I am always looking for exciting and spectacular routes that are off the beaten track. And if something off-road is added, all the better. That’s how I came across the Kunkelspass. PS. Thanks Marco for the great tip!
The Kunkelspass is located in Switzerland in the canton of Graubünden. It can be reached from the north via the Tamina Gorge in Bad Ragaz, and in the south from Tamins. To drive the pass you need to buy a day pass, which you can get on the way either via app or SMS. The northern access road leads through forests and meadows with lush alpine pastures. Many hiking trails and mountain bike routes for all levels of difficulty can be found here. The southern entrance is wild, rocky and steep. Before your trip, be sure to check if there is a possible barrier to the pass, such as a winter barrier. Depending on the weather conditions, winter equipment may also be necessary in summer.
Since I want to spend my weekend in the Ruinaulta, the Swiss Canyon, also known as the Rhine Gorge, I choose the northern access road via Bad Ragaz through the Tamina Gorge in the direction of Vättis and the southern descent to Tamins. From here it is about 15 km to Camping Carreras, my end point of today’s tour.
Romeo and I would like to take a look at the natural bridge over the Tamina torrent, which we reach after a 30-minute hike. The trail leads over 310 steep steps and is worthwhile in any case, but not suitable for a dog who cannot climb stairs well. From the natural bridge you can continue hiking into the Tamina Gorge. Since we would like to continue to the Kunkelspass, we postpone this until another time.
The route continues uphill through gorges with many tunnels and avalanche galleries, passing the Lake Mapraggsee, which with its dam is used for power generation.
After the Mapraggsee we come across a wildly romantic picnic area with a fireplace on the banks of the torrent. The place would also be beautiful for a night camping, but as everywhere in Switzerland, officially not allowed. We decide to continue our journey, as our destination is still a long way off. If you want to stay overnight for stargazing, please follow the Wild Camping rules.
From here I continue towards Vättis, the last mountain village before the Kunkelspass begins.
At the end of Vättis you will find the sign with exact instructions how to pay the toll. The width of the vehicle should not exceed 2.30 m, the height is 2.90 m. This road is unsuitable for larger motorhomes, however no problem for VW Bus or Vito. Remember that the driver should be free of dizziness and already has experience with other Alpine passes.
The driveway on the northern side is very gentle and the path leads through pine forests, which have a dreamlike aroma and awaken holiday feelings in me. At the top a plateau with cow pastures awaits me, framed in the rocks of the surrounding mountains.
We reach the pass summit at the mountain restaurant Kunkelspass. For all those who need a refreshment, there is a terrace with a great view. Romeo and I decide for another hike in the direction of Ringelspitzhütte.
On the top of the pass there are many different hiking possibilities, as well as mountain bike trails. During my ascent to the Ringelspitzhütte I also meet some climbers. I’m not a climber, but the rocks I see invite me to try it sometime.
During the ascent to the Ringelspitze hut we marvel again and again at the fantastic view in the direction of the Rhine Valley and Rhine Gorge. After a two hour hike we start our way back, because dark clouds are coming up and we don’t want to get into a thunderstorm.
Thunderstorms occur very quickly in the mountains and are often very violent. Snowfall and snow storms can even be expected in the high alpine region. That’s why it’s important to have the right equipment with you when you go on a day hike. This includes a long-sleeved jacket, a rain cape, energy bars as emergency food and sufficient water. Even at summer temperatures of more than 30C in the valley, it can get very cold at 2000m. In the mountains there are often weather shelters, which are marked on good hiking maps and in which you can seek shelter from thunderstorms. Hiking maps can be purchased. Please have a look on my recommendations on the side or below. The current weather forecast for Switzerland can be obtained from SFMeteo.
From the mountain restaurant Kunkelspass it goes steadily downhill. The road is one-lane, but has enough evasion points to let other vehicles pass. In most places the path is only gravelled and leads down steep rock walls through natural tunnels. This part of the Kunkelspass is only suitable for drivers without fear of heights which are already pass experienced. The best choice for the Land Rover Defender is the reduction and the 2nd gear. Then the engine brakes the car and the brakes themselves do not start to glow. If you are not sure how to insert the reduction have look here. After about 10 minutes you are already back in the valley and in Tamins.
The drive from Bad Ragaz to Tamins over the Kunkelspass was exciting and the breathtaking landscape leaves a lasting impression. Have fun and a good trip! I would be pleased to receive your personal experiences as a comment below.