Kandersteg is a small, picturesque resort lying at the end of the beautiful Kandertal valley, and despite the rail tunnel which now connects it through the rock wall to the South, it still retains that special feeling of isolation. It is a resort to which many regular visitors return, for its spectacular scenery, friendly welcome, and recreational opportunities. In the Summer there is a large network of hiking and biking trails, and also paragliding, and in Winter there are specially cleared Winter trails (of which this walk is one) and also some skiing.
This Winter walk uses a cable car to explore high above Kandersteg at the end of the valley, and retrace the historic trade route higher up towards the Gemmi Pass to the South. The path is cleared and packed by machines, so the walking is not difficult, with a gradual incline.
The prepared trail winding up the valley
Snowy cliffs at Schwarenbach
Kandersteg is on the rail line South of Spiez, and North of the train tunnel through to Brig. From Zurich there are direct trains to Kandersteg (3 hours through Bern and Spiez), although it wouldn't really make sense to do this hike as a day trip from Zurich. From Kandersteg train station, there are hourly buses (15 minutes) to the Sunnbüel cable car, which whisks you past spectacular scenery up to the start of the walk.
From the end of the hike, you can take the gondola from Gemmipass down to Leukerbad, and take the train from there back to Kandersteg changing at Brig. Or if you want to double the hike, you can of course retrace your steps back to Sunnbüel and take the cable car back down again.
Sunnbüel - Schwarenbach - Daubensee - Gemmi Pass.
This walk is excellently signposted, right from the start, and given that the path is cleared and machine-packed, it's impossible to go wrong. The trail leads through the trees, past some strange carvings of animals, and on up the valley. It's relatively flat with just a few undulations, that presented no problems in March. The valley exudes a pristine snow-covered beauty, with the harsh high peaks watching over - this serenity is spoiled only slightly by the power cables and their huge pylons (is there no other way to move electricity?).
The path continues upwards, until the restaurant Schwarenbach finally comes into view. This is a great spot for a warming soup or drink if the weather is Wintry! After some refreshment, the trail continues uphill, eventually dropping down to the Daubensee at 2200m.
Continue around the left-hand shore of this lake, and follow the trail up to Gemmipass at 2310m, which offers spectacular views over into the Wallis region - ample reward for all that walking! The cable car station here marks the end of the walk.
At kandersteg.ch there is a description of a longer version of this walk suitable for Summer. There are also descriptions of other walks nearby, and maps of the area. Also at schwarenbach.ch, there is information on the cable cars and the hotel, and more panoramic pictures, plus most importantly of all under 'Aktuelles Wetter', whether the 'Winterwanderweg Gemmipass' is currently open or closed.
Also see the Lötschental walk on this site for another possibility nearby. There are many opportunities for walks in this area, especially in the Summer.