From Bern follow road to Schwarzenburg to the Schwarzwasserbrücke.
|Guided tours:||self guided|
Zur Schwarzwasserbrücke, Bernstrasse 398, 3148 Lanzenhäusern, Tel: +41-31-731-02-02.
Förderverein Region Gantrisch / Naturpark Gantrisch, Schlossgasse 13, Schloss, 3150 Schwarzenburg, Tel: +41-31-808-00-20.
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|19th cty||Tauner (day labourers) settle in the valley and work at the rich farms in the surroundings.|
The Schwarzwassergraben is a gorge located between Bern and Fribourg. The lower part of the Schwarzwasser river flows through a gorge, which is up to 100 m wide with up to 200 m high sandstone cliffs. Most of the time the gorge is about 50 m deep. The river rises in the Gantrisch area, between Pfyffe (1,666 m asl) and Schüpfenflue (1,720 m asl), and is 22 km long. The Schwarzwasser is the last river in Switzerland, with a natural riverbed from the source to the estuary. It flows into the Sense river, which has a similar gorge. The river of today has not much water and is very shallow, it is much too small to have formed the gorge, but it is ideal for bathing, even with small children.
The sedimentary rocks in the area were formed during the Tertiary and are called Molasse. The area of the Alps was land at that time, but the beginning orogeny caused two synclines north and south, which were sometimes land, sometimes lakes, and sometimes flooded by sea water. As a result a thick sequence of various sedimentary rocks was deposited in the depression. With the uplift of the Alps the Molasse deposits were also lifted, the erosion created valleys in the hill country, which were enlarged by the melting water of the cold ages.
There are numerous trails in and around the gorge, so you can pick one or walk your own. To see the gorge walk along the river, there is always either a single lane gravel road or a walking trail. There are also numerous bridges over the river, but actually the water is not deep and it is really not difficult to cross the river. The interesting part of the gorge starts at the estuary, where the Schwarzwasser flows into the Sense. The road from Bern to Schwarzenburg crosses the gorge here on the Schwarzwasserbrücke, and here is the restaurant Zur Schwarzwasserbrücke and the Eislaufschule Ischzyt. Both offer a parking lot and there is a station for Bus M6 and train S6. The parking lots are private, so we recommend using public transport, which works very well in Switzerland. From here it's only a 700 m/10 minute walk to the Alte Schwarzwasserbrücke, the historic bridge at the old road.
A geologic highlight are the Glungen, a section of the river where a layer of sandstone forms the ground. The cracks in the rock were widened and so the water does not flow over the flat plane, it flows through a number of 20 cm wide parallel channels in the rock. This place is located below the Schwarzwasserbrücke. The Zwingherrenbogen is a natural bridge located at Hinterfultigen near the Bütschelbachsteg. There is a small trail branching off which which is rather difficult and has a steel rope for security. There are also a place called Druidenaltar (druids altar) which is actually a number of rectangular holes chiseled into a rock face. Its more likely that this was once used for a house built at the cliff, than that it is actually a remains from the Celtic era (pre-Roman). The place is known as Schlosschällen (castle cellar) a hard to reach.
From the bridge it's a pleasant walk along the gorge on a gravel road. After 2.8 km there is the side valley of the Bütschelbach which is a possibility to leave the gorge. Here the road ends at a farm, and there is only a walking trail. The official hiking trail is through the Bütschelbach valley, the gorge has no trail upstream. If you want to walk this section you have to walk on the river banks and cross the river by wading at every meander. Low water level and appropriate shoes are strongly recommended. After 5.7 km the Rossgraben is reached, the next possibility to leave the gorge. The road from Schwarzenburg to Rüeggisberg crosses the gorge, and there is a parking lot. Inbetween are numerous trails leaving the gorge so its alway possible to plan a shorter hike. Unfortunately there is no public transport at this end of the gorge, so you have to walk back. An alternative is to leave the gorge through the Dorfbach tributary and walk to Schwarzenburg Bahnhof.
The gorge is close to Bern and is very popular on weekends for bathing. If you want to avoid crowded river banks, hordes of children, and full parking lots, you should avoid warm and sunny weekends.