Medieval marketplaces, beautiful lakeshores, gorgeous views, rugged limestone cliffs and traditional Beizlis restaurants – the Freiburger Voralpenweg long-distance hiking trail has a lot to offer. In western Switzerland, you hike from the university town of Freiburg (Fribourg in French) through landscapes that become increasingly mountainous to Château-d'Oex, a mecca for balloonists.
The long-distance trail leads 74 kilometres (46 mi) through the cantons of Freiburg, Bern and Vaud and thus along the German-French language border. In five days, you experience the picturesque Schwarzsee, the idyllic Gruyère region, the unique Vanil Noir Nature Reserve and wide views over the Gastlosen mountain range. The trail begins in Freiburg, a pretty city on the banks of the River Saane. It has lots of highlights to see so I recommend spending an extra day here before you start your hiking adventure.
The first stages lead through hilly landscapes crowned by medieval villages before heading up to the heights of the foothills of the Alps. From Freiburg, you hike past the Gottéron Gorge and tranquil hamlets that are typical in the region to Plaffeien municipality. The second stage is characterised by the Sense, one of the last wild rivers in the Alps. The route is relaxed, following the banks of the river to Schwarzsee, where you spend the night on the northern shore.
From Schwarzsee, you enter the magnificent mountain world of the Gruyère region. Here, you can tuck into potato rösti, Älplermagronen (a traditional Alpine Macaroni dish) and mountain cheese at one of the numerous alpine huts. On your descent to Jaun, the stage destination on your third day, you enjoy impressive views down to the valley. Day four’s route is short and crisp, taking you to the famous Soldatenhaus chalet which has fantastic views over the Gastlosen mountain range.
The last stage leads you into the green Pays-d'Enhaut district; you cross the Vanil Noir Nature Reserve, home to a diverse species, and hike from Freiburg canton into the canton of Vaud. After a long descent, you reach the end of the Freiburg Pre-Alps Trail – Château-d'Oex.
In this Collection, I’ve divided the Freiburg Pre-Alps Trail into five stages. At 26 kilometres (16.1 mi), the final stage is by far the most demanding, but you can easily split it into two days by spending the night at the Cabane des Marindes at the halfway point. You can travel to the starting point in Freiburg by train and also return home by rail. You don’t need alpine experience for the walk, just good shoes and some stamina. The long-distance trail is the perfect way to switch off and recharge your batteries in nature.
The starting point of the Freiburg Pre-Alpine Trail is the eponymous art and university city of Freiburg (French: Friborg). In order to be able to fully enjoy the wonderful flair of Freiburg, I recommend arriving one or two days before the start of your hike. The medieval center stretches on both sides of the Saane and is one of the largest closed old town centers of its kind in Europe.
With a good ten kilometers, the second stage is relaxed and offers you plenty of time to enjoy the wonderful landscape. At the beginning you cross Plaffeien and hike in the direction of the Sense, one of the last wild rivers in the Alpine region. Because of its species-rich banks and clear water, the scythe came off best in an international study by the WWF.
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700 meters in altitude in just six and a half kilometers - the fourth stage of the Freiburg Pre-Alpine Trail is short but crisp. After a night in the tranquil Jaun, the first highlight is via the Jaunbach. A wooden walkway leads you very close to the impressive waterfall (Cascade de Jaun) with its crystal clear water; it's best to put on your rain jacket and stow your cell phone, because it can get a little wet here.
The last stage is also the longest on the Freiburg Pre-Alpine Trail - after you've warmed up for four days, that shouldn't be a problem. Otherwise, you can spend an additional night in the Cabane des Marindes, which is about halfway through the route. You start at the soldiers' house. After you have crossed the small, pristine forest Forêt du Lapé, you take the path to Stierenritz.