Lake Lungern, Obwalden, Switzerland

Lake Locations:

Switzerland - Obwalden -

Also known as:  Lake Lungerersee, Lake Lungernsee

Beautiful Lake Lungern is 2,460 feet above sea level in the highest part of the canton (state) of Obwalden, Switzerland. At the southern end of the lake is Lungern, the highest village of the Sarneraa Valley that is surrounded by steep inclinations and rocks on three sides. Only the north side is open and accessible. Lake Lungern is encircled by rocky outcrops, meadows, pastures, and stables, which make for a peaceful paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.

During the mid-1830s, Lungern village undertook an ambitious project to lower the lake level by 20 feet to turn the shallowest areas of the lake into farmland. Excavators dug a tunnel through solid rock from Lake Lungern to Lake Sarnen, a larger lake about 200 feet lower in elevation. The villagers gained about 500 arable acres for agriculture, housing, and a sawmill. However, the reclaimed land was lost when a dam was constructed at the lake in the early 1900’s and then reconstructed in 1922 to produce hydroelectric power.

During hay harvesting, the basin swarms with butterflies around the thyme, thistles, and orchids making it such a well-known destination for butterfly viewing that there is a Butterfly Trail in the mountains. The 9.6 mile trail features over 100 varieties of butterflies during the peak season from June to September. It starts at the mountain station of the Turren and loops back into the valley leading to Lake Lungern. Other activities in this part of the Swiss Alps include hiking, mountain biking, fishing, watersports, swimming, sailing, snow shoeing, skiing, wildlife viewing, and camping. Expect to catch mountain trout when fishing Lake Lungern.

The village of Lungern surrounds the lake and is split up into three districts. The northern part of the lake is Kaiserstuhl/Burglen, the center of town is on the eastern shore, and the hamlet Obsee is on the southern side of Lake Lungern. The hamlet Obsee is where you can see parts of the old village with houses in their original style and architecture. Lungern, which has been around since the early thirteenth century, is now best known for agriculture and forestry. For some off-the-lake activities around Lungren, visit the Neo-Gothic old church tower (Alter Kirchturm) in Obsee hamlet, the aerial passenger tramway (Panoramawelt Lungern Schonbuel), and the underground shooting range (Brunig Indoor). The shooting range is built into the cliff and offers participants the chance to shoot rifles, pistols, bow and arrows, darts, and blowpipes.

To see some excellent views of the Swiss Alps, take the cable car from Lungern to Turren and then hop on the chair-lift to Schonbuel. There are many trailheads in this area for hiking tours and mountain biking tours, including the walk from the top station of the cable-car on Schonbuel to the Brienzer Rothorn. To strengthen your body and feed your soul, take this hike on Sunday when there is a brunch and yodeling service on Schonbuel.

Other local activities include a narrow gauge railway (Brunigbahn) line that leads from Interlaken via Brienz and the Brunig Pass on to Lucerne and Engleberg; and the late July event Hosenlupf, which is a Swiss wrestling competition that has been held in a sawmill for over 100 years. Vacation rentals are available around Lake Lungern as well as campsites, resorts, and village lodging.

The Lake Lungern area is as popular in the summer as in the winter with a variety of outdoor activities for all ages and interests. The crystal clear blue water with a backdrop of the Swiss Alps beckons anyone who visits the area.

Things to do at Lake Lungern

  • Fishing
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Wildlife Viewing

Fish species found at Lake Lungern

  • Trout

Lake Lungern Photo Gallery

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Lake Lungern Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: EWO Electric

Surface Area: 497 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 2,257 feet

Maximum Depth: 223 feet

Lake Area-Population: 2,049

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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