Map

Thumbnail for the map of the modified Schweizmobil 'Ofenloch Weg' (948) hiking trail, opens link to interactive web map.
Source1

Elevation Profile

Elevation Profile of the modified Schweizmobil 'Ofenloch Weg' (948) hiking trail.
Source: Bundesamt für Landestopografie; Drawn with schweizmobilplus.ch

Useful Links

Route Source
Bus Stop
Free Parking
Weather

Short Description

Center of the ‘Ofenloch Weg’ (Literally “Ovenhole Route”) is the Ofenloch cave, thusly named because of the visual resemblance to a pizza oven, along with the impressive canyon of the same name.

As is the case with the Grand Canyon, the cause of this slightly smaller scale one is a small creek called Necker, namesake of the valley.

The “official” version of the route leads from Schwägalp (the foot of Säntis) via Ofenloch to Ennetbühl, while for my version I’ve inverted the direction for three reasons:

  1. This way, we’re walking towards Säntis instead of having this lovely view in our backs.
  2. I prefer ascents to descents.
  3. The last bus from Schwägalp leaves slightly later than in the other direction from Ennetbühl. (17:32, so early evening by my reckoning.)

Notes

  • The signage in the first (or last) third of the route leaves something to be desired and is often more than a bit ambiguous. Bring a map (and/or download offline map data on your phone).

Impressions

Jenny was indisposed and going on this hike, or any hike this day, was a bit of a spontaneous decision. I picked it for being the highest altitude region without snow coverage (probably) that was close and short enough to still reach and complete on time.

The fact that it wasn’t a loop and that the last bus from finish back to start left at 17:32 provided some time pressure though. Challenge accepted.

The first time I left the house, I would have arrived just soon enough to theoretically finish on time according to the “official” estimate. (No, I haven’t learned from the Via Calanca fail, aparently.)

The first two times returning from the parking lot, then from a hundred meters down the road to get my sunglasses and wallet, respectively, were not a big issue.

Now, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit of a scatterbrain at times, but forgetting my backpack and having to drive back from around 20 minutes down the road to get it is peak performance. I had a lot on my mind that day, but still.

Well, by now I’d have to complete the route in 4 hours instead of 5, but I flipped a coin and decided to try.

Image of Säntis as seen from the 'Ofenloch Weg' hiking trail.
Säntis.

Luckily, I didn’t get into any major traffic jams on the way and at least I still had 3.5 hours to reach the bus station by the time I started the hike.

The ascent from Ennetbühl led mostly across grassy hills, forest patches, and alpine farms with untrained dogs that “haven’t eaten anyone so far” but still nailed this cat person in place while sweating bullets and waiting for someone to call the barking, jumping dog back instead of watching the situation with an amused look on their face.

On the bright side, the views of Säntis on one side, and the Toggenburg region with parts of the Churfirsten mountain range on the other more than made up for it.

Image of the Toggenburg region with Churfirsten peaks in the back, and an orange paragliderin front, as seen from the 'Ofenloch Weg' hiking trail.
Nice place to go paragliding: Toggenburg region with the Churfirsten peaks in the back.

After the initial ascent followed picturesque snow dusted hills and the same beautiful views in all directions.

I did scare up a chamois while walking up a hill. It came running from the other side, passed me at a distance of about two meters, and almost reached the forest at the foot of the hill before I had my camera ready. It stopped there for a moment to whistle and warn its friends of my approach. I had no idea they whistled until then.

View of snowy, grassy hills with Säntis in the back, as seen during the 'Ofenloch Weg' hiking trail.
View during the ascent.

The titular Ofenloch Canyon meant taking a detour from the road to Schwägalp, and for a moment I considered skipping it to make sure I reached the bus on time. But I couldn’t just skip the main attraction so I made my way down the valley.

On a narrow, leaf covered trail, with a steep drop on the left side, I should mention – so carefully rather than quickly.

Image of the Ofenloch canyon's rock face.
The other side of the canyon.

While the canyon walls were quite impressive, and the namesake Ofenloch could be described as mildly interesting, I have to say that part of the hike was a bit anticlimactic.

Maybe the time of day or time of year was not ideal and the atmosphere would be different in summer for example, but I was left with a “meh” impression. Also because (it seemed to me) you can’t really get close to the Ofenloch itself, and where the trail leads through isn’t all that interesting.

Image of Silberplatten (part of the Alpstein range) and the moon in daylight, with a dark forest in the foreground covering the lower third. As seen during the 'Ofenloch Weg' hiking trail.
Silberplatten (part of the Alpstein range) and the moon.

