During the Summer, Lake Lungern in the canton of Obwalden is one of the most popular hiking destinations for nature lovers. But also during cold season, the lake and the high mountains surrounding it offer great opportunities for winter sports and snow hiking enthusiasts. We went to Turren, just above the lake, for an easy and pleasant - but absolutely scenic - winter hike, and that's the story of our day here!
We love... Turren!
Turren, just above Lake Lungern, is a village in the Canton Obwalden that is easily accessible by public transportation and offers a good variety of hiking activities in both Summer and Winter. The landscape around the lake is absolutely fascinating and remains fully enjoyable even during the short winter hike from Turren to Breitenfeld. However, during the winter, the hiking options are considerably reduced compared to the wide range of snowshoeing trails. So if you decide to take your snowshoes with you, you can extend your hike up to Schönbüel. If you prefer to stay on the beaten route, we recommend combining the Turren route with a walk along the Lake Lungern in the valley. In this article you will find all the information about the circular route around the lake we did in springtime. This route can also be walked in winter with the exception of the short path to the Diesselbach waterfall.
Arriving by public transport
The east side of the lake is crossed by the railway line, which therefore allows access to the route both on the north and south side of the lake. On the south side you have to get off at the train stop “Lungern”, which is closer to Turren. If you want to extend your winter hike with a short walk around the lake, you can start the route at the train stop “Kaiserstuhl OW”, on the north side of the lake. Both stations are served by the Zentralbahn trains that run from Lucerne to Interlaken and back. However, to get to Turren you’ll have to take the Turrenbahn cable car from Lungern-Obsee to Turren. The lower station of the cable car can be reached by foot in about 20 minutes from Lungern train station. Alternatively, the Turrenbahn offers a free on-call shuttle service (although a free contribution is appreciated). You can find all the information about the shuttle at this link (in german) and here you will find the current cable car ticket prices.
While the train route is part of the national transportation network, tickets for the cable car are not available through the SBB app or website or any other online shop. However, you can buy them at the station with all the benefits for GA, half-price, youth, children and other season ticket holders. For the train journey to Lungern, tickets can be purchased through the SBB website or through the SBB app and, as always, we suggest to check in advance the updated timetables and the different travel options.
Arriving by car
The route is also easily accessible by car arriving in Lungern. However, we suggest you choose public transportation, because the train journey from Lucerne, which crosses one of the most beautiful alpine landscapes in Switzerland, is an experience in itself. If you choose to drive, there are many parking options in Lungern: two large parking areas are located in Hinterseestrasse, near the Obsee campsite (note: some areas of the parking lot are reserved for campers!) and in Wichelstrasse, near the cable cars to Turren. Both parking lots are subject to a fee. The Turrenbahn parking lot, right in front of the cable car, charges CHF 5.00 for the entire day.
Hike overview & map
The route we propose is a round-trip hike that starts at the Turrenbahn cable car mountain station and, following a comfortable prepared trail, offers great views of the high mountains surrounding Lake Lungern. It is an easy route, just 5 km long and takes about an hour and a half. The trail is well-marked along the entire route, although in some places the hiking signs are not very clear and get confused with the snowshoeing signs. However, you won’t have any problems: the hiking trail is well prepared and it’s easy to identify it from a normal snowshoe trail, which usually has more snow. The trail runs along well-maintained snow-covered roads, so all you need to do is wear good waterproof winter hiking shoes and, if you have an unsteady step, some non-slip accessories* to increase grip and decrease the risk of slipping. Along the itinerary there are no picnic areas or benches for relaxation and the only restaurant with toilets is in Turren, near the cable car station. On the official website it is also possible to access some webcams, for a more detailed check of the weather conditions and of the snow conditions.
Arrival in Turren
We reached Lungern on a beautiful sunny day. Upon arrival, we decide not to use the shuttle bus offered by Turrenbahn and to reach the cable car station Lungern-Obsee by foot, with a pleasant walk of about 20 minutes. The surrounding landscape is always very beautiful even from the valley, as is the view of the lake. Upon arriving at the Turren station, we purchase our tickets and we are finally ready to go up! During the working days, the cable car runs up the mountain about every 20 minutes, but during the weekend the service is non-stop to more efficiently handle the peaks of visitors. So our ride leaves almost immediately and in about 10 minutes we arrive at Turren, enjoying the magnificent view of the lake and surrounding mountains as we ascend. The thing that immediately surprises us is that most people have brought snowshoes with them. We’ll soon find out why: during the winter, the area offers only one hiking trail, while there are many more snowshoeing trails that allow you to reach even more remote viewpoints.
Leaving the station, we follow a snowy road to the left that leads to the public toilets. These are the only ones we’ll find along the way, so take advantage of them! Actually, a small Compost-toilet has recently been installed in Breitenfeld, at the end of the hiking trail, but at the time of our visit it was not yet accessible for use.
Following the trail downhill, we observe the old cabins and chairlifts on display and pass the Turren Restaurant. From its terrace we observe the view for a few minutes, before starting our walk.
From Turren to Breitenfeld
The path up to Breitenfeld does not require any special equipment, however we suggest to wear non-slip ice crampons*, in order to maintain a good step stability even on icy snow. However, the path is well maintained and prepared and really does not present any difficulty, except for a slight elevation. As always, we suggest to take your time and make some breaks to enjoy the view and not get too tired. From time to time, some skiers or freeriders use sections of the hiking trail when descending. Visibility is generally good all the way down, but still be careful especially on a couple of tight turns that don’t offer good visibility of any oncoming skiers. If you plan on taking a small break and getting something to eat, be aware that the trail does not offer any resting opportunities such as picnic areas, benches, or grills. We took advantage of the edge of a watering hole as a bench for our lunchtime with a view.
But during the hike, we spotted several non-snowy areas that can be used for picnicking. So we suggest you bring a waterproof towel with you to lay out on the snow. Alternatively, you can decide to have your lunch at the Turren Restaurant, at the end of your hike.
Breitenfeld and return to Turren
The route to Breitenfeld is about 2.5 km long. Here you will find no restaurants or cafes and no accommodations. Therefore, most of those who come here continue along one of the many snowshoe trails, while the others take advantage of the small Chapel Maria zum Schnee or the small bridge right in front of the church for a short break.
The Breitenfeld area and the little Chapel of Maria zum Schnee are really fascinating. However, without snowshoes it is really difficult to move off the hiking trail because of the deep snow. We therefore decide to take a short break and resume the route towards the return. From here, we then redo the path we took on the way out. The descent, however, offers a completely different perspective of the landscape, so much that it doesn’t seem as if we are walking along the same path! From Breitenfeld, the return path is about 2.5 km long and the fact that it is completely descending makes it more pleasant. In Turren, at the end of the route, we decide to take advantage of the restaurant and its panoramic terrace for a coffee and a piece of cake, before taking the cable car back to the valley.
If you don’t feel like walking from the Lungern train station to the Turrenbahn, you can take advantage of the comfortable free shuttle service made available for cable car users. The service is on demand! Find out more at this link.
The Turren Restaurant offers drinks, snacks, cakes and coffee as well as a good lunch. We didn’t have to go, but we would have loved to try the Bratwurst grilled on the panoramic terrace! They look and smell really inviting!