my understanding of the hiking map, the hike on the left side includes more trails that are exposed. So, that is a decision for you to make (both take about the same amount of time to hike, which is about 1,5-2,5 hours).
I decided to walk on the right side. And I think the staff was right. The left side probably would have been better.
TIP: If you want to hike on the left side, then you do not need to get to the cable car station. Coming from the Trift Bridge stay on that side and let the cable car station pass you on the other side of the river.
I hated that hiking part. I was mostly by myself, and I was scared. The big sign that warned of rock and landslides did not help me. The hike is partly through the forest – and did not see people around other than one group. But there are cows, so at least something!
If I had been in a group of two or more, I probably would have been much less anxious. Alone, it was less fun. It is quite a steep hike down. Again, I realized that hiking down can be as strenuous as an uphill hike (if not even worse).
When I saw a group of 6 Argentinians (who got stranded in Switzerland for months because of Corona), I just joined them. Hiking down this part is not the most scenic nor the most fun part of the Trift Hike. It does get better towards the end – out of the forest come the views again.
However, given that I did not know how long I would need the hike to Trift Bridge, it was a good decision. And again: I am not that fit. And I hiked alone. It should be totally fine for fitter people or groups.
Looking back, I regret not having hiked up to Windegghütte. The views from there are great – apparently. And it is only an additional 60 minutes to your hike. However, that day, I could not do it.
CONCLUSION: IS THE TRIFT BRIDGE HIKE WORTH IT?
Switzerland makes it pretty easy to enjoy amazing views even without hiking. Cable cars get you to many mountain peaks – most places are very accessible, even for those who do not or cannot be physically active. If you want to see the Trift Bridge you have to do some hiking. Taking the cable car for both ways is a good option to reduce the hiking time, but you will still need to do some hiking. Without breaks, it will take a minimum of three hours (do not believe Swiss people when it comes to hiking times). But it was worth it!
The hike to the Trift Bridge itself, and the views, were amazing and it was a great day trip I took from Interlaken. It is not the easiest hike out there, but it is a rewarding hike that is doable for most semi-fit people. It is important to wear proper hiking boots and to bring enough snacks. Then, you will surely enjoy the hike to the Trift Bridge as much as I did!