06: From Einsiedeln to Brunnen

At the Foot of the Legendary Mythen

Today, your journey leads you through the twists and turns of the mountains to the sublime Lake Lucerne, a jewel nestled in the heart of original Switzerland. Its waters, akin to nourishing veins, stretch between the cantons of Uri, Schwyz, Unterwald, and Lucerne, forming arms reminiscent of majestic fjords. Here, in this cradle of the Swiss nation, anchor the roots of its history, woven with legendary tales and emblematic heroes such as William Tell and Arnold Winkelried, figures whether real or mythical, who traversed these myth-laden lands. The echo of the oath of the Grütli of 1291 still resounds in the valleys, an immutable testimony to an era where men, braving uncertainty, committed to the future of their nascent homeland. Despite the changing winds of history that sometimes blow over these narratives, the soul of Central Switzerland remains the historical and touristic beacon of the Swiss Confederation, with Lake Lucerne as its epicenter, a mirror of centuries gone by.

 

Here, the contours of history unfold along the tranquil waters or around the steep paths of the mountains overlooking the lake. Before admiring the elegant steamers gliding on its waters, one must traverse the rugged peaks of the Mythen, majestic sentinels towering since Einsiedeln. For the traveler, whether novice or seasoned, each step reveals an enchanting landscape, steeped in charm and heritage, where every grove hides treasures and every hamlet tells a tale.

We divided the course into several sections to make it easier to see. For each section, the maps show the course, the slopes found on the course, and the state of the roads. The courses were drawn on the “Wikilocs” platform. Today, it is no longer necessary to walk around with detailed maps in your pocket or bag. If you have a mobile phone or tablet, you can easily follow routes live.

For this stage, here is the link:

https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/de-einsiedeln-a-brunnen-par-la-via-jacobi-4-32021330

Difficulty level: The journey presents itself as a dance with elevations, with dizzying descents and strenuous ascents (+595 meters/-1031 meters), revealing the splendor of the relief of the canton of Schwyz. If the beginning of the journey seems like a gentle stroll along the valley where the Alp murmurs, the demanding ascent through the forest to the pastures of Hagenegg, at the foot of the two Mythen, sets its pace. Then, the steep and seemingly endless descent first leads to Schwyz, the cantonal capital, before smoothly reaching Brunnen, a haven of peace on the shores of Lake Lucerne.

State of the Via Jacobi: In this stage, the majority of the journey unfolds on forest trails, where every step resonates like an invitation to discover nature in all its splendor.

  • Paved roads: 9.0 km 
  • Dirt roads: 14.8 km

It’s clear that not all travelers are comfortable using GPS and navigating via smartphone, and there are still many areas without an internet connection. As a result, you will soon find a book on Amazon that covers this journey.





If you only want to consult lodging of the stage, go directly to the bottom of the page

 

 

 

 

Sometimes, for reasons of logistics or housing possibilities, these stages mix routes operated on different days, having passed several times on Via Podiensis. From then on, the skies, the rain, or the seasons can vary. But, generally this is not the case, and in fact this does not change the description of the course.

It is very difficult to specify with certainty the incline of the slopes, whatever the system you use.

For those seeking “true elevations” and enthusiasts of genuine altimetric challenges, carefully review the information on mileage at the beginning of the guide.

Section 1: As you ascend the Alp, which flows gently through the valley.

Overview of the route’s challenges: straightforward route.

On the Via Jacobi, the journey begins in Einsiedeln, where the majestic monastery stands, crowning the heights of the city. Like a path traced by the hands of history, the route unfolds before you, sometimes on the smooth asphalt of modern roads, sometimes on beaten earth, caressed by the steps of pilgrims.

Beyond the first steps, it gracefully penetrates into a peaceful park, elegantly skirting the opulent residences that testify to the region’s splendid past, like a noble lady strolling through a garden at dawn.

Further on, it escapes towards the peripheral confines of the city, immersing itself in the peaceful intimacy of residential neighborhoods.

Then, like a perfectly orchestrated score, it follows the road to Alpthal, faithfully tracing its path to the junction marking the way to the cloister of Au.

