A breathtaking dream hike with almost uninterrupted panoramic views of Lake Lucerne awaits you on the Felsenweg at Bürgenstock. The only way to top this adventure is to take the Hammetschwand lift.
Text and pictures Marc Gottwald
Brief summary of the Bürgenstock rock path with Hammetschwand lift
- – Season: April – November (closed during snow or heavy rain).
- – The Hammetschwand lift costs 15CHF per adult. The rock path is free of charge.
- – Start of the hike in Obbürgen (free parking) or Bürgenstock (4CHF/h)
- – Hiking time of the rock path (circular hike) approx. 2-2.5h. With the Hammetschwand lift you are 50 minutes faster.
- – Breathtaking viewpoint at Chänzeli
- – The Hammetschwand Restaurant offers classics for lunch (self-service)
Start of the hike in Obbürgen or Bürgenstock
The rock path with the Hammetschwand lift is one of the most spectacular hikes above Lake Lucerne, if not in Switzerland. The question is always where you want to start. There, the possibilities are almost limitless. We parked our car at the free Obbürgen car park.
It takes about 35 minutes to get to the Bürgenstock through the idyllic Swiss landscapes. Although you could also park there (4CHF/h), cheese lovers take note: Between Obbürgen and Bürgenstock you pass the cheese dairy run by the Bircher family, who have lovingly set up a refrigerator. You can get everything there: from Mutschli and Bürgenstöckler cheese to the original Sbrinz, which is also produced here. If you want the cheese, here’s the address: Käserei, Boden 2, 6363 Obbürgen.
After a climb we reach the well-known Resort.
Already on the way to the hotel, you can see the huge complex. Or rather, several of them, because the resort consists of four hotels, nine restaurants and bars as well as various residences. The main buildings are practically directly above the cliff, which offers a gigantic view of Lake Lucerne. How to get there? The Bürgenstock can be reached by boat and funicular railway or by train and bus from Lucerne.
The Resort was founded by two hotel pioneers in 1873, and the Bürgenstock Railway was added just 15 years later. In 1904, a second hotel was built on the mountain, and in 1905 the rock path was opened. Today we will experience this spectacular hiking trail with a view of Lake Lucerne. Like the Gotthard tunnel, for example, the Felsenweg was built by Italian workers. A very dangerous undertaking when you see how steeply it goes down in places. Two young workers died during the laborious work on the Felsenweg, whose hourly wage was limited to 50 to 60 centimes at the time.
Only 2 years later, the largest free lift in Europe was built: The Hammerschwand lift, which is over 150 metres high. The Bürgenstock was then renovated, or rather rebuilt, for 9 years before reopening its doors in 2017. Today, the resort is one of the best in the world. Very unique is that the hotel produces its own wine. I have never seen that before.
But enough talking now, the journey starts in the direction of the Felsenweg.
The Bürgenstock rock path to the Hammetschwand lift
The Felsenweg (engl. Rock path) in the heart of Switzerland is a pearl of relaxation. Because the leisurely path, which is around 900 metres above sea level, shows almost non-stop panoramic views over Lake Lucerne. Surprisingly, the path was already very popular during the Belle Epoque in the 19th century. Fresh air and the dreamy view of the lake made the rich and beautiful of that century rave.
It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to get to the Hammetschwand lift. And if you want to enjoy the view, you can take a seat on one of the many benches and soak up the energy of the place of power.
Important for all hikers: Please check here whether the Felsenweg is open. Due to the danger of falling rocks after heavy rain, the Felsenweg is not always passable and in winter closed when there is snow.
The Hammetschwand Lift
Once you arrive at the Hammetschwand lift, you are spoilt for choice. Do you want to take the adventurous route up Hammetschwand on Europe’s highest open-air lift, which is over 100 years old and 150 metres high? You save about 50 minutes hiking time. The price per adult is at CHF 15 and CHF 7.50 per child (6-16 years) per ride.
In the past, the lift ran at 1 m/s and the ride lasted around 3 minutes. Today, the speed is three times higher and the ride takes only one minute.
On the other hand, the rock path from the Hammetschwand lift is really adventurous. Because the path leads you through caves to wonderful views again and again. It’s also exciting to see where the path used to go through.
The Felsenweg has a knowledge trail
By the way, there is a knowledge path that is supposed to educate people in relation to the environment and nature. As a studied environmental scientist at ETH Zurich, I can highly recommend it for both children and adults.
Guests learn about the formation of the Bürgenberg from sedimentation, to mountain building, as well as the beginning of tourism. You may notice that there is a lot of wood lying around in the forest that is never gathered up again. This has to do with the fact that the rock path is in a protected area where the wood is left for animals, insects and plants. This is because there is new habitat and, accordingly, food.
Incidentally, the Bürgenberg marks the border between the Alps and the Central Plateau.
Chänzeli vantage point – a must on the Rock Trail
After another 20 minutes you will reach a small crossroad. I strongly recommend taking the short detour to the Chänzeli viewpoint. That view of Lake Lucerne could hardly be more picturesque. On the one hand, we can see the other side of the lake with Weggis and Vitznau and its local mountain “Rigi“. We can also see the nose of the “Bürgenstock peninsula” very well. Chänzeli is definitely one of the most beautiful vantage points above Lake Lucerne. There are also benches to enjoy the view even more.
Now it’s time to go back up to the trail junction to continue the last ascent towards Hammetschwand for 20 minutes. If you took the Hammetschwand lift, you would of course have been enjoying your lunch in the restaurant at the top for a long time. We ordered an apple pie from the friendly waitress, but menus such as schnitzel and chips (22CHF), veal sausage with chips (19CHF), barley soup, etc. were also available. Compared to other prices on the Bürgenstock, these are very moderate.
On nice weekends, there will be a lot of humans here from midday onwards. But on our Saturday morning during the summer holidays, we only met people sporadically.
Way back Hammetschwand – Bürgenstock – Obbürgen
The circular hike takes us back down towards Bürgenstock. Since the trail can be very slippery, especially after rain, I recommend not taking it because of the steepness.
From Hammetschwand you have about 30 minutes to the Bürgenstock Resort and another 25 minutes to Obbürgen. If you want, you can of course still buy the cheese at the cheese dairy now to not reduce its shelf life.
Here is the hiking map of the Felsenweg Bürgenstock: