Hiking to the impressive Stäuben waterfall in Canton Uri

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Hiking to the impressive Stäuben waterfall in Canton Uri

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The imposing and scenic Stäuben waterfall - in German Stäubenfall or Stäubifall - is probably among the most photographed and best known Swiss attractions. Reaching it is not difficult and there are several hiking trails to choose from, some of them very easy. We took the opportunity to combine a visit to the waterfall with a walk in the stunning mountain landscape of Canton Uri. So in this article we tell you about our hiking route from Unterschächen to the waterfall and back and give you some useful tips!

We love... the Stäuben Waterfall!

The impressive and scenic Stäuben Waterfall (see location on Google maps) – in German Stäubenfall or Stäubifall – is probably among the most photographed and best-known Swiss attractions. It is located in the canton of Uri, in Central Switzerland, not far from Lucerne. Nestled in a beautiful alpine landscape, surrounded by high, steep mountains, the waterfall can only be reached on foot. However, there are plenty of hiking trails that allow you to observe it from different places and this will allow you to find the more suitable route for you – from the easiest and shortest to the most challenging – without too much difficulty. We combined a visit to the waterfall with a summit walk in the beautiful Schächental landscape, starting in Unterschächen, reaching the waterfalls via a mountain path and returning to the starting point. So, in this article we tell you about our hiking route and give you some useful tips!

Walk overview & map

The hike we propose is a circular route of about 10 kilometers, which starts at the valley station of the Ribi-Wannelen cable car near the mountain village of Unterschächen. Following a mountain path and several water channels, this route reaches the Stäuben waterfall and returns to the starting point. It is of moderate difficulty, with a short steep ascent just before reaching the Oberalp area and a steep descent from Oberalp to the waterfall. The trail runs partly along a gravel road and then continues along a typical mountain path with steep sections and many stones. Especially on the descent, trekking poles were a good support for us and we recommend their use. Having said that, the hike is thoroughly amazing and the views are unforgettable.
Along the route, you will not find many dining options except at Wannelen or near the waterfalls. So we suggest that you take your lunch with you and plan some time for a picnic on the meadows. Toilets are available at the valley station of the cable car and in the area of the Stäuben waterfall.
If you are looking for an alternative, easier or shorter route, we propose a couple of them in the tips at the bottom of the page.

Hiking-staeubenfall-uri-elevation

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Would you like to use our hiking map?

For a safe hike, it is important to have the support of maps and GPS. That’s why we plan and track all our hiking routes using Outdooractive, a platform for tracking outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling and more. By subscribing for free to the website you can browse the entire route database, copy our routes, edit them and create your own and of course share them with friends. If instead you want to know why you should sign up for a PRO or PRO+ subscription and why we have already done it, we have told you about it here along with 5 other essential apps for hiking in Switzerland.

Walking route

From Unterschächen-Ribi to Nideralp

Our hike starts at the valley station of the Ribi-Wannelen cable car – near the mountain village of Unterschächen – which takes us to the top of the mountain and from there on our hiking trail. This small cable car, run by a local family, only operates during the summer, from May to September, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. During off-peak months, it may be closed on working days and take a break between 12 noon and 1 pm. So our advice is to contact them in advance by phone (contact details can be found here) to check operations and times. As it is a small lift, it can carry a maximum of four people at a time. The one-way ticket costs CHF 8.00 per person.
After the short cable car ride, we reached Wannelen. This small mountain village is home to a few farming families and a small alpine restaurant and cheese dairy – Alpbeizli Wannelen – which is only open during the summer months. Wannelen is also the starting point of many hiking trails that lead in various directions. We followed the trail in the direction of Oberalp. The first section of the trail runs smoothly along a gravel service road through some pastures with panoramic views of the high mountains on the opposite side of the valley. After about one and a half kilometers of walking, we reach the Nideralp area, where we meet a crossroads. From here, a path leads directly down to Äsch through the forest. However, we choose to continue on and go further up towards Oberalp.

