www.dfb.ch/index.php?id=erleben&L=3 (Partially English)
www.dfb.ch/index.php?id=336&L=0 (German only)
Furka Pass - Stn. Muttbach - Gletsch - Oberwald
One of Europe's most important waterways, the Rhône River, has its source at the Rhône Glacier near the Furka Pass in the Swiss Alps. From the glacier lake near the Hotel Belvedere along the Furka Road, the river cascades down smoothly sanded rock walls into the Goms Valley, passes through the little town of Gletsch and then roars through a narrow canyon before leveling out in the lower Goms Valley on its way to Lake Geneva.
Before the Furka Base Tunnel was opened in 1982, the area was serviced by a high altitude train whose overhead electric lines had to be removed in winter and the railway line closed due to high levels of snow. After the line was closed, the steam engines were sold to Vietnam, but then brought back to Switzerland at great expense and effort by railway enthusiasts, and the old railway line was then reopened as a Heritage Line for tourists.
This tour starts at the Furka Pass but you can also start at the Hotel Belvedere and walk to the Furka Pass, which adds 1 hour and 15 minutes of walking time, but affords great views of the Rhône Glacier from above (if you want to walk to the Glacier Tongue or the Ice Grotto, cost is 10 Fr. at the Kiosk).
If you time the hike correctly, you can watch the crossing of the Heritage Steam Trains just West of the Tunnel Entrance/Exit. From there you continue along the valley bottom following the path of the river (which is called the Rotten here, the German name for the Rhône) to Gletsch, the home base of the old railway line and hub for the various pass roads which join here (Furka Pass and Grimsel Pass). There is a little museum here with information about the DFB (Dampfbahn Furka) Railway and the Rhône Glacier.
From here you head below the winding Grimsel Road and if you time it right again, you’ll get another glimpse of the Steam Railway coming up the canyon from Oberwald. The trail then passes through the narrow gorge and along the left mountain flank before descending to Oberwald.