Giswilerstock and the Bargmandli Trail – Hiking the Swiss Alps

Giswilerstock

Time to Read: 6 minutes

Giswilerstock is an alpine mountain close to the village of Giswil in Switzerland’s Obwalden region. The 1,825-metre (6,000 ft) peak is popular with hikers and forms part of the Bargmandli Trail.

The mountain is famed for its stunning views across the Hasli Valley and across Lake Sarnen. The area is a wildlife protection zone where hunting is illegal. Here you can find chamois, deer and even golden eagles!

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How to Get to Giswilerstock

The village of Giswil (population 3,500) lies 30km south of Lucerne (Luzern) and 80km east of Bern. The village has a train station linking it with Lucerne and the journey time is around 30 minutes.

Giswilerstock is then 6km east of the village. It is easily reachable by car and there are car parks at Morlialp and Fluonalp.

There are daily buses from Giswil train station from June to November. Postbus route 363 departs from Giswil Station at 08:35, 11:25 and 16:25.

Another option is to take the train to Schüpfheim (connections from both Lucerne and Bern). From there take Postbus route 241 to the car park at Glaubenbielen (Parkplatz stop).

Giswilerstock Accommodation

There are plenty of accommodation options around Giswilerstock from guesthouses to hotels and camping (wild camping is not allowed in nature protection zones and is limited to campsites).

Camping

Campsite International Sarnersee Giswil– A peaceful campsite on the shores of Sarnersee (Lake Sarnen)

Guest House

Fluonalp Alpkäserei und Beizli – A beautiful cabin restaurant and guesthouse close to Giswilerstock

Apartments

Haus Nussbaumweg – three-bedroom holiday home with balcony overlooking the lake and mountains

Hotels

Ferienwohnung Mörlialp – one-bedroom apartments with restaurant and terrace

Hotel Bahnhof Giswil – comfortable hotel opposite Giswil railway station


Bargmandli Trail (five-hour round-trip)

The Bargmandli Trail is a 12.7km circular hike starting and finishing at the car park in Morlialp. The trail is rated as moderate and the round-trip should take around five hours at a relaxed pace.

Bargmandli is a dwarf of local legend who is thought to hide in the alpine forest.

From Fluonalp (two-hour round-trip)

You can join part of the Bargmandli Trail to the summit from the car park at Fluonalp. I did the shorter hike in 2018 when visiting friends in Giswil. We parked at the Fluonalp restaurant and joined the trail there.

The hike was not overly strenuous and followed a well-worn path to the summit. The views above the clouds across the valley and to Lake Sarnen were incredible.

Backwoods Camp

On the trail you will find a small camp. There is a hut with firewood and some cooking utensils which are available for anyone to use. You will also find clean, running water that is okay for drinking (though best use a water filter to be safe). There is also a wooden “long-drop” toilet near the camp.

The Summit

It took around an hour to reach the summit where there is a large, wooden cross and benches overlooking the valley below. Local tradition dictates that you should celebrate by drinking Gipfelwein (Peak Wine) once you reach the top! Any white wine will do!

There is a large bench at the summit where you can enjoy a rest with incredible views. If you are lucky, you will be above the clouds and be able to see far-off peaks rising majestically above the sea of clouds. On a clear day, you can see across Lake Sarnen and along the green and fertile valley.

If you have parked at Fluonalp then to get back you need to retrace your steps. We then took advantage of the alpine restaurant where I indulged in some tasty bratwurst washed down with cold beer.

Fluonalp Restaurant (Fluonalp Alpkäserei und Beizli)

After your hike to the summit, there is nothing better than relaxing down at the Fluonalp Alpkäserei und Beizli for a cold beer or hot coffee (depending on your proclivities and the weather)!

The menu includes traditional regional dishes including fondue, bratwurst and a large selection of cheeses (there is also a delicatessen where you can buy different Swiss cheeses to take away).

One of the specialties is the Giswilersuppe (Giswil Soup) which is an alcoholic “soup” made from coffee, plum schnapps and a whole prune, topped with thick cream. Something that definitely should be tried on your trip to Giswilerstock!

Fluonalp Dairy

Swiss Cheese at Fluonalp Dairy
Swiss Cheese at Fluonalp Dairy

Attached to the restaurant is a delicatessen selling Swiss cheeses, yogurt, cream and butter. The owners have a heard of 140 cows and make everything themselves.

Interesting fact: the herd of 140 dairy cows and 100 bulls are actually fully-fledged citizens of Giswil! People joke that the cattle have more rights than the human inhabitants of the village!

Best Time to Visit Giswilerstock

The best time to hike Giswilerstock is June to October. In winter it’s not advisable to attempt the hike as conditions can be dangerous (up to three metres of snow in some cases).

I hiked the trail in May and the weather was cool with quite a lot of cloud.

Other Things to do in Giswil

Camping Giswil

Giswil has three campsites, all very close to Lake Sarnen. Camping in Giswil is a great way to discover the many hiking trails in the area and mess about on the lake!

Hiking Giswil

There are many hiking trails around Lake Sarnen and in the mountains surrounding the village.

Cycling Giswil

Cycling is a great way to see the Lake and you can explore further afield. You can hire bicycles from Bike Atelier on Brünigstrasse 34, 6074 Giswil. Contact +41 41 675 04 03.

Conclusion

Giswilerstock is an easy hike offering fantastic views of the Obwalden countryside and alpine peaks. The charming small town of Giswil makes a perfect base not only for this hike, but also for nearby Lake Sarnen.

Read More about Switzerland

17 Amazing things to do in Lucerne

Hiking Packing List


Thanks to “Z” for his help with additional info and tips that have been used for this article (and the hospitality when visiting Giswil)!


Steve Rohan

About the author: Steve Rohan, originally from England, has lived in China for over six years. He has lived in the frozen city of Harbin, the ancient capital of Luoyang, the tropical paradise of Sanya and Hong Kong.

He has travelled extensively across Europe and Asia, mostly by train, and has written about his travels for this blog as well as self-publishing his first book, Siberian Odyssey.

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