Seerenbach Falls (Seerenbachfälle)

Weesen / See-Gaster, 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

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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.

Walensee_032_06162010 - Seerenbach Falls
Seerenbach Falls

But when we finally laid eyes on it (as you can see in the photo above), 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.

Is Seerenbach Falls Legitimate?

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.

On the day we visited the Seerenbach Falls, a large system that affected the weather on our visit even caused flooding in Southern France.

Walensee_099_06162010 - Context of Rinquelle and the footbridge across its creek at the foot of the Seerenbach Falls
Context of Rinquelle and the footbridge across its creek at the foot of the Seerenbach Falls

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!

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 over the course of a year).

Then again, as unlikely as it might seem, perhaps we mistimed our visit to Seerenbach Falls because maybe it would flow best in April or even later in the season like September.

The townships of the Amden region further up the cliff might have also diverted or siphoned a fair bit of the waters feeding this waterfall for the purposes of agriculture, which would put further pressure on the waterfall’s longevity.

The Height of Seerenbach Falls

Walensee_036_06162010 - Clouds obscuring the upper parts of Seerenbach Falls just as we showed up
Clouds obscuring the upper parts of Seerenbach Falls just as we showed up

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.

The first tier was said to have a drop of 50m, the second tier had a 305m drop, and the third tier had a 190m drop with the remainder being cascades.

That second tier (the middle drop) alone would make it one of the highest freefalling waterfalls in Switzerland.

Then again, we’d argue about its legitimacy as stated earlier on this page given its apparent lack of volume and longevity.

Walensee_086_06162010 - Context of Rinquelle and the bottommost drop of the Seerenbach Falls
Context of Rinquelle and the bottommost drop of the Seerenbach Falls

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.

Earning Our Seerenbach Falls Sighting

To see Seerenbach Falls, 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.

Walensee_006_06162010 - Julie on the walk along the northern shores of the Lake Walensee en route to the Seerenbach Falls under threatening rain
Julie on the walk along the northern shores of the Lake Walensee en route to the Seerenbach Falls under threatening rain

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 Seerenbach 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 harder to see due to the awkward viewing angles combined with the cliff topology.

Walensee_035_06162010 - Looking back across Lake Walensee from somewhere near the base of both Rinquelle and the Seerenbach Falls
Looking back across Lake Walensee from somewhere near the base of both Rinquelle and the Seerenbach Falls

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 Seerenbach 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.

Walensee_090_06162010 - Context of Rinquelle and the bottommost drop of the Seerenbach Falls with Julie sitting and waiting at the lookout towards the left side of this photograph
Context of Rinquelle and the bottommost drop of the Seerenbach Falls with Julie sitting and waiting at the lookout towards the left side of this photograph

That said, I might have gotten a tick bite on that grassy area because when we took the train back to Zurich, that was when Julie had to pull one out of my leg during the journey.

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.

Authorities

Seerenbach Falls resides near the town of Weesen, which sits within the St Gallen Canton. I can’t find an official governmental authority administering this waterfall. So for information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you may try visiting the St Gallen Canton website or the Weesen website.

Walensee_002_06162010 - View of Lake Walen (Walensee) as we had just gotten off the bus and were about to start walking to Seerenbach Falls
Walensee_003_06162010 - Julie walking through the outskirts of town en route to Seerenbach Falls along Betlisstrasse
Walensee_005_06162010 - Going past some directional signs as we slowly made our way to the Seerenbach Falls from Walensee along Betlisstrasse
Walensee_008_06162010 - We noticed this cafe while walking on Betlisstrasse en route to the Seerenbach Falls
Walensee_009_06162010 - Context of Betlisstrasse and the nearly vertical cliffs towering over the road and the Lake Walensee
Walensee_014_06162010 - Looking out across the Lake Walensee while walking on Betlisstrasse en route to the Seerenbach Falls
Walensee_016_06162010 - Julie continuing to walk on the narrow Betlisstrasse beneath some vertical cliffs en route to the Seerenbach Falls
Walensee_018_06162010 - Julie approaching one of the tunnels on Betlisstrasse en route to Seerenbach Falls
Walensee_019_06162010 - Julie approaching another tunnel on the way to Seerenbach Falls
Walensee_021_06162010 - Passing through a tunnel on the way to Seerenbach Falls on Betlisstrasse
Walensee_023_06162010 - Looking back across the Lake Walensee towards what appeared to be a road and railway on the other side of the lake
Walensee_024_06162010 - A plaque above an overhanging section of the Betlisstrasse en route to Seerenbach Falls
Walensee_025_06162010 - Julie trying to figure out which way we should be walking at this fork in order to get up to the Seerenbach Falls
Walensee_030_06162010 - Approaching the hamlet of Betlis, which was the nearest development to the foot of the Seerenbach Falls and Rinquelle
Walensee_043_06162010 - 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 clouds
Walensee_056_06162010 - Looking back at the context of the cascades downstream of Seerenbach Falls with Lake Walensee in the distance
Walensee_060_06162010 - Direct look at Rinquelle, which seemed like a spring at the foot of Seerenbach Falls
Walensee_068_06162010 - This view of Rinquelle was all that the steps going up above the main trail yielded before it ended abruptly
Walensee_071_06162010 - Looking through foliage at most of the 3rd drop of the Seerenbach Falls
Walensee_083_06162010 - Context of the 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
Walensee_109_06162010 - Given the long walk it took to get here, Julie used this bench at the end of the path before the Rinquelle to chill out for a bit
Walensee_009_jx_06162010 - Looking upstream from the bridge on the footpath between Weesen and Walenstadt towards the foot of Rinquelle and the cascades downstream of it
Walensee_117_06162010 - After having our fill of the Seerenbach Falls, we had to make the long walk back towards Weesen in bad weather
Walensee_121_06162010 - Waiting for the bus at Weesen so it could drop us off near the train station and then we could take the train back to Zurich

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We visited Seerenbach Falls as part of an out-and-back day trip from Zurich using mass transit so this is the perspective by which we’ll describe this route.

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.

Walensee_119_06162010 - Given the rather infrequent bus arrivals between Walensee and Weesen, we had a bit of time to briefly look around the town of Walensee
Given the rather infrequent bus arrivals between Walensee and Weesen, we had a bit of time to briefly look around the town of Walensee

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 to us.

After all, Julie and I weren’t sure about whether we were doing what we had to do to get to the Seerenbach Falls or not.

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


Top down sweep of the 3rd tier of the falls along with Rinquelle and a field of wildflowers blooming in the paddock


Top down sweep of the falls from as close as I could get on the grass fronting the falls under the muddy and wet conditions


Top down sweep focusing on Rinquelle and the cascades flowing under the bridge and further downstream

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



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