Switzerland’s Trummelbach Falls is a series of 10 separate cascades with several claims to fame. For one, the falls are fed by the glaciers of some of Europe’s most well-known and picturesque mountains: the Eiger, the Monch and the Jungfrau. For another, most of the waterfalls are INSIDE a mountain! Visitors take an elevator partway up then walk through a series of tunnels and pathways to view the succession of falls and the slot canyons they have carved into the mountainside.
Valley of 72 Falls
The Lauterbrunnen Valley in the Berner Oberland region of Switzerland is the starting point for many types of outdoor adventures. From this valley, hikers, skiers, and sightseers can ascend the mountains on either side via an extensive network of gondolas, chairlifts and trains to access trails, ski runs and breathtaking vistas. To the west, cable cars reach the 9,745-foot summit of the Schilthorn. To the east, a series of trains takes you to the Jungfraujoch, a dizzying 11,388-foot-elevation vista point between the Jungfrau and the Monch. In between, dozens of other villages, hamlets and waypoints offer cafes, lodging and access to myriad recreational opportunities.
Of the 72 waterfalls said to cascade down the sides of the Lauterbrunnen Valley, only Trummelbach Falls is primarily inside the sheer rock walls of the canyon. Since so many of the activities in the Berner Oberland are best experienced on a clear day, Trummelbach Falls is an ideal destination on a rainy, foggy, or overcast day.
The Trummelbach Falls Experience
Your visit to the falls begins by taking an elevator up the side of the mountain. You step out into a dark, damp, cave-like recess surrounded by the thunder of the rushing water. The intense noise and the heavy mist are all part of the overall experience, so you will want to be prepared. From your point of entrance, some of the falls are above you and some are below. You will want to climb up first, viewing the cascades numbered 6 through 10, then return to the elevator landing and descend to numbers 5 through 1. Some of the falls (such as #6), are partially exposed and easy to photograph, while others (such as #8) are very dark, misty and difficult to capture in a snapshot. The twisting, curving chutes carved by the falls are quite spectacular. The striations of rock display subtle color variations and the shapes carved by the rushing water are intricate and fanciful.
The sound and the spray of 5,000 gallons of water shooting through narrow crevasses and bouncing off the solid rock walls is an awe-inspiring spectacle, but Trummelbach Falls might not be for everyone, including small children or those with mobility impairment. Footing can be slippery, there are many stairs and you will get wet.
Plan an hour to an hour and a half for experiencing the falls—a little longer if you want to grab a snack or a beverage from the café adjacent to the base of the falls.
Logistics And Specifics
Trummelbach Falls is situated between the village of Lauterbrunnen and Stechelberg, the tiny hamlet up the valley from which the Schilthornbahn (series of cable cars that ascend to the Schilthorn mountain) departs. From the Lauterbrunnen train station, take the inexpensive PostBus toward Stechelberg; Trummelbach Falls is the only interim stop on the 12-minute journey. The schedule and frequency of the PostBus depends upon the season; check the train station or with any Lauterbrunnen hotel for the schedule.
From the city of Interlaken, take the train from Interlaken Ost station to Lauterbrunnen (20 minutes). The PostBus is timed to depart the train station shortly after Interlaken arrivals.
Alternately, enjoy the scenic stroll between Lauterbrunnen and the falls, approximately 45 minutes each way. The route is flat, well signed, and offers views of the river, a few other waterfalls, and pastoral scenery.
Access to the falls (including the elevator ride to the top, and there’s no reason not to take it) costs 11 Swiss Francs (about $10-$11 US) for an adult and 4 Swiss Francs for a child.
Top Photo: Overlooking an in-the-mountain waterfall