This is a fairly easy downhill walk (1.25 hours) through stunning mountain scenery. Additionally, it enables you to take in two of the area’s top attractions, namely the glacial gorge at Rosenlaui and, if you extend your walk to Zwirgi, you arrive at the top of the Reichenbach falls, the fictional setting of the fight between Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty. And as the hiking path is never too far from the post bus route options are always open to you.
Grosse Scheidegg (1962m) cannot be reached by private car; you must take the post bus that runs from Grindelwald bus station (late May-late October). Tickets can be purchased from the wooden hut in the bus station, which is conveniently adjacent to the railway station. If you have travelled by train from Interlaken the connection time can be tight, but if the bus appears full don’t worry – a second bus is usually available. Holders of a Swiss Travel Pass beware – you can only enjoy free travel as far as Hotel Wetterhorn, thereon it’s a discounted rate. The scenic journey takes 34 minutes, and is a delight.
The Berghotel at Grosse Scheidegg, built in 1893, has a pleasant rear terrace with superb mountain views. A nearby signpost marks the start of the path that leads down the Reichenbach valley to Rosenlaui. To your left is the Schwarzhorn, to your right the drama of the great mountains: the forbidding Wetterhorn, the imposing Wellhorn and the striking, tooth-like pinnacles of the Engelhorner.
The path, which is wide in places, narrow in others, sometimes shale and occasionally muddy, traverses meadow and passes through forest. From time to time it crosses the looping single track road that is mercifully traffic free, apart from post buses, as far as Schwarzwaldalp.
After about 30 minutes you will face a choice: you can push on straight ahead or detour to the right towards an extremely picturesque spot where you make your first acquaintance with the Reichenbach. The river bed is very wide and shallow with its many rivulets meandering between light coloured rocks. The grassy banks make this a haven for picnicking families, particularly on sunny Sundays. About 45 minutes from the start of your hike you reach Schwarzwaldalp, where the chalet-hotel offers the opportunity for refreshment.
The 30 minute walk to Rosenlaui (1328m) is mostly through woodland, and it pays to keep an eye open for hazardous tree roots. Sometimes it runs close to the narrow road, which is now no longer traffic free. Eventually you pass the entrance to the romantic Rosenlaui glacial gorge, which is open from the end of May to the end of October. A round tour will take 45 minutes, and the entrance fee is CHF 8 with half price for children 6-16. Nearby is the 230 year old Rosenlaui Hotel, an establishment that is evocative of the glamorous early years of tourism. Here you can board the post bus bound for Meiringen (Swiss Travel Pass is valid), where you can catch a train back to Interlaken.
Walk extension to Kaltenbrunnen and Zwirgi.
The 35 minute walk to Kaltenbrunnen, following a path that runs close to the Reichenbach, is very worthwhile. Initially the descent is slight, the view open, the river wide and you may even detect a bluish tinge as you watch it babbling over light grey rocks. Later the descent steepens, the river narrows, crashing over larger rocks as it picks up speed as if warming up for its spectacular final tumble to join the Aare near Meiringen.
When you reach the Kaltenbrunnen restaurant you can pick up the post bus or continue for another 30 minutes or so to Zwirgi, situated at the top of the Reichenbach falls, where a 100 year old funicular transports you down to the outskirts of Meiringen.