Seerenbach Falls (Seerenbachfälle)

Weesen, St Gallen Canton, Switzerland

About Seerenbach Falls (Seerenbachfälle)


Hiking Distance: 10km round trip
Suggested Time: 3-4 hours

Date first visited: 2010-06-16
Date last visited: 2010-06-16

Waterfall Latitude: 47.13963
Waterfall Longitude: 9.16781

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!

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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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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).

Bottom up sweep mostly of the Rinquelle Waterfall

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Tagged with: weesen, walensee, lake walen, st gallen, saint gallen, switzerland, waterfall, zurich, rinquelle, walenstadt, betlis

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