About Staubbach Falls (Staubbachfälle)
Staubbach Falls (also Staubbachfall or Staubbachfälle in German; pronounced “STAHW-bahkh-fell-uh”) is perhaps the signature waterfall of Lauterbrunnen Valley.
Considering that Lauterbrunnen Valley is home to some 72 waterfalls (though we didn’t see nearly that much on our visit), it’s no small claim for this waterfall to be considered the signature one in the valley (let alone the country).
So why is that?
The Signature Waterfall of the Swiss Alps
What made Staubbach Falls so striking was its position (see photo above).
It was very easy to spot as we approached the town of Lauterbrunnen once we left the Lauterbrunnen Train Station.
Therefore, I’m pretty sure this waterfall is noticed by just about everyone that comes to this very popular and famous valley that seems like quintessential Swiss Alps scenery.
Moreover, Staubbach Falls also complemented the landscape, which included steep, glaciated U-shaped valley walls as well as the iconic Swiss Alps peaks of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau.
Indeed, it reminds me very much of how Bridalveil Fall complemented El Capitan at the Gates of Yosemite Valley.
Nevertheless, in order to even earn such praise and attention, it has to be noticed in the context of towering vertical cliffs and peaks that made Switzerland famous in the first place.
Well, Staubbach Falls certainly held its own against its gigantic surroundings as the waterfall itself sported some pretty impressive dimensions.
For example, the falls had been measured and confirmed to have a 297m height, of which almost all of it was in freefall.
I believe this height would put the Staubbach Falls amongst one of the tallest waterfalls in the world based on vertical drop
Experiencing Staubbach Falls
In addition to seeing Staubbach Falls on the approach to Lauterbrunnen Valley coming in from the north, we also managed to view it from several spots in and around the valley itself.
For example, we got to see it right across the valley from the exposed walkways at Trümmelbach Falls.
We also got to see it from a gorgeous panorama at the elevated town of Wengen, which looked right into the mouth of Lauterbrunnen Valley from above.
But for a more intimate experience with Staubbach Falls, we did a walk that ultimately led up to a sheltered cove right behind part of the waterfall’s drop.
The trail up to the back of Staubbach Falls ascended steeply uphill after having walked a bit south of most of the town of Lauterbrunnen (taking roughly 15-20 minutes).
During the approach to the ascent, we noticed paragliders hovering above the waterfall.
After climbing a few switchbacks, we then reached the entrance of a tin tunnel.
I believe the tunneling was necessary because vertical cliffs (like the one supporting Staubbach Falls) tend to pose a rockfall hazard.
Beyond the tunnel, the path then ascended some stairs cut into the cliff, and the path eventually terminated at a dead-end right behind the waterfall.
Depending on the wind conditions and Staubbach Falls’ flow, the droplets sometimes blew right into the somewhat sheltered walkway that we were on.
During our visit, the rain of droplets wasn’t so severe that we needed to don our rain ponchos, but I could foresee how it can be a drenching experience under the right conditions.
In any case, from this vantage point, I was also able to get birds eye views both up and down the Lauterbrunnen Valley (sometimes even through the misty waterfall itself).
Overall, this out-and-back hike took us around 90 minutes, but we really took our time.
According to my GPS logs, we walked approximately 2km, and it would have taken us around an hour with a bit more focus.
The Longevity of Staubbach Falls
We weren’t sure what a typical flow would be for Staubbach Falls.
However, during our June 2010 visit, we saw Staubbach Falls scatter with the wind (almost disappearing before making it to the bottom at times).
From our observations, the waterfall did seem to have impressive flow, which we attributed to the snowmelt at the start of Summer.
Yet we also noticed that heavy rain and snow throughout most of Europe during our visit further exacerbated the high flow of the falls (though it didn’t seem to us to be unusually high flow).
Thus, I do wonder whether Staubbach Falls can last far into the late Summer given that its source was pretty much all snowmelt.
Since June would typically be considered the peak snowmelt period, and we happened to visit the waterfall in an unusually high rainfall year, my guess would be that Staubbach Falls might struggle to flow well into August.
That said, its longevity might be enhanced if its drainage was protected as a spring or if there were other steadier, supplemental sources of water that I’m not aware of.
Staubbach Falls resides in the town of Lauterbrunnen, which sits within the Interlaken-Oberhasli District of the Bern Canton, Switzerland. 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 Bern Canton website.
As alluded to earlier, it’s quite easy to spot Staubbach Falls as you approach the town of Lauterbrunnen.
We got to the Lauterbrunnen Station by rail twice – the first time descending from Kleine Scheidegg (as part of the Jungfraujoch [Top of Europe] excursion) through Wengen, and the second time going straight here from Interlaken Ost.
I know the Interlaken Ost to Lauterbrunnen route is definitely covered by the Swiss Pass, but I’m not sure about the Kleine Scheidegg to Lauterbrunnen route.
It was hard to tell because we paid for the whole round trip up to Jungfraujoch along with our Swiss Pass.
From the train station, in order to get close to Staubbach Falls, you have to walk through the Lauterbrunnen town.
It probably takes around 15 minutes to cover this stretch, but I swear you’ll probably take longer to appreciate the falls towering over the town itself.
Then, you continue past the town for a few minutes until you reach an established walk that leads right up to Staubbach Falls’ backside.
The trailhead is besides some barn, bordered by some paddocks (there were some sheep grazing behind the fences when we were there).
Nearby the trail, there’s a free-flowing fountain where lots of people were drinking from it (myself included).
It took me (Julie didn’t go behind the falls with me) about an hour round trip to do the whole excursion from Lauterbrunnen town including all the photo taking throughout.
So that should give you a rough idea of how much time to budget for this experience.
Finally, for some context, the train ride from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen was said to be about 25 minutes. From Zurich to Interlaken was about 3 hours by rail.
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