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Circular winter hike Melchsee, Tannensee and back

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Circular winter hike Melchsee, Tannensee and back

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Melchsee-Frutt is a popular mountain village due to its wide range of accommodation and the great variety of summer and winter sports on offer. During the winter, the entire plateau, with its two frozen Melchsee and Tannensee lakes surrounded by high mountains, becomes a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts but also for those who are glad to take a short or long winter hike in the snow, which can be done here with normal hiking boots on well-maintained and groomed trails. In this article, we tell you about our itinerary from Melchsee-Frutt to Tannalp and back.

We love... Melchsee-Frutt!

Melchsee-Frutt is a popular mountain village due to its wide range of accommodation and the great variety of summer and winter sports on offer. It lies in the canton of Obwalden in central Switzerland at an altitude of 1920 metres above sea level. The plateau, characterised by the presence of two lakes, the Melchsee and the Tannensee, is surrounded by high mountain that give it a unique charm in all seasons of the year. The area is mostly known to hikers during the summer months, but during the winter, the entire plateau, with its two frozen Melchsee and Tannensee lakes, becomes a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts and for those who are glad to take a short or long hike in the snow, which can be done here with normal hiking boots on well-maintained and groomed trails. In this article, we tell you about our itinerary from Melchsee-Frutt to Tannalp and back and give you some useful tips for planning your visit.

Hike overview & map

The circular route we propose goes around the Melchsee and Tannensee lakes, following a well-beaten winter hiking route, for which you will only need ordinary waterproof hiking shoes. In any case, if you have snow spikes, we suggest taking them with you in case of icy areas along the route. It is an easy hike of about 9 km that can be hiked in more or less two and a half hours and offers several interesting vantage points on the completely frozen lakes and the surrounding mountains. The hike starts from Melchsee-Frutt, a location that can be reached by cable car, and ends at the same point after reaching Tannalp, a charming alpine village. Restrooms are available inside the gondola station and at the Tannalp restaurant. For a snack or lunch, we suggest you stop at the Tannalp Mountain Restaurant, which offers typical Swiss cuisine.

Circular-winter-route-melchsee-elevation

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.

Hiking route

Contrary to what we usually do, this time we do not reach the day’s hiking destination by public transportation but by car. Just before arriving in Stöckalp, automatic gates allow entrance to the ski area. We take the parking ticket and, a few steps later, the attendants show us where to leave the car. The large parking lot next to the gondola station is already full. We will therefore have to leave the car in one of the far parking lots. From here, a free shuttle bus will take us to the gondola station a few kilometers further up.
The gondola operates continuously, however the sunny day and fresh snow in recent days has attracted quite a few visitors. To board our cabin we wait in line for about 30 minutes. So we recommend that you take waiting time into account when planning your visit. A 15-minute ride and we are so ready to kick off our route: from Melchsee-Frutt we will follow the beaten path through the snow to Tannalp. From here, we will turn back along the path that runs along the Tannensee on its left shore and then return with the Panoramalift to the gondola station for the descent to the valley.

Booking.com
Booking.com

From Melchsee-Frutt to Tannalp

The new cable car station (yes, there is also an old one, which has been converted into a tourist information point) is located slightly uphill from the lake and the coastal road. From here, a paved road, now completely covered with packed snow, leads to the Frutt Mountain Resort and, later, to the Panoramalift, a panoramic elevator that leads from the top to the shores of the Melchsee and back.
Use it to reach the winter hiking trails below. We suggest caution at this point, because the winter trails cross the ski slopes in a couple of places. Be sure to follow the pink/fuchsia hiking signs and you will certainly have no problems!
After about 4 kilometers we reach the mountain village of Tannalp with its white church. In summer, this corner of the world is a true paradise. In winter, the village is uninhabited. However, here you will find the mountain restaurant offering typical Swiss cuisine, soups, cakes and coffee. We took advantage of it for lunch and an hour’s break in the sun, comfortably lying on the deck chairs provided by the restaurant. Wonderful!

From Tannalp to Melchsee

Tannalp is also home to one of the few Alpine cheese dairies at an altitude of over 1,900m which uses traditional methods to produce fresh products such as mountain cheese, Sbrinz cheese, butter and yoghurt. If you come here during the summer, you will find the dairy open to visitors and it is possible to buy all their products on site. Last year, during the Vier-Seen-Wanderung, we bought here a fresh strawberry milkshake that we still remember! However, during the winter, the dairy is unfortunately closed. So, shouldering our backpacks, we start off again toward Melchsee-Frutt. For the return journey, we chose to take the winter hiking trail that runs on the left side of the lake, which is definitely less frequented than the outward route.
From here, in about 2 km we first reach the Tannensee dam and then follow the busier path to Melchsee and Berghotel Distelboden. We arrive in Melchsee-Frutt a few minutes later. One last photo of the always charming little church nestled on the edge of the lake and here we are back at the Panoramalift to run to catch the cable car and return to the valley.

How to get there

Arriving by public transport

See the location in Google Maps. The starting point of this hiking proposal is easily accessible by public transport.
By train, you will have to reach Sarnen station and, from there, take the postal bus number 343 that will take you to Stöckalp. Here you will find the cable car to Melchsee-Frutt. The entire route, including the gondola, can be purchased via the SBB website or SBB app.

Arriving by car

See the location in Google Maps. If you plan to arrive here by car, you will have to drive to Stöckalp. To find the best travel option for you, as always we suggest you use Google Maps. There is a large car park here (it costs CHF 5 for the whole day during the winter), just a short walk from the cable car station. Here you can find all the information on accessibility and parking costs for the tourist area.

Tips

1

To save time and avoid standing in line twice, we suggest that you purchase your gondola tickets online before your visit. You can do it by visiting the official website. Once purchased, you will receive your tickets on your email with a small QR code that you can scan at the turns to access the cabins directly (no need to print anything! Just have the ticket on your phone!).

2

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

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