A narrow road, following the winding course of the river, leads to the sanctuary of Au. There, nestled in verdant valleys, stands the venerable cloister of Au, a jewel of architecture blessed by the centuries. Founded in the distant times of the 14th century, it witnessed the flourishing of Benedictine spirituality from the beginning of the 17th century, to don over time the changing adornments of History. Today, a handful of sisters, guardians of tradition, watch over these stones charged with eternity.

From there, a modest rustic dirt road stretches languidly through fields, following the reassuring murmur of the Aubach stream and the majestic mountains in the background, a faithful companion to solitary travelers.

The pastures, vast expanses where the sturdy cattle of Eastern Switzerland graze, mainly of the eminent Brown Swiss breed, offer their vast spaces to these noble creatures. Only a few Simmental specimens dot this landscape here and there, while the Holsteins, spotted emblems, struggle for a patch of grass. Yet, the generosity of the land is such that the grass thrives abundantly. Along the dirt path, devotion alcoves stand here and there, like modestly pious oratories, or a cross, a humble symbol of faith.

Further on, around a bend, the route reveals an invitation to elevation, offering the daring the opportunity to climb the heights of Haggenegg via the village of Trachslau. But the Via Jacobi, true to its destiny, continues straight ahead. 

 

Shortly after, the path joins the gravel pit of Trachslau, bathed by the fresh waters of the Alp, where the song of birds mixes with the soothing ripple of the river. Here, in this sanctuary of nature, sacred signs, whether crosses or chapels, line the path, reminding of the benevolent presence of the Invisible.

Section 2: Soon, you will depart from the plains of the Alp.

Overview of the route’s challenges: straightforward route.

In the serene valley of the Alp, the route unfolds with a subtle inclination, almost imperceptible. At Trachslau, it momentarily merges with the valley road, having benevolently traced the quarry where wood artists and artisans of dreams toil.

Nevertheless, the Via Jacobi forsakes the heart of the hamlet, preferring the discreet elegance of a trail meandering the twists of the Alp, parallel to the thoroughfare.

Further along, the path parallels the road, the Alp gently brushing its left flank, while the majestic Mythen emerge on the horizon, becoming summits to conquer with each passing kilometer.

Traffic remains sparse on this dead-end route, which nonetheless welcomes a few local vehicles and weekend hikers heading towards the alpine pastures, thus offering a modest ballet of passages. Further on, the trail crosses to the other side of the river.

Like a faithful companion, the path embraces the sinuous course of the river, skirting groves of beeches and maples where nature is less flamboyant. Here, nature reveals itself as wilder, more impenetrable.

Further ahead, it ventures across the meadows, providing a clear view of the two majestic Mythen.

At the place called Kleinschnülimatt, it crosses with ease two streams overflowing with life.

At the outskirts of the village of Alpthal, the vibrant heart of the valley, the path joins the riverbed, where modest cascades and imposing rocks dance, bearing witness to the mountain’s whims. It’s a wildness that almost evokes a genuine canyon.

Continuing its journey, the path skirts the bank, delving into dense vegetation until reaching the village. The route has guided you for nearly eight kilometers, with a modest ascent of only a hundred meters. Surprising, isn’t it, this alpine plenitude?

Now on the outskirts of the village, the path unfolds along the river, offering a tableau oscillating between the serenity of the meadows and the soothing force of the watercourse.

Yet, the gaze, drawn by the horizon, inevitably turns towards the Mythen, an unavoidable destination.

Section 3: On the way to the alpine meadows.

Overview of the route’s challenges: With gradients reaching 15% and often higher, punctuated by occasional plateaus for catching one’s breath, the journey proves to be exceedingly demanding.

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The expedition continues to intertwine harmoniously with the river’s course, gliding from one bank to the other before melding into the distant horizon, towards Brunni, a cul-de-sac village halfway up the valley, which the Via Jacobi disregards, as it has another equally enticing itinerary for you.

Emerging now at a place called Malosen, leisure fades into the background, giving way to the fervent symphony of labor about to commence.

