Experience a dream hike from the Klausen Pass to Lake Clariden. Feel and experience a touch of Antarctica in Switzerland at what is probably the most unique glacier lake in the Alps.
Text and pictures Marc Gottwald
Summary Klausen Pass Hike to Lake Clariden
- Leisurely hike from the Klausen Pass to the glacier lake which is called Lake Clariden or Lake Grissli (enjoy the view from above = also suitable for families).
- The hike is only technically demanding if you want to descend to the mountain lake (no hiking trail, very stony descent, unsuitable for families).
- No refreshment facilities en route (only at the Klausen Pass)
- Ice as well as rock masses can fall at any time, which can be fatal! Only stay at the end of the glacier lake and never directly at the ice wall!
- As there is a lot of wildlife here, please be quiet and respectful to nature
Fitness: easy-medium Technique: medium (to the lake difficult)
Duration: approx. 2h15 minutes
Time: Approx. mid-June to end of October
Starting point: Klausen Pass (bus stop and car park) in the direction of Clariden lake.
Destination: Klausen Pass (bus stop and car park)
Journey to the Klausen Pass
Have you always wanted to know what Antarctica feels like, but you think that the temperatures there are too cold? Then you absolutely have to do this insider tip hike!
Take a comfortable ride by post bus or car (parking spaces available) to the Klausen Pass car park and start there in the direction of Gletschersee/Claridensee.
Don’t worry, the hike in the canton of Uri to the lake only takes about 1h-1h15min and 150 metres in altitude. Afterwards you have to hike back again for about an hour.
The Lake Clariden hike will make you the happiest person in the world!
Even at the start, the gigantic mountain panorama will simply blow you away! The view from the Klausen Pass towards Urnerboden is breathtaking and makes it one of the most beautiful mountain passes of Switzerland! Did you know that the alp in the canton of Uri is the largest alp in Switzerland? In summer, up to 1200 cows graze here.
In mid-July, the cows even come up to the Klausen Pass. If you still want to marvel at enchanting mountain flowers such as gentians, it is advisable to do the hike beforehand.
Filled with energy, you start from the Klausen pass the one-hour ascent to the Lake Clariden. The path is relatively easy up to the stony side moraine (the glacier used to be here), but you will start to sweat.
After about 30 minutes, you come to the Gletscherseeli (glacial lake) junction. Here it doesn’t matter whether you take the path to the left or to the right, because it is a circular path. We took the path to the right.
Once you reach the top of the lateral moraine, you can already see the view of what is probably the most unique glacier lake in Switzerland. To enjoy the experience to the fullest, there are now also two benches. The stone slabs are also the perfect places to sit if the benches are occupied. In the meantime, word has spread about this insider tip and there are already more people than a few years ago.
A touch of the Antarctic in Switzerland
Particularly impressive: twice, huge masses of ice had broken off at our place and even triggered a small tidal wave! Photographing or experiencing a moment like that is simply impossible to describe! You have to have experienced it! But this only happens in summer when the temperatures are hot for a long time. Smaller ice masses crash down every now and then. The glacier feeds Lake Clariden with its mass of ice. Especially in summer, the lake is filled with pieces of ice. Unbelievable!
And you think this lake at the Klausen Pass has been around for a long time?
Looking at the map, I found out that Lake Clariden, which is also called Griesslisee, has only been around for about 30 years (as of 2021).
The glacier itself covered the entire moraine (gravel stones) until about 75 years ago. Due to climate warming, however, the glacier has retreated a lot, but because of the gravel it melts less quickly than other glaciers. The reason is simple: the gravel protects the ice from melting too quickly.
Descent to Lake Clariden
Now we continue down to the glacier lake. Attention: There is no official path to the lake and everything happens at your own risk. You have to go through the rocks. As long as you don’t go down the steepest part, this should not be a problem for you. However, inexperienced hikers should rather enjoy the view from above!
And important: Please keep your distance from the glacier, Ice as well as rock masses can fall at any time, which can be fatal! Be sure to stay only at the end of the glacier ice and observe the situation.
Now you can enjoy this unique experience with a touch of Antarctica! Please always respect nature and take the litter with you.
A tip: Why don’t you play a little quiz game with your friends and ask whether this picture was taken in Antarctica or in Switzerland😉
In a place like this, you’ll be the happiest person in the world!
Filled with happiness hormones, you hike back the same way towards the Klausen Pass (approx. 1h). You can find the whole route here in the hiking map.