Explore Switzerland’s own mini-Dolomites | Stay overnight for an incredible sunset
Family-friendly walks (T1) | Medium loop hike (T2) | Scooter trail, rock climbing & ski resort nearby
The double-sided Gastlosen cliffs are a striking feature of the Swiss pre-Alps. Towering above the surrounding fields and forest, they resemble Italy’s beautiful Dolomites.
The entire Gastlosen range runs for around 12 km, and forms the border between the cantons of Fribourg, Bern and Vaud. The best cliff section is to the northeast. A number of trails run around the base — and a conveniently located low pass means you can easily walk around both sides of the cliffs in one day. The cliffs are also popular with rock climbers.
The setting summer sun transforms the Fribourg side to a blaze of pink and orange — a breathtaking sight that’s not to be missed. Grab a terrace seat at the Chalet du Soldat for a front-row view; you can also stay overnight at this mountain hut or the Chalet Grat on the Bern side.
The walks described below start from the valley floor on the Fribourg side — but all can be made MUCH shorter by taking a chairlift or driving up the first part. See the trail descriptions and “getting there and away” section for more info.
Other activities include rock climbing and a mountain scooter trail; see the “nearby mountain fun” section for information.
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Getting there & away
The walks start and end in Jaun, near Charmey and Gruyère in the Swiss canton of Fribourg/Freiburg. The town is served by bus from Bulle and Boltigen.
For shorter options, take the chairlift from Kappelboden (a little further up the valley road towards the Jaunpass and served by the same bus) or drive up to the Chalet de Gross Rüggli.
What to bring
You don’t need any special equipment to do the walks described here in summer or early autumn. You may need snowshoes or skis in winter and early spring. Whatever the season, be prepared for sudden changes in weather and don’t forget sun protection.
You can stop for food and drinks at a number of points; see the “Facilities” section for details. But take enough water even if you plan to buy a meal or only do a short walk.
If you’re staying overnight at the Chalet du Soldat or Chalet Grat, then you need to bring an inner sleeping bag.
You can park in Jaun, at the bottom of the Jaun-Gastlosen chairlift and at the Chalet de Gross Rüggli (see directions above). You can also drive from Jaun to the two buvettes on the trail (see below), but parking may only be for guests.
You’ll be spolied for eating choices: the Chalet du Soldat, Buvette des Sattels and Bärghus am Musersbergli above Jaun, and the Chalet Grat on the other side of the Gastlosen. Check their websites for opening seasons and hours. You can also stay overnight in dormitories at the two chalets.
Dangers & annoyances
The trails are not dangerous in good weather, but guard against:
- Heat stroke/dehydration
Note that on the Gastlosen tour, the Fribourg side of Wolf’s Ort has a drop off that may be more dangerous in slippery conditions and/or if you don’t have good footing.
Trail descriptions & maps: Gastlosen
The trails around the Gastlosen are generally clear, well marked, and not very steep.
Family-friendly loop trail: Jaun experience path
Jaun – Bärghus am Musersbergli – Buvette des Sattels – Bärghus am Musersbergli – Jaun
Highest point: 1,539 m (top of the chairlift)
Height gain: 860 m from Jaun | 200 m from the top of the chairlift
Trail level: T1
Technical details: None
Distance: 12 km from Jaun | 3.5 km from the top of the chairlift
This easy path was created by children, with 9 panels telling “The diabolical story of the Grossmutterloch” in German, French and English. The Grossmutterloch (“Grandmother hole”) is a hole running right through the Gastlosen cliffs. We’ve not done it, but it sounds like great fun for little kids!
The path starts at the top of the Jaun-Gastlosen chairlift. The map below includes the walk up from Jaun, which is around 8.5 km return. You can avoid this by taking the chairlift.
►Jaun experience trail website (German)
Family-friendly loop trail: Gastlosen geological path
Jaun – Chalet de Gross Rüggli – Chalet du Soldat – Chalet de Gross Rüggli – Jaun
Highest point: 1,800 m (just above the Chalet du Soldat)
Height gain: 950 m from Jaun | 570 m from Chalet de Gross Rüggli
Trail level: T1
Technical details: None
Distance: 13.5 km from Jaun | 7.5 km from Chalet de Gross Rüggli
The geology around the Gastlosen is quite unique — and this easy loop walk is the perfect way to explore it. Created by Fribourg University’s geology institute and a building insurance association (Ecab), the trail has 12 signs along the way pointing out geological phenomena like landslides, fossils, and rocks once used to make arrowheads.
The Gastlosen geological path starts at the Chalet de Gross Rüggli. The map below includes the walk up from Jaun, which is around 6 km return. You can avoid this by driving to the chalet. Alternatively, you could take the Jaun-Gastlosen chairlift — zoom into the map to see how to get from the top of the chairlift to the Chalet de Gross Rüggli.
►More info on the Gastlosen geological path, including a pdf download of the 12 stopping points (French & German)
Medium loop hike: Gastlosen tour
Jaun – Buvette des Sattels – Chalet du Soldat – Wolfs Ort – Chalet Grat – Bärghus am Musersbergli – Jaun
Highest point: 1,928 m (Wolfs Ort pass)
Height gain: 1,380 m from Jaun | 780 m from the top of the chairlift
Trail level: T1–T2
Technical details: Slightly exposed on the Fribourg side of Wolfs Ort
Distance: 19 km from Jaun | 11 km from the top of the chairlift
You can do the tour in either direction. The path up from Jaun is T1 and mostly a road; this section is part of the regional “78 Freiburger Vorlalpenweg” long-distance walk. You can skip most of this part — and save around 8 km — by taking the chairlift up and down.
The section around the Gastlosen is T2, and a local route in itself: the “262 Gastlosen Tour”. The trail alternates between a hiking trail and roads.
As mentioned above, the Fribourg side of Wolf’s Ort (where you pass from one side of the cliffs to the other) is a little exposed — our friend with vertigo didn’t love this section, but also had no problem passing it.
Nearby mountain fun
Eating & sleeping
You’ll find more eating and sleeping options in Jaun, as well as at the Jaun pass further up the valley and Charmey further down the valley.
Other hiking options
Two trails of note are:
- The regional “78 Freiburger Vorlalpenweg” , which goes through Jaun and past the Gastlosen
- The national long-distance “3 Alpine Panorama Trail” running through Jaun
More than 800 routes scale either side of the Gastlosen cliffs, of varying difficulty. You can find more info on the websites below, and buy plans for the routes at the Chalet du Soldat.
Gastlosen scooter trail
This 6 km trail starts from the top of the Jaun-Gastlosen chairlift, following asphalt and gravel roads down to the valley. Hire your scooter and helmet at the chairlift ticket office; note that kids under 12 must ride with an adult.
Skiing & sledding
A small ski resort operates from Jaun, with 3 T-bars in addition to the chairlift. The resort is covered by the Magic Pass.