Like a jewel sculpted by time, the Swiss Way of St. James adorns itself with the most exquisite of prominences. A rocky path ascends, at times defying vertiginous slopes of over 30%. For over a kilometer, it climbs wooded heights, initiating its ascent with striking vigor, enveloped by the fleeting shadow of conifers.

Angular stones challenge your feet while spruces, beeches, and firs, offering sparing shade, accompany the trail stretching widely before you.

At the edge of the forest, the incline slightly lessens, yet remains steep, unwavering. Occasionally, thickets attempt to reclaim space, but in Switzerland, trails are meticulously tended, akin to golf fairways.

The forest’s embrace then loosens, revealing a clearing encircled by fences, reserved for human steps, forbidding entry to cattle. 

Now stand majestic, the twin Mythens, offering their splendor to behold. Though they lack the stature of the Matterhorn, their almost human-like charm is undeniable. At their feet, nestle the humble alpine chalets, dotting the path. The Myths, modest giants, rise to less than 2000 meters in altitude.

Further along, the path nears a humble oratory, where prayers might rise in hopes of easing the ascent. But entreaties will remain in vain. Fresh water springs from the fountain, while the relentless climb persists amidst the alpine pastures.

Spruces, solitary or in small groups, cling to the mountain’s steep flanks, enlivened by the presence of numerous chalets. Are they alpine refuges or simple second homes? The answer fades into the alpine mist, yet the comfort they exude dispels any notion of scarcity.

The path finally reaches a first alpine chalet, near the hamlet of Bruust. It embodies the authenticity of Swiss pastures. But at this season, the cows have already returned to the valleys. The abrupt ascent concludes here, giving way to a gentler slope, though not timid. In the distance, modest paved roads wind, serving farmers and the curious. 

Numerous streams, often dried up, cascade down the slopes, trapped by rocks, resembling small canyons.

Once again, the slope becomes steeper over scree, and the trail reaches the place called Bogenfang, where activity is more palpable.

Indeed, a narrow road winds from Brunni, while a picnic area, similar to many others in the region, beckons to locals. Would such a gesture of hospitality require prior reservation? Car access is possible, although the road is bumpy.

The place is bustling, and a lunch break seems compromised. The path persists, climbing over scree. So close to the Mythens, you could almost touch them with fingertips. The apparent wildness of the summits is tempered by the presence of spruces up to their highest peaks. The summits, clad in their spruce coats, seem even tamed by human hands.

Then, the path somewhat mellows in the alpine meadows, where the streams of Lümpenenbach softly sing their crystalline melody.

But the ascent is not over, and the steep slopes of the meadows resume their relentless dictate.

In the winter chill, the slopes welcome skiers, in the shadow of the Mythens.

Almost at the summit, the ascent softens somewhat in the alpine meadow. But the relativity of gentleness is but an illusion.

Shortly after, the horizon unfolds to reveal the Gummen alpine pastures and their small chalets, a prelude to promised felicity.

A modest chalet stands here, offering alpine cheeses, goat cheeses, yogurts, and butter to those who can appreciate these delights. The German language then becomes the passport to discovering authentic flavors.

One last effort, and here is the Hagenegg Pass, the highest point of the Swiss Way of St. James, surpassing even the Brünig Pass, unique in its kind. From 885 meters at Einsiedeln, we reach here 1404 meters in altitude. While pilgrims may sometimes lament the presence of vehicles, innkeepers eagerly welcome this influx of visitors. A winding road also welcomes tourists and skiers on the other side of the valley, regularly animating this popular spot.

The descent begins under the benevolent gaze of patrons seated on the terrace of the Hagenegg Pass restaurant.

Section 4: A slide, or rather a launchpad into the valley.

Overview of the route’s challenges: At 15%, and often well above, with some flat stretches to catch one’s breath. A highly demanding route, one of the most rigorous on the Camino de Santiago in Switzerland.

