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The nostalgia paths

After the floods during the year 2015, the path through the Arni Tobel was closed for quite a while. Then I heard later that the Nidwalden section of Swiss Hiking had removed this path from the network for no reason. Every now and then I looked up the online map and found that the route through the Arni Tobel was still marked (and that on the 1: 10,000 map) although the junction towards Staldeli was no longer recorded. Then I came across the article from Cardamine ( and read that the Arniloch path was still to be walked. The junction in the direction of Staldeli is still feasible if there is little water flowing: there is no bridge any longer.

The path through the Arni Tobel is an old acquaintance for me. For me, the ravine was a destination for a half-day tour. I had also used it several times to access the Juchli Pass. In fact, the access through the gorge is the shortest way from Engelberg towards Juchli.

The Nidwalden hiking trails suggested using the alternatives, either via Äschboden, Staldeli and Stalden, or the Jochpassweg to Untertrübsee and further via the Wanghütte. Both correspond to a detour with a loss of 20 minutes. I also suspect that the path was originally created as a tourist attraction (there are several antique postcards with the Arni Tobel as a theme). The disappearance of this path would correspond to the disappearance of a heritage (like the former path from Rosenbold, now called Brunni, to Spisegg or the former Stigi above Alpenrösli) that I would regret.

That’s why I had the intention to hike up through the gorge again. From Engelberg it goes over Espen and Örtigen to below Eggli. At the entrance to the gorge there was a notice that the whole path was closed due to forestry work. I did not like to disregard it, but the curiosity was too great. That’s why I kept on going despite the ban. Fortunately, the forest work was concentrated on the first hundred meters of the path, and no one was on site.

Further up I noticed that the path had been cleaned with a brush cutter, which suggests that it is still being maintained. The path is exactly as it used to be. Of course, the bridge was rebuilt further up and, in the section, just below the bridge there were new boulders that had fallen … but that was also the case before. Since the 2015 storm, “only” the bridge has been rebuilt and the first section after the bridge has been improved. The path runs like it used to … Even if the devastation is extreme (you might think that some blocks fell from the slope … but they were carried away by the water …), most of it has remained as it used to be.

The earlier markings have been painted over because this path is no longer kept in the official network. My assumption is that the path at Eggli enters the federal hunting banned area and that the relevant regulations apply there. One condition for a route through the hunting ban area in winter is the route being mark-signed. Since, for security reason, one wants to prevent the Arni-Tobel path from being used in winter, it has been removed from the network.

Further up, under the Wanghütte, one reaches the pastures where one comes across rubble. That was the place where the former “zum Arnitobel” inn stood, which was also displayed on old postcards. My father told us that the landlord set fire to the house while being drunk and burned it down.

For me it then went on via Stalden in the direction of Lutersee. Just below the Arnizingel hut I crossed towards Chrämergaden because I wanted to get down from Unter Zingel. I hiked the latter trail 30 years ago and wanted to see how it is today.

From Chrämergaden, the wide path goes slightly up to the hairpin bend. There you meet the first marking (red dots) that lead to Unter Zingel. The descent to the Unter Zingel hut is partly steep, but well-maintained.

In Unter Zingel I met Hans who kindly gave me a beer and made the cable car to Obermatt work for me. I think I would hardly dare to get into the gondola … But I was allowed to help him to fill the water tank of the gondola. This is a simple but proven system: the railway is 100 years old.

From Unter Zingel to Obermatt it is first a little uphill until you go past a gate and descend through another pasture. The tracks can hardly be seen there, but you just have to follow the red dots. Then it goes into the forest and over a run. This run could become uncomfortable in heavy rain. In my opinion, this is the only critical point in the entire descent, even if the rest of the way is steep. After the run it is almost flat to the first Schiessibach. From there, that goes The path is steep, with hairpin bends down towards Aawasser. The path is not to be missed and is clearly visible in the terrain. Except in Arnigrien, I could imagine that it is not easy to find in early summer. There was forest work there and you can expect correspondingly tall perennials.

The path of the Aawasser Tobel can be reached approx. 800m above the Arnibrügg. A small sign points to the way to the Zingel. It has not been possible to board the train from there since 2010. Accordingly, you either have to climb up through the Aaschlucht or descend to Grafenort.

Itinerary: Engelberg – Örtigen – Arniloch – Wanghütte – Stalden – Unter Zingel – Obermatt – Grafenort
Distance: 16,5Km
Altitude gain: 600m
Duration: 4h


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