From Nideralp to Oberalp

At this point, the route leaves the dirt road and continues along a narrow mountain path between grass and rocks. Shortly afterwards, a sloping section begins that climbs up the side of the mountain. It is a narrow path that runs along several hairpin bends and in just under 600 meters in length allows us to climb 150 meters in altitude and reach Oberalp. In this section, we recommend caution – as the path is rather narrow – and the use of trekking poles to improve stability and balance.
Oberalp is located at 1850 m. above sea level and from here the landscape definitely changes appearance, becoming more barren. However, there is no shortage of watercourses and thawing channels that flow placidly down the valley. A cable car also departs from Oberalp to take you back down to the valley, to Äsch. Going only during the summer (information are available here), this semi-open cable car offers an exciting journey down into the valley and is a good alternative for those who do not want to walk the steep descent. However, after a short break to rest and have something to eat, we decided to continue walking towards the valley and the waterfall. If you are looking for a place to have a picnic, here – near a pond and a small river – you will find a couple of meadows where you can rest.

From Oberalp to the Stäuben waterfall

At Oberalp, three kilometers from the start of the hike, a long descent back down to the valley begins, about 4 kilometers. This section of the hike follows the course of a river and in a couple of sections crosses it. Be prepared to get your shoes a little wet, but you can use the big rocks hanging out of the water to limit the damage.
The descent of the first section is not too steep, but it becomes more challenging later when the path loses its grass and becomes covered with gravel and boulders that do not make it easy to walk. Here too, we recommend trekking poles and good shoes with non-slip soles.
After about one and a half kilometers of descent, you will come across some clearings in the forest where you can have a picnic – for those who have not done so before – or simply lie down on the grass for a while, enjoy the sun and rest.
The last downhill section, just over a couple of kilometers, becomes more challenging. The path is still sloping and in a couple of places winds its way through the forest between tree roots. Be careful until you reach the clearing again. From here you will begin to hear the thunderous sound of the waterfall getting closer, but you will not see it yet.

The Stäuben waterfall and return to Unterschächen Ribi

Continue a little further along the clearings until you cross the course of a river again, a small wooden bridge and, a little further on, two elevated benches with a view of the waterfall. And there it is, the Stäuben waterfall in all its glory!
The waterfall is absolutely scenic and the small village of Äsch, with its distinctly mountainous character, is a perfect set that highlights its power and charm! As you walk along the path, you cannot help but photograph it from every angle, because at every angle you will seem to catch something different. Äsch is a very small mountain village. You won’t find much here except a small church, a few houses, a barbecue area and a small restaurant with a terrace – the Gasthöfli Aesch – where you can have something to eat or a drink. Here you will also find public toilets.
After a refreshing drink, we started walking on our way back. From Äsch, the trail follows a gently sloping path for about 3 kilometers, which runs on a dirt road, so easy going, until we return to the car park of the Ribi-Wannelen cable car to go back home.

How to get there

See the location in Google Maps. The starting point of this excursion – the valley station of the Ribi-Wannelen cable car – can be easily reached by public transportation. To find the best travel option for you, as always we recommend using the SBB website or the SBB App, that you can also use to check the timetables and operating status of the lines and purchase tickets.

See the location in Google Maps. The starting point of this excursion – the valley station of the Ribi-Wannelen cable car – can also be reached by car. To find the best travel option for you, as always we suggest you use Google Maps. A small car park is available next to the cable car station. However, parking spaces are limited. We suggest arriving early in the morning or using public transport.

Tips

1

If you want to visit the waterfall but don’t feel like or can’t handle the long route proposed, you can simply walk the easy path of about 3 km (6 in total, round trip) from Unterschächen Ribi to Äsch and the waterfalls. A map of the route is available here. If, on the other hand, you want to walk a short mountain path but do not want to face the descent into the valley, the Oberalp-Äsch cable car is a good alternative to reach the waterfalls after walking from Wannelen to Oberalp.

2

Thaw-fed waterfalls, such as those at Stäuben, show their full power in late spring and early summer, while they lose their power as the autumn and winter approach. Although the visit is always worthwhile, our advice is to plan this excursion in May or June.

3

Are you planning an excursion here and have doubts or concerns? Leave us a comment below and we will give you a feedback as soon as possible!

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