The descent from the pass, eagerly anticipated after the triumphant ascent, holds its share of challenges. A journey where each step is a ballet between delight and embrace, a symphony orchestrated by the whispers of foliage. What wonder lies ahead! However, this descent, feared by many walkers, demands even more than the ascent itself. Nearly 1000 meters of elevation loss to the lake, with slopes sometimes dizzying, averaging over 15%. Knees bend, ankles sigh, while hamstrings cry out for help!

From the first steps, the path eludes, blending into the exuberance of bushes and wild grasses. Amidst the trees, the dimness thickens, unfolding its veils of mystery, while the ground, carpeted with soft moss, invites contemplation. Through the foliage, the trail descends, gracefully weaving between deciduous trees, mixing beech saplings, spruces, and wild grasses on either side of the imposing Mythens. It dances mischievously alongside the tiny tributaries of the Nietenbach, aquatic whimsies that playfully cross the path, springing from the shadows to dissolve into nothingness.

Lower down, the path transforms, widening, unfolding into a forest that comes alive, where trees whisper secrets.

Above, the Mythens are shrouded in mists, silent guardians of the mysteries of the soul, their summits brushing the clouds in a celestial embrace.

The descent, a true tumble towards civilization, stretches on the horizon, winding and capricious. The path, sometimes narrow then wider, delights in following the landscape’s meanders for over 4 kilometers, admiring the bare trees, standing tall like soldiers on parade.

Further down, the slope softens, the Nietenbach proudly carries more water, elegantly dancing between mossy stones. Nature, in all its wild splendor, unveils its most intimate secrets to those who dare to venture into its mysterious depths.

Much lower down, at the Brändli landmark, a chapel stands, a humble sentinel, where pilgrims’ prayers can rise, either to implore the heavens to stop the rain or to thank the skies for the precious gift of clear weather.

Shortly after, the Via Jacobi hesitates between clearings and forests, expressing its doubts in the murmurs of the trees. Each turn reveals a new surprise, a new enigma to solve for intrepid travelers.

Further down, civilization reappears, timid and discreet, around the bend of the path. Signs of life emerge through the trees, announcing the return to reality after a challenging journey into the twists and turns of the wild. Then, the forest gives way to meadows, but the slope persists, rebellious.

On the horizon, one of the arms of Lake Lucerne emerges like a mirage in the desert, the blue gleam of the lake promising a smile of happiness. Then, the road plunges again into a maze of undergrowth before joining the crossroad leading to the peaceful hamlet of Stoffels.

Section 5: A slight deviation in Victorinox's journey, between Schwyz and Imbach.

Overview of the route’s challenges: it still descends, with some lovely slopes, but we can see the end.

The road then slopes gently, skirting the secrets of a woodland where the Nietenbach murmurs, now a lively stream in this charming valley. Like a natural choreography, the water meanders in arabesques, tracing lines as delicate as a comb’s teeth.

In this enchanting freshness, the cascade unveils its charms, a living tableau where each droplet composes an ephemeral melody.  

The road, proud of its steepness, tirelessly leads towards the plain, refusing to ease despite a slope that defies the laws of gravity, oscillating at over 15%. And there, like a scene painted by the hands of a celestial artist, the panorama unfolds, Brunnen, a sparkling gem nestled by the lake’s edge.

Around the bend of this impetuous road, the village of Ried emerges, a fleeting breath of life in the incessant ballet of landscapes.

If one dares to look up, the Mythen can be glimpsed, those age-old sentinels watching over the valley, their majestic silhouettes contrasting against the azure canvas of the sky.

Then, in a final surge, the road caresses the Nietenbach one last time, this companion of descent with whom innocent games of hide-and-seek were played, before vanishing into the heights of Schwyz.

An imposing citadel rises, a witness to the stretching of time, housing a venerable educational institution erected by the Jesuits at the twilight of the 19th century. Today, the school and the corridors of the cantonal administration whisper their secrets there. The Jesuits, swiftly forgotten in Switzerland. Present since the 16th century, where they worked for education in the Catholic cantons, they were long persecuted, then banned following the Sonderbund War in 1847, a prohibition enshrined in the constitution. The text was eliminated in 1970, by a slim majority (56% of voters). Today, there are about a hundred of them in the country.

