Through glacier-carved Brecca valley


Brecca valley wouldn't necessarily appear on the lists of top ten hikes you have to do in Switzerland, but although it doesn't have the drama of your most scenic and jagged Swiss mountains, to miss it would be doing it injustice. In the glacier-carved pre-Alpine valley, the trail takes you through glorious Hobbit land, with views definitely stopping you for your "oh-s" and "ah-s" (so much so that the cover photo of this post has been my iphone screensaver since last October).

Leaving the touristy Schwarzsee behind, a short ride on the chairlift to Riggisalp saves you an hour or two of walking, which you can instead spend on prolonging the trail and taking in the views. Soon after you leave Riggisalp, the valley starts opening up, with a gentle sloping mountain to your left, and the winding valley ahead, covered in mossy grass and tall pine trees. Reaching the lowest point of the valley, you have to cross a lively stream, and continue through the colourful woods.

Once you reach Rippetli, you have to decide between taking the path down to Schwarzsee, or continuing upwards through the longer trail. We had to make a decision whether to risk hiking in the rain as the weather was deteriorating, or to take the safer option back o the lake. True to our supposedly adventurous spirit, we decided to take the longer route and despite a few sprinkles of rain that we had to walk through, our decision was well justified. I am unsure whether the gloomy rainy vibe contributed to it, but the second valley we entered was even more majestic than the first one, with sharp rocky peaks rising above it in the fog.

As you descend toward Schwarzsee, you will pass a lovely mountain hut Alp Hubel Rippa, where you can enjoy a beer with a view of the lake down below, and majestic woods behind (hike in the autumn for the extra treat of the colourful palette). The path will then take you down to crowded Schwarzsee, which will make you appreciate the pristine nature you just returned from even more.

HIKING THE BRECCA VALLEY

  • Time of the year: I hiked in mid October.  
  • How to get to the starting point: From Geneva, take the train to Fribourg and then the bus to Schwarzsee Gypsera, where you hop on a chairlift to Riggisalp (12 CHF one way - you'll return to the lake by foot). 
  • Hike time: Around 4 hours. 
  • Hike length & ascent: Around 14,5km, 600m ascent 
  • Hiking gear needed: The usual hiking gear (boots, poles).
  • Difficulty: Easy. 
  • Hike directions: Once you've reached Riggisalp (1493m) with the chairlift, turn right and follow the gravel road - it is mostly well marked. The yellow signs will take you back to Gypsera by the short or long route - I recommend the longer one. Some of the signs (and huts to stop by) to follow include Untere Euschels, where you turn right to cross a stream and continue through a forest to reach Rippetli, where the trail splits - either you go down to Gypsera to take the shorter route, or continue following the trail upwards, through some rocky bits and a breathtaking view of the valley and majestic mountains rising above it, and then continue past Alp Cerniets, Alp Steinige Rippa, and Alp Hubel Rippa, and from there down to the lake.



Views from the longer version of the trail.
 


View from the hut Alp Hubel Rippa.

Return back to Schwarzsee.

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