Seerenbach Falls 

Weesen / Walensee, St Gallen Canton, Switzerland

Rating: 2     Difficulty: 4
As much of the full height of the thin Seerenbach Falls as I could see before the clouds rolled in for good

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Seerenbach Falls (also Seerenbachfall or Seerenbachfälle in German; pronounced "SEE-ren-bahkh-fell-uh") was supposedly Switzerland's tallest waterfall in terms of cumulative height. Naturally with such boastful claims we just had to see this waterfall for ourselves. But when we finally laid eyes on it, we were deeply disappointed and were even skeptical as to whether this waterfall should even have had the title of the tallest Swiss waterfall.

Allow me to explain why.

We happened to show up in a year when Europe had an exceptionally wet late Spring and early Summer. There were storms that yielded flooding throughout much of Europe prior to our arrival in Switzerland, and on the day we visited the falls, a large system that affected the weather on our visit even caused flooding in Southern France. Since we visited in mid-June, the drainages had ample time to accumulate water while the snow should have been at peak snowmelt.

So given these factors in favor of high waterflow, imagine our bewilderment when we saw that this waterfall barely struggled to flow!

Approaching Seerenbach Falls That made me believe that perhaps this waterfall shouldn't be considered a major waterfall as it would marginally pass (or fail) our longevity test (i.e. it doesn't flow for a long enough period of time). Then again, as unlikely as it might seem, perhaps we mistimed this waterfall because maybe it would flow best in April or the townships of the Amden region further up the cliff might have diverted or siphoned a fair bit of the waters feeding this waterfall.

Anyways, getting past the legitimacy of the tallest waterfall claim, Seerenbach Falls had been measured to be 585m of cumulative height over three main tiers (50m for tier 1, 305m for tier 2, 190m for tier 3, and the remainder of the drop being cascades). That 2nd tier (the middle drop) would make it one of the highest freefalls in the country, but again, we'd argue about its legitimacy as stated earlier on this page.

One thing Seerenbach Falls did have going for it was that it was accompanied by a loud gushing waterfall shooting out of a cave alongside the 190m third tier. The signs indicated that this gushing spring was called Rinquelle, and the footpath ended at a viewpoint that put us face-to-face with this particular year-round waterfall.

To see this waterfall, we had to earn it with a long walk from the town of Weesen to the footpath ending in front of Rinquelle. At least the walk was primarily along a mostly flat, paved road shared with other cars and even mountain bikers. There was a tunnel that we went through as well as a little lakeside cafe en route to the hamlet of Betlis, where there was an accommodation and cafe.

Just as we headed east of Betlis, we started to see see most of the 2nd tier of the falls (i.e. the tallest tier). We had to pay attention as we headed east because it didn't take long before clouds blocked our view of the uppermost sections of the falls, including that first tier. It would also turn out that as we got closer to the waterfall itself, those uppermost tiers were also harder to see due to the awkward viewing angles combined with the cliff topology.

It was possible to extend the long hike into a longer 6-hour one-way affair to Walenstadt, but we only did it as a long out-and-back excursion from Weesen (at the west end of the Walensee or Lake Walen). Near the end of the walk, there are a few other paths providing other views of the falls. The slippery stairs (because it was raining when we were there) ascending above the view of Rinquelle was actually stopped short due to unstable earth. However, there was a spur path below the Rinquelle viewpoint in a grassy paddock with blooming wildflowers providing a different, more satisfying view of both Rinquelle and the 3rd (bottom) tier of Seerenbach Falls.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Context of both Seerenbach Falls and RinquelleContext of both Seerenbach Falls and Rinquelle
Right at the base of RinquelleRight at the base of Rinquelle
We made our visit to Seerenbach Falls after basing ourselves in the city of Zurich, which was both beautiful and strategic given how well connected it was to the rest of SwitzerlandWe made our visit to Seerenbach Falls after basing ourselves in the city of Zurich, which was both beautiful and strategic given how well connected it was to the rest of Switzerland
Prior to our arrival in Zurich from Interlaken, Julie and I made a stop in Lucerne, which was quite nice despite the bad weather we had faced while therePrior to our arrival in Zurich from Interlaken, Julie and I made a stop in Lucerne, which was quite nice despite the bad weather we had faced while there
View of Lake Walen (Walensee) as we had just gotten off the busView of Lake Walen (Walensee) as we had just gotten off the bus

BetlisstrasseWalking alongside the lake on Betlisstrasse

Approaching a tunnel on BetlisstrasseApproaching a tunnel on Betlisstrasse

Passing through a tunnelPassing through a tunnel

A plaque above BetlisstrasseA plaque above Betlisstrasse

Approaching the hamlet of BetlisApproaching the hamlet of Betlis

Another look at tiers 2 and 3 of Seerenbach FallsAnother look at tiers 2 and 3 of Seerenbach Falls. By now, the clouds had rolled in for good and we'd no longer be able to see neither the top part of tier 2 nor tier 1.

View of Walensee from near the fallsView of Walensee from near the falls

Looking up towards the third tier of Seerenbach Falls with only a small bit of the 2nd tier visible as it was mostly obscured by cloudsLooking up towards the third tier of the falls with only a small bit of the 2nd tier visible as it was mostly obscured by clouds

This view of Rinquelle was all that the steps going up above the main trail yieldedThis view of Rinquelle was all that the steps going up above the main trail yielded

The narrow footpath flanked by pretty wildflowers leading to the base of Rinquelle and Seerenbach FallsThe narrow footpath flanked by pretty wildflowers leading to the base of Rinquelle and Seerenbach Falls. I would later find out after this hike that I had a tick bite and I wondered if it came from this spot.

Rinquelle and cascade as seen from the path between Weesen and WalenstadtRinquelle and cascade as seen from the path between Weesen and Walenstadt

Julie chilling out at the end of the path before RinquelleJulie chilling out at the end of the path before Rinquelle

Walking back towards Weesen in bad weatherWalking back towards Weesen in bad weather

Waiting for the bus at WeesenWaiting for the bus at Weesen


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Bottom up sweep mostly of the Rinquelle Waterfall


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

From Zürich, we took one of the once-every-half-hour trains towards Ziegelbrücke. The train we took on the way there consumed about an hour, but on the return journey, the same train only took 50 minutes (probably due to fewer stops).

From Ziegelbrücke, there's a once-an-hour bus (number 650, I believe) that we took towards a stop called Fli Seestern on the outskirts of Weesen. Once we got off the bus some 15 minutes later, we were next to the Betlisstrasse, which was the street we'd walk all the way to the signposted track up the paddocks to its end in front of Rinquelle.

We were very thankful that both the train station personnel (who recommended the right stop to wait for the bus) and the bus driver (who recommended where we should get off the bus) were very helpful as Julie and I weren't sure about whether we were doing what we had to do to get to the falls or not.

All told, it was about a 90-minute walk each way between Weesen and the Seerenbach Falls (about 3 hours total of walking). We also spent an hour at the falls while spending nearly another hour waiting for the return bus in Weesen.

If you hired a car, it's possible to drive all the way to Betlis, which would reduce the walking time to just 30 minutes each way (not to mention all the other time saved waiting for the next bus or next train).




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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