Bonistock: snowshoes and frozen lakes in Melchsee-Frutt

Bonistock: snowshoes and frozen lakes in Melchsee-Frutt
  • Post last modified:March 21, 2021
  • Post category:Obwalden
  • Reading time:5 mins read

Melchsee-Frutt, a name that translates into ‘milk sea fruit’ in my head, has always had me confused and amused about its name. Despite the name though, it’s a great place for snowshoe hiking, easy winter walking, skiing and sledging in the remote canton of Obwalden. On this occasion we had some friends visiting who wanted to try out some winter sport in the Alps.

Melchsee Frutt Bonistock snowshoe_winter_hike
The drive up to Melchseefrutt.

We opted for snowshoe hiking. There are three main snowshoe routes at Melchsee-Frutt, from which you can make various different one-way or loop walks, and we went for a short section of Route 791 – The Bonistock Trail. The path starts right by Melchsee-Frutt (Bergstation), which is the top station for the main gondola that takes you up to Melchsee-Frutt from the valley below. The gondola station is in amongst a small cluster of buildings – probably mostly ski accommodation – but the path quickly winds out of the buildings and beauty of this spot comes to life! We happened to be there on a day where there was little snow on top of the lake (the Melchsee), and we could see its icy surface sparkling in the sun. Not too much of a surprise, what with the lake being at 1893m.

Melchsee Frutt Bonistock snowshoe_winter_hike
A frozen Melchsee lake. I wouldn’t ice skate on it, though there are a couple of Swiss lakes where you can…

Since we were on snowshoes today, we were following the purple snowshoe signs rather than the pink winter walking signs we’re often looking out for. After leaving the cluster of buildings, we followed the purple signs for Bonistock (route 791). As it’s a loop walk it’s signposted in two directions – we kept left for the shortest distance to Bonistock.

This route takes you up through rocky snow-covered fields and quickly gives you a panoramic view of the mountain ridges across from it – the highest mountain nearby is probably Wendestöcke at 3041m, which is part of the ridge that culminates with Titlis – Titlis is a bit further back and should also be visible, although it can be a bit difficult to spot from this angle. Speaking of heights, Melchsee-Frutt is at around 2000m and hiking at this altitude especially on snowshoes is considerable effort. We were pretty slow on our way up and needed to stop and ‘admire’ the view every few minutes.

Melchsee Frutt Bonistock snowshoe_winter_hike
On our way up to Bonistock!

Fortunately, our guests were enamored by the whole experience. At the peak, Bonistock, there’s a restaurant where we grabbed some grub and drinks to sit back, chat and relax. We were working with the clock though, as their rented snowshoes needed to be returned at the bottom of the cable car around 16:00. So, at some point we did have to get up and get moving again.

The way down is always much faster on snowshoes and as usual with us we fumbled around in the snow quite a bit as well.  It was a really fun day with friends and one of our more memorable snowshoe hikes!

Finally, for anyone still curious about what Melchsee-Frutt means and how Melchsee-Frutt got its name – well, we did a bit of searching but didn’t find anything. So for now it’ll just remain as ‘milk sea fruit’ for us!

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Practical Information for this Hike

Start & EndMelchsee-Frutt (Bergstation) – circular loop
Time2h 15 min (small section of route 791)
Distance4 km
CantonObwalden
DifficultyWT1/WT2 (easy/medium)
Altitude~ 250m ↑ 250m ↓
Popularity3/5
SeasonWinter: Dec – Apr
Peak2169m – Bonistock
Public TransportTo & from Stöckalp bus stop (at bottom of gondola): Lucerne 50 min, Zurich 1h 45 min, Bern 2h, Basel 2h 15 min.
ParkingTo & from Stöckalp Parking Lot (at bottom of gondola): Lucerne 40 min, Zurich 1h 10 min, Bern 1h 40 min, Basel 1h 40 min.
Address: Fruttstrasse 53, 6067 Melchtal
Point of InterestMelchsee Lake (frozen in winter) and surrounding mountain views
Priceshttps://www.melchsee-frutt.ch/bahnen-tarife/tarife-winter/einzel-und-retourfahrten/ (in German)

Here’s a map roughtly showing the route we took. Take this with a pinch of salt though, since it follows the summer paths instead…

Alternatives Routes & More Info

There are 3 snowshoe hikes and 1 winter walk in Melchsee-Frutt, each varying in intensity and effort. We did a small but intense section of route 791. Have a look here for a map showing the various options. We’ve put a couple of notes on the options below.

Route 791 (Bonistock Trail): 9km, ± 420 m ↑ 420 m ↓, 4h 20 min, difficult

This is the full loop for the walk we described above – so not just climbing Bonistock, but also going the rest of the way around the loop. This would be a small summer hike but is considerably more effort on snowshoes at this altitude. Description here.

Route 792 (Blausee Trail): 4km, ± 180 m ↑ 180 m ↓, 1h 50 min, easy

This one is an easier option, but should still give great views – difficult to hide from the mountains up here! The snowshoe trail takes you past the Melchsee and past small lake Blausee as well. Description here.

Route 790 (Erzegg Trail): 12km, ± 420 m ↑ 420 m ↓, 5h 15 min, difficult

This snowshoe trail takes you past a third lake at Melchsee-Frutt, the Tannensee lake, and up onto a ridge bringing you yet another vantage point from which to admire the Alps. Description here.

Route 540 Tannalp-Winter Walking trail: 9km, ± 220 m ↑ 220 m ↓, 3h min, medium difficulty

There’s also a winter walking option at Melchsee-Frutt, which takes you up around Tannensee lake and back. Description here.