Drive an hour to the southeast of Zurich and you’ll arrive at the foothills of the Alps, where the flat plains of the Swiss Central Plateau starts to pinch into pleats. This transition zone, the Voralpen, is home to some of Switzerland’s most beautiful terrain. What it lacks in staggering altitude, it makes up for with charm: limestone peaks with trailing capes and lakes mirroring the summer’s hues will captivate the heart of anyone lucky enough to lay eyes upon them.

View of an alpine lake in high water

Hidden away from the hisses and hums of the city, in the quaint canton of Glarus, is the Oberseetal. Translated from German, it means “upper lake valley,” and despite a very uninspiring appellation, it is anything but banal. Those who make the ascent from the village of Näfels are welcomed by scenes of sweeping woodland and serene green pastures. The end of the snowmelt season in May and early June is a particularly magical time, when the water level reaches its highest point and submerges parts of the walking path in a Miyazaki-like tableau.

View of an alpine mountain and forested landscape

In the distance, the majestic Brünnelistock commands all attention. Threading together mountain and lake is a trail which winds through dense landscapes of spruce and pinewood.

View of an alpine cottage in a dandelion field

Hay stables converted into rustic holiday homes evoke romantic images of family life in the Alps. Next to them, lustrous fields of dandelion and crisp gurgling brooks beckon a pause to bathe in the artistry of nature’s skillful hand.

View of an alpine landscape with lake, forest, and mountains

The comblike Churfirsten comes into full view for a brief breathtaking moment, just before the gentle slopes level out and veer into the woods of the Ällenbodenwald.

Light dances over a river flower through a forest

In the lush lull of the forest, shaded from the heat of the afternoon’s beaming rays, sunlight dapples down through the canopy to play with the piercing cold waters of the Sulzbach. By the streambed, wooly tendrils of young mountain fern slowly unfurl and reveal a more bashful side of the Obersee Valley.

Young mountain fern
Getting to the Obersee Valley

As there are no bus services from Näfels to Obersee, getting to the valley is easiest by car. Trains depart daily from Zurich to Näfels-Mollis every 30 minutes, and the hike from Näfels up to the lake takes approximately 2.5 hours.

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