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Bhutanbrücke

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  • Suspension bridge «Bhutanbrücke» at the Pfyn-Finges natural park.
    / Suspension bridge «Bhutanbrücke» at the Pfyn-Finges natural park.
    Photo: CC BY-ND
  • / View from Unterems to Leuk.
    Photo: CC BY-ND, Valais/Wallis Promotion
  • / View from Unterems to the Feschel gorge.
    Photo: CC BY-ND, Valais/Wallis Promotion
  • / Hiking path from Unterems to Susten.
    Photo: CC BY-ND, Valais/Wallis Promotion
m 1100 1000 900 800 700 600 500 10 8 6 4 2 km Bhutanbrücke
Discover the many facets of the Pfyn-Finges Nature Park on foot: from the idyllic mountain village of Unterems via the dramatic Bhutanese suspension footbridge to the European Energy Award town of Leuk.
easy
Distance 10.5 km
3:15 h
335 m
705 m

Starting point for the hike is the mountain village of Unterems, at an altitude of 1,003 m,

accessible via a small cable car from Turtmann: the ride is an adventure in itself. The trail begins with a descent westward across pastures. Pause to take in the view of the slopes opposite: in autumn, especially, the sight of the fire-red European smoketrees is spectacular.

The path leads through the forest down to the Emsbach river, and then follows a “Suone” irrigation channel for a while to reach the Meretschibach. After crossing the river, the path climbs steeply before leading above the hamlet of Feithieren towards the Illgraben ravine.

Its river, the Illbach, looks innocuous enough in fine weather but during storms, or when rain combines with meltwater, it turns into a wild torrent carrying impressive quantities of rocks and silt. This rapid erosion has enabled the river to carve a course 1,500 m into the mountain and deposit the rock in the floor of the Rhône valley. Today, the Pfyn-Finges forest and the fields around Susten lie on top of such debris. Because of this geological activity, the Illgraben is a research area of national importance, equipped with monitoring and early-warning systems. 

A pedestrian footbridge, 134 m long, spans the Illgraben. It was built in 2002 – declared International Year of Mountains by the UN – in Bhutanese style, with support from the kingdom of Bhutan. Decorated with prayer flags, the bridge represents a link of friendship between the two countries.

From the far side of the bridge, a gentle descent leads through the Pfyn-Finges forest. This forms the heart of the Pfyn-Finges Nature Park and has enjoyed official protection since 1997. It is one of the largest connected pine forests in the Alps, known for its great biodiversity. The hike finishes at the north-eastern edge of the Pfyn-Finges forest, by Leuk station.

 

Highlights:

  • The Illgraben, a geologically fascinating ravine, whose river has carved a passage 1,500 m into the rock.
  • Bhutanese-style suspension footbridge, 134 m long.
  • The Pfyn/Finges forest, a nature reserve known for its great biodiversity.

Author’s recommendation

The region’s tourist office is located at Leuk railway station and runs a small shop offering local products from the regional nature park.
Difficulty
easy
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
Unterems, 1,004 m
Lowest point
Leuk, train station, 622 m
Best time of year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Safety information

Use of the trails and the information on this website is at hikers’ own risk. Local conditions may entail changes to routes. Valais/Wallis Promotion accepts no liability for the accuracy and completeness of information on this website.

For all hikes:

  • Bring a map. Download full description of this route including large-scale map by clicking on «Print» icon, top right of this page.
  • Use marked trails only, and observe all signposting – for your own safety, to safeguard grazing animals and to avoid disturbing wildlife.
  • Close gates after passing through.
  • Please be considerate to other trail users, and to the plants and animals.
  • Do not leave any waste in nature.

 

For mountain hikes:

  • Take extra care protecting yourself from the sun at altitude. UV radiation can be exceptionally strong, even in cloudy weather.
  • Plan hike carefully: take into consideration fitness level of each participant, weather forecast and season.
  • Weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains, without warning. Appropriate clothing is therefore essential, along with adequate supplies of food and water. In uncertain weather, turn back in good time.

 

For high-altitude hikes:

  • Inform others of the route you plan to take. Whenever possible, avoid going alone.
  • Do not venture onto glaciers without a mountain guide.
  • Take note of the warning signs that point out the constant danger in river beds and along watercourses below dams and reservoirs: water levels may rise rapidly without warning.

Tips and hints

More information about the destination: 

Start

Unterems, middle station of the Turtmann–Oberems cable car (992 m)
Coordinates:
SwissGrid
2'620'072E 1'126'776N
DD
46.292102, 7.699111
DMS
46°17'31.6"N 7°41'56.8"E
UTM
32T 399800 5127325
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Destination

Leuk, train station

Turn-by-turn directions

The hike begins in the village of Unterems with a descent towards the west. After crossing the Emsbach and Meretschibach rivers, the trail climbs to the Untermeschlerwald forest. A flattish stretch traverses the woods as far as the hamlet of Pletschen, from which another climb leads to the Bhutanese bridge.

The suspension footbridge spans the highly eroded Illgraben ravine. The route then continues northwards through the protected Pfyn-Finges forest. The Illbach river flows into the Rhône at the north-eastern edge of the forest; the walk finishes close by, at Leuk railway station.

Note


all notes on protected areas

Public transport

Regional train as far as Turtmann; change on to bus to the base station of the Turtmann–Oberems cable car. Find full timetable information at www.cff.ch

Getting there

A9 motorway to Leuk. Ideally, park your car at Leuk and continue to the starting point of the hike via public transport.

Parking

Ideally, park at Leuk railway station and continue to Unterems via public transport. Follow the local directions for parking in Susten/Leuk.

Coordinates

SwissGrid
2'620'072E 1'126'776N
DD
46.292102, 7.699111
DMS
46°17'31.6"N 7°41'56.8"E
UTM
32T 399800 5127325
w3w 
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Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

Book recommendation by the author

The tourist office in Leuk-Susten has got brochures and information material about hiking in the region.

Author’s map recommendations

SwissTopo maps 1:25’000: 1287 Sierre

Equipment

We recommend: 

  • good footwear
  • clothing suitable for the weather: always carry a waterproof jacket
  • hat or cap
  • sunscreen
  • bottle for water
  • picnic
  • camera
  • binoculars (optional)
  • hiking poles (optional)
  • printout of this hike (click «Print» icon, to download)  

For certain walks:

  • Swimwear

Questions and answers

Ask the first question

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Rating

5.0
(1)
Aaron Schmid
April 29, 2021 · Community
An einem sonnigen Tag 20 Grad. Sehr schöne Tour gewesen. Einfach mit super Aussicht. Vielen dank.
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When did you do this route? April 23, 2021
Video: Aaron Schmid, Schmid Aaron

Photos from others


Reviews
Difficulty
easy
Distance
10.5 km
Duration
3:15 h
Ascent
335 m
Descent
705 m
Scenic Refreshment stops available Family friendly Geological highlights Botanical highlights Point to Point Faunistic highlights

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