There, the Via Jacobi, as if moved by a divine breath, anchors itself in the heart of the city. Schwyz, home to 14,500 souls, beats to the rhythm of the canton that lends it its name.

A statue, proud sentinel, sits in its center, stirring souls to past glory, while the intricacies of tourist agencies extol the grandeur of the square, Schwyz’s vibrant heart. An ephemeral illusion, for in truth, the square is but an island encircled by the incessant flow of cars.

However, the baroque town hall, jewel of the 17th century, once burned under the flames of chaos, only to rise again like a phoenix, adorned with frescoes recounting the Battle of Morgarten. Testament to ancient times, harboring the secrets of debates, equity weighed on its scales, and the shadows of troublemakers in its dungeons. Alas, its setting darkens with the surrounding ugliness, a scar of a bygone era.

History enthusiasts, like Swiss pilgrims thirsty for knowledge, traverse the Banhofstrasse to the Museum of Federal Charters, the ultimate sanctuary of the 1291 pact, which saw the birth of the Swiss Confederation. Nearby stands the Hofstatt Ital Reding, a 17th-century building, a true ode to architectural poetry, bursting with timeless beauty. St. Martin’s Church, witness to centuries past, emerges from the ashes of history, adorned with its baroque finery, a symbol of resilience and faith.

Then, the Via Jacobi veers away from Schwyz, a wanderer following the twists of the RN8. Chapels and churches dot the landscape here, enigmas of piety concealed behind austere facades. For Schwyz, land of Catholic tradition, sees its places of worship flourish, silent witnesses to an ancestral faith, while only 10% dare turn to reform.

Further down, Ibach sprawls, homeland of the Swiss Army Knife by Victorinox, symbol of Swiss ingenuity known worldwide. Here, the currents of prosperity mingle with modern buildings, witnesses of a flourishing industry, where every day, 25,000 red tools come to life.

There is money here to see the shopping center that borders the national road.

Yet, Victorinox, in the shadow of its success, surrounds itself with less flamboyant buildings, discreet witnesses of its daily toil, where the Via Jacobi departs from RN8.

Behind the walls of the company, it continues its quest, crossing the Tolbach, brushing against the walls of a modest chapel, before following the gentle song of the stream.

Shortly after, it brushes against the church of St. Anton, before merging into the heart of Imbach. Chapels and churches, pillars of local piety, blend into the landscape, echoes of a rooted faith.

Here, the Via Jacobi intersects with the Muota, a majestic watercourse, faithful accomplice of nature, flowing into the lake, where Brunnen awaits, peaceful and welcoming.

A small road escapes from Ibach near a renovated chapel, proud guardian of centuries past.

Then, a narrow path delicately winds through the heart of the meadows, offering the spectacle of farms, true havens of order and cleanliness. 

Here, life breathes in every corner, never does a parcel of land exceed, testifying to the harmony between man and nature. There is never a pile of manure that surpasses.

An oratory, like a forgotten jewel, stands amidst the meadows, a humble offering to divine grace, lost in the vastness of the green fields. Churches and chapels abound in the region.

Section 6: The Via Jacobi reaches Lake Lucerne.

Overview of the route’s challenges: a route without any difficulty.

The path gracefully ascends the hill, winding its way through the farms that dot the landscape. Further on, cherry trees dot the path, bearing witness to the canton’s renown as a producer of kirsch. Overall, the farmsteads exude a newfound modesty, contrasting with the opulence of yesteryears in the canton of St. Gallen. Long overlooked, Schwyz is striving to regain its beauty.

Further along, the Via Jacobi merges with a road, providing passage to the charming hamlet of Unterschönenbuch, where the baroque chapel of Katrinakapelle stands majestically. Built in the 16th century, it has withstood the test of time, carefully restored in the preceding century.

A small road then descends towards Brunnen, stopping before a cluster of wood that embodies the essence of the country: order and a refinement that could be described as baroque.

The road soon skirts a modest industrial area, passing under the shadow of the highway.

Subsequently, the Via Jacobi begins an ascent, first along a winding path, then along the road leading to the heights of Brunnen.