No matter, I still got plenty of amazing views and impressions along the way, mostly of Alpstein in increasingly warm evening light, with the moon already rising above, or of snow dusted meadows and moors and sunset lit forest roads with the backdrop of these mountains. Lovely.

I was hungry by now, but didn’t have time to spare, so I ate the nuts and berries I brought on the go. Who needs a break to eat, right?

I did afford some minutes to change out of my sexy wet T-Shirt and into my nice and dry, warm woolen hoodie after the temperatures dropped along with the setting sun.

Is that my bus, leaving early? (Spoiler: It wasn’t).

After a final spurt along a dark, muddy forest path, having passed a way sign that suggested I’d need 25 minutes to reach the bus station (with 20 minutes left on the clock), I reached the station with 10 minutes to spare.

Ample time to try to take some decent low light pictures of Säntis while waiting for the bus.

Great success!

In all seriousness, as I’ve mentioned before, I do like challenging myself and I do like my hikes to be cardio exercises at times, I would have liked to stick around and enjoy the views a bit more at some points along the road. So once again, calculating enough time to finish a particular hike at a leisurely pace and adding some time to account for emergencies and unforeseen circumstances is generally a good idea.

Nevertheless, this race against the clock to reach the bus has been a cool experience for me. Only because I made it, of course.

Oh, and the route was nice too, mostly.

Would you like to share your own experiences with this hike? Do you have any questions? Something to add? Feel free to leave a comment below 🙂


Route Report / Gallery

Full size images without watermarks are available for licensing to interested parties. Check romans.pictures for a selection of my favorites, or contact me for details.

  • Image of Ennetbühl village from the north, with the churfirsten mountains in the back.
  • Image of Säntis as seen from the 'Ofenloch Weg' hiking trail.
  • Image of the Toggenburg region with Churfirsten peaks in the back, and an orange paragliderin front, as seen from the 'Ofenloch Weg' hiking trail.
  • View of snowy, grassy hills with Säntis in the back, as seen during the 'Ofenloch Weg' hiking trail.
  • Chamois escaping down a grassy hill.
  • Image of the highest point of the 'Ofenloch Weg' trail in Switzerland. A hill, with the Alpstein mountain range in the back.
  • Image of a forest covered rock face belonging to the Ofenloch gorge
  • Image of a forest road.
  • Image of the Ofenloch canyon's rock face.
  • Image of the Ofenloch canyon's rock face.
  • Image of Ofenloch.
  • Image of the End/Beginning of the Ofenloch canyon. A round, overhanging rock face with a small waterfall coming out of the middle.
  • View of Ofenloch from the center of the start of the canyon.
  • Necker creek, the one responsible for the Ofenloch canyon.
  • Image of Silberplatten (part of the Alpstein range) and the moon in daylight, with a dark forest in the foreground covering the lower third. As seen during the 'Ofenloch Weg' hiking trail.
  • Image of Säntis (part of the Alpstein range), with a dark forest in the foreground covering the lower third. As seen during the 'Ofenloch Weg' hiking trail.
  • Image of Säntis and Silberplatten (part of the Alpstein range) and the moon in daylight, with a dark forest in the foreground covering the lower third. As seen during the 'Ofenloch Weg' hiking trail.
  • Image of Silberplatten (part of the Alpstein range) and the moon in daylight, with a dark forest in the foreground covering the lower third. As seen during the 'Ofenloch Weg' hiking trail.
  • Image of a rock face with a steel cable wire securing the exposed portion of the narrow, damaged 'Ofenloch Weg' trail.
  • Chunky chamois running away, uphill.
  • Image of a road leading through partially snowy, partially grassy hills and farm houses, with Silberplatten (Alpstein) in the background and the twilight moon above. As seen during the 'Ofenloch Weg' hike in Switzerland.
  • Image of Säntis and Slberplatten in the evening light, moon above, snow powdered hills in front.
  • Image of Säntis in the evening light, moon above, snow powdered hills in front.
  • Nighttime picture of Säntis from Schwägalp.

NEWSLETTER

Don’t miss a hike 🙂

Basic Data

Date of Hike:2021-11-12
Participants:Roman (Solo)
Technical Difficulty:T3 (Partially)

Stats

Roman’s Version

Km14.4
Net Hours (Est.)5.25
Net Hours (Act.)3.4
Ascent (m)1105
Descent (m)701
Max. Alt. (m)1524
Loop?No
Cable Car?No

“Official” Version

Km14
Net Hours (Est.)4.66
Ascent (m)700
Descent (m)1100
Max. Alt. (m)1524
Loop?No
Cable Car?No
Share this on Social Media

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.