Top 3 Most Spectacular Hiking Trails in Zermatt, Switzerland
It’s no surprise Zermatt is one of the most famous destinations in the Swiss Alps. The small town blankets the base of a narrow valley edged by wooded mountains on the south and grassy cliffs on the north. Above these steep valley walls stand some of the Alps’ tallest mountains.
The area surrounding Zermatt contains the highest concentration of mountains above 4000 metres in the Alps. Most famous, and perhaps most impressive, is the Matterhorn, which peaks at 4478 metres. Here you’ll also find some of the Alps’ longest glaciers and most stunning waterfalls. Even when experienced firsthand, the enormity of this mountainous region remains incomprehensible.
In the summer months, hiking is the best way to reach the most remote corners of these mountains. But the trail map reveals hundreds of paths. How do you know which are most spectacular? Well, lace up your shoes, stretch your legs, and join me on a tour of Zermatt’s top three hiking trails. Let’s start off easy and work our way up to the most challenging climb.
Zermatt to Furi
Distance: 2.3 kilometres
Duration: 1 hour
Elevation: 245 metres
This fairly gentle climb from the village leads you up the valley towards the majestic Matterhorn. Along the way you’ll pass through several fairytale-like Swiss hamlets. Wooden houses adorned with flowers sit in groups on grassy fields overlooking the valley. If you’re lucky you may get caught in a summer sun shower, which somehow makes the surroundings even more magical.
On the way down to Zermatt, follow signs to the Gornerschlucht, a long narrow canyon carved over thousands of years by glacial water from the glaciers above. Wooden walkways lead you over the rushing turquoise water and through the steep walls of the gorge (Price: 5 CHF).
Five Lakes Trail
Distance: 9.3 kilometres
Duration: 2.5 hours
Elevation: 300 metres
The name says it all with the Five Lakes Trail, or ‘5-Seenweg’. 500 metres above Zermatt, the path weaves along the mountains leading hikers to five unique lakes. Capture the reflection of the Matterhorn, reportedly the world’s most photographed mountain, in Stellisee, Grindjisee and Leisee lakes. But arrive early before the wind picks up if you want to see the reflections. Hikers may even catch a glimpse of a marmot between the grass and rocks somewhere along the way.
This hike is one of the most famous in Zermatt, but rightly so. It’s not to be missed! The trail can be reached by hiking directly from Zermatt or by catching the funicular to either Sunnegga or Blauherd stations.
Zermatt to the Schönbielhut
Distance: 14 kilometres
Duration: 4 hours
Elevation: 1086 metres
This is one of the few areas near Zermatt that cannot be visited by gondola, funicular, or cogwheel train, making the climb to the Schönbielhut the most remote. On this hike you’ll walk around part of the base of the Matterhorn, watching its faces shift from east to north to west as your journey progresses.
After passing through pine forests and several Swiss hamlets, hikers reach the ablation zone of a long glacier. A narrow footpath runs along the northern ledge of the glacier, above the gravel moraine and beneath the bulwarks of the mountains above. The Matterhorn north face stands proudly to your left throughout the hike. Award yourself with a frosty beer or a steaming bowl of soup when you reach the hut. It was a long like, so be sure to take the time to admire the 4000s metre mountains, massive glaciers, and cascading waterfalls.
In addition to consuming copious amounts of cheese in the form of various traditional Swiss dishes, hiking is an absolute must when visiting Zermatt in the warmer seasons. Did we miss your favourite hike near Zermatt? Let us know in the comments below.
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