The journey leads to Ingelbohl, on the hill of Brunnen, where a vast cloister proudly stands. Founded in the 19th century by the Capuchins, this sacred building now houses the Order of the Sisters of Charity of the Cross, with 3,200 sisters spread across 17 countries. It also hosts a private school and a boarding school for girls, the Theresianum, a true institution in the country.

Beyond the cloister, a staircase descends towards the plain, near a farm offering lodging in its straw. From there, the train station or the lake are easily accessible.

Although legally part of the municipality of Ingelbohl, Brunnen attracts crowds due to its picturesque harbor and lakeside shores. You are on the shores of Lake Lucerne, where the cantons of Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, and Lucerne are reflected. The spectacle is simply majestic, with the mountains mirrored in the tranquil waters of the lake and boats gliding along its shores.

Not far from the harbor, a discreet canal murmurs peacefully. The surrounding restaurants and hotels overflow with charm and authenticity.

After the solemn oath sworn in 1291 on the Rütli meadow by the three founding cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden, the alliance was renewed in 1315 in Brunnen, thus sealing their common destiny against foreign oppressors. The chapel of Brunnen, also known as the confederal chapel, stands on the presumed site of this historic oath.

As dusk envelops Lake Lucerne, its charm intensifies. Magical, isn’t it?

Accomodation on Via Jacobi

    • Martin Kälin, Trachslauertrasse 4a, Trachslau; 055 412 10 44; Guestroom, breakfast
    • B&B Schuler-Marty, Dorfstrasse 54, Alpthal; 055 412 15 61; Guestroom, breakfast
    • B&B Mythenstube, Dorfstrasse 50, Alpthal; 055 556 83 89; Guestroom, breakfast
    • Gasthaus Alpschloss zu den Pfauen, Dorfstrasse 33, Alpthal; 055 412 28 18/079 505 51 58; Guestroom, breakfast
    • Berggasthaus Hagenegg, Hagenegg; 041 811 17 74; Hotel, dinner, breakfast
    • Steinstöckli, Rickenbachstrasse 33, Schwyz; 041 810 10 51; Guestroom, cuisine
    • Hirschen Backpacker Hotel, Hinterdorfstrasse 14, Schwyz; 041 811 12 76; Hotel**, dinner, breakfast
    • Wysses Rössli, Am Hauptplatz, Schwyz; 041 811 19 22; Hotel****, dinner, breakfast
    • Cheng Chuan Hotel Post, Schmiedgasse 92, Ibach; 041 811 16 53; Hotel, dinner, breakfast
    • Diti Nisi Restaurant, Schmiedgasse 92, Ibach; 041 810 18 41; Hotel, dinner, breakfast
    • Kloster Ingebohl, Schönenbuchstrasse 2, Ingebohl, Brunnen; 041 825 24 50; Guestroom, breakfast
    • Schlafen im Stroh, Famile Bucheli, Schulstrasse 26, Brunnen; 041 820 06 70; Guestroom (straw), dinner, breakfast
    • Gasthaus Rosengarten, Bahnhofstrasse 33, Brunnen; 041 820 17 23; Hotel, dinner, breakfast
    • Gasthaus Ochsen, Bahnhofstrasse 18, Brunnen; 041 820 55 66; Hotel***, dinner, breakfast
    • Brunnerhof, Gersauerstrasse 3, Brunnen; 041 820 17 56; Hotel***, dinner, breakfast
    • Weisses Rössli, Bahnhofstrasse 8, Brunnen; 041 825 13 00; Hotel***, dinner, breakfast
    • City-Hotel, Gersauerstrasse 21, Brunnen; 041 825 10 10; Hotel****, dinner, breakfast
    • Seehotel Waldstätterhof, Waldstätterquai 6, Brunnen; 041 825 06 06; Hotel****, dinner, breakfast

Finding accommodation during this stage shouldn’t pose any major difficulties. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to dine in Alpthal, at the Hagenegg pass, in Schwyz, or in Ibach. At the end of the stage, you’ll arrive in town where all shops will be available to you. Despite this relative ease, it’s always prudent to book for security.

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