Many family comes to Kandersteg for a family fun at the world-famous Blausee and the Oeschinensee but not many families know about the beautiful Gastern valley not very far away. Gastern valley might not be as picture-perfect or childish-fun as those two lakes but if you have some time to kill when you are in Kandersteg I highly recommend you to have a walk here.
How to get there
The Gastern valley, or Gasterntal, is a secluded beautiful Swiss valley not far from the Kandersteg village. From the village you can hike up to the valley but I suggest you to reserve your energy for the child friendly 3.5h loop hike by taking a bus or drive all the way to the valley.
The access road to Gasterntal is located at the very end of Kandersteg about 400 m on the main road to the cable car Kandersteg Sunnbüel (Gemmi Railway).To put on the GPS, Innere Dorfstrasse, 3718 Kandersteg. At the end of this road, you will have to buy a parking and tax ticket at the ticket machine. So bring small changes!
IMPORTANT! The road up to the Gasterntal is very narrow so there is a limited timeframes for when you can drive up and down.
For instance in 2017, the timeframe for driving down is between quarter pass - twenty to of every hour.
Where to park and the area
Once up, across the Kander river, you will see a parking area but if you want you can drive pass the parking area further up the road and you will end up at the Waldhaus. There are guest rooms, restaurant and a fun playground for the kids.
However, we parked our car at the main parking by the river and actually walked back the same direction we drove from along the river. We had time and we wanted to explore the area a bit more.
Between the Waldhaus and the parking area along the river, you have beautiful picnic spots and shallow river banks for kids to splash around.
Across the river is the parking area.
We tried to reach this waterfalls but couldn’t find a way.
The loop hike from Waldhaus to Selden and back, is a hike of 12km for about 3.5h with almost no elevation gain. If you want, you can take the bus back from Selden to the main parking area. Click Here for the summer 2018 time schedule (only in german).
Please study carefully the map above. We started with the yellow trail from Waldhaus, then join the orange trail all the way to end of the river and crossed the river and hiked the green trail (car road) back and then about half way we join the yellow trail again all the same way back.
Stroller friendly path, the yellow trail.
The walk is flat and the first km upstream is stroller friendly to a very small bridge (not on the map!). Then, for about 5 minutes you will be walking on a forest path. If you have a light stroller, you could try to use it to the second bridge. Once you cross the second bridge, there is another forest path, more uneven and rough but much shorter. Afterward the path becomes stroller friendly again like the pictures underneath. The uneven path is not very long so I think it is worth the try because one you come to the other side of the river, it’s beautiful!
I don’t know where all my photos have gone because I am sure I have taken much more photos! As I very bad with english and words, I am so dependent on photos to demonstrate better my explanation.
Anyhow, after the third bridge (second on the map), the orange trail is full of huge pebbles and therefore not stroller friendly. But instead of crossing the bridge, you could take the green trail if you want to walk further. For us other, the orange path is straight forward and to be honest quite boring all the way to the end of the river.
At the end of the road, you need to walk further for about 20 minutes (?!?) to reach Selden but we decided to cross the river and it is there where we joined the green trail which is also a road for cars.
Gasterntal reminds me of Lauterbrunnen with all the waterfalls but with fewer people around. While everyone were at Oeschinensee, we were all alone in Gasterntal. I wonder though how many waterfalls there are in Gasterntal. We tried to count them along the way but lost track after a while.
Out of the beaten track, Gasterntal.
On the green trail, there were warning signs for falling boulders and rocks. So keep that in mind if you are afraid.
Overall we really enjoyed our child friendly hike in Gasterntal and I really recommend families to hike here. It is very easy to reach and one don’t need to hike the loop as we did. Just walk around or as far as you can and pick one of the many cosy spots along the river and start your fire for a BBQ!
What do you guys think? Take a hike at Gasterntal with your kids this summer?