Between 480m and 1230m,
easy - medium
This page describes the fifth day of this ridgeway walk, from Balsthal to Oberbalmberg. This is not too long a day's hike, but has a reasonable amount of climb, mostly at the start up to the ridge from Balsthal.
Balsthal has regional trains to Oensingen and Oberbalmberg has buses to Solothurn. Both Oensingen and Solothurn are on the main express train line. Another possible starting point to reduce the distance a little could be the village of Farnern, reached by bus from Wangen or Wiedlisbach - the bus brings you up to 800m where there's a well-signposted path up to Alte Bättlerchuchi to join the route.
You could also combine this hike with a visit to the Seilpark Balmberg, with a large number of rope trails through the trees which you navigate with their rented equipment.
High above the plain near Hellchöpfli
Jurassic ridges by Alte Bättlerchuchi
Views over the plain from Hintere Hofbergli
Balsthal - Schwängimatt - Hellchöpfli - Hinteregg - Alte Bättlerchuchi - Höchchrüz - Balmberg - Oberbalmberg
From Balsthal station, the signposts lead leftwards and back across the train tracks towards the prominent ridge running westwards. When the road gets to the bottom of the ridge (very weakly signposted!), follow it round to the right along the base of the ridge. Then ignore the left fork (again, weakly signposted) and continue on the road to Klus.
Cross the main road at Klus, and follow the track on the other side signposted for Schwängimatt. This remains flat for a while and then forks left to climb up the ridge, snaking up between the trees. A mixture of paths, roads and tracks climbs fairly steeply up to Schwängimatt at 1000m, where there is a farm, a small gasthaus and a lone wind turbine. Bear right here, following the track over to the southern side of the ridge, and getting the first views southwards over the flat plain below. Again, a haze-free day brings much more of the Oberland into view. The climb then continues, back under the trees with occasional glimpses to the south and north from the ridgetop. There's a bit of rootiness and stoniness on this ascent and towards the top a rather incongruous barricade of razor wire around the military base, before you finally reach the top at Hellchöpfli and the excellent lookout point just a short way past the signpost.
Back at the signpost, the path leads steeply downhill to the left with some slippy narrow steps to watch out for and some rootiness. It zigzags its way down to meet a track which leads to Hinteregg, where the path splits. Both ways are signposted for Balmberg and Weissenstein, but the leftward path is marked as a Gratweg so hopefully follows the ridgetop more than the flatter roadway to the right. Taking this leftward path leads uphill on a slight ridgetop and back amongst the trees on the level. Some of this path is also a little narrow and rooty but nothing tricky. The expansive views to the south are often obscured by trees, but when open you can see for miles. At one point a massive pylon carries power cables over the ridge. Continue along this ridgetop until the path drops past enormous white rocks to Alte Bättlerchuchi.
Follow the road here towards Hofbergli through the white rock wall to the cooler, northern side of the ridge, and continue for another ridgetop stretch with more southerly views. There follows a slightly trickier stretch to Höchchrüz, where you meet a lane, and the alternative route from Hinteregg comes up from a lane to the right. Continue onward towards Hintere Hofbergli.
The lane leads to the farm at Hintere Hofbergli, where a path heads rightwards through the field of cows. There's a lovely open stretch here, across the open grassy fields with big panoramas open to the south. Continue westwards, climbing towards Nidw Stierenberg. From here the track starts to descend gradually, with hills to the right and again the plain to the left. The track curves down towards Balmberg with the sheer peak of Röti (1400m) directly ahead. From Balmberg, where the road crosses over the pass, it is just a short distance to the Kurhaus at Oberbalmberg, just down the road to the left. From here, buses leave (infrequently) down to Solothurn.
The following are the coordinates for waypoints along this route, obtained from GPS. They can be used either in another GPS, or along with a map, to provide additional references if necessary.
Latitude Longitude Altitude(m) Balsthal station N 47°18'48.5 E007°41'40.4 489 Klus N 47°18'27.0 E007°41'21.9 480 Schwängimatt N 47°17'34.1 E007°40'34.4 1000 Hellchöpfli N 47°16'56.9 E007°38'59.5 1232 Hinteregg N 47°16'41.4 E007°38'13.3 1079 AlteBättlerchuchi N 47°16'29.6 E007°36'05.5 1090 Höchchrüz N 47°16'19.4 E007°35'02.5 1050 Hintere Hofbergli N 47°16'16.1 E007°34'24.6 1065 Nidw Stierenberg N 47°16'09.7 E007°33'27.1 1158 Oberbalmberg N 47°15'51.0 E007°32'23.3 1058
To view this hike in Google Earth or Google Maps, see the Kmz file for the whole Jura Ridgeway on the main page.
The next section on this hike is Oberbalmberg to Obergrenchenberg.