Natura Santa


4-lake hike from Melchsee-Frutt to the Joch Pass (Central Switzerland)

Sunny southern slope, wonderful view above the timberline into the mountains, flower splendour and four deep blue mountain lakes. This is how today’s hike can be summed up in a few words. The route takes me from Sarnen to Stöckalp and from there up to Melchsee (“See” is the German word for “lake”), via Bonistock and Tannalp to the Joch Pass. From there it goes down to Engelberg. Besides Melchsee I pass Tannensee, Engstlensee and Trübsee. And I always have the mighty Titlis in my sights.

Sometimes I just want to hike a few hours up in the mountains and enjoy the silence and the panorama. So that it won’t be a 7-8 hour hike (it’s my first hike with the new mountain boots), I use a few mountain railways this time.

Central Switzerland Overview

The Postbus takes me from Sarnen up to Stöckalp (1073m). The first bus in the morning is already full to bursting on this cloudless summer day. The lady next to me starts to rave about the region, which I visit for the first time today. With some advices in my backpack I hop on the cable car up to Melchsee-Frutt (1920m). What a view: on the one hand to the numerous not necessarily beautiful hotel buildings up here and on the other hand to the Melchsee shimmering against the light with the impressive mountain scenery of the Bernese Alps in the background.

Hiking route from Melchsee-Frutt to Joch Pass

On the left I start my hike up to Bonistock and now plough a lonnely furrow out here. Most are hiking down in the plateau. Soon the view opens to the next lake – the Tannensee – which is dammed on its western side. After 50 minutes I reach the Bonistock (2169m) and follow from here along the ridge eastwards before the path leads down to the south flank of the ridge towards Tannalp (1974m). When I stand still and lift my gaze a little, the majestic Titlis with its underlying glacier appears. The Titlis is practically in my field of vision during the whole hike. Here a panoramic view below Gross Hohmad. Thanks to the still persistent snowmelt, the mountain streams rush near and far and bring the cool water to the people in the valley.

A little bit past Tannalp I stop for lunch and sit on a soft grass hill. Impressive, what a rich animal and plant world I experience here on over 2000m! All types and colours of flowers, herbs and grasses. Along with birds, bumblebees, ants, earwigs, flies to name but a few. I am once again reminded of the beauty and diversity of Creation.

Near Vogelbüehl / Tannalp

Fortified I begin the ascent to the highest point of the hike (2323m), which lies shortly before the Joch Pass. Now the focus is on Engstlensee, which appears deep below me. What strikes me is the large amount of snow, which is still lying far below 2000m on the opposite north flank. A consequence of last winter with lots of snow.
On this part of the route some hikers are now coming towards me. The abundant mountain railways in this region make it also possible for not very persistent hikers to experience this special world and to explore smaller sections.

Tannensee direction South

On the Joch Pass (2207m) I can enjoy a new view down to the Trübsee and further down Engelberg. From Engelberg the Titlisbahn leads via Trübsee and Stand to the top of the famous Titlis.
The chairlift takes me down to the Trübsee. From there I follow the path along the picturesque lake up to the station of the cable car, which I now climb to get down to Engelberg. Here I return to civilization, since the Titlis is a must for many international guests and thus leads to a flow of people that cannot be overlooked. I’m sure there’d be even more action here one weekend. So it’s worth going to the mountains during the week.

In Engelberg I enjoy an ice cream before I take the train down to Stans. After this hot summer day, Lake Lucerne in Buochs invites me to take a refreshing dip and enjoy the desired cooling down.


At the end of the day there remain many beautiful memories of what I’ve experienced and seen. The mountain spring, which lasts over 2000m until the end of July, shows an enormous splendour of flowers. Above all, the gratitude for this unique mountain landscape with its fauna and flora which I can enjoy on my doorstep remains.

Helpful information:

This link takes you to the SwitzerlandMobility page, where you can view and print out the route in detail. I generally recommend this website for planning individual hikes. You can draw your own route. At the same time, hiking time and altitude profile are calculated. The map extracts can be printed out and taken along on the hike. Alternatively, the map can be downloaded to an app on your mobile phone.

The hiking time is approx. 4 hours. The trail is well marked and maintained throughout. I classify the route as T2 – Mountain Hiking. Good hiking boots are recommended. You don’t necessarily need your own provisions, as there are restaurants at the beginning, on the Tannalp and at the end of the hike. But a picnic from your backpack is of course preferable to a visit to a restaurant.

Key data on the hike:

Length:  11.4 km
Ascent-Meter:  759 m
Descent meter:  476 m
Minimum elevation:  1894 m
Maximum elevation:  2323 m
Hiking time:  4h

Here are some pictures of this hike (click on a picture to enlarge):

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