almost level, at around 1200m
short and very easy walk as long as it's not icy
from 1250m up to 1850m, climbing 150m over a lower ridge, then back to 1250m
mostly easy-medium with a couple of tricky bits
If you've ever taken the train from Zurich to Chur, you've passed Ziegelbrücke and probably noticed the picturesque narrow valley leading off to the right. This valley leads to the town (and the canton) of Glarus, and the contrast of the green valley floor against the dark rock and unreachable ice is difficult to miss.
Further in past Glarus is the imposing Ortstock, and this pair of hikes explore the valley wall underneath this impressive mountain, and high above the valley floor.
In Winter, an almost level trail is cleared running Southwards to the restaurant at Nussbühl. The path is snow-covered, and cleared by machines, although in icy conditions the walking can be difficult in places. Consider the use of heel crampons for extra grip in this case. The return hike is partly identical, with an alternative stretch back to Braunwald.
In Summer, obviously a much wider network of trails is accessible, including the loop suggested here. The panoramic trail map shows several ways to alter, extend or shorten this route. Unfortunately there is little shade and little water on this route, so the Summer heat can make this suntrap quite testing.
From Zurich, take the train to Ziegelbrücke (45 mins) and then a train to "Linthal Braunwaldbahn" (40 mins, the stop before "Linthal"). From here, take the cable train up to Braunwald. The return journey is just the reverse.
The ticket is just a return to Braunwald, with a total time of about 2 hours each way. Cost with halb-tax: CHF 33
For a zoomable, scrollable map of this hike, see this online map using Openstreetmap or Opencyclemap.
You can also download this kmz file braunwald.kmz to open it in programs like Google Earth or GpsPrune and then transfer the track to your GPS.
Braunwald - Brächalp - Nussbühl - Brächalp - Braunwald
Pick up a free map from the Braunwaldbahn station - this shows the area in both Winter and Summer, showing ski trails and hiking paths. This walk is shown running to the far left of the map, underneath the Ortstock.
After admiring the valley views from the top railway station, head leftwards (further into the valley, away from Ziegelbrücke) in the direction of the Höhenklinik. After 5 minutes you reach the Panorama Hotel, and continue more or less level following the signs to Nussbühl. Soon you leave the ski runs and buildings behind, and have the whole scenery to yourself.
Following the trail towards the Ortstock for another 15 minutes or so brings you to a Feuerstelle (Summer barbeque area) at Brächalp, and shortly after this a bridge takes you over the innermost point of the walk. From here the path swings back out through the forest underneath the Ortstock towards Nussbühl.
About 20 minutes further on, the path leaves the forest and turns right to lead along the open ledge above the valley. Just 10 minutes on from here is the farm and restaurant at Nussbühl that mark the end of the trail. This restaurant has splendid isolation, and excellent food, and makes an ideal refreshment stop before the return trip (just beware of the resident children...)
The cleared trail stops here, and beyond it the snow gets too deep to continue. After relaxing with the valley views, retrace your steps back to the bridge and on to Brächalp where you will see a signpost directing you up to the left, labelled "Braunwald". This provides an alternative, slighly longer return route, up on a wider, clearer path with more buildings. Looking back gives more spectacular views of the Ortstock with its frozen waterfalls and sheer cliffs. Approximately 30 minutes along here brings you out to a gondola station, and the buzz of the ski resort. Following the signs to the Braunwaldbahn brings you in about another 10 minutes back to the railway station from which the walk started.
Braunwald - Nussbühl - Rietstöckli - Bergeten - Ortstockhaus - Braunwaldalp Ober Stafel - Eggwald - Braunwald
This longer hike starts in exactly the same way as the Winter one, so follow the directions above to traverse very easily and almost level round to the restaurant at Nussbühl. Then continue through the farm, still more or less on the level, traversing further along the valley. Ignore the first 'Rietstöckli' signpost which cuts back and upwards, but take the second one which forks in the same direction. There is a short difficult section here which requires the use of a rope handrail, and the trail climbs quite steeply over fairly tricky rocky sections, but soon the path levels out to give splendid views up to the head of the valley.
Eventually you reach another signpost after around an hour from Nussbühl. Turn right here onto a paved road, and then after a few hundred metres fork left through the fence up to a signpost. This leads you straight uphill to a T-junction, at which you turn left and climb steeply through numerous switchbacks. Finally you emerge behind a broad mound protruding from the valley wall, dotted with avalanche barriers. The trail becomes very faint here, but it roughly leads around the right-hand side of this mound and out to the viewpoint of Rietstöckli, after about an hour. The views from this lookout are simply stunning, making all that effort worthwhile.
Continue around the other side of the mound, and follow the trail downhill past a small hut advertising fresh milk. Then the trail cuts away from the valley edge, weaving between the cows through a rocky, somewhat unreal landscape underneath towering cliffs. Eventually you reach a small, tranquil lake, obediently reflecting the peaks in its still surface. Shortly after here is the signpost of Bergeten, about 1h10 from Rietstöckli.
Continue another 15 minutes on to Bräch Ober Stafel, and then begin climbing again as the signpost to Ortstockhaus leads left up a wide track. 30-40 minutes further on brings you to the restaurant of Ortstockhaus, where hot food, cold drinks and some scenery await you.
A wide track leads down from the restaurant, winding in switchbacks to Braunwaldalp Ober Stafel, where the route continues signposted Grotenbüel, continuing to descend and passing the chairlift. Shortly after emerging on a supported roadway, cut off downwards to the right signposted Edelsteinspalte. When the path splits, turn left and continue downhill through the trees.
Follow the signs for Braunwald, Braunwaldbahn and Bahnhof to drop down to the outskirts of the village, and carry on down paved switchbacks through pedestrianised Braunwald back to the station, about 1h15 from Ortstockhaus.
The trains run back down to the valley floor every half hour, but the trains to Ziegelbrücke only leave once an hour - check the timetables in Braunwald station so you can decide where to spend that extra half hour!
Check out the panoramic map, there are plenty of trails. For example, cut the hike shorter by missing out
the climb to Ortstockhaus, or make it longer by heading farther North. Or even use the gondola system to gain
more height and explore higher up. Another alternative is a loop walk from Linthal station (
N 46°55'32.2, E008°59'52.7, 648m) following the path alongside the funicular up to Braunwald, then following this Winter walk through Nussbühl deeper into the valley. Continue past Nussbühl, bearing left and down a steep rocky path back to the valley floor, looping left back to Linthal.
Latitude Longitude Altitude(m) Braunwald N 46°56.317' E008°59.899' 1250 Niederschlacht N 46°56.201' E008°59.595' 1200 Brächalp N 46°56.207' E008°58.724' 1260 Nussbühl N 46°55.477' E008°59.102' 1265 Signpost1 N 46°54.906' E008°57.828' 1461 Signpost2 N 46°55.219' E008°57.822' 1797 Rietstöckli N 46°55.190' E008°58.108' 1832 Bergeten N 46°56.294' E008°57.777' 1640 Bräch Ober Stafel N 46°56.521' E008°58.203' 1602 Ortstockhaus N 46°56.883' E008°58.599' 1763 Braunwald Ober Stafel N 46°57.164' E008°58.829' 1740 Eggwald N 46°57.004' E008°59.371' 1530 Obersack N 46°56.501' E008°59.577' 1420
Information about Braunwald, including Panoramakarten, is at braunwald.ch. For other hikes in the area, see the Alpine Pass Route which comes through Linthal between the Richetlipass and the Klausenpass. Or for other Wintry activities here, see Snowboarding in